20 Best Places To Eat And Drink In Austin

There's a nasty and apocryphal myth about Austin floating around that we'd like to lay to rest: In the sleepy hinter-times before the tech boom, all Austin was good for food-wise was some great barbecue and a gooey bowl of queso (all due respect to the Bob Armstrong Dip at Matt's El Rancho); it took an influx of highfalutin Californians and their millions to elevate the city to the international gourmet destination it is today.

However, the fact is Austin's always been a food town. While the last decade has seen an explosion of great restaurants and bars, most of those that stand out are helmed by chefs and families with Texas culinary pedigrees that sometimes go back generations. For the most part, the establishments herein represent the diverse legacy of a city that's forever stood as a magnet for all kinds of creative people.

It follows, then, that creating a list like this is nearly impossible without the striking omission of some truly excellent restaurants (we're looking at you, Uchi, Vespaio, and Nixta Taqueria) and bars (likewise, DrinkWell and The Roosevelt Room). There's nothing definitive about this list except that you're guaranteed a singularly Austin experience at any of the spots outlined below, brought to you from deep in the heart of the city's biggest and brightest stars.

Odd Duck

Nearly 15 years after chef Bryce Gilmore and his team of talented culinary misfits embarked on their mission to bring hyper-local seasonality to their brand of Texas cuisine, this landmark Zilker restaurant continues to innovate with its daily evolving menu. They create dishes from what they get from their many regional farm partners and preserve the rest, as evidenced by the countless jars of pickles and ferments lining every shelf in the airy dining room. The vibe is casual and fun, with Texas delicacies like fire-roasted quail served on playfully mismatched dinnerware, and inventive cocktails like the "Queen of Carrot Flowers" made with fennel-infused local vodka and carrot.

Odd Duck is one of three excellent eateries in Gilmore's locavore fiefdom. Head over to the quintessential East Austin beer garden patio at Sour Duck for breads, pastries, and incredible sandwiches. For a higher-end experience, try the exceptional chef's tasting menu at Barley Swine in the Allandale neighborhood in north-central Austin.


Tavel Bristol-Joseph, the celebrated pastry chef and partner at Rainey Street's fabulous Emmer & Rye, is finally spearheading a concept of his own. Drawing on his Guyanese upbringing, Canje is a welcome addition to East Austin's ever-growing dining scene with Bristol-Joseph's fun and upscale take on Caribbean fare. This past fall, the buzz around the new eatery exploded with Canje landing on several national best-of lists, including The New York Times' 50 Best Restaurants in America.

Every item on the menu is bright and zippy, relying on hyper-fresh ingredients and lots of spice. Dishes like the grilled pink shrimp with "green sauce" and the sour orange ceviche will open your palate up for heartier items like the addictive jerk chicken with wild garlic chutney. Because this restaurant is the passion project of one of the country's best pastry chefs, don't skip dessert. The tres leches with coconut and guava is unlike anything you'll find elsewhere in Austin.


In Suerte's bustling open kitchen, the most prominent station is the flattop, most often helmed by an industrious abuelita who shapes housemade heirloom masa into perfect tortillas. They serve as canvas for chef Fermín Núñez's signature suadero tacos — perhaps the most perfect single bite in all of Austin — made with pulled and charred brisket, bright guacamole, and their burnt-allium "black magic oil." 

When you sit down in the invitingly hip desert-chic dining room, make sure to sample something from each section of the menu, especially the seasonal ceviche and seafood crudo dishes. Pair a Don Dario with your meal, maybe the best margarita you've ever had, made with sarsaparilla bitters and tamarind syrup.

If you love Suerte (which you will), make sure to try Núñez's new concept, the hotly anticipated coastal Mexican seafood restaurant, Este, on Manor Road.


Chef Michael Fojtasek's elevated ode to the American South has been a staple on Austin best-of lists for years, but ever since the pandemic, there's been something slightly different about Olamaie. Sure, you can still start your meal with their famous buttermilk biscuits, but once you dig into the rest of the menu — now overseen by James Beard semifinalist chef de cuisine Amanda Turner — there's a new urgency toward evolving what we think of as Southern food. While the ingredients and dishes — like butter beans, hushpuppies, and gumbo — may feel comfortingly familiar, the genuinely innovative preparations speak to a wholesale remaking of classic foodways.

Beyond the food, Olamaie's lauded bar program, designed by longtime Austin cocktail maven, Erin Ashford (who herself is on the verge of opening her own cocktail bar, Holiday), is nothing to sleep on. Her playful and utterly unique concoctions, like the "Cornballer" made with popcorn-infused corn whiskey, turn an already outstanding dining experience into something truly singular and special.


Sometimes, the simple things can be the most satisfying and inspiring. Such is the case at Birdie's, the Eastside walk-up wine bar whose small seasonal menu, prepared in a tiny open kitchen, is a love song to fresh ingredients and straightforward, careful preparations. There's an effortless quality to the menu that allows diners to truly relax, perhaps because they're not under so much pressure to be constantly impressed by the bells and whistles that often go along with a night out at a nice restaurant in Austin.

Inspired by (but not beholden to) Mediterranean French and Italian cuisine, you'll usually find a homemade pasta dish, some roasted Gulf seafood, and maybe a comforting soup or stew, among others. Chef Tracy Malechek-Ezekiel's minimalist approach allows her superb ingredients to speak for themselves, and to pair beautifully with her husband Arjav Ezekiel's handpicked, thoughtful selection of unique wines, most of which you won't easily find on other lists in Austin. Dessert is equally unfussy — vanilla soft serve or a plate-sized chocolate chip cookie, both of which could be the most perfect versions of either you've ever had.

Radio Coffee & Beer

It doesn't get much more Austin than Radio, the southside coffee shop and bar set inside a rusticly renovated wood frame house. The expansive outdoor beer garden is set under a glen of gnarly live oaks strung up with lights and sail cloth. Out back is a trio of the city's best food trucks: Veracruz All-Natural, home of the best migas tacos anywhere; Dee Dee, the outstanding northern Thai truck run by chef Lakana Sopajan-Trubiana and her husband, Justin; and newcomer Briscuits, offering the divine sandwich combination of buttermilk biscuits and smoky Texas barbecue.

By day, Radio is a fantastic spot to bring your laptop and get some work done, fueled by their selection of Stumptown coffee drinks, including nitro cold brew on tap. In the evenings, grab a beer (or cocktail) and enjoy one of their nightly shows or activities, including live music (bluegrass night is a vaunted tradition here), bar trivia, and stand-up comedy. Later in the year, the owners are opening a second location on Montopolis Drive — same vibe, more parking.

la Barbecue

LeAnne Mueller is barbecue royalty. She grew up among the pits of her father Bobby's legendary Texas barbecue empire in Taylor, Texas. When she decided to open her own spot in East Austin in 2012, she chose to keep her last name away from the brand. Instead, she initialized her first name into the Spanish feminine article, "la," a strident declaration that the baby daughter of the Mueller family could smoke just as good (if not better) as her dad and brothers.

LeAnne, along with her wife and general manager Ali Clem, have taken la Barbecue from an alleyway food truck to a Quickie Pickie walk-up window, and finally now to their own brick-and-mortar on E. Cesar Chavez. While Franklin may be Austin's most famous barbecue destination, locals know to line up at la for some of the city's best brisket, handmade sausage, and succulent ribs. Don't miss the sides, either — the chipotle coleslaw and spicy pickles are perfect accompaniments.


Have you ever asked what would happen if David Bowie decided to open a sushi bar aboard the starship Enterprise? You'd probably get Otoko, the 12-seat omakase restaurant by Kyoto-native punk musician, Yoshi Okai. Secreted away up a staircase in the back courtyard of the South Congress Hotel, entering the windowless lightbox dining room is like being beamed to another galaxy, one in which Iggy Pop and Gary Clark Jr. provide the soundtrack to a kaiseki dinner unlike any other.

You'll definitely pay for your 22-course meal — reservations start at $250 per person — but how do you put a price on this singularly unique, astonishingly delicious experience? You can also pair your meal with wine, sake, and incredible cocktails from their acclaimed bar, Watertrade, headed by Okai's longtime colleague and collaborator, Nadia Hernandez.


If the gentrification of East Austin has got you down, step back in time into the ancient-feeling stone bar room at Whisler's. In the old days, it was called Rabbit's, owned by the late Rosalio "Rabbit" Duran who made his bar the hub of Chicano politics in Travis County. When Duran decided to retire, he handpicked the building's successors based on their promise not to destroy the legacy and history that he'd built. You can still see the political murals on the exterior walls, including the old signage for Rabbit's, right next to the metal staircase that leads to a secret upstairs mezcal bar (only open when the light over the door is green).

The menu features seasonally rotating cocktails, a mixture of classics and new inventions. Relax with your drink in the outdoor beer garden where you can chow down on one of Austin's best fried chicken sandwiches from the resident food truck, Golden Tiger.

Dai Due

Chef Jesse Griffiths cares deeply for the bounty of his home state. Dai Due, which he started in 2006 as a farmers market stand and supper club, is the temple he's built to all things Texas. Everything, from the olive oil and produce to the animal proteins and wines, is sourced from right here. Because the seasons move quickly, so too does his menu.

Griffiths, who earned a James Beard Award for his eponymous book about hogs, has longstanding partnerships with ranchers and farmers, but he goes a step further to work with trappers and hunters to source invasive game meat like wild boar and axis deer. His menus reflect the ecological balance he believes is possible if we choose to eat locally and seasonally. Behind the ethic of Dai Due is perennially delicious food, thoughtfully designed to honor traditional Texas and Chicano foodways, often finding intersection with German, Czech, and Mexican cuisines.


Since opening more than a decade ago on E. Cesar Chavez, Bufalina has long held a place in the hearts of Austin pizza lovers, which is why many were so concerned that the pandemic had taken yet another beloved restaurant from us when it shuttered back in 2021. Fear not: Although delayed by lockdowns, a move had long been in the works to its new location just up the street which finally opened up last summer.

With it comes a fresh take on the menu from new chef Grae Nonas (who spent years at Michael Fojtasek's right hand at Olamaie), who brings his comforting handmade pastas to an already outstanding osteria menu. Of course, the renowned Neapolitan pizzas remain the star of the show, with support from now-partner Rania Zayyat's outstanding natural wine selections. 


Kareem El-Ghayesh is a pitmaster unlike any other you'll find in Austin (or anywhere else for that matter). He began his obsession with barbecue after his first trip to Texas back in 2012 when he first encountered the traditions that would lead him from a job in finance in his hometown of Cairo, Egypt, to a six-year-long apprenticeship under some of Austin's most renowned pitmasters. After a stint at the beloved Valentina's Tex-Mex BBQ in far south Austin, the idea was cemented to marry his native Egyptian flavors with those of his newly adopted home.

After running as a pop-up for several years, KG BBQ is now in permanent residence at Oddwood Brewing where El-Ghayesh serves signature dishes like his brisket shawarma on toasted pita with baladi salad (described as Egyptian pico de gallo) and a vinegary tahini sauce. All his hard work is paying off: Kareem's been long-listed for a 2023 James Beard Award.

Granny's Tacos

Look, there are plenty of delicious — if bougie — tacos to be had around Austin, but sometimes you just want a taste of home, como tu abuela. The granny in question at this not-so-hidden gem of an Eastside food truck belongs to chef-owner Maria Rios. She and her husband, Armando Vazquez (whose daughters run the wildly popular Austin taco empire, Veracruz All-Natural), have been making their family's generations-old recipes from scratch for years.

Granny's is famous for their chilaquiles, an eggless breakfast taco cousin of the migas taco with cotija cheese, a deep homemade mole, and crispy corn chips. This can't-miss taco goes perfectly with literally anything else on their menu. Try two or three (or four) items when you go — absolutely everything they serve is world-class.

Nickel City

When is a dive bar not really a dive bar? When it's the lovingly designed neighborhood local, Nickel City, from partners Travis Tober and Brandon Hunt (owner of the Detroit-style pizza joints, Via 313). The old-school signage and affection for cheap beer (there's a running count of how many Coors Banquets they've poured since opening in 2017) conjure the ghosts of barflies past when the space belonged to the historic Longbranch Inn, dating back to 1935.

These days, you can find unique cocktails among the menu's selection of Boilermakers, like the "My Darling Clementine," made with mezcal, rooibos red tea, and a kiwi-clementine cordial. The Detroit-inspired food truck out back, Delray Cafe, serves unapologetically great bar grub, including smash burgers, perfect chicken wings, and their signature Coney Dogs, which all wash down perfectly with your third Genesee Cream Ale.


Ensconced in the Commodore Perry Estate, a mansion-turned-resort north of downtown, is Lutie's, a verdant oasis of a restaurant serving an elegant, veggie-forward menu from husband-and-wife team, chefs Bradley Nicholson and Susana Querejazu. Opened during the pandemic in 2021, it represents a celebrated homecoming for the couple. They started their careers here in Austin with stints at Bryce Gilmore's Barley Swine, before taking their training to San Francisco where they cheffed in several Michelin-starred kitchens.

The dining room, with its timeless chessboard tile floors, is designed as an homage to a European manor's solarium, open to the gardens below and decked out in countless hanging ferns, climbing vines, and jungle prints. The dishes themselves, like the signature Petite Aioli (an inventive and robust take on crudite) are not only sophisticated and delicious, but their aesthetic seems a natural outgrowth of the space itself.

Kemuri Tatsu-Ya

If you see the name Tatsu-Ya attached to any restaurant in Austin, you know you're going to get a fun, delicious, and beautifully executed meal, so picking one from chef Tatsu Aikawa's ever-expanding family of eateries was difficult. The group started its reign with what continues to be Austin's best noodle shop, Ramen Tatsu-Ya. Since then, they've added several more concepts to their growing brand including a tiki bar, a barbecue fusion joint, and a shabu shabu spot (DipDipDip Tatsu-Ya).

The izakaya-meets-Texas smokehouse, Kemuri Tatsu-Ya, is the most expansively realized of the bunch. The full-service restaurant gives roadhouse vibes and consistently surprises with playful dishes like tofu hot pockets, elevated yakitoris, and an adventurous chinmi section with items like ray fin jerky and shiokara (described as "squid marinated in its own guts"). But don't worry — there's a healthy selection of hard-to-find shoyu and sake to wash it all down.

Better Half Coffee & Cocktails

With highrise condos and office buildings springing up everywhere around downtown, it's nice to know that just a few blocks west there's a chill spot like Better Half open most hours of the day to provide an oasis from all the boomtown hustle. Stop by before work for great coffee and even better breakfast sandos made with super fresh, well-sourced ingredients. Lunch brings a housemade pastrami reuben with smoked shiitakes and their trademarked 2000 Island Dressing. Dinnertime, grab a cocktail and tuck into the playful and comforting Big Kid Spaghetti-O's with anellini pasta, fresh ricotta, and "Nonna meatballs."

Brought to you by brothers Matt and Grady Wright and their partner Matthew Bolick — who also opened Holdout Brewing right next door in a refurbished Quonset hut — Better Half offers an inviting courtyard patio and an amazing happy hour featuring the best $6 cheeseburger you've ever had.


Tucked away off Manor Road in an arbored grotto outside the Vortex Theater is one of Austin's most unique and celebrated food trucks. You won't find tacos or barbecue here. Rather, when you stand in line at Patrizi's, a truck adorned in picture frames and curtains like your grandmother's living room, you'll be treated to amuse bouche while you wait to order what might be Austin's best handmade pasta. 

Their signature pomodoro, cacio e pepe, and alfredo aren't reinventing any wheels. These classic, carefully prepared Italian dishes have been in Nic and Matt Patrizi's family for generations, once served at the family's beloved restaurant in Beaumont, Texas which ran for 50 years starting in the 1940s. Dining in the secret garden is its own experience, with alcoved outdoor dining rooms adorned with chandeliers and weathered sideboards, and bordered with climbing vines.

Foreign & Domestic

Husband-and-wife chef team Sarah Heard and Nathan Lemley have, in more than five years at the helm of North Loop's Foreign & Domestic, discovered the perfectly balanced fulcrum where haute country comfort food intersects with forward-looking technique. The result is a homey, regular-friendly neighborhood bistro anchored in a nose-to-tail ethic (try the goat heart bolognese, even if you're scared). 

Less adventurous menu items are a flavorful showcase of the region, often changing and evolving with the season but always prepared with rigorous respect for the carefully sourced ingredients from local farms and purveyors. No matter what you order, you'll want to start your meal with their signature airy Gruyere popovers. The chefs' passion for understated perfection makes their lively dining room worth returning to over and over.

Small Victory

Walking 7th Street just east of Congress, you'd be forgiven if you missed Small Victory's unobtrusive entrance. It's just a glass door into a stairwell by a parking garage, with only a small plaque to indicate what's upstairs. Once inside, the long shotgun bar and row of plush blue banquets give revelers the feeling they've passed through some hidden portal into a parallel, comfortably baroque Austin of yore.

The drink menu is extensive, stacked with all kinds of spirits and wines. The super-creative bartenders are well-versed in the classics — an Aviation or a Boulevardier are firmly within their wheelhouse — but if you ask for a dealer's choice, you won't be disappointed. Small groups love a punch bowl, and their charcuterie selection is always on point.