Austin is the place to be; and the place to eat.
I’ve lived here in Austin for over 20 years, and man I’ve watched it grow. I grew up going to Westlake, went to the University of Texas, and have been living amongst so many foodies friends in downtown Austin since. Austin is home, it’s hip, it’s healthy, it’s active, it’s beautiful. Okay – it may be a little hot and there’s some traffic, but that’s not stopping everyone from moving here and eating their way through the fun and delicious food scene here in the big ATX. So here goes. I gathered together with a few of my favorite foodie gal pals and here’s what we came up with. This guide will change as the Austin foodscape changes, as I’ll continue to update it and keep it up to foodie heaven par.
Meet my top picks for mainly the central area of the city; they are in no way sponsored — just simply encouraged via taste buds, ambiance, and good company. Keep in mind these suggestions are *not* tailored towards food allergies; however, I can find something to eat at all places listed.
**locations pictured above (left to right) – top: paddle boarding at town lake, mount bonnell, bottom: jo’s south congress, austin motel
WHERE TO:: THE BEST SUMMER HANGS:
- Paddle Boarding @ Lady Bird Lake – take a jog, walk or run around Ladybird lake. Want to get in? It’s not the cleanest summer swim; so Austin grabs a paddle board here.
- Deep Eddy Pool + Pool Burger – top off Austin’s iconic, vintage and historic swim with the best laid back burger joint in Austin. My personal favorite Austin summer duo.
- The Line Hotel Poolside – this retro hotel sits right on town lake + Austin’s iconic Congress bat bridge, check out their summer pool pass, poolside sessions and poolside cinema. The hotel’s ‘Dean’s One Trick Pony’ cooks up one of the best burgers in Austin and P6 offer the chic-est rooftop lounge (reservation maybe required for P6).
- Barton Springs Pool – this natural pool (fed by underground springs) measures acres wide and is truly one of Austin’s most famous summer dives. If you don’t mind cold water; this one’s for you!
- Float the Guadalupe River – a Texas classic.
- The Congress Bats – head on over to the Congress bridge alongside hundreds of people to watch ATX’s notorious bats (the largest urban bat population ever) set sail at sunset (ranging between 7:30-9:45pm).
- Hike The Green Belt + Tacodeli – Take a hike on the green belt (find the rope swing) and head on over to my personal favorite taco stop in all of Austin.
- Rent a Boat on Lake Austin & Lake Travis – rent a boat on Lake Austin or Travis with my friends at ATX Boat Rentals.
- Zilker Park & Volleyball Courts – bring a blanket, frisbee, volleyball, pup and squad. Happy summer!
- Hamilton Pool Preserve – spots fill up fast and a reservation is required – be sure to reserve yours here.
- The 360 Overlook & Mount Bonnell – do it for the sunset (Mount Bonnell) and sunrise (360 overlook)! The two most beautiful public views in Austin!
- Auditorium Shores – And this one’s for the dogs: situated in the middle of the Long Center and Town Lake; Auditorium Shores park is one of my favorite summer chill spots.
WHERE YOU SHOULD BREAKFAST & BRUNCH:
- Hillside Farmacy – brunching is busy here and it’s my favorite brunch spot in Austin. Get there early!
- Eberly – the most beautiful interiors to boot.
- June’s All Day – darling. colorful. absolutely darling. The bone marrow pasta is a favorite for dinner; and the brunch is a girly girl’s paradise.
- Wu Chow – get ready to eat artsy on dim sum. This is a popular brunch hotspot in downtown Austin.
- 24 Diner – cozy feel-good food. Order the hash and say no more. Also the lattes will warm your heart.
- epicerie – this teeny French house’s brunch is pop-u-lar. Arrive early and get dibs on seating.
- TacoDeli – not brunch, but the best breakfast taco joint in Austin. You have my word on it.
WHERE TO HAVE A REALLY FUN GIRLS DINNER:
- Josephine House – ultimate spot to gather all the girly girls. Bonus: Chic French ambiance.
- Bar Peached – this just in; a brand new diggs with a girly-chic ambiance and lots of delicious drinks and bites.
- Mattie’s at Green Pastures – my team’s favorite spot in the summer to sit outside and sip rose, okay!
- Eberly – also recommend for HH, date night with the man, and a girls’ brunch spot. One of the most beautiful spots in Austin for interiors and the food is delish.
- Grizzelda’s – get ready to rest your eyes upon the cutest interiors in Austin. Order the pink margarita and get ready for the cutest cheers-ing boomerang in town.
- Perla’s – if you love South Congress, seafood and flawless ambiance.
- Launderette – this converted gas station/laundromat serves some of Austin’s most delicious (and somewhat expensive) bites to its trendiest socialites.
WHERE TO HAVE A (CHIC) DATE NIGHT:
- Uchi/Uchiko – Austin notorious sushi spots (depending on location and vibe) exceed all your Japanase expectations, but is quite heavy on the wallet. Their happy hour is easier on the budget and does not disappoint.
- Mattie’s at Green Pastures – want to watch peacocks while you eat the best biscuits and fried chicken in the world? Mattie’s old colonial style house and beautiful lawn has got you covered. I promise the beau will like it too.
- Jacoby’s Restaurant – head to the eastern outskirts of Austin to dine in one of Austin’s most notorious foodie stops.
- Justine’s Brasserie – the most beautiful patio, delicious authentic French food, and a dark romantic aesthetic. Justine’s Brasserie has mastered both ambiance AND food.
- Red Ash – what’s more romantic than Italian? This restaurant will warm the beau’s heart (I promise, it’s a hit with the men) and will steal your tastebuds! Favorite Italian in Austin!
- Lenoir – the epitome of a classic date night spot.
- Clark’s Oyster Bar – pop on over to Outdoor Voices afterwards and call it an Austin day.
WHERE TO TAKE A LUNCH MEETING:
- Tiny Boxwoods – the most perfect ambiance for a meeting spot. Also wonderful for dinner.
- Café No Sé – my personal favorite meeting spot in Austin. It never lets me down.
- Walton’s Fancy & Staple – Sandra Bullock owns this cafe; enough said. The ambiance is just as darling as the name!
- Blue Dahlia – make it to the East Side location and breathe in all the Austin feels.
- Vinaigrette – every kind of salad you have ever wanted–they’ve got it.
- Fresa’s Chicken – the South 1st location with lots of chicken on top.
- Flowerchild – healthy and delicious, flower power style.
- Fareground – One of my favorite spots downtown for a quick and easy bite. You can find anything to your liking at this Austin’s favorite food hall.
WHERE TO CHEERS & BACHELORETTE:
- P6 Rooftop – the hottest rooftop bar in downtown Austin; P6 is my personal favorite for a chic refresher. A reservation may be required as this is one of Austin’s most vibing spots.
- Kitty Cohen’s – all the vintage vibes; the cutest and girliest bar in town.
- Pete’s Piano Bar – bachelorette parties, it’s a must. You won’t stop smiling, I promise! Plus, on the way you’ll get a good taste of Austin’s notorious East 6th Street (also known as dirty 6th.)
- Whisler’s – This is on the East Side & its historic ambiance won’t disappoint.
- Upstairs at Caroline – fire pits, turf, games and more. The laid back energy of this bar has Austin coming back for more early on in the night.
- Garage Bar – a chic (and chill) hidden gem inside an actual parking garage with crafty cocktails.
- Barbarella – If you’re looking for the perfect place to dance the night away [and into the wee hours of the morning], here’s your gem, bachelorettes. Be prepared for a wild night!
- Rainy Street – Icenhauer’s, Lustre Pearl Rainey, The Drafting Room (prosecco on tap) – all these bars are on Rainey Street, where Austin likes to drink the day away.
- Irene’s – I bet you you’ve spotted their notorious neon sign on Instagram.
WHERE TO GET HAPPY HOUR: (cheers!)
- Loro – A fusion crafted by two of Austin’s most notorious chefs, Chef Tyson Cole of Uchi and Aaron Franklin of Franklin Barbecue. The two cooked up a dog-friendly chic patio – delicious bites and 1/2 off the booziest slushies weekdays 2-5pm. Easily a favorite for Austinites alike.
- La Condesa – get in on the tacos. My choice of drink: the watermelon martini.
- June’s All Day – darling. colorful. absolutely darling. Half off rosé and more – okay!
- Eberly and the Cedar Tavern – feast your eyes upon the most gorgeous ambiance in Austin. the Cedar Tavern is the back bar and has happy hour T-F from 5-7 pm and all night on Sunday and Monday. It’s by far one of my favorite bars in Austin.
- Jeffrey’s – all. day. long. on Mondays.
WHERE TO GET COFFEE: (from your personal austin coffee snob, moi)
- Merit Coffee – right in the heart of Seaholm, this girly-modern-chic coffee house is always packed. And the housemate caramel is delicious! Their almond milk also comes highly recommended.
- Elizabeth Street Cafe – what to order: the Vietnamese Coffee and all the darling macarons.
- Mozarts Coffee – do it for the views and the gram. Welcome to delicious coffee overlooking Lake Austin. Catch it in the winter and you’ll see a Christmas light show too!
- Summer Moon – Austin’s notorious moon milk is a h-i-t.
- Patika – great vibes, great coffee; laid back diggs.
- Houndstooth Coffee – everyone’s favorite latte in Austin; the 42nd and Lamar location is the most peaceful coffee shop around.
- Juice Society Matcha – the lavender matcha will steal your heart. You can also find this downtown at Fareground’s Henbit.
- Cenote – the best iced chai in the most hipster East Side setting.
- Halcyon – you can actually drink coffee and have s’mores, all at once. Yum yum!
WHERE TO INSTAGRAM:
- Jo’s Coffee & Austin Motel – the Iconic Congress location is the home of the instagrammable “I love you so much” wall in Austin. Walk just a few steps north (towards the capital) and you’ll find the famous and most photogenic Austin Motel.
- Pool Burger – actually the most darling and colorful hotspot in Austin; serving the best burgers right off the dock of Town Lake and next door to Deep Eddy pool.
- South Congress Hotel – feast your filters on the notorious smiley’s lighting up one of Austin’s most iconic hotel bars. Take a walk outside, and South Congress itself is also one of Austin’s snappable hotspots. (Also South Congress, the street, is where you can find the above “I love you so much” wall.)
- Grizzelda’s – palm wallpaper + eclectic-retro interiors + pink margaritas = get ready to gram.
- The Austin 360 Bridge Photo opp – get ready to hike to take a scenic snap over Westlake’s natural ambiance; Lake Austin and all the hill country. (not a restaurant)
- Elizabeth Street Cafe – have your iPhone ready for the cutest and girliest pics with marble backgrounds. I promise you’ve seen this spot a time or two on your social feeds.
- Mattie’s at Green Pastures – your snapchat will love the peacocks and stringed lights. Talk about a romantic feel.
- Mozarts Coffee – you can actually drink delicious espresso and stare out at Lake Austin at the same time. This spot is an Austin must for fall and winter.
- Mount Bonnell or the 360 Overlook – two sunrise cliffs overlooking Austin’s beautiful Hill Country / lake. It’s just one hike away. (not a restaurant)
WHERE TO TREAT YOUR SWEET TOOTH:
- Tiny Boxwoods Milk & Cookies – do it for the *best cookies* in ATX! The most precious ice cream and cookie stand.
- Sweet Ritual – best vegan ice cream in town!
- Lick – the most unique ice cream you’ll ever taste. My favorites? The beet flavor. Also loving the olive oil and goat cheese flavors.
- Prohibition Creamery – boozy + ice cream. Enough said.
- Amy’s Ice Cream – an Austin classic.
- Le Politique Bakery – French meets chic with some of the most delicious baked goods and coffee on notorious 2nd street.
- Gordough’s Donuts
WHERE TO GET MY FAVORITE PIZZA:
- Numero 28 Pizzeria – best pizza in town. I swear by it. Italian owned – you’ll feel like you’re taken on a trip to Italy with the friendliest staff and the most delicious pizza.
- Pinthouse Pizza – also a family favorite! Bring the beau here, I swear he’ll like the beer list.
- Via 313 – some say it’s the best pizza in town; you can get dairy AND gluten free pizza here!
WHERE TO GET MY FAVORITE AUTHENTIC MEXICAN & TEX-MEX:
- Suerte – meet the East Side’s most delicious authentic Mexican cuisine. The ambiance is just as delicious to the eyes as the food is to the taste buds.
- Matt’s El Rancho – serving the best queso (Bob) in Austin since 1952. This is my favorite margarita and Tex Mex in Austin.
- ATX Cocina – if you’re looking for a vibing spot in downtown Austin to cheers margaritas and munch on gluten-free Mexican cuisine: ATX Cocina is the place.
- Eldorado – delicious tex mex in North Austin that won’t disappoint!
WHERE TO GET MY FAVORITE BARBEQUE:
- Salt Lick Barbecue – worth the drive + they also have a winery!
- Franklin’s – get ready to wait in line for hours to taste Austin’s coveted BBQ scene.
- Black’s – a family favorite while growing up in Austin.
Obviously – I couldn’t write down every favorite on this list, but I tried my best to narrow it down for you girls. Happy munching and enjoy! (Shoutout to Mandy Mayekawa for her assistance in brainstorming!) XOXO