Austin Food Tour

A mini guide to the Austin Food Scene.

Over Thanksgiving, we visited Austin with Abe’s family.  We rented a gorgeous house and mostly ate breakfast at home, one big meal out a day, and leftovers as snacks.  This was actually my fourth time in Austin.  I came for SXSW with my movie Surrogate Valentine, and spoke twice at UT Austin.   This was probably my favorite visit, because I wasn’t working and got to focus on eating!  Before arriving, I made a huge list of Austin food destinations.

Sadly, we didn’t even get through a quarter of the places.  Nevertheless, here are some of the restaurants, cafes, food trucks, etc. that we did get to visit – plus a couple memorable favorites from previous trips.

As meat-centric as this vacation was, Abe had no problem eating vegetarian.  I also did not stray too much from my normal plant-heavy diet.  Pretty much every single place offers salads and veggie side dishes.

Chips and Guacamole from Veracruz Natural Mexican Food in Austin, Texas

Breakfast

  • Book People – This charming book store has a cafe with shockingly good coffee and loose-leaf tea in the back.
  • Kerbey Lane – I’ll admit I was not wowed by this beloved Austin institution, but every single local recommends it.
  • The Salt Lick BBQ (at the Austin Airport) – The original restaurant in Driftwood is an hour outside of Austin.  We did not make it, but we did have some of their breakfast tacos from a cart before hopping back on the flight to Los Angeles.  FYI there is a separate counter where they sell platters of meat.
  • Seventh Flag Coffee – This cafe (in a cute house) reminds me of our cafes in LA, complete with fancy toast on the menu.
  • Sweetish Hill Bakery – There are lots of cookies/cakes in the display cases – plus free samples of gingerbread!  I order a bowl of soup, which comes with freshly baked bread.
  • Veracruz All Natural – This food truck (more like a food bus) can have a long line.  We waited 20 minutes for a quesadilla and some migas tacos, but they were totally worth it.  Plus the guacamole and chips (pictured above) come out quicker, and they are pretty much the best things ever – thick, simple, and delicious.
  • Whole Foods – The flagship store really isn’t that different from other Whole Foods.  We stock up on lots of groceries – and melons for me.  The people at the checkout are super friendly, but maybe a little too chatty.  They forget to bag the peanut butter and granola that I pay for!

Nau's Enfield Drug Store in Austin, Texas

Lunch

  • Alamo Drafthouse Cinema – I get hungry during a screening of “Loving” and order a very large and really delicious Greek Salad.  You just write down your order during the movie, and a server brings it to you.  They even noted my “light on the dressing” request!
  • Galaxy Cafe – There’s a retro vibe at this order-at-the-counter spot, but the food is pretty modern.  Really great sweet potato fries and a comforting bowl of soup the size of my head.
  • Nau’s Enfield Drug – They have a soda fountain in the back of this old-school pharmacy (pictured above) with burgers, sandwiches, and ice cream.
  • Top Notch – Not only do you have the fun of eating from a car hop, this is one of the locations from Dazed and Confused!  They have really good fried okra, too.
  • South Congress Cafe – Almost every single trip I eat at this restaurant.  Every single time it’s solid, but a little more expensive/fancier than other places.

Turtle Pie and Carrot Cake from Fleming's Prime Steakhouse

Dinner

  • Fleming’s Steak House – Ordinarily we wouldn’t eat at a national chain restaurant on vacation, but I have a gift card.  We wind up going for Thanksgiving since it’s easy to make reservations, and are all pleasantly surprised at how good everything is – from the steaks to the sides and the dessert (pictured above).
  • Hoover’s Cooking – We love this place so much, it just screams family, community, and acceptance.  Plus the menu is ginormous.  This will forever be known as the place where I try Chicken Fried Steak for the first time – and yes, it is glorious.
  • Hut’s Hamburgers – Don’t let the outside fool you.  Inside you are getting some top-quality grassfed beef burgers.  They also have a solid vegan version!
  • Maudie’s Tex Mex – This is a local chain specializing in Tex Mex favorites like queso and enchiladas.  My favorite part is the never-ending bowl of chips and salsa that they plop down the second you sit down.
  • Mother’s Cafe and Garden – Even with all the vegetarian places in Los Angeles, we don’t have a place like Mother’s in Austin.  It just feels warm and cozy, like you’re home.
  • Stiles Switch BBQ – You know a place is going to be good when you walk up to order and they just start giving you samples.  Brisket.  Beef Ribs. Sausage.  I know it sounds crazy to walk into a BBQ place and order turkey, but trust me – it’s incredible.  They are just about the nicest folks ever there – inviting us back to the pit for a little tour, which you can see in the video below!

Video: Stiles Switch BBQ in Austin, TX

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7 thoughts on “Austin Food Tour

  1. Viola

    I’ve never been to Austin and it is so on my list. I worry though, that I’d eat my weight in BBQ and breakfast tacos, to the exclusion of anything else!

  2. JenJenWhen

    You didn’t like Kerbey Lane?? This makes me so sad! What did you sample if you don’t mind my asking?

      1. JenJenWhen

        I totally understand the sad pancakes. I usually will get a single pancake and have them do the cinnamon swirl trick. I know you will probably sample other places before ever going back to Kerbey Ln but they have a really good seasonal menu that usually has a pancake/french toast special. They usually don’t even need syrup! Just in case you find yourself back there 🙂

        Also, if you ask, you can get the breakfast tacos with migas! It’s not on the menu but they will do it if you ask.

        I’m going back to Austin to visit family in a few weeks. I’m so happy you posted this montage of your visit! It makes me happy that other people enjoy my home city especially now since I miss it and I don’t live there anymore. I’m glad you enjoyed it!

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