Updated October 2019
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!
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 barbecue in Austin (aside from Franklin Barbecue). Get the beef ribs, they’re the size of a dinosaur bone. If La Barbecue is closed, here’s a couple of other 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.
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 (food truck location on Cezar Chavez) and order the migas tacos.
Sushi – Uchiko (James Beard) 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.
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
Cafe No Se – a cute spot with a delicious quinoa bowl
Hillside Farmacy – I like going to Hillside Farmacy during the week for quiet meetings
Kinda Tropical – rainbow rice bowl is healthy but also delicious
HEALTHY RESTAURANTS IN AUSTIN
Honest Mary’s – love their healthy grain bowls and it’s so convenient to pick up a couple of bowls to eat throughout the week.
Leaf – love their salads but parking is a pain in downtown Austin
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.
BEST AUSTIN RESTAURANTS FOR BRUNCH
Le Politique – I’ve been here several times for brunch on the weekend and it’s always good.
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 were so good.
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!
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 – 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)
BEST AUSTIN RESTAURANTS FOR DATE NIGHT SPOTS
Uchi + Uchiko – obvious but still the best date spots in Austin. 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 – share a couple of pizzas, crispy potatoes, and the labneh over a bottle of wine.
Odd Duck – small plates are perfect for sharing
Kemuri Tatsu-Ya – fun Japanese smokehouse 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!
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 long conversation.
Last year I spent over $8000 on restaurant meals alone – that’s a good amount of money. When I saw Uber launch Uber Visa Card that offers 4% back on dining at restaurants, takeout, bars, and Uber Eats*, I signed up immediately. 4% back on $8000 is $320!
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