In addition to being a thriving center of culture, Austin, Texas, is a foodie haven that draws travelers from all over the world. Austin is home to a wide variety of restaurants that can satisfy any appetite or preference, with a culinary scene that is as diverse as the city itself. We embarked on a delectable journey to discover Austin’s top eateries, where every mouthful guaranteed to be an amazing experience. This guide is your ticket to tasting the best flavors the city has to offer, whether you’re a local looking to discover hidden gems or a visitor hoping to get a taste of Austin’s culinary spirit. We’ll explore the diverse dining scene in Austin, from Texas barbecue joints to international fusion kitchens.
If Barbeque were an art, Franklin Barbecue would be the grand opus. Owned and run by married couple Aaron and Stacy Franklin, Franklin Barbecue remains a small barbecue stand off the Texas Interstate 35in Austin’s East End. Franklin’s barbecued meats are so delicious that they sell out of it before noon on any given day. Some lines span multiple blocks starting at 8 am to buy this mouthwatering barbecue.
Veracruz All Natural
With six locations around Austin, Veracruz All Natural is a casual and trendy Mexican taco stand and outdoor eatery owned and operated by Mexican native sisters Maritza and Reyna Vazquez. In 2010, the sisters began making tacos out of the first trailer on Austin’s east side neighborhood off Cesar Chavez, gaining instant popularity and rapidly expanding taco trailers around town.
Located in the heart of East Austin’s Govalle neighborhood, Justine’s is a French bistro and thematic restaurant situated on a huge plot of land. The bar and kitchen lie inside an old-timey Austin home, but the property has giant patio areas, verandas, fire pits, and weird art installations that make Justine’s a one-of-a-kind experience. The food at Justine’s is classic French cuisine, offering a slew of cheese and charcuterie boards to start. I recommend their Escargot with garlic herb butter to start and their wood-fired Steak Frites with Roquefort for the main dish.
Nixta Taqueria is a quaint, counter-serve Mexican spot that serves essential eats on colorful plates. It’s one of my favorite restaurants in Austin for its bright, cheery atmosphere, reliable waitstaff, and delicious dishes. When I head to Nixta, I typically order crispy meat tacos, duck enchiladas, or tuna tostadas. In my view, these are some of the best entrees available on the menu. The owners of Nixta, Chef Rico and Sara Mardanbigi, purport to bring accessible, low-maintenance eats to downtown Austin—straight from Oaxaca, Mexico. They aim to create tacos with quintessential street-food flair and do so with admirable expertise. The restaurant is located right on E. 12th in Chestnut, so you can visit the nearby murals or Downs Field on your way to this spot! After your meal, remember to head to Zeds Real fruit ice cream for a tasty treat!
Birdie’s is a quaint, family-run restaurant in the Grace Fellowship Baptist Church on 12th Street. This restaurant is walk-in early and cash-only, so try to reach there early with cash in your wallet. Once you’ve made it to your table, consider starting with the roasted sunchokes with ricotta and black garlic. I tried the snapper with lentils and sweet onions, and my partner chose the minute steak with red cabbage—both were incredible. The restaurant is off East 12th Street near the Morris Williams Golf Course and Palomino coffee—an excellent coffee joint. You can also check out the beautiful Oakwood Cemetary and the local university campus on the way.
Bouldin Creek Cafe
Named for the South Austin neighborhood in which it is located, Bouldin Creek Café has been a neighborhood and hippie-friendly favorite for decades. Bouldin Creek Café is deeply rooted in serving the Austin community, offering tons of local discounts like getting 20% off meals if you present an Austin library card. Their menu is fully vegetarian with vegan options.
Located in the Cherrywood neighborhood in Central Austin, Dai Due is a butcher shop and supper club offering the finest meats supplied by their on-site butcher shop. They strive to source all produce, cheese, and meat from local farmers and ranchers. They also strive to represent the regional flavors of Texas in their meat-heavy dishes.
Distant Relatives is a small neighborhood barbecue food truck that serves incredible food and a quintessentially friendly Texan vibe. This food truck is always parked in the same spot so that you can get your favorite eats without the hassle of searching for it. The owners blend the flavors of traditional African-American cuisine with familiar barbecue dishes like ribs. The bread is to die for, and the mango slaw is an incredible topping for any dish. I recommend ordering the beef brisket and pulled pork sandwiches, as both are brimming with flavor and will leave you full for hours.
This historic building houses a small French-style brasserie with modern American cuisine—and it’s one of the best choices for those seeking refuge from the Austin noise. The staff is warm and welcoming, and you can enjoy watching your food being prepared through the open kitchen. I enjoyed the braised grouper and truffle tots, and my companions reveled over the duck breast. The Parker rolls. The porterhouse steak is also delicious, and the chef often brings out small micro-dishes for patrons to enjoy while they wait. The knowledgeable waitstaff will help you find the perfect wine or beer to accompany your dish, and you’ll leave wishing you could stay for more!
Located directly between the Zilker and Bouldin Creek neighborhoods of south Austin, Odd Duck is an innovative farm-to-table restaurant run by brothers Bryce and Dylan Gilmore. They use ingredients from only local farmers to create their ever-changing meat-centric menu. The restaurant is located inside an old Fleetwood Mallard trailer that the brothers purchased in Wisconsin and drove down to Austin.
Jjim BBQ is the best barbecue joint in Austin—and I’ll stand behind that claim. This Korean barbecue restaurant offers traditional Korean comfort foods in cozy, sunlit digs. Because it’s located in the Lamar Plaza, you can check out other stores. Lamar Plaza is in Zilker, near the Colorado River and Auditorium shores. You can enjoy food and head to the nearby theatre or botanical garden. Whenever I go to Jjim, I typically order soup, tteokbookki, and pancakes. The spring rolls are equally impressive, and the kimchi is made to perfection. I often ask for a to-go box full of my favorite foods to eat on the plane—10/10 would highly recommend it.
I love ramen, so I was eager to find a great place in Austin—and Sazan takes the cake. This cute, minimalist restaurant is in the heart of the Highland neighborhood, near the 99 Ranch Market and the Centre Business Park off Highway 183. The tempura veggies are perfectly crunchy and crispy, and the ramen—especially the beef and chicken mix—will leave you wishing for their secret recipe. This restaurant is quite casual, so there is no need to dress up but come as hungry as you can since the dishes are mouthwatering. Lastly, don’t forget an order of dumplings from the restaurant next door since this plaza boasts many unique Asian finds, and most will allow you to BYOF.
Another East Austin favorite, Suerte, is a high-end, trendy Mexican food restaurant centered around one of Mexico’s key culinary foundations, masa. Run by Mexican native Head Chef Fermin Nunez, Suerte combines traditional Mexican recipes with local Texas ingredients in a beautifully designed dining space with an outdoor patio lined with giant agave plants.
Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ
Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ combines Texas’ two main culinary contributions to the world: Tex Mex and Barbecue. Located in South Austin’s Manchaca neighborhood in front of Austin Roller Rink, Valentina’s is a family-owned and operated Tex Mex and Barbeque trailer. They offer perfectly smoked Texas-style briskets and other meats with more Tex-Mex accompaniments like hand-made flour tortillas, avocado, and salsas.
Better Half Coffee & Cocktails
No matter where I go, I always look for the best coffee shop for a quiet place to sit and work. Although Better Half isn’t always quiet, it’s the best coffee shop I’ve found since they serve select craft cocktails, wine, cider, and beer. This quaint, casual joint is located right off the Colorado River near the boardwalk and Ladybird Lake. Consider checking out the local scenery before catching your morning, afternoon, or dinner drinks—and delicious food. Better Half serves breakfast, brunch, and dinner. I love the soba noodle soup and the signature breakfast sandwich for lunch, and dinner typically consists of a veggie burger or vermicelli salad. Remember to order cocktails, especially the Nola Irish Coffee or spicy strawberries.
Located in the family-friendly neighborhood of Allendale, Bufalina Due is an award-winning Italian wine bar and Neapolitan pizzeria. Owner Steven Dilley is one of Food & Wine’s Sommeliers of the year, and Bufalina’s happy hour was voted one of the “happiest” in Austin due to its one-of-a-kind natural wine list.
Joe’s Bakery is located right between Holly and East Austin, near the Boggy Creek Greenbelt and the Texas State Cemetary. I recommend checking out any of the surrounding coffee shops as well since all boast delicious java and quick bites. Joe’s is best for Mexican treats and incredible tacos. It’s a small, family-run spot. The bacon and egg tacos are delicious. Try the Chicharrones taco for a unique Mexican experience or a breakfast sandwich. Remember that the wait here can get long, so it isn’t the place for a quick meal.
La Barbecue is another James Beard Award-winning famous Texas Barbeque joint, recently relocated from South Austin to the heart of East Austin’s Holly neighborhood. La Barbecue is a female-owned company, an admittedly rare occurrence in the Barbeque industry. Still, owner Leanne Mueller uses her father Bobby Mueller’s smoked meat recipes and techniques.
Olamaie is a traditional Southern restaurant that sources organic, farm-fresh ingredients from local establishments. The restaurant is in a refurbished home, so it’s quaint, small, and intimate—the perfect place for a date. Olamaie’s chef and owner, Michael Fojtasek, and chef Amanda Turner are introducing a new special: a three-course meal on the last Tuesday of each month. This all-inclusive experience offers a taste from the past, including traditional Southern cuisine with a modern twist. When you’re done, head to the beautiful University campus or check out the Blanton Museum of Art for some cultural immersion. The LBJ Presidential Library is also nearby, which I highly recommend checking out if you’re a reader like me!
If you’re looking for the best Chinese restaurant in Austin, Old Thousand is the perfect candidate. This restaurant serves traditional Chinese fare with modern flair, and the atmosphere is very casual, so you don’t have to dress up! It’s right off the Interregional Highway, so it’s easy to get to, and you can check out the Capitol building nearby for a little historical tour. Moreover, this restaurant is next to a beautiful vintage bookstore and wine Bar, a great place to hang out after a meal. The brisket fried rice is incredible, and I always order the veggie fried rice to complement my meal. Remember to get a cocktail—I love the classic Banana drink with whipped egg.
El Alma is a casual Mexican-American restaurant that serves traditional fare and incredible cocktails. The menu includes such delicious eats as Camarones a la plancha, ahi tuna ceviche tacos, and crispy pepitas with chile powder—just like in Mexico! When you’ve finished your meal, you can check out the Rainey Street Historic District across the street or Ladybird Lake, famous for its sweeping views. I like to get the Margarita drink or the Blood and Smoke, a delicious combo of mezcal, chile liquor, blood orange, and a spicy chile rim. The restaurant frequently serves specials—available from a QR code on their menu—so be sure to check it often.
Meaning “house” in Japanese, Uchi is a fitting name for this world-class traditional Japanese restaurant located in an old South Austin house blocks away from Austin’s famous Zilker Park. Owner and James-Beard Award-winning executive chef Tyson Cole trained for over a decade in Tokyo, New York, and Austin to become one of the only American-born sushi masters in the world.
Located in East Austin’s Holly neighborhood, Kemuri Tatsu-Ya is a Japanese Fusion restaurant named for the head chef and owner Tatsu Aikawa. They immigrated to the states from Japan, bringing with them authentic Japanese cooking techniques. Kemuri Tatsu-Ya offers a fusion of Texas and Japan both in the culinary sense and in the atmosphere.
Cuantos Tacos is a laid-back food truck in a quaint camping park, complete with picnic tables. The car is near the Outer Heaven Disco Club, a top destination for avid music lovers, and Central East Austin’s gorgeous cemeteries, including the Oakwood Cemetary and the Texas State Cemetary. This food truck serves incredible tacos—better than any in the area. Hence, I like to order the fried mushroom tacos and salsa. Each taco is only $2, so you can load them up and eat as many as you’d like! They’re relatively small, so remember to order accordingly. My friends loved the carnitas tacos and the guacamole, but more or less, everything from this food truck is perfect.
JewBoy Burgers is located near the Austin airport, so it’s the perfect snack for those just getting in town—or leaving. This small, quaint restaurant offers casual vibes in a modern setting, so come as you are. It’s next to Casey’s New Orleans Snowballs, which I also highly recommend, and you can check out the massive nearby Texas Thrift Store. This restaurant is right off E Hwy 290, so it’s easy to get to. When you get there, order a burger—they’re massive and delicious—and be sure to ask for the beer list since they offer perfect pairings. The pastrami sandwich is the perfect meal to fill you up before you head off on a long flight or a tour of the big city, and the latkes are the perfect side dish.
Located in the quaint Clarksville neighborhood, Jefferies is a high-end, fine-dining steak house in an old, two-story Austin home. Jeffery’s specializes in French American cuisine and utilizes only the finest dry-aged Prime beef for their decadent steak menu. They also have an award-winning happy hour with the best cheese popovers and prime beef burger you’ll ever taste.
Stella San Jac
Located in the trendy Young-professional neighborhood of East Sixth, Stella San Jac is an upscale gourmet American Food bistro in a beautiful dining room. The contemporary yet cozy dining room has an open kitchen and bar along with blush green booths, leather chairs, and a slew of interesting lighting fixtures hanging from a slatted ceiling.
The best restaurant in Austin is the one that best suits your needs and dietary preferences! If you’re trying to decide on the fly, consider checking out Old Thousand for delicious Chinese fare or Garrison for a slightly more upscale vibe.
Ultimately, any restaurant from this list will offer a delicious culinary experience you won’t forget! Happy eating!
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When it comes to local restaurant recommendations, we pride ourselves on being a reliable and trustworthy resource. Our suggestions are not just based on our personal experiences, ensuring a more authentic and well-rounded perspective, but also on extensive online research. We diligently searched the internet and reviewed 6 credible sites and blogs, including Austin.eater.com and Austincityguide.com.
We compiled all the findings in one location and sorted them by the frequency of mentions to ensure you receive top-notch recommendations. We strive to present you with a curated list of establishments that truly stand out, allowing you to enjoy the best dining experiences possible.
Interested in the sources we consulted? Check out the list of all 6 sites we referenced below this paragraph, offering transparency and an opportunity for our readers to explore further. Our commitment is to deliver trustworthy and unparalleled recommendations, helping you make informed decisions on your culinary journeys.