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.
Before you get to the list, we’d like to point out that we have a strong appreciation for the value scale and casual gems. Austin has some great fine dining options, but we’ll go for taco trucks, BBQ, takeaway pizza, and Tex-Mex 9.5 times out of 10. For more fine dining recommendations, check out the Female Foodie Austin Top 25.
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: Suadero, Carnitas, Bistec Tacos or Anything on the Menu
Tucked between two buildings on North Lamar, you’ll find a red truck serving up some of the best tacos we’ve ever had. You can’t go wrong with menu selection here but if you can catch them on a Saturday, they bust out the trompo for al pastor.
As the owner would say, “no se duerman.” Don’t sleep on these tacos!
Being a truck, I’d check their Instagram before heading over to make sure they’re not sold out for the day. And they don’t open on Monday or Sunday to prep for each week. For more food truck tips, check out our Austin food trucks guide.
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.
What We Order: Taquitos
Menu selection is easy at Discada because they serve one thing—tacos discada. If you’re unfamiliar with this style of cooking, here’s a description straight from their menu: “24 hour marinade of beef, pork, bell peppers and onions slowly cooked for 6 hours in a tractor plow disc – topped with onion, cilantro, pineapple and served with a side of salsa & lime.”
It’s a very unique taco that’s unbelievably tasty, making Discada a must-try restaurant in East Austin.
La Tunita 512
What We Order: Birria Tacos, Quesotacos, and Consomé
Word on the street is that these are the best birria tacos in Austin, and I think I’d agree. The meat is unbelievably flavorful and tender, and I love how they toast the cheese for their quesotacos. So much so, I modeled my chicken birria quesotacos after theirs.
Funny (or maybe sad) story: Vanessa and I lived right down the street from this unassuming taco stand for an entire year and only discovered it after moving across town. It’s definitely a hidden gem, but one that’s catching on. I would definitely check their Instagram if you’re going later in the day to make sure they’re not sold out.
What We Order: Any Breakfast Sandwich on Bagels
How could we not include a restaurant named after a fellow King Charles Cavalier? Doggo loyalty aside, Nervous Charlie’s is serving up some of the best bagels you’ll find in Austin right down the street from one of our other favorites, Paprika.
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.
Juliet Italian Kitchen
What We Order: Lasagna and Pizza
If you’re in the Barton Springs/Zilker Park area of South Austin, Juliet is a great spot for both grabbing a drink and antipasti on their patio or eating lasagna and pizza until you’re unconscious. We typically do the latter. There’s also a brand new second Arboretum location for the Central and North Austin crowd.
You can also grab a weekend brunch at Juliet, but we’ve yet to try it. Let us know if you beat us to it!
Veracruz All Natural
What We Order: Migas Taco, El Sancho, El Tradicional
Like everyone else, we fell in love with their infamous migas taco. So much so, we made a copycat migas tacos recipe. Veracruz is serving up some of the best breakfast tacos you’ll find in Austin and arguably the country.
If you’ve been eating nothing but Texas BBQ and need a meat break, this is a great place to go. There are tons of vegetarian and vegan taco options.
And no matter what part of Austin you’re in, you can probably find a Veracruz located nearby.
Sawyer & Co.
What We Order: Boudin Balls, Blackened Catfish Orleans, Jambalaya, Red Beans and Rice, Biscuits and Gravy, Breakfast Burritos,
So basically the whole menu. If you’re in East Austin and need a cajun fix or brunch spot, Sawyer & Co. is the move. You really can’t go wrong with ordering, and the diner vibes are always a nice change of pace.
Sawyer & Co. has been open since 2014, and we accidentally stumbled upon their 7th anniversary party recently. You’ll notice several menu items mention “Arkie” and that’s paying homage to Arkie’s Grill, a diner that served East Austin for more than 60 years.
Jack Allen’s Kitchen
What We Order: Barbacoa Enchiladas, Barbacoa Stackers, Guacamole, Brookie Pie, 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 Mesquite 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.
P.S. I recently saw they’re moving to a permanent location just south of Austin in Buda, Texas. It’s definitely worth the drive to Buda if you’re reading this after the fact!
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.
What We Order: Enchiladas and Salsa X
This is one of our favorite north Austin lunch spots. If you’re going on a weekend, you’ll want to grab a reservation.
First timers should definitely try the salsa sampler. Salsa X seems to be everyone’s favorite, but the salsa fresca and molcajete verde are also fantastic. Eldorado cafe has awesome sides like butternut squash hash and the classic refried beans and rice to go with platos fuertes (main course) like carnitas cubanos and carne guisada.
Our favorite dishes are the enchiladas, particularly the Dart Bowl and Enchiladas con Carne. As a fun fact, our smoked chili con carne enchiladas are a close relative to Eldorado’s Dart Bowl enchiladas.
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 (we have a copycat recipe), bang bang sauce, and unlimited queso bar in the bar area (varies by location/hours)
What We Order: Beef Fajitas
We were slow adopters of Lupe Tortilla, despite hearing it pop up in conversations about favorite Tex-Mex restaurants in Austin. After being underwhelmed on several occasions, we finally figured out their specialty—beef fajitas. I’m usually not a fan of beef fajitas because most places can’t get the skirt steak tender enough, but Lupe Tortilla’s are amazing.
So amazing, in fact, I asked the chef for their recipe and went down a rabbit hole on cuts of skirt steak and tenderizing methods. The result was our best Traeger beef fajitas recipe.
Oh, and as a bonus for Lupe, I love that they serve charro beans with the standard chips and salsa.
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.
Terry Black’s BBQ
What We Order: Brisket, Pork Ribs, Jalapeño Sausage, and Sides
A descendent of the legendary Lockhart, Texas BBQ spot, Terry Black’s is on nearly everyone’s “Best BBQ in Austin, Texas” list. And for good reason. I would rank their brisket in my top 3-4 alongside Franklin, Valentina’s, and Stiles Switch. But don’t sleep on the pork ribs or sausages either.
Where Terry Black’s really stands out is in the sides department. The cornbread is a must, and the corn, mac and cheese, and potato salad are all some of the best BBQ joint sides you’ll come across in Austin.
And don’t forget to try some banana pudding while you’re there.
Stiles Switch BBQ
What We Order: Brisket and Daily Specials
Speaking of Stiles Switch, I think their brisket is consistently one of the best in town, and that’s at any of their locations (you’ll see sister restaurant The Switch on the list below). The original Stiles Switch on North Lamar is in the Violet Crown shopping center, which you might recognize from Dazed and Confused. It’s a cool spot with great food, and you’ll get a dose of nostalgic Austin while you’re there.
I love the specials at Stiles Switch. Keep an eye on their Instagram so you know when to go get some brisket enchiladas or smoked hatch green chile burgers.
Side note: Stiles Switch is right across the street from Paprika. So save room for tacos in case you haven’t developed your secondary taco stomach just yet.
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: 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.
Tiny’s Milk & Cookies
What We Order: Chocolate Chip Cookies
While it might have the look of an Insta-trap (a place that looks super cute but doesn’t deliver), Tiny’s chocolate chip cookies are actually too legit to quit. Most chocolate chip cookies that are on the larger side tend to sacrifice soft and gooey for size. But Tiny’s manages to do both. They’re definitely worth checking out.
The other offerings we’ve tried from Tiny’s, like their milk and cookies ice cream and Kouign-amann, have been good but I’d save the calories for more cookies.
It’s also worth mentioning, Tiny’s Milk & Cookies is part of Tiny Boxwoods, a neighborhood restaurant serving a full menu. We’ve not tried the restaurant yet. Let us know about it if you go!
And good news if you’re an out of towner. It looks like you can have cookie dough shipped from Tiny’s nationwide.
The Peached Tortilla
What We Order: Dan Dan Noodles and Japajam Burger
Originally a food truck, The Peached Tortilla is serving up, as they say, Asian fusion street food with a Southern twist. It’s one of the more unique (in a great way) menus on our list, and you’d be hard pressed to not find something you love.
The burger has a 6-ounce patty with tomato jam, tempura onion strings, Chinese BBQ sauce, and pepper jack cheese. It’s easily one of my favorite burgers in Austin, and the fries are amazing as well with plenty of dipping sauce options.
What We Order: Pizza
Helpful order, right? The menu at Sammataro is simple—you add your choice of toppings to their mozzarella, basil, and tomato pie or their elusive white pie (better order early). Whatever you order, we’re pretty confident it’ll be one of the best pizzas you’ll find in Austin.
We’re talking New York style pizza in a wood fire oven with dough that’s fermented for 48-72 hours and made from local milled flour. I read that the team behind Sammataro is a mix of Brooklyn and Austin natives with experience in some of the best pizza shops out there.
What We Order: Burgers and Oreo Milkshakes
If you’re a fan of In-N-Out or Austin-based P. Terry’s, you’ll love Buddy’s. You’ll probably love Buddy’s even more, in my opinion.
They use fresh never frozen angus beef to make perfect 3-ounce smash burgers with crispy fries and hand spun milkshakes. And boy, those milkshakes are something special. Their Oreo milkshake has a unique hint of Mexican vanilla and cinnamon that inspired Vanessa’s No Churn Oreo Ice Cream.
Oh, and you can order alcohol at Buddy’s, if you’re looking for another reason to visit.
Salt & Time
What We Order: Butcher Burger and Pasta
Originally (and still) a butcher shop in East Austin, the restaurant portion of Salt & Time has one of the best burgers in Austin as well as some amazing pasta dishes. They cook their fries in beef fat, which is even more amazing than it sounds. Everything on the menu is made fresh in house, and it shows. While the menu is a bit pricy, we think it’s worth every penny.
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.
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 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!