If you’re traveling to Austin for the food alone, you won’t be the first to savor such a journey. Austin is an awesome place for BBQ, and there have been plenty of folks who’ve paid a visit just to get their fill of the area’s world famous brisket. But it’s not just ‘cue that excites taste buds in this Texas town. Austin boasts some of the best Tex Mex in the state. And if it’s classic southern cooking you’re hoping to receive alongside Austin’s renowned southern hospitality, you’re sure to get hearty helpings of it.
Yep, Austinites do the tried and true Texas traditions deliciously well. However, the menu of must-eat treats doesn’t stop there. Austin is one of the fastest growing cities in the U.S. with a young (hello University of Texas!) and cosmopolitan population. Student life, a buzzing downtown, and an amazing assortment of live music venues create the right dynamics for a competitive restaurant scene keeping prices low and quality high. Expect to eat phenomenal street food and to encounter an overwhelming selection of international cuisines and exquisite fine dining options.
And if you’re heading down to this Texas town for SXSW, you’ll be in good company. It’s Austin’s biggest party of the year, offering the chance to rub elbows with movers and shakers at the top of their game across a range of creative and high tech industries, to see the best up-and-coming bands perform live and experience a fun loving city at its very best – and to feast like there’s no tomorrow!
To whet your Austin appetite, we’ve come up with this handy rundown of some of the best eats the city has to offer.
Austin is square in the heart of brisket country. Leading contenders for the best low and slow cooked beef include La Barbecue, Micklethwait Craft Meats, Stiles Switch, and of course, the world famous Franklin BBQ. The latter joint’s meats are so in demand, folks from near and far don’t mind lining up for hours for the chance to buy some. Beyond the city limits, great BBQ establishments such as the legendary Salt Lick out in Driftwood, Texas give delectable reason to take a drive out to the Hill Country.
Austin’s other edible claim to fame is Tex Mex. A list of the best Tex Mex restaurants in town would be far too lengthy, but a few locally approved safe bets are El Azteca, Baby Acapulco, Chuy’s, Enchiladas y Mas, Habanero Mexican Café, Texican Café, and Trudy’s South Star. All do a mean – and ice cold – margarita too! Come morning time, for a quick and inexpensive bite (and surefire hangover remedy) grab a breakfast taco. You’ll find ‘em all over town. Tacodeli’s a tasty name to be on the lookout for – buy a couple of Tacodeli’s breakfast tacos at Houndstooth (arguably Austin’s best coffee shop).
Looking south of the border for flavor, a number of Austin eateries forgo the Tex and focus solely on the Mex, for some of the best Latin cuisine north of the Rio Grande. Booking a table at well-established and highly regarded Fonda San Miguel is a must for an authentic and ambient dining experience. For tacos, you can’t beat Torchy’s. If not the best Mexican restaurant in town, Guero’s is definitely the best known. Dining here – whether you’re a tourist, student or President of the United States – is a rite of passage.
Some say the scene in Austin was the driving force behind America’s recent obsession with food trucks and street food. Theirs is a tasty argument. Whatever you’re after – BBQ, banh mi, Korean-Mexican, doughnuts, you name it – it’s probably being served from the side window of trailer or truck right now. A few food court trailer parks to keep in mind are Midway Food Park, The Picnic, and Austin Food Park.
Sure, there are a lot of carnivorous cowboys and BBQ aficionados swaggering around Austin, but vegetarians shouldn’t be put off. There are plenty of great options for you too. The vegan comfort food at Counter Culture is a hit with many a health-conscious diner. For meat-free BBQ made from plant-based proteins, there’s BBQ Revolution. Bouldin Creek Café, Swad Indian Vegetarian Restaurant, and Mother’s Café and Garden are a few of the many other popular vegetarian and vegan restaurants.
Good! There’s so much good fine food to eat in Austin. And we didn’t even start to rave about all the fantastic bars and places to have a drink. Are you heading to SXSW? If so, what are you hankering to try first when you hit the town? Let us know in the comments!