“I’m coming to Austin…what should we eat, where should we go, what should we do?!”
You heard it here – one of my top asked questions I get when it comes to answering DMs, emails, and comments. Let’s be honest *y’all,* it’s also what everyone says whenever I travel – even overseas. The word is out: Austin is the place to be (or eat).
I’ve lived here in Austin for over 18 years, and man I’ve watched it grow. 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 and their mom 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 the downtown 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.
Let’s dig in, darlings:
WHERE YOU SHOULD BRUNCH:
- Le Politique – French meets chic with some of the most delicious brunchin’ bites in town.
- Hillside Farmacy – brunching is busy here and it’s my favorite brunch spot in Austin. Get there early!
- 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.
- Wu Chow – get ready to eat artsy.
- Perla’s – if you love South Congress, seafood and flawless ambiance.
- 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:
- 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.
- Launderette – this converted gas station/laundromat serves some of Austin’s most delicious bites to its trendiest socialites.
- June’s All Day – darling. colorful. absolutely darling. The bone marrow pasta was a favorite before I cut out gluten!
- Josephine House – ultimate spot to gather all the girly girls. Bonus: Chic French ambiance.
WHERE TO HAVE A DATE NIGHT:
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Lenoir – the epitome of a classic date night spot.
WHERE TO CHEERS & BACHELORETTE:
- 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.)
- 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.
- Whisler’s – This is on the East Side & it’s fancy and delicious.
- Greenlight Social – the capri suns are all the buzz causing the line out the door on West 6th (a more laid back version of East 6th Street.)
WHERE TO GET HAPPY HOUR:
- 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.
- Pool Burger – if you’re in town during the summer, Pool Burger is calling your name. If the delicious burgers aren’t enough, the $5 frozé’s and frozens during their weekday happy hour are calling your name.
- Clark’s Oyster Bar – pop on over to Outdoor Voices afterwards and call it an Austin day.
- 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.
- The Driskill Hotel – The Driskill bar is a must for sight-seeing. Check out one of Austin’s oldest (and most beautiful) hotels, plus grab a drink at their happy hours on weekdays.
- La Condesa – get in on the tacos. My choice of drink: the watermelon martini.
- Second Bar + Kitchen – their burger is also to die for (I order it bunless and add an egg, avocado and bacon!). Stroll down second street for a peaceful and quintessential Austin tour.
WHERE TO GET COFFEE:
- Elizabeth Street Cafe – what to order: the Vietnamese Coffee and all the darling macarons.
- Merit Coffee – right in the heart of Seaholm, this girly-modern-chic coffee house is always packed. And the latte is delicious!
- Mozarts Coffee – welcome to delicious coffee overlooking Lake Austin. Catch it in the winter and you’ll see a Christmas light show too!
- Houndstooth Coffee – everyone’s favorite latte in Austin; the 42nd and Lamar location is the most peaceful coffee shop around.
- Walton’s Fancy & Staple – Sandra Bullock owns this cafe; enough said. The ambiance is just as darling as the name!
- 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 TAKE A LUNCH MEETING:
- Café No Sé – my personal favorite meeting spot in Austin. It never lets me down.
- Tiny Boxwoods – the most perfect ambiance for a meeting spot. Also wonderful for dinner.
- 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 INSTAGRAM:
- Jo’s Coffee – the Iconic Congress location is the home of the instagrammable “I love you so much” wall in Austin. But – you may have to wait in a line to get your gram; it’s that popular!
- 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 – a sunrise momento overlooking Austin’s beautiful Hill Country. It’s just one hike away. (not a restaurant)
WHERE TO TREAT YOUR SWEET TOOTH:
- 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.
- Tiny Boxwoods – do it for the cookies!
- 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.
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
Top photo taken at Grizzelda’s outdoor patio / by Jordan Afshin.