Dining

Where to Eat in Austin During SXSW

From quick lunches to spots for the indecisive
Best Austin Restaurants for SXSW
Photo: Courtesy of Ramen Tatsu-Ya

SXSW is upon us, and you know what that means: Where are we going to eat in between all the shows and technology talks? We've got a few ideas. Check out our picks for where to eat in Austin for every occasion (and where to drink, too), from a quick lunch spot to a place for the indecisive.

Legit Ramen: Ramen Tatsu-Ya

Austin was a little late to the ramen game, but the milky broth of the Tonkotsu Special here, flavored with pork bones that are slow-cooked for 60 hours, has made it all worthwhile. The assertive soup is a medley of noodles, scallions, sesame seeds and wood ear mushrooms, finished with a soy-marinated egg and a thin slice of crisp-tender pork belly.

Seafood Central: TLC

The theme at this over-the-counter resto is locally sourced, sustainable Southern food with a Texas twist. Popular items include the create-your-own seafood boil, which gives diners the choice between crustaceans, like Gulf shrimp, snow crab and lobster, cooked in a unique spice blend of their choosing. Oysters, which come raw or charbroiled with Cajun butter, are also a fan favorite. For those who prefer their protein from land, there's the Freddie Joe, the sloppy joe's Texas cousin. The shredded brisket and beef sandwich comes topped with crispy red onions, shishito peppers and

 

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Best Barbecue: Franklin Barbecue

Aaron Franklin's notoriety for his distinctive espresso barbecue sauce lags far behind the demand for his legendary brisket. In fact, lining up an hour before the restaurant opens at 11 a.m. may not even guarantee you a slice.

Indecisive Diners' Saving Grace: Emmer & Rye

The real star of this Rainey Street restaurant? The mill. Kevin Fink grinds heritage grains for pastas, breads and desserts, resulting in fantastical dishes like Red Fife tagliatelle with merguez lamb sausage. The small plates change regularly due to the dim sum-style of ordering, but keep an eye out for lamb tartare with charred fennel oil and chicharrones sprinkled with chile and radish powders.

Modern Mexican: La Condesa

This upscale restaurant's Mexican cuisine has officially charmed what is normally a casual city, partly because it serves some of the best margaritas in town. Small portions are packed with flavor and texture; the huitlacoche huarache, with its concentrated earthiness, is a showstopper.

 

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The Birthday Place: Launderette

Housed in a renovated Laundromat in East Austin, this stylishly retro café showcases contemporary takes on American food by chef Rene Ortiz. Try the crispy pork ribs with preserved Brussels sprouts and steamed mussels with green chile butter. We also highly recommend pastry chef Laura Sawicki's birthday cake ice cream sandwiches for your final course, whether it's someone's birthday or not.

Filipino Feast: Be More Pacific

The popular food truck that put Filipino food on Austin's culinary radar recently opened this brick-and-mortar space, where guests can get Filipino staples like pork lumpia, soy-braised chicken adobo and pancit (sautéed rice noodles with chicken or tofu). The best game plan, though, is to take your closest pals for the family style Kamayan Experience, a feast featuring items like whole fried fish and stuffed grilled squid.

Pasta Lovers' Paradise: Juniper

Expect plenty of pasta—but also lots of meat, like rib eye with chimichurri and fatty pork belly with heirloom beans—at this lush East Austin restaurant. Chef Nicholas Yanes swapped sushi making at Uchi for crafting modern northern Italian food, but the cocktail list is distinctly Mediterranean. It shines with thoughtful drinks, like the Brad Wesley made with Madeira, vermouth, Aperol and cinnamon.

 

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Morning Wake-Up Call: Joe's Bakery & Coffee Shop

A vestige of old Austin, Joe's does breakfast right, with robust plates of migas or chorizo and eggs; lunch means Tex-Mex favorites like queso and chips or chicken enchiladas. You cannot leave without eating several of its steaming homemade tortillas.

Fancy Night Out: Barley Swine

The signature restaurant of celebrated chef Bryce Gilmore is known for small plates with inventive flourishes. Try several dishes that highlight the purity of Texas ingredients like gulf shrimp, local goat cheese and okra.

 

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This article was originally published on 2/29/16 and updated by Shana Bethea on 3/8/2018.

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