Austin: The Best Eats

There is no shortage of good eats in Austin. Good restaurants are everywhere and you can easily eat your way through town (and the entire Hill Country, for that matter).

I’m narrowing this down to places in Central Austin, but at the bottom, I’ll share some notable mentions of places in and around the greater ATX. I also tried to give you the best of what we have, mostly sticking to Tex-Mex, BBQ, burgers and fried chicken. Because, you know, we’re the SOUTH. Get your forks ready, this place is full of some seriously good food.

If you’re looking for some reviews and the latest happenings at restaurants in town, I highly recommend checking out Forks Up!

Austin Eats

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Let’s chat BBQ. Franklin’s is notorious around here. Be prepared to stand in line (no really, I’m talking 4-5 hours). If that’s not your gig, my tried and true is Rudy’s. Don’t let the gas station out front fool you. Some people swear by County Line and Salt Lick. It’s just a personal thing, but those don’t hold a candle to the others. To me, the sauce is just too sweet with no kick. I like my kick. And, if you can venture out of Austin, there’s Cooper’s in Llano, a personal favorite. For the love of all that’s smoked, just don’t make your first BBQ experience at Bill Miller’s. Make no mistake, we take BBQ seriously here. Just ask Texas Monthly, our state magazine. They hired a BBQ Editor and you can follow him on Twitter at @BBQSnob

Looking for a view of Austin? There’s no better place than the Oasis. I’ve always thought the food was decent to good, but it’s the view (and the margaritas) that keep bringing me back. If you want a place to kick back, grab a beer and burger and listen to some live music under the coolest tree in Austin then Shady Grove is your place.

If an Austin original is what you want, here’s my best advice. Kerbey Lane (stick to the original location on Kerbey Lane) has THE BEST breakfasts in town. Oh and Max’s Wine Dive is great for a girls’ night out. Swanky and oh-so-fabulous.

Nobody does Tex-Mex like we do. Well, except maybe San Antonio and that’s a whole other blog post. If you read my friend Jen’s book, then you’re no stranger to Guero’s Taco Bar. Don’t also be a stranger to the fish tacos or the fresh lime margaritas. If you’re saying, “ew, fish tacos” stop it right now. You will never eat a finer taco IN YOUR LIFE. That, I guarantee. Their queso is pretty dang good, too. While this isn’t technically Tex-Mex, there is some awesome food and entertainment at Malaga Tapas Bar.

Food trailers are kind of a thing here. Many of the Austin originals started out as trailers and now have brick and mortar restaurants, too. Namely? Torchy’s Tacos. Their menu is spicy and unique and I have to say, the Trailer Park is my favorite. Eat it trashy. And don’t forget the green chile queso. You’ll thank me later. If you want to try a whole bunch of trailers at once, either hit the South 1st location or hop on over to Midway.

Burgers. You can get them vegetarian, but the beef is just so tasty. My top picks? Hopdoddy (the fancy burger), Hut’s (the greasy option), Mighty Fine (because they’re really that fine) and the classic Texan choice, Whataburger. They just make it better. They all have lines, so go early if you want a seat. And, if you’re heading to Hopdoddy downtown, there’s a parking garage just behind it and parking is free if you eat there or at Guero’s, with a two-hour limit.

Honorable mentions? Homeslice (for some seriously good NY-style pizza), Amy’s Ice Cream and Phil’s Ice House (the ice cream is divine, especially the Mexican vanilla), Matt’s El Rancho (that chile relleno, oh my stars) and Chuy’s (that creamy jalapeno ranch  and the Chicka-Chicka Boom-Boom is world famous).

If kids are in tow, Free Fun in Austin just published this kid-friendly restaurant guide.

Happy eating and don’t blame me when your pants don’t fit!


  1. Molly on June 24, 2014 at 8:34 am

    You forgot the most important part…. how am I supposed to eat this all in under 48 hours!?

  2. LW on June 24, 2014 at 10:42 am

    We absolutely love Salt Lick. It’s the best in Austin by far! It’s BYOB and super fun. It’s an Austin institution.

  3. Mamabearjd on June 24, 2014 at 2:26 pm

    Torchy’s opened a location in Ft Worth, right in the medical district, so I taco celebrated every doctor visit and sent the hubby out twice after delivery. Having lived in Austin years ago, I know how you Austin-ites are about chain restaurants! Haha.

    • Wanda on June 25, 2014 at 8:39 pm

      I’ve been to the one here in Ft. Worth! Love it!,

  4. Dianne on June 24, 2014 at 7:45 pm

    Agree with all your faves, Kathryn. We just ate at Cooper’s in New Braunfels, and it made us that much more excited to soon have a Cooper’s in downtown Austin! I mean, when you have a hankering for great BBQ, who wants to stand in line over at Franklin’s for hours on end? : )

  5. Wanda on June 25, 2014 at 8:38 pm

    And I love Magnolia Street Cafe and South Congress Cafe.

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