Living in Austin, we’re frequently asked for our favorite places to eat around town. Our most common response is to close your eyes and point, because there are so many amazing restaurants here. But that’s not all that helpful, really. So here’s a running list of our favorite Austin, Texas restaurants and places you have to try on your next visit.
What We Order: Turkey Pastrami, Pierogis, Chopped Chicken Salad, Roasted Salmon, Steak Frites
If you’re around The Domain in north Austin, this is our favorite spot to grab a bite in between Vanessa’s shopping sprints. The atmosphere is great, with a huge outdoor patio, fire pits, and an indoor/outdoor bar. We do our best to try something new every visit, and we’ve yet to order something we didn’t like.
Bird Bird Biscuit
What We Order: Bird Bird Bacon, Biscuits and Gravy, Queen Beak, Plain ol’ Biscuits
We first tried Bird Bird on one of our trips visiting Austin to see if we wanted to move here. I’m not saying it was our deciding factor, but it was a factor. Northeast of downtown Austin on Manor Rd sits this tiny little biscuit factory with some of the best breakfast sandwiches you’ll come across.
They have a simple menu but have recently added new items like the spicy Firebird chicken biscuit and fries for their dinner service. There’s also a second location coming to North Austin this summer.
What We Order: Cookie Cake and Brownies
Hayley’s an Instagram famous baker that lives up to the hype (and more). The cookie cakes, brownies, and cupcakes are some of our favorite treats in Austin, but you really can’t go wrong. It’s worth a stop in to see what they’re offering every day. And they’re a fun follow on Instagram just to vote on their daily decoration polls.
And just a heads up, their Christmas tree brownies are HUGE. We ordered way too many for our Christmas Party.
What We Order: Anything and Everything
Right down the road from Hayley Cakes, you can find a tiny little pie shop with even tinier pies. They have all your favorite pie fillings like apple and cherry with some fun seasonal options as well. And the breakfast pies are a perfect savory counterpart to all the sweet goodies you’ll get at Tiny Pies.
What We Order: Brushfire, Wrangler, Hillbilly Queso, Crossroads, Street Corn
Torchy’s started out as a food trailer in Austin, so it’s basically a must-try for food lovers and history buffs alike. You’ll find casual spots all over town with awesome queso, tacos, and drinks. They feature a “taco of the month” that’s usually worth checking out, but I’m personally in love with the Brushfire taco. So much so there’s a copycat Brushfire tacos recipe on the Kinda Healthy blog.
And if you have a four-legged friend on board, nearly every Torchy’s around Austin has a dog friendly patio with plenty of space for them to hang out with you!
What We Order: Chorizo Biscuits and Gravy, Tex-Mex Enchiladas, Tacos
This one’s a bit different than some other high profile places on the list. It’s a tiny place that’s nestled in one of the many shopping centers around Sunset Valley. And that’s what we love about it.
If you’re running errands or making a shopping pit stop, this is a great place to pop in for a quick bite. Though the chorizo biscuits and gravy served over crispy taters with two eggs isn’t necessarily a light, quick bite. Totally worth it.
What We Order: Texas-Sized Donut Holes and the Glazed Old Fashioned
Like you’ll see with the next restaurant on the list, bigger doesn’t always mean better. But in the case of KC Donuts, their Texas-sized donut holes are some of the best donut holes I’ve ever had. They are somehow amazing both fresh and leftover. So don’t stress about being there when the doors open.
For some variety, throw in some old fashioned donuts and the cake donut holes. Though they always throw in a few bonus items for us. And we love them for it.
Round Rock Donuts
What We Order: Classic Glazed Donuts
Okay, don’t get the whopper of a donut you see Vanessa holding above. It’s great for a photo, but it doesn’t do their donuts justice. Just order their famous glazed donuts with their orange tint and get ready to have your world Rocked. They are the epitome of melt-in-your-mouth donuts.
Round Rock Donuts is open later than most donut shops, and they’re continually churning out fresh batches of donuts. We’ve been more times than I’d like to admit at all times of the day, and we’ve never not had hot and fresh donuts.
What We Order: Tagliatelle ala Vodka, Ravioli, Gnocchi Bolognese, Lasagna, Spaghetti and Meatballs
It’s capital-I, lower case-L—not the Roman numeral II. As in, “The” Saporis. Wouldn’t want you to go around telling anyone you had some of the best Italian you’ve ever had from Two Saporis like we did for an entire summer!
Il Saporis is a food trailer, believe it or not, in South Austin whipping up fresh pasta Thursday-Sunday every week. It’s hard to go wrong when ordering, but their vodka sauce with Austin-based Titos vodka is a must try.
Jack Allen’s Kitchen
What We Order: Barbacoa Enchiladas, Barbacoa Stackers, Guacamole, Zucchini French Toast (weekend brunch)
This might be our most frequented restaurant on the list, particularly for entertaining visitors. There are a few of these farm-to-table eateries scattered across Austin, but the Oak Hill location is our go-to.
Pictured above, the barbacoa enchiladas and all things barbacoa are some of our favorites. We love them so much we created copycat recipes like Kinda Healthy barbacoa enchiladas and barbacoa stackers on our main blog. And you can’t go wrong with any of the appetizers. On several occasions we’ve just ordered drinks and a beaucoup of snacks.
If you’re around on a weekend, brunch is a must. There’s a revolving brunch menu at the moment, but here’s hoping the brunch buffet makes a return in 2022.
Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ
What We Order: Brisket, Pulled Pork, or Smoked Pulled Chicken
As the name suggests, Valentina’s combines classic Texas BBQ with Tex Mex to make some of the best tacos you’ll find in Austin. The Real Deal Holyfield breakfast taco is a must try, but our favorite taco is actually their plain bean and cheese taco with added pulled pork. Honestly, you can’t go wrong with any of the taco options.
And it’s worth mentioning, they have more than tacos. They have great BBQ sandwiches for the purists and regular specials for crazy good burgers. Check out their Instagram to get an idea of what’s on the menu. Valentina’s is open Wednesday-Sunday.
What We Order: Pastrami Plate or Sandwich, Brussels & Jam Pizza, Pesto Pizza
Pieous sounds like a chain restaurant or one of those build-your-own pizza shops. So we drove right past it for more than a year until I saw their appearance on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. Turns out, they’re cooking up awesome Neapolitan, cured pastrami, and freshly baked sourdough bread and pastries.
The pastrami is the star of the show, in my opinion. And they’re even shipping it now so you can order some if you’re only visiting Austin!
What We Order: Brisket Hash and Eggs Benedict with Brisket/Pulled Pork (Weekend Brunch), Truck Stop Brisket Enchiladas, or Brisket Burrito
Right next door to Pieous, The Switch is part of the Stiles Switch BBQ family. Next to Franklin BBQ, this crew has some of the best melts-in-your-mouth brisket we’ve had in Texas. You can’t go wrong with anything brisket, but they also have great pulled pork. The weekend brunch is a must try if you find yourself in Dripping Springs or West Austin.
Gourdough’s Big. Fat. Donuts.
What We Order: Naughty and Nice, Miss Shortcake, Black Out
If you’re in South Austin around the South Congress area, just one street over sits this little food trailer where you can get ridiculously indulgent donuts. We’re talking giant donuts topped with everything from fudge chocolate frosting with strawberries (the Dirty Berry) to peanut butter icing, fresh grilled bananas, grilled bacon, and honey (the Fat Elvis).
These things are huge, so plan on sharing or having a stomach ache for an hour or two. We like the classic cinnamon sugar Naughty and Nice, as it’s a bit lighter than some of the others on the menu. Their base donuts are really great, with or without all the fixin’s.
Side note: The trailer is separate from the flagship Gourdough’s Public House on South Lamar, which you can visit for more food options like donut sandwiches and the like.
Blue Corn Harvest
What We Order: The 512 Pulled Pork
While technically right outside of Austin in either Cedar Park or Georgetown, Blue Corn Harvest has some killer pulled pork taquitos and enchiladas. Their pork is cooked with a local 512 Pecan Porter and melts in the mouth.
We’ve not ventured too far from the pulled pork, aside from a salad or two, but I’m confident you can find plenty of quality Tex-Mex options on the menu.
What We Order: Sliced Brisket
It’s not really a favorite food in Austin list without Franklin BBQ, is it? When we first moved to Austin I was skeptical that anything could be worth standing in line for hours. Then Vanessa ordered me some for pick up as a Christmas gift and I became a believer.
It’s the best brisket I’ve had in Austin. And thanks to 2020, you can easily place to-go orders and skip the lines (mostly). Just be sure you place your order well in advance. If you have extras, put them to good use with our leftover brisket fried rice recipe.
And we have to mention its appearance in what is arguably a top 5 movie ever created, Jon Favreau’s Chef.
As John Leguizamo’s character explains, “This is OG Texas barbecue. These guys gotta stay up all night and stoke those fires. Low and slow.”
What We Order: Sandwiches & Snacks
What do you get when Aaron Franklin of Franklin BBQ and Tyson Cole of Uchi join forces? The Asian smokehouse known as Loro. This place feels like a quintessential Austin spot with a chill outdoor seating area and order at the bar set up.
After hearing about Franklin BBQ above, you know anything with brisket is going to be good. But the same can be said for all things smoked at Loro.
We also really love the snack options like crispy potatoes with miso mustard and crunchy sweet corn fritters with sriracha aioli. If you want to have a drink and casual snacks, Loro’s a great spot.
Chuy’s Tex Mex
What We Order: Fajita Chicken Big as Yo’ Face Burrito or Fajitas
Before we moved to Austin, our restaurant options were a bit limited in Little Rock, Arkansas. One of our favorite spots was Chuy’s Tex-Mex, a franchise that originated in, you guessed it, Austin. Since moving here it’s still one of our favorites. They make great in-house tortillas and have super fresh salsa and crispy thin tortilla chips.
The Shiner marinated fajita chicken is our go-to protein option whether it’s straight up fajitas or stuffed in a queso smothered burrito. Honorable mention: try the jalapeño ranch, bang bang sauce, and unlimited queso bar in the bar area (varies by location/hours)
Leroy & Lewis
What We Order: Barbacoa, Beef Cheeks, Burgers
Leroy and Lewis BBQ is a food truck with an accompanying smoker serving up amazing smoked meats and treats. And, I mean, any place that offers Frito chili pie as a side dish gets a place on my list.
You’ll find their truck at Cosmic Coffee + Beer Garden, which makes a visit even better. You can eat your BBQ outdoors in a really cool setting. You’ll also find two other trucks serving tacos and chicken wings, in case you have a non-BBQ-lover on board.
What Are We Missing?
We’re still relatively new to Austin and can only try so many restaurants, so fast. Let us know what we should try next and your personal list of the best restaurants in Austin, Texas in the comments!