- Austin is the capital of Texas.
- It’s known for great food and their slogan “Keep Austin Wierd.”
- Through trial and error, I have figured out the best restaurants in Austin that you don’t want to miss if you are in town.
Austin is becoming one of the most popular cities in the US with good reason; it has plenty to offer for anyone who visits.
One of the best things that it boasts to locals and visitors alike is food. The Austin food scene is phenomenal, and if you’re planning a trip I’m sure you’ve seen plenty of lists filled with mouth-watering restaurants to pick and choose from.
While those lists probably have some great selections there’s nothing like getting recommendations from a true Austinite. I was born and raised in Austin and go back often so I’ve tried many of the dining options the Texas capital has to offer, these are the ones I go back to every chance I get.
Chuy’s Tex-Mex has classic Mexican food with a Texas twist.
Texas is known for Tex-Mex and Chuy’s is the place to get it. Stop by at one of their multiple locations throughout the city to grab some tasty Mexican food with a Texan twist and enjoy some quirky “Keep Austin Weird” style decor (the chain’s patron saint is Elvis, to give you an idea).
Order the deluxe chicken enchiladas or pork tacos with boom boom sauce and make sure to try the creamy jalapeno dip with your complimentary chips – it’s one of the things I miss most from Texas.
Sway offers Thai food in an upscale setting.
If you’re a fan of Thai food head to Sway for an upscale (but not stuffy) dining experience.
Everything is delicious but make sure to order the son in law, it’s a rice and pork shoulder dish with a crispy egg that’s easily the standout of any meal.
Taco More is authentic.
Taco More is definitely out of the way (nowhere near any other attractions, sorry) and it’s most definitely a hole in the wall but it’s a Mexican restaurant that my family and I have gone to for years.
I’ve never ordered anything I didn’t like but my favorites are the tacos de cecina, pozole, and sopes. Fair warning, this restaurant is as authentic as it gets, you won’t find any burritos here.
Mozart’s Coffee Roasters has coffee and house-made baked goods.
Mozart’s is actually a coffee house, not a restaurant, but it does have plenty of yummy desserts baked on premises. Even better than the sweets is the location, nestled right next to Lake Austin, the cafe also has great views.
Uchi is Japanese must-try restaurant.
To be honest, I’ve never been to Uchi, but it’s been on my list for as long as I’ve known about it (which is a long time). The upscale Japanese restaurant is a consistent “must-try” recommended by my friends who still live in Austin and one that you’ll always find on lists of food to try when visiting.
Ramen Tatsu-Ya is worth the wait.
This little ramen spot is sure to have a line out the door if you don’t show up before 5 p.m. so either get there early or have some snacks on hand while you wait. Don’t let the line scare you away though, the ramen is totally worth it. As for what to order when you’re in? My dad gets the Mi-so-hot on a weekly basis.
Amy’s Ice Cream is dessert and an experience.
Amy’s is an Austin institution that actually lives up to the hype. The quirky ice cream spot has plenty of delicious ice cream flavors, out of the ordinary mix-ins, and even a bit of a show that the “scoops” (employees) put on while they’re crushing together your ice cream and mix-ins.
You can’t go wrong with anything here but the Mexican vanilla is an Amy’s (and Austin) classic.
Güeros Taco Bar is in the heart of the city.
If you’re looking for tacos but want to stay close to the action downtown, check out Güeros on South Congress. It’s an easy walk to other great spots in SoCo (like the famous “I love you so much” wall) and has worth-it Mexican food. I like the tacos al pastor. If there’s a wait, enjoy some live music and a margarita in the adjacent, and affiliated, Oak Garden.
Launderette is my go-to for brunch.
Any time my best friend and I get brunch she suggests one spot, Launderette.
The bright and cheery laundromat turned cafe serves up great ambiance and great food (at all times of the day, not just brunch). Don’t leave without ordering the birthday cake ice cream sandwich, it’s good and will look great on your Instagram.
Hula Hut has great ambiance and food.
Just a few feet from Mozart’s is Hula Hut, a Tex-Mex Polynesian spot that feels like summer in Hawaii, but in Texas.
The Tiki vibes and water-front location are super fun and the food doesn’t suffer for the emphasis on ambiance. Order the mango poblano quesadilla or Mexonesian shrimp flautas, grab a Haleakalada (their version of a pina colada) and feel transported to an island far far away.
Chi’Lantro’s menu varies.
Chi’Lantro started out as a food truck and quickly expanded into a whole fleet of them plus brick and mortars. The menu varies by location but one constant is their kimchi fries which are pretty much the number one reason my friends and I go.
Thai Kun is a different take of Thai food.
Another great Thai find, Thai Kun is a more relaxed and unconventional take on Thai food.
There are two locations, one in The Domain shopping center in north Austin and the original food truck in the backyard of an east-side bar, Whisler’s. I recommend heading to the Whisler’s location, it has a smaller menu but a much cooler vibe considering it’s adjacent to a great bar. Order the grilled bread with curry with peanut sauce, black noodles, and waterall pork.
JuiceLand is worth a visit.
It may seem silly to include a juice spot in a list of restaurants but JuiceLand is that good. There are a handful of locations but a good one to know is off Barton Springs Road, it’s close to Zilker Park, Barton Springs, and other attractions. If you make it there I recommend the Peachy Keen.
Rudy’s “Country Store” and Bar-B-Q is my go-to barbecue joint.
You can’t go to Austin and not get barbecue. There are plenty of spots and honestly, they’re all good but my family and I always go to Rudy’s.
The no-frills (you literally eat off waxed paper sheets) restaurant has a great selection of meats and sides (the creamed corn is a must) that never disappoint. It may not be as internationally famous as The Salt Lick, Franklin’s Barbecue (which I’ve never been motivated to try when I can go to Rudy’s and not stand in line for hours), or Stubb’s BBQ, but it’s a household name for us locals.
Gus’ World Famous Fried Chicken has locations all over the US.
For fried chicken fans there’s no better place to stop than Gus’ Fried Chicken. There are locations all over the US so if you miss it in Austin you can get it elsewhere but if you’re looking for a truly good bird when you’re in the Texas capital, this is the spot.
Salty Sow has local Austin ingredients.
Salty Sow is another place that has been on my list for a long time but I haven’t had the pleasure of stopping in yet. The farm-to-table gastropub is known for fresh, local ingredients and tantalizing meat dishes. Despite never having had the time to go, I’m sure it’s delicious because my friends who still live in Austin won’t let me forget it.
Odd Duck started as a food truck.
Odd Duck is another restaurant that you’ll frequently see in “best restaurants” lists. The spot started out as a food truck and now has a brick and mortar location at a prime Austin address, near the hustle and bustle of downtown.
Try the pretzel with chorizo spiced mushroom and antelope tataki.
Loro is an Asian smokehouse.
I just discovered Loro on my most recent trip to Austin and I can’t wait to go back. The Asian smokehouse has a fun beer hall atmosphere and a great outdoor patio that’s perfect for that warm Austin weather.
The restaurant was brought to life by Chef Tyson Cole of Uchi and Aaron Franklin of Franklin Barbecue, so you know the food is phenomenal. Order one of everything and bring all your friends.