A Foodie Traveler’s Restaurant Guide for Austin, Texas

Long known for its culinary prowess, Austin Texas is a food lover’s dream destination. From street food to James Beard winners, Austin’s culinary scene is full of diversity with ample access to good, local ingredients.

Whether you’re in Austin for 24 hours or a full week, you’ll be eating well the entire time! Tacos and BBQ are probably the most famous of Austin’s cuisine options, but I found some amazing Japanese food and plenty of new American delights to enjoy during my visit. 

Here are 15 foodie restaurants to try while traveling in Austin, Texas.

Jo’s Coffee 1300 S Congress Ave

Home to the famous “I love you so much” mural, Jo’s Coffee is a street side joint with an adorable patio. On Sunday’s, they even have live music! I can’t recommend the Iced Turbo (or the less sugary Belgium Bomber) enough. Made with espresso, chocolate, milk, coffee and syrup, these coffee concoctions are Jo’s signature drink and live up to the hype. They have also started offering baked treats and light breakfast options to enjoy while you watch people snap photos in front of the street art mural.

Salt Lick 18300 Farm to Market Rd 1826

No trip to the Lone Star state would be complete without some Texas barbecue. One of the most famous BBQ joints in Austin is the Salt Lick, with the original location about 25 minutes outside of town. From beef brisket to pork sausage to pork ribs, the Salt Lick offers all the classic BBQ staples as well as a big assortment of delicious sides like potato salad, cole slaw, baked beans, bread, housemade pickles and jalapeños. I think my favorite was the beef brisket which was super tender and fatty, but smokey and well-seasoned. The sausage was also really good, especially slathered in their house made BBQ sauce. The baked beans were SO good, just the right balance of sugar maple and bacon flavors!

Pitchfork Pretty 2708 E Cesar Chavez St

The first thing you will notice when you step into Pitchfork Pretty is the spectacular design. This restaurant was well thought out by a talented designer. From the pendant light fixtures to the contrasting layout of white tile behind the bar, it is truly a space to enjoy! But Pitchfork Pretty is more than just a pretty space—the food is great too. Self-described as hill country food with an upscale twist, this was probably my favorite meal that I had during my time in Austin. I went for brunch and I would recommend starting with the biscuits and dips. They are crispy and warm and buttery, everything you could want! From there, the pretty bagel sandwich was a treat as were the raw oysters.  

Torchy’s Tacos 1822 S Congress Ave

I have a soft spot in my heart for Torchy’s. I know that there are better tacos to eat in Austin, but I’ve been to Torchy’s on multiple trips, in multiple cities around Texas. I just love it. I blame the queso. It is super creamy and I love the toppings they add in. It is SO good that it just keeps me coming back. Their alacarte taco menu has a big assortment of items, and a few that I love include the Fried Avocado, the Crossroads and the Trailer Park. Plus, they have a variety of tasty salsas go alongside for dipping and drizzling.

June’s All Day 1722 S Congress Ave

Somewhere between an old school American diner, Parisian cafe and an Instagram backdrop, you’ll find the all-day breakfast spot June’s on Austin’s South Congress avenue. The talented designer who created this space perfectly mixed the modern European café vibe with an incredible menu of healthy yet indulgent dishes. The vibe just works! Don’t miss the baked goods—they are truly a delight. We also ordered a few different brunch dishes including the breakfast chalupa, the croque madame and the chicken paillard, all of which were excellent.

Licha’s Cantina 1306 E 6th St

With a beautiful outdoor patio, this upscale new Mexican eatery is a cool 6th Street hang out with a perfect sharing small plates menu. There were a bunch of dishes I had never even heard of such as huaraches and pambazos, all of which were delicious. My favorite, however, was the cochinita cazuelita, which is cooked in a small clay pot.

Holy Roller 509 Rio Grande St

From its punk rock vibe to the fact that it is all female owned and run, Holy Roller is a badass restaurant. Their all day breakfast and diner-style menu is full of classic favorites and homey dishes served with a funky or whimsical element, like fries and soft serve or a brisket sandwich with green apple. The restaurant’s space is decorated to fit the punk-rock vibe with irreverent religious pieces that draw your attention. The staff was very knowledgeable and chatty when I sat at the bar, which is always a plus as a solo traveler!

East Side Kings Food Truck 1618 E 6th St

This food truck is typically parked in the Liberty Bar patio and is the brainchild of Top Chef winner Paul Qui (note, I went here in 2015 before the domestic abuse charges). The Asian-fusion menu is packed with buns, curry plates and meshi. I tried an assortment of delicious dishes, such as the beef tongue buns which were well seasoned with an awesome peanut curry sauce, the poor qui’s buns which were packed with flavor and a fan favorite, and the beet fries were perfectly cooked and strangely delicious.

Kemuri Tatsu-Ya 2713 E 2nd St

Rated the best restaurant in Austin in 2017, Kemuri Tatsu-Ya is a Japanese Izakaya with a love of Texas BBQ, the kind of unique cuisine hybrid that could only exist in a city like Austin. The menu is full of strange and delightful combinations, such as Texas Ramen, GuacaPoke, and BBQ Eel. There is also a special oddities and rarities menu with dishes I have never heard of like fish liver or marinated jellyfish. We wound up spending nearly 3 hours here simply ordering along the way and sipping down some of their delicious Japanese-inspired cocktails.

 

Arlo Grey 111 E Cesar Chavez St

Housed inside the Line Hotel along Lady Bird Lake, the cavernous Arlo Grey space with a stunning open concept bar is not your average hotel restaurant. Top Chef winner Kristen Kish womans the kitchen here, pumping out a creative and seasonal menu full of unique flavor combinations. The menu is likely to be different every few weeks, but on my visit, the veggie dishes were the true stars. I was obsessed with the carrot and corn dish we had!

Bird Bird Biscuit2701 Manor Rd

The tiny but mighty menu at Bird Bird Biscuit is simple—biscuit sandwiches. Their quirky, minimalist space in the Cherrywood neighborhood seems far away from the rest of the spots on this list, but the drive is well worth it. I ordered the Lovely Day, housemade chicken sausage with a fried egg, cheddar cheese and pesto, which I can pretty easily say is one of the top 3 breakfast sandwiches I have ever had. Every ingredient was absolute perfection!

Forthright35 Brazos St

In the heart of downtown Austin tucked inside an innocuous office building is where you will find one of Austin’s best brunches. The homey dining room at Forthright makes you feel like you are sitting inside someone’s house with the big windows and cozy furniture. This is a place where you could easily sit and read, watching the afternoon pass you by. The menu is full of wholesome, recognizable food like avocado toast, eggs Benedict and pork belly hash, all cooked to perfection with house-made ingredients (pictured as the blog’s header image).

Hayley’s Cakes and Cookies — 1700 S. Lamar

If you need a sweet treat during your visit to Austin, I would recommend checking out Hayley’s Cakes and Cookies on Lamar. Instagrammable and delicious? Count me in. As they self-describe, Hayley’s Cakes and Cookies are simply the best around and it is true—these are some amazing sugar cookies. I went into Hayley’s after a fellow blogger, Kelly from Travel Branyik, recommended it to me and I was not disappointed! The cafe has hundreds of different of cookies to choose from all decorated to adorable perfection. The sugar icing work is truly incredible and you can find designs from a party llama to a Texas state outline. 

Bangers — 79 Rainey St

Austin’s restaurant and drink scene is full of places with gorgeous patios, and one of my favorite patios that I visited was at Bangers on Rainey Street. Rainey Street is popular party and nightlife area but Banger’s offers a humble Texas beer garden that is not too rowdy, not too chill. This is a great place to hang with friends for day drinking. Their beer menu is robust offering many different styles and you can create your own beer flights if you want to sample several options. For food, their 30 housemade sausage are where it’s at! They offer daily specials as well as seasonal selections ranging from bratwursts to merguez sausages, all made in house.

Fukumoto 514 Medina St

Just off of the bustling 6th street is Fukumoto, a Japanese Izakaya with an affinity for traditional sushi and skewered yakitori. The friendly staff makes you feel right at home from the second you step in as they yell a welcome greeting, leaning into the authentic Japanese experience. I opted to sit at the sushi bar in front of the large open kitchen to make my meal lively and entertaining. The menu is big, so I asked my server for their recommendations, letting them drive my dining experience. I wound up trying a few different maki, sake and yakitori during my visit and it was all delicious!

Are you ready to eat your way around Austin, Texas with these foodie restaurants? Pin the image below so you don’t forget any of these delicious Austin eateries!

Author: Megan Arz

I am a travel and food obsessed Midwesterner living in Chicago and dreaming of the world. I work as a full-time program manager for Greenheart Travel, but I am also committed to integrating the travel lifestyle into my every day routines. I am passionate about ethical travel, meeting new people, creating unique memories and eating local cuisine!

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