Updated February 2020
Confession: I eat out almost every day of the week. Mostly because I need to try new restaurants that are opening (so I can give you guys recommendations through my texting service. Yes, you can text me for restaurant recommendations at 512-400-3637!) and I really just like eating out. Follow me on Instagram at @atasteofkoko for my updated picks!
So here it is, an Austinite’s guide to the best restaurants in Austin – my weekly go-to picks for healthy, brunch, desserts, happy hour, girl’s night, and date night.
IF YOU’RE VISITING AUSTIN FOR THE FIRST TIME
There are 5 things you have to eat in Austin: tacos, breakfast tacos, barbecue, queso, and margaritas. These are the main five food groups in the city and here are the best spots to go:
For barbecue – La Barbecue has the best Texas bbq in Austin (aside from Franklin Barbecue). Get brisket, pork ribs, and specifically the beef ribs, they’re the size of a dinosaur bone. If La Barbecue is closed, here are a couple of other Texas barbecue restaurants in Austin.
For tacos & margaritas – go to La Condesa for the modern Mexican cuisine. Tacos & margaritas are each a food group if you live in Austin. See my post on the best tacos in Austin.
For queso, tacos & frozen margaritas – Fresa’s has my favorite margarita in Austin, frozen prickly pear margarita with salt. Make sure to order the queso, elotes off the cob, and steak chimichurri tacos with a colorful outdoor patio.
Breakfast tacos – go to Veracruz All Natural (food truck location on Cezar Chavez) and order the migas tacos, it’s the best breakfast taco in the city.
Sushi – Uchiko (Chef Tyson Cole is James Beard-nominated) is still the local favorite. If you don’t want to spend $$$, go during happy hour (daily from 5–6:30pm). Here’s my guide to the best happy hours in Austin.
Ramen – there are a couple of spots for ramen but my favorites are Ramen Tatsu-Ya for their pork tonkatsu and Daruma Ramen for their chicken ramen
MY WEEKLY GO-TO AUSTIN RESTAURANTS
During the week, I don’t always have time for lunch/dinner but if I do, here are my go-to’s.
El Chilito – 2 beef puffy tacos and an agua fresca is my go-to order every single time.
Titaya’s – if I’m flying back from a trip, I usually call Titaya’s right when I land for a pickup order of the pad see ew.
Cava – this is a chain but the bowls are SO good. I love the braised lamb grain bowl.
Central Market – slightly embarrassed to admit that I will occasionally grab the prepackaged sushi from Central Market. Sometimes a girl just wants to eat sushi and watch Netflix!
Home Slice Pizza – pepperoni and the margherita pizza are my favs
Elizabeth St Cafe – pho is overpriced but the kaffir lime fried chicken bún is delicious.
Snooze – Snooze Classic with sunny side up eggs, chorizo, crispy hash browns, and an English muffin.
Contigo – Contigo has a solid brunch with cocktails. I love this spot particularly for Sunday brunch because it’s outdoors so if the weather is nice, I’ll walk over from the Mueller Farmers Market.
Cafe No Se – a cute spot with a delicious veggie quinoa bowl and avocado toast
Hillside Farmacy – I like going to Hillside Farmacy on the East Side during the week for quiet meetings
Kinda Tropical – rainbow rice bowl is healthy but also delicious
Via 313 – I don’t eat at Via 313 too often because the pizza is SO good but it’s also thick Detroit style
Home Slice Pizza – if I’m walking around on South Congress, it’s hard to not get a slice of margherita pizza at Home Slice. My favorite is their pepperoni pizza.
Baguette House – if I’m in North Austin, I try to swing by Baguette House to grab some banh mi to eat during the week. It’s so convenient!
SEE ALSO: 21 Best Spots For Vegan Food In Austin
HEALTHY RESTAURANTS IN AUSTIN
Honest Mary’s – really good healthy grain bowls and it’s so convenient to pick up a couple of bowls to eat throughout the week.
Blender & Bowls – dragonfruit acai bowls are my jam
Cava – healthy grain bowls with lamb meatballs!
Soup Peddler – when I need a quick sandwich and soup for lunch, the Soup Peddler is the perfect fix
Malibu Poke – there are a couple of poké restaurants in Austin but Malibu Poké has the freshest poké IMO
High Note – this new cafe by the owners of Kerbey Lane is super cute and the food is really good.
SEE ALSO: 24 Best Healthy Restaurants In Austin
BEST AUSTIN RESTAURANTS FOR BRUNCH
Le Politique – I’ve been here several times for brunch on the weekend and it’s always good.
Comedor – one of the newer restaurants in Austin and just named one of the best new restaurants in Austin by Texas Monthly
Fresa’s – many Sundays have been spent on the spacious patio at Fresa’s eating queso and sipping on margaritas.
Contigo – Contigo is one of my favorite brunch spots in Austin because of the outdoor dining and it’s dog-friendly!
Elizabeth St Cafe – everyone loves the patio space at this local French-Vietnamese cafe
Snooze – Snooze serves brunch all day through the week but not only is it delicious but also not pricey. Snooze has three locations in Austin.
Paperboy – there are two trailer locations in East Austin and South Austin. The breakfast menu is the cure for any hangovers.
Suerte – my current favorite Tex-Mex weekend brunch. The shrimp tostada and basket of pan dulce are so good. Suerte makes their own masa for their own homemade tortillas.
Emmer & Rye – another favorite brunch spot that is on Rainey Street. Emmer & Rye recently launched a new brunch program called Bistro & Bubbles – bottles are 50% off!
New Fortune – if you want authentic Chinese-style dim sum, check out New Fortune on North Lamar.
SEE ALSO: 22 Spots With The Best Brunch In Austin
BEST DESSERTS IN AUSTIN
Sugar Mama’s – my go-to bakery when I need birthday cupcakes
Cow Tipping Creamery – if traffic wasn’t so bad from Central Austin to South Austin, I’d go to Cow Tipping Creamery every week for vanilla soft serve with chocolate syrup. Treat yourself to their birthday cake stacker or shake
Amy’s Ice Cream – Mexican vanilla with vanilla Oreos will always have my heart
Lick Ice Creams – my favorite artisan ice cream spot in Austin!
Prohibition Creamery – the one and only boozy ice cream shop. If you’re with a couple of friends, try the Speakeasy Flight is a trio of seasonal flavors with paired toppings and pour-overs
Frozen Rolls – Thai rolled ice cream with fun toppings
BEST AUSTIN RESTAURANTS FOR HAPPY HOURS
Clark’s Oyster Bar – the burger + fries is 1/2 off from Monday to Friday from 3 – 6pm, and it’s 1/2 off bottles of wine on the weekends from 3 – 6pm.
Uchiko – even though Uchiko broke my heart by taking the Brussels sprouts off the happy hour menu, I still love Uchiko’s happy hour.
Lucky Robot – Lucky Robot’s outdoor tables are a great spot to people watch on South Congress. Happy hour is Monday – Friday from 4 – 6pm.
Kome – $4.5 Japanese chicken wings, $4 gyoza, $4 – $6 sushi rolls, and $5 house sake is Monday – Thursday from 5 – 6pm.
AUSTIN RESTAURANTS FOR GIRL’S NIGHT
Aviary Wine & Kitchen – an amazing selection of wine with bites
June’s – another great wine bar in Austin that’s perfect for catching up with girlfriends
Josephine House – just caught up with the girlfriends at Josephine House last weekend while sipping on glasses of rosé on the patio
Hank’s – I’ve spent too many afternoons sipping wine on the Hank’s patio
40 North – cute bungalow for pizza and wine (I love the hot honey pizza with tomato, ricotta, coppa, parm, fresno, and Mike’s Hot Honey with a glass of Lambrusco)
Vespiao – anything a girlfriend asks me to get dinner, I try to suggest Vespiao because I love their Italian pasta and their wine list. We can then go shopping on South Congress afterward.
BEST AUSTIN RESTAURANTS FOR DATE NIGHT SPOTS
Uchi + Uchiko – obvious but still the best date spots in Austin. The hot rock Wagyu beef is a popular pick if you’re on a date at Uchi. Otoko is another fine-dining option.
Clark’s Oyster Bar – I love this cute, intimate seafood spot. Even celebrated one of my birthdays here! Clark’s pan-seared burger with shoestring fries is my absolute favorite
Le Politique – cute European restaurant with delicious entrees and pastries. They have lobster + frites!
Justine’s – steak frites with house red and the chocolate cake? I’d swipe right on that.
Irene’s – for a casual date night, I’d go to Irene’s for some hazelnut & Nutella toast with cocktails.
Ah Sing Den – I really love the Asian vibes at this East Austin bar and their cocktails are really good.
40 North – start with the labneh (strained yogurt with za’atar), fried cauliflower, and crispy potatoes for appetizers while you wait for the pizza. The hot honey is probably their most popular pizza but also look at their board for their current pizza collab.
Odd Duck – this restaurant on South Lamar serves small plates are perfect for sharing
Kemuri Tatsu-Ya – fun Japanese smokehouse izakaya with small bites and cocktails. I love their cute cat cocktails!
G’Raj Mahal – best Indian food in Austin, love the tiki masala with garlic naan, batura, and Indian spiced beignets!
Oseyo – this newly opened Korean restaurant in East Austin serves authentic Korean food that’s sharable between two people
ATX Cocina – I love the Mexican food at ATX Cocina, especially the meat dishes! Splurge on the bone-in ribeye or pork chop tomahawk if you’re with a group.
Sway – I’ve celebrated several special occasions here. It can get pretty noisy in the restaurant and it’s shared seating so I wouldn’t recommend Sway if you want to have a conversation.
dipdipdip – by the owners of Ramen Tatsu-Ya, Kemuri, and Domo Alley-Gato, dipdipdip is a unique shabu shabu dining experience. I wouldn’t recommend this for group dates as it can get really loud and there are dividers between the tables.
Launderette – a super cute New American restaurant in East Austin that used to be a laundromat and now serves stellar food and cocktails. New Yorkers seem to really love this restaurant. The beluga lentil and burrata are my favorites for lunch. For dinner, the wood-grilled octopus with royal corona beans and Spanish chorizo and grilled broccolini.
Olamaie – Olamaie is a modern Southern restaurant helmed by one of 2018 and 2019 James Beard Awards “Best Chef: Southwest” finalists and FOOD & WINE’s “Best New Chefs,” Michael Fojtasek. The menu focuses on farm-to-table freshness and a dining experience that combines classic Southern hospitality with modern restaurant craftsmanship.
BEST MEXICAN RESTAURANTS IN AUSTIN
I had to write a little section on my favorite Mexican restaurants because this is Austin and we have both Mexican food and Tex-Mex:
La Condesa – upscale Mexican restaurant with the OG classic margarita
ATX Cocina – La Condesa used to be my favorite Mexican restaurant in downtown Austin but the IMO the menu at ATX Cocina is superior. Everything from the tamal to the empanadas and pork belly tacos.
Fresa’s – my favorite spot for sharable taco plates, queso, elotes, and frozen prickly pear margaritas.
Grizzelda’s – cute Tex-Mex restaurant in East Austin with an extensive margarita list with a jalapeno margarita
Habanero Cafe – a hole in the wall Mexican restaurant that serves comfort food as its finest. Cash only.
Fonda San Miguel – the nicest Mexican restaurant in Austin is Fonda San Miguel on North Burnet. Sometimes I will splurge on their Sunday brunch buffet that’s around $45 per person.
Matt’s El Rancho – if you’re with a group that wants Tex-Mex and wants to drink, I recommend Matt’s El Rancho.
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