Where to Eat and Drink in Austin During SXSW
FROM THE ARCHIVES
Originally published March 2013
Elizabeth Street Cafe photo c/o Maureen Stevens
It’s time for our annual list of the best places to eat and drink in Austin during SXSW!
Austin’s food scene has been continually growing (up) and changing over the past few years, and has expanded past the traditional “BBQ and tacos” mentality that a lot of visitors still focus on when they visit the city. Don’t worry, you can still get great BBQ and tacos in Austin, but this year we’ve mixed up the list with some of the new, internationally inspired restaurants like Elizabeth Street Cafe and Ramen Tatsu-ya along with some of our Austin favorites like The Hula Hut and Shady Grove. Scroll down to the bottom for some great places for drinks too!
If food carts are more your thing, check out the excellent site austinfoodcarts.com. And to plan your schedule and RSVP to more parties than you can possible attend, cruise on over to sxsw.ohmyrockness.com.
Special thanks to our buddy and local Austinite, Ian Orth of Orthy for his tips!
WHERE TO EAT
Elizabeth Street Cafe
1501 S 1st St | www.elizabethstreetcafe.com
A real deal French Vietnamese cafe serving several varieties of Vietnamese staples like pho and bahn mi sandwiches, plus their own specialties like Elizabeth Street Fried Rice and a pork and shrimp crepe. They also have a bakery on site serving sweet treats and Stumptown coffee to go.
1417 S 1st St | www.swayaustin.com
Upscale Thai food served in a modern, communal setting. Alongside your traditional Thai favorites, they also serve blue crab fried rice, salt and pepper cuttlefish, and fun sounding dishes like “Tiger Cry,” “General Chong’s Quail,” and “Jungle Curry.”
8557 Research Blvd | www.ramen-tatsuya.com
This place is Austin’s first authentic ramen spot. It’s dine in only, and they take their enjoyment of ramen very seriously, even providing instructions on “How to best enjoy a Tatsu-ya’s bowl of ramen.” Hint: Chopsticks only!
Photo c/o The Thread Austin
Perla’s Seafood and Oyster Bar
1400 S Congress Ave | www.perlasaustin.com
A fresh and seasonal seafood and oyster bar conveniently located near all the action (and shopping!) on S. Congress. Stop in for 50 cents off oysters and $2 off cocktails during their weekday happy hours from 3-6pm. Menu changes daily, but it’s pretty much all seafood and of course nice steaks (We are still in Texas people!).
2024 South Lamar Boulevard | www.barleyswine.com
Barley Swine has been featured on Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations and recommended by many a foodie friend. The restaurant is named after the chefs’ love of pork and beer, and the menu features local, seasonal ingredients heavy on the pork and meats. It’s a small place with seats along a bar. Good for sharing with two or three good friends if you don’t mind squeezing in!
1209 E. 11th Street | www.hillsidefarmacy.com
Hillside Farmacy is known for their awesome brunch menu served daily featuring a mix of salads, delicious sandwiches, and specialties like biscuits and gravy, french toast and even a few healthier options. For dinner, ask about the specials (the menu is seasonal), or come for happy hour and share a meat and cheese plate and some oysters. Apparently they also serve made-to-order ice cream sandwiches made with homemade ice cream and cookies!
Photo c/o Easy Tiger
709 E. 6th Street | www.easytigeraustin.com
Easy Tiger is a great place to hang out right downtown at the beginning of 6th street. The atmosphere is totally chill and super Austin. Nice, simple interior design and the food and blood marys are insanely good. Split the mixed grill board which is more than enough food for two people. Highly recommended.
401 W 2nd St | www.lambertsaustin.com
Fancy and delicious BBQ and Southern style cooking in Downtown Austin. Lambert’s serves up tasty treats like deep fried boudin balls, fried green tomatoes with crab salad, jumbo gulf shrimp and grits, half roasted chicken with achiote and lime rub, and more typical BBQ like brisket, pulled pork and pork ribs. Great cocktails and happy hour specials too!
400A West 2nd St | www.lacondesaaustin.com
Upscale, Mexican street food and tequila bar. Great mix of appetizers, ceviches, taquitos and sides. A good place for groups and shared plates.
Photo c/o Nomadic Pursuits
3825 Lake Austin Blvd | www.hulahut.com
This giant Polynesian themed, Mexican restaurant is located right on the lake and serves a mix of “Tiki-Mexican” food alongside oddball tropical drinks. Try to get a table outside so you can watch all the turtles swim underneath the dock and check out the weird floating art.
Amaya’s Taco Village
5804 N IH 5 | www.amayastacovillage.com
Awesome family-owned Mexican restaurant serving free chips and salsa, and an endless array of cheap and tasty combination plates served with rice and beans. Take our word for it and order #24: two beef tacos with rice and beans and add a side of guacamole and jalapeños.
1920 South Congress Ave | www.themagnoliacafe.com
This 24 hour cafe has been featured on numerous cooking and travel shows and serves breakfast all day long and a mix of Tex-Mex, soups, salads, burgers and really good house specials. It’s pretty large and good for groups.
1624 Barton Springs Road | www.theshadygrove.com
A quirky, casual restaurant with tons of outdoor seating with lots of vintage furniture, old signs and a rustic feel. They are known for their burgers and specials, so that’s a good place to start on the menu.
Various Locations | www.tacocabana.com
For late night drunk cravings or to get your fast food drive-thru fix, this is the place. Cheap tacos, fajitas and quesadillas with a killer salsa bar. It’s open 24 hours a day and it’s cheap as hell and good in the middle of the night. Stick with the basics and you’ll be fine. They also serve beer and margaritas!
WHERE TO DRINK
Photo c/o Midnight Cowboy
Midnight Cowboy Modeling
313 E. 6th Street | www.midnightcowboymodeling.com
Midnight Cowboy Modeling is located in the middle of 6th Street. This place is on the serious DL, and it looks nice and shady outside, which is good cause it keeps the riff raff out (you need to enter around back in the alley). This place used to be a legendary Asian rub n’ tug brothel for years and years, and it finally got shut down a few years back. The owner of the Alamo Draft House snatched it up and made it a secret “speakeasy” for the need to know.
The Weather Up
1808 E. Cesar Chavez Street | No website
Located on East Cesar Chavez, The Weather Up has incredible craft cocktails. This place has hired a guy whose main purpose is just to make sure their ice is proper. Seriously… they have a guy on salary who just makes ice for cocktails. Real!
Hotel San Jose
1316 South Congress Ave | www.sanjosehotel.com
This popular hotel on S. Congress has an enclosed, well manicured courtyard garden area that is a great place to have cocktails and chill out when you need a dive bar break.
Photo c/o Bangers
Banger’s Sausage House & Beer Garden
79 & 81 Rainey Street | www.bangersaustin.com
Banger’s is located in the heart of Austin on historic Rainey Street. They claim to have Texas’ largest selection of traditional and exotic housemade sausages (30 to be precise) and Austin’s largest tap system with 103 beers on tap. They have a great outdoor space and a nice chill vibe too. They also have a dog park on site and even make special sausages for dogs! Perfect for big groups and pups.
Yellow Jacket Social Club
1704 E 5th St | www.yellowjacketsocialclub.com
Great outdoor drinking spot with a nice beer list and cocktail menu. They also serve a good selection of small plates like meats and cheeses, sandwiches, salads and brunch options.
Cheers Shot Bar
416 E 6th St | No Website
The best place on 6th Street for Jagaerbombs, Jello shots, Mind Erasers, Flaming Doctor Peppers and anything in a test tube. Go here with a big group and get wasted!