Eating has transcended its role as mere sustenance to become one of the most exciting hobbies someone can do. With award-winning restaurants scattered throughout the city, what better place to get your grub on than Austin? The Food & Drink team has created a list of our favorite restaurants. Keep these popular spots in mind for the next time you are faced with the toughest decision of your day: what to grab for lunch.
Photos by Kristen Hubby & Theresa Callaway
by Briana Zamora
Located in historic Clarksville on Waterston Street is an elegant blue house offering a casual yet sophisticated fine-dining experience. Wes Anderson-esque in its attention to detail, the prime lunch spot offers intricate flower arrangements, monogrammed cocktail napkins and comfortable seating on its breezy patio or in its quaint, white-washed dining room. Featuring an eclectic daily menu, the restaurant offers its interpretation of classic American dishes, like adding persimmon chutney and apple and kohlrabi sauce to a grilled cheese sandwich. Even the dessert menu features re-imagined classics like the pear upside-down cake with with molasses and prune Armagnac ice cream.
by Faith Ruszkowski
A list of favorite restaurants wouldn’t be complete without
Kerbey Lane. Known for their delicious pancakes, the 24-hour diner on Guadalupe has been the preferred setting for college students’ late night noms since 2000. It is practically mandatory to treat out-of-towners to the restaurant’s Kerbey queso and specialty pancakes. Next time you venture over to Kerbey Lane, break out of your pancakes and queso rut. Try their panini or one of several seasonal menu items, which often feature vegan options. These dishes deserve just as much praise as the incredible queso.
by Elise Cardenas
If you are lucky, the barbecue gods may grant you the opportunity to enter Franklin Barbecue. Located on East 11th Street, Franklin only serves barbecue from 11 a.m. until they sell out. Outside the aqua blue and white restaurant, long lines of people form hours before the restaurant opens in hopes of enjoying the famous brisket. Once inside, the decisions are simple. Classic by-the-pound barbecue options include brisket, ribs, pulled pork, turkey and sausage. The Tipsy Texan sandwich is an alternative for those who want to try a little bit of everything. Two buns filled with moist smoky brisket, slices of sausage, coleslaw and pickles can give taste buds a sense of real Texas barbecue for $8.
by Jenna Khakoo
As a freshman without a car, eating somewhere other than the dining halls is a rare occurrence that must be enjoyed to the fullest. Torchy’s is frequently a place where this transpires. Each taco is a delightful combination made with fresh ingredients. Other components, like the Maine Root soda and chips and queso, take Torchy’s to the next level. Torchy’s makes for an accessible meal that is sure to satisfy.
by Samantha Uzzell
My favorite restaurant in Austin is probably the most Austin-like restaurant of all Austin restaurants. It comes with the atmosphere that would be great for a date with a special someone, a casual lunch with your best friends or dinner with visiting family. It’s Home Slice pizza, right in the middle of the iconic South Congress Street. I love this restaurant not only for its welcoming vibe, but also for its delicious pizza. With all natural ingredients, any combination of cheese, toppings and sauce, it will not disappoint. Also, if you don’t feel like sitting in the restaurant, there is a super efficient to-go window right next door. If pizza isn’t enough, try out their huge rice krispy treats for only $3.50. When you’re done gorging, you can enjoy the rest of the ultra hip district on SoCo.
by Elena Mejia
Behind the hectic environment of Sixth Street, there is a hidden gem from Southern Italy at 507 San Jacinto. This Neapolitan-style pizzeria, the backspace, leaves behind the college bar scene in favor of a fancy, dim room. With candle-lit dinner tables and vintage-red, long curtains covering the windows, a flavorsome smell of wood-fired pizza and fresh mozzarella takes over. A broad list of white and red wine from Italy’s prized vineyards offer rich flavors. The menu has antipasti and appetizers to share, followed by authentic Italian pizzas that can include prosciutto or egg as an extra.
Juan in a Million
by Madeline Lincoln
This Tex-Mex dive is right at home sandwiched between a food mart and a neighborhood church. The weathered bars on the windows are probably meant to keep the customers from crawling through them. As you pull open the door, a wave of sound washes over you: People laughing, servers taking orders, the cooks frantically slapping freshly made tortillas onto plates. The rectangular room is filled above maximum occupancy. Hungry customers are standing by the entrance, salivating at the smell of authentic Mexican dishes coming from the kitchen. The lucky ones are sitting down, enjoying the delicious Don Juan, a gigantic breakfast taco with fresh eggs, crispy bacon, tender potatoes, and velvety cheese are embraced by a homemade tortilla. It’s nothing fancy, but it’s heaven on a plate.
by Madison Hamilton
Perched above the Elephant Room on Third Street and Congress Ave. lies a swanky gastropub. Unlike many trendy restaurants, Swift’s Attic delivers in both style and food. Intricate chandeliers made with buckets and bird cages mesmerize until the waiter brings out an ice ball cocktail and appetizer of strawberry and lardo. The entire menu is made up of unusual combinations like squid fries that are meant to be shared among the table. Even the brunch menu, which offers $1 mimosas, has funky but delicious items such as foie gras peanut butter and jelly pancakes.