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First Time To Austin? Here’s Where To Eat…


Visiting Austin for the first time? Here's where you should eat!

I’m writing this blog post by popular request, because without a doubt, the #1 question I get via messages on instagram, emails from readers, comments on the blog, or just random strangers who find out I’m a food blogger is:

“Where should I eat in Austin?? “

It’s kind of vague, and it’s a little hard to answer! Haha. Now, to be fair, I ask the same thing of locals when I visit a new city. Without being able to specify exactly what type of food I’m craving and where in town I’ll be hanging out, I just want the answer to my “generally-speaking-what’s-the-best-food-in-town?” type of question…

So I compiled this list for all of you who are like me, who want to be given 3 solid choices in a wide variety of categories. (Now, these are my top 3 choices, so these are the places I’d recommend if you and I were sitting down for a cup of coffee and you asked for my opinion. Ask other food bloggers in town, and I’m sure you’d get some different answers!)

I chose 11 popular food categories for this list:

  • Breakfast Tacos
  • BBQ
  • Pizza
  • Breweries
  • Coffee Shops
  • Food Trucks
  • Ice Cream
  • Brunch
  • Dinner
  • Cocktails
  • Juice Bar/Healthy

Austinites: have a different opinion? Let me know in the comments below!

Here we go!

Best of: Breakfast Tacos

New to Austin? Here's where to eat! // Tyson's tacos in Austin TX for breakfast tacos!

  1. Veracruz All NaturalOne of the most popular taco trucks in Austin with two truck locations + a  brick and mortar in Round Rock. Their migas taco is award-winning and will knock your socks off.
  2. Papalote Taco HouseThese authentic Mexican tacos are simple and oh-so-flavorful. Breakfast is served all day, but you might also want to try a taco from the lunch menu…those corn tortillas are tasty! Papalote just opened their second Austin location.
  3. Tyson’s Tacos. They’re open 24/7 and “Authentically Austin,” meaning the team at Tyson’s Tacos learned how to make their tacos from Austinites! Expect lots of smoky BBQ flavors and funny names, like my favorite, the Avocado Abogado with ribeye and avocado! Mmmm…

Also see: My New Favorite North Austin Taco Joint

Best of: BBQ

First time to Austin? Here's where to eat...

  1. La Barbecue. The trailer just permanently closed so that La Barbecue could start serving from a brick and mortar at Quickie Pickie on the east side….exciting! The lines can be long (but no where near as long as Franklin BBQ). It’s ok….that just makes the brisket taste that much better!
  2. Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ. For something totally unique, try Valentina’s. They serve meat by the pound and on sandwiches, but I’d pass on that and try their delicious tacos: smoked meat served in a fluffy, homemade flour tortilla. Yes. Please.
  3. Leroy and LewisI adore this BBQ trailer opened by Evan Leroy and Sawyer Lewis. The meat is mighty flavorful, so make sure you’re expecting something different! I particularly love their desserts…if you can save room for it, try their Brisket Chocolate Chip Cookie with Peanut Butter Frosting.

Best of: Pizza

New to Austin? Here's where to eat! Best pizza in Austin!

  1. Homeslice Pizza. Get it by the slice or by the pie, but everyone needs to try Homeslice Pizza at least once….it’s the most famous pizzeria in Austin! It’s a New York style thin crust, but they also make a deep dish that is deeeeelish.
  2. Pinthouse Pizza. This one is my personal favorite, and I eat it way too often…. You’ll probably run into me here sometime! It’s also an award-winning brewpub with some fantastic IPAs and a killer guest tap list.
  3. Via 313. Perfect for those late-night cravings when you’re bar-crawling. 🙂 Via 313 is Detroit-style, so it’s a rectangular deep-dish pizza cut into four pieces. There’s a brick and mortar location, but I love the two food trucks best: one is at Craft Pride on Rainey Street, and the other is on the East Side parked by The Violet Crown Social Club.

Best of: Breweries

New to Austin? Here's where to eat!

  1. The Austin Beer Garden Brewing Company, aka “The ABGB.” They won the Great American Beer Festival award for “Brewpub of the Year” in 2016, so need I say more? (I will.) The vibe is amazing, with a stage for live music/dancing, a giant outdoor area for hanging out with friends, and long picnic tables inside, perfect for big groups! The pizza is amazing. (I didn’t include it earlier because I’m listing it here, but it’s one of my favorite pizza places in Austin!) They’ve won many more GABF awards for their beer, and the “Hell Yes” Helles is my personal favorite. Parking can be a pain, but if you take a ride share, you can enjoy even more beer!
  2. Hops and Grain. This east side brewery + tap room is open from 10 am – 10 pm, 7 days a week. Its a well-established brewery in Austin, so a (free) 45-min tour is a fun thing to add to your visit.
  3. Austin BeerworksGood luck finding one restaurant, grocery store, or quick stop in Austin that doesn’t have at least one brew from Austin Beerworks. It’s such a big, popular brand here, so visiting the north Austin brewery is a fun thing to add to your Austin agenda.

Also see: Big World Small Girl, an Austin beer + booze blog.

Best of: Coffee Shops

New to Austin? Here's where to eat!

  1. Houndstooth CoffeeThey have a lovely coffee program and skilled baristas, so you’re guaranteed an expertly pulled shot of espresso or a deep and complex pour over. Two locations with a third on the way!
  2. Fleet CoffeeWant to feel about 42% more hipster immediately? Go to Fleet Coffee. It’s an adorable, tiny, triangular coffee shop on the East Side with a knowledgeable staff and an impressive list of imported roasters.
  3. Figure 8 Coffee PurveyorsThere’s something about East Austin and great coffee shops… Figure 8 is another must-try for all the coffee snobs out there. If you’re up for a double dose of caffeine, stop by after your visit to Fleet Coffee!

Best of: Food Trucks

New to Austin? Here's where to eat!

  1. Soursop. I rave about this place to all my friends, and everyone I know who has eaten here has LOVED it! Soursop food truck is a pan-asian fusion truck with theeee most delicious roti flatbread and curry dishes you’ll ever taste. It’s parked outside St. Elmo brewery, so grab a flight of beer while you’re eating!
  2. The Churro Co. You’ll find one of the best desserts in Austin at the Churro Co., where churro dough is made from scratch and fried to order. Try all sort of delicious toppings (seriously, try them all!).
  3. Thai Kun by East Side King.  This colorful thai food truck is a spin-off from East Side King, the popular Japanese-fusion restaurant by Paul Qui and Moto Utsunomiya. The food is spicy and fun, and the truck is parked outside the popular East Austin cocktail bar, Whisler’s.

Also see: ACL Eats Highlight: Mighty Cone Food Truck

Best of: Ice Cream

New to Austin? Here's where you should eat!

  1. Dolce Neve GelatoThis gelato shop is tiny and always busy. It’s called “Local Italin Gelato” because it was opened by three Italians….and you can taste the authenticity! The flavors vary from typical Italian gelato choices (Stracciatella, Organic Pistachio) to more adventurous choices (Mascarpone with Figs.)
  2. Lick Honest Ice Cream. The ice cream masters at Lick start with really good ingredients, so you know the result will be something fantastic. Their regular flavors are anything but “regular”, and the seasonal ones are so much fun…I have to taste them all every time I go! But without fail, Texas Sheet Cake is my all-time favorite flavor.
  3. Amy’s Ice Creams. The busiest location is on South Congress, but that’s also the best place to grab a scoop + mix ins (Mexican Vanilla is their #1 seller…it tastes like cake batter!) and walk over to the SoCo bridge to watch the bats.

Also see: 11 Ice Cream Shops in Austin You Should Try This Summer

Best of: Brunch

First time to Austin? Here's where you should eat...

  1. Dai DueThis one is for all the carnivores out there! This supper club + butcher shop sources their meat locally, so you get a lot of Texas game (wild boar, beef, venison, quail) that is expertly prepared. The restaurant is smoky from the open flames, and everything smells delicious. Bonus: breakfast is served on weekdays, too!
  2. Jack Allen’s Kitchen. The all-you-can-eat buffet brunch at Jack Allen’s isn’t for the faint of heart! You’ll find all of your favorite southern foods like chicken fried everything, green chile pork and eggs, and biscuits and gravy.
  3. Epicerie. It’s a precious French-American cafe + grocery store with a simple menu. Epicerie is well-loved in Austin for its simple French brunch of Croque Madame and Quiche in a quant, bright setting.

Best of: Dinner

First to time Austin? Here's where to eat...

  1. Emmer and Rye. Chef Kevin Fink and team raised the bar by not only making their own bread and pasta, but also their own flour. A dim sum cart is rolled around multiple times during the meal to add one more level of fun to dining out!
  2. Odd Duck This food-truck-turned-brick-and-mortar is beautiful, trendy, locally sourced, and oh-so-deliciousEveryone should eat a meal at Odd Duck during their first visit to ATX.
  3. Uchi. There are now Uchi locations in Dallas, Houston, and Denver (on the way)….so come see the original sushi restaurant that started it all! I love the Sake Social from 5-6:30 for some discounted bites and sips. (It gets crowded, so show up early!)

Also See: my go-to weekday lunch spots in Austin

Best of: Cocktails

First time to Austin? Here's where to eat...

  1. Half StepRainey Street grows increasingly crowded with every passing year, but as long as bars like Half Step stick around, I’ll keep showing up. The expertly crafted cocktails are best enjoyed outside, in my opinion, on the sprawling Rainey Street gravel patio.
  2. Weatherup. This is one of the most beautiful cocktail bars in the city. Founed by James Beard nominee Matthew Maddy, the Austin Weatherup is the third location; the other two are in New York City. Go out on a limb and ask your bartender to create a drink for you with your favorite spirits and flavors…the results are always outstanding!
  3. Back Beat. Three things: lovely cocktails, delicious food, and a rooftop patio. I also love this place for the happy hour, where you can find $7 cocktails and $2 off bar snacks from M-F from 4-7 and all night Sunday.

Also See: 11 Must-try happy hours in Austin

Best of: Juice Bars/Healthy

  1. First time to Austin? Here's where to eat..The Soup Peddler. This is a very Austin-y juice bar. It began with the owner delivering soup via bicycle in 2002, and now it’s a 5-location company that makes fresh juice, smoothies, and healthy soups every day. Walk up to the window to get a cold-pressed juice or a smoothie to go, or stop by for a delicious cup of soup if you’re craving a healthier option for lunch or dinner.
  2. Picnik. “We Make Good Food That Also Happens To Be Good For You.” Picnik was founded by a woman who has battled a chronic food-allergy-related illness her entire life, and her solution was to make allergen-free foods. If you have any dietary restrictions (or just need some really delicious, healthy food), Picnik is your jam.
  3. Juiceland. There are locations all over the state of Texas (and one in Brooklyn, NY!), but Juiceland started right here in Austin. Whether you’re into green juice, or you just want something cold and fruity, Juiceland has flavorful options for everyone.

Thoughts or opinions? Have any questions? Leave a comment below!

XO, Kelsey


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2 comments on “First Time To Austin? Here’s Where To Eat…”

  1. I wish breakfast tacos were a thing everywhere. I eat them every single day when I’m in Texas, and sometimes I try to make them at home too, but it’s not the same. Breakfast tacos are the stuff of dreams.

    1. Me too! I remember moving to Austin and being surprised to see breakfast tacos at every coffee shop, right next to the pastries I was used to seeing.

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