What comes to mind when you think of Austin? You’re probably thinking of South by Southwest (the film, media, and music festival), Barton Springs in all its beauty, the state capital, and all of the strange stuff that has locals saying “keep Austin strange.”
To say that there’s a lot to do in Austin, Texas is an understatement and there’s something from everyone there. So whether you’re looking for a hike to check out Hamilton Pools, want to shop for days at the Domain, or looking for activities that the whole family can enjoy, Austin has a ton of things to do.
Checking out the eats in Austin should also be a priority if it isn’t already! Obviously Austin has the usual restaurants such as Melting Pot and sushi dives, but there are a lot of unique eats here as well. The city is home to a lot of independent eateries that are locally owned and don’t exist anywhere else. So make sure to check them out!
1. Casino El Camino
‘Come for the quite literally ‘world famous, award winning burgers,’ but stay and do shots with the locals.” You can find this quote on their website and it really sums up the atmosphere of the restaurant.
If you ask locals to name a food place to check out, they’re going to tell you that Casino El Camino is a must try. It’s a small bar that serves food and you order your meal through a cave style window in the back. After your order, you can sit either up or downstairs and enjoy the ambience. Rock music pumps through the speakers and the black walls with funky neon paintings really reflect Austin and its values.
Unfortunately because it’s a bar (and also because of some of the artwork), this definitely isn’t a place you’ll want to bring your kids.
You can find this burger spot on the infamous 6th Street.
What to try?
One word: everything! But on a serious note, you should definitely try the verde chilli fries. These crispy on the outside, soft on the inside fries are cooked to perfection then topped with melted cheese and their signature, house made tomatillo verde salsa.
2. The Steeping Room
The Steeping Room is one of those quaint little places that locals absolutely adore! Surprisingly this place doesn’t come up that often “must try eats in Austin” and it’s really a shame. However, their teas and tasty foods have earned The Steeping Room a cult like following of devoted fans that are willing to wait an hour to be seated.
So what separates this place from other teahouses that serve foods? Well, for one their food really is next level! Using only fresh, healthy ingredients and antibiotic free meats sets it apart from the competition. They also have a number of vegan and vegetarian options so there’s something on the menu for everyone. Not to mention, the food really is extremely tasty despite the limited ingredients they use.
The Steeping Room used to be located in the Domain but the building was really small so they’ve since upgraded. You can now get your delicious teas and food on North Lamar Boulevard.
What to try?
Obviously if you’re visiting this place you have to try the teas! However for first timers, the menu can be incredibly daunting. There are easily 100+ different teas on there. While all the teas are really good, we recommend the Golden Pear. It’s a delicious blend of pear and honey.
Food wise? You have to try their take on the Monte Cristo. Unfortunately it’s only available on Sundays but it’s well worth it. Fresh turkey and ham come together with roasted garlic aioli on your choice of fluffy white or wheat bread. The bread is battered and cooked like French toast then covered in a Gruyere and cheddar blend.
Not Sunday but still drooling over the Monte Cristo? Try the Croque Monsieur. It’s very similar to the Monte Cristo.
3. The Jackalope
The Jackalope is a “must experience” bar/restaurant in Austin and it’s just as unique as its name. The ambience is similar to Casino El Camino in that it’s dark, red lit, and very cozy. However what the Jackalope has that Casino El Camino doesn’t is a 7+ feet Jackalope with a saddle that you can actually sit on. You can see it in the image above! So if you stop in, make sure you grab a drink and hop on the jackalope for the perfect Instagram photo that perfectly sums up a trip to Austin.
Like Casino El Camino, the Jackalope serves up some award winning burgers that are consistently voted as one of the city’s best. The bar/restaurant has also received national recognition for the quality of their food and drinks as well as their “lively and uniquely ‘Austin’ bar experience.
Got kids? The Jackalope will happily let them in to sit atop their famous Jackalope for a photo op but don’t expect the staff to let you go much further in.
It should come as no surprise that the Jackalope is located on the infamous 6th Street.
What to try?
Drink wise you have to try the Jackalope Old Fashioned. This tasty drink is reminiscent of a traditional Old Fashioned but with a Jackalope twist. Knob twist, fire and damnation bitters, orange bitters, lemon, and cherry make for a spicy, sweet treat.
If you’re hungry, then we highly recommend the honey-jalapeno bacon cheeseburger. This unique burger has house made honey jalapeno sauce slathered on it as well as pickles, bacon, cheese, spicy mayo, and jalapeno jack cheese.
4. Churro Co Food Truck
The food truck’s tagline is “bet you’ve never had churros like this before” and it perfectly sums up the experience. The highly coveted food truck dishes out a number of tasty churros and all of them are Instagram worthy! The churros are perfectly prepared (soft, crunchy, and perfectly seasoned) and then carefully arranged to make the best photo op possible! So whether you’re sharing your gorgeous treat on Instagram or Snapchat, you’re sure to make your friends super jealous!
While you can find traditional churros on their menu, you’d be doing yourself a huge disservice if you didn’t order one of their unique churro treats. And even though their menu is actually pretty small (only around 6 items), there’s plenty to choose from and we didn’t feel like we wanted more options.
You can typically find this truck at 1906 South First but they’re only around on certain days:
Thursday: 1pm to 9pm
Friday and Saturday: 1pm to 11pm
Sunday: 1pm to 9pm
What to order?
While all of their menu items are incredibly tasty and unique, we highly recommend the Campfire. These churros are tossed in graham cracker sugar then topped with topped with Mexican chocolate sauce, whipped cream, and of course torched marshmallows. It’s very (and obviously), an interesting take on the classic s’mores.
The Mexican Iced Chocolate is a seasonal drink but if it’s available when you stop by, you’ve got to try it. It’s really delicious!
5. Broken Spoke
Upon first glance, the Broken Spoke looks like an old country store on a movie set. You might also think it’s a museum dedicated to the old West but this restaurant/bar/dance hall is anything but a boring old tourist trap. They usually have live bands during the evening and weekend so if you’re looking for extra ambience, check them out!
Craving some home cooked, Southern comfort food? Then stop by the Broken Spoke to satisfy your craving! The atmosphere will set you right at home too as it perfectly compliments the southern comfort food. Enjoy watching two-step and other country line dances while you fill your belly with delicious barbeque or their famous chicken fried steak.
South Lamar Boulevard
What to order?
You honestly can’t go wrong with anything on their menu so rest assured that regardless of what you order it’s going to be incredibly tasty. Of course you can always opt for their world famous chicken fried steak if you’re having problems picking!
Our personal favorite is the barbecue beef brisket plate. It comes with bread, pinto beans, and their house made potato salad. Their beef brisket is incredibly tasty, juicy, and fork tender. One bite and you can tell that a lot of love and time went into the preparation of the meat.
Craving dessert? Try their homemade peach cobbler with a generous scoop of Blue Bell vanilla ice cream! Fresh peaches, light syrup, and a crispy, flaky crust make this the perfect dessert to polish off your meal.
6. Lucky Robot
Everything about this restaurant screams, “Keep Austin weird”. The outside is incredibly eye catching with its gray scheme and bold patterns. The inside is just as interesting with bright yellow swinging chairs and the ambience is very kitschy Tokyo-esque. Even the location (which is in the heart of Austin), reflects the unique culture that the city has built itself upon. Crammed in the middle of other brightly colored businesses, Lucky Robot shines brightly thanks to the bold prints on their building.
Even the staff is dressed to impress! The waiters and waitresses are dressed in traditional Japanese uniforms, which really add to the ambience and experience of Lucky Robot. It really feels like you’re sitting in Austin’s own version of Tokyo, Japan.
But what about the food? Well, since it’s in Austin you can rest assured that it’s incredibly tasty! Fresh, tender sushi that melts in your mouth, delicious brussel sprout starters and a unique take on fried chicken (panko crusted chicken breast that is served fried) are just some of the menu options that Lucky Robot offers. And yes, they’re all delicious!
South Congress Avenue
What to order?
Our favorite roll is the voltron hands down and no, not just because of its awesome name. (Although that certainly helped our decision in picking it!) So what’s in it? The roll has crab, avocado, pickled cucumbers and carrots, and is topped with tuna, salmon and amberjack, and then served with sesame, spicy mayo, and a soy lemongrass glaze. And yes, it’s just as delicious as it is sounds.
7. Voodoo Doughnuts
“The magic is in the hole!” If you know ANYTHING about Austin, then you’ve likely heard about this place. Voodoo Dougnuts has been on everything from travel blogs to television shows and for good reason: their doughnuts are not only incredibly tasty, but they’re also incredibly unique.
“Good things come in pink boxes!” Not only are these doughnuts over the top in taste and appearance, but the menu is also just as overwhelming. On any given day, they offer a selection of over 50 different types of doughnuts. What originally began as a humble doughnut shop looking to prove the correct spelling of the delicious treat is D.O.U.G.H.N.U.T quickly grew to include a cult following and garner interest from visitors around the world.
22 SW 3rd Avenue
What to order?
There are a lot of tasty options to choose from and picking just a few was incredibly difficult so we decided to go with the most unique options.
First up is the Grape Ape. The raised yeast doughnut has vanilla frosting, grape dust, and lavender sprinkles for a truly unique flavor that’s out of this world. And did we mention that the doughnut itself is absolutely gorgeous?
Our personal favorite is the Voodoo Bubble. This adorably cute pink doughnut packs a lot of flavor (and personality with its bubblegum in the hole). This is another raised yeast doughnut with vanilla frosting and bubble gum dust.
Keep Austin tasty!
This list is small compared to the incredible food mecca that Austin truly is. There’s a new experience waiting at nearly every block and they’re all uniquely Austin and delicious. Even the bigger, better known chains that you can find in your city have their own Austin flair.
Let us know if you’ve tried any of these restaurants on the list and what your experience was with them! We’d also love to know what you ordered from their menu. With so many interesting eats to try in Austin, we’re sure to have overlooked a few hidden gems so let us know if we skipped yours!