Anyone that has ever lived or visited Austin can tell you, there’s no shortage of great food here. Food with unexpected flavors and in unexpected locations, at prices for every budget.
Eating out together as a family has always been one of our special pleasures and something we do at least once a week. We venture out of our way and try new restaurants from time to time, but on most occasions we go with the restaurants that consistently offer delicious food.
Last week Collective Bias asked the Social Fabric community for volunteers to write about the best restaurants in cities across the country. Each blogger is writing about their local city’s top places to eat and then a master list will be compiled to share on our blogs later this month! I’m excited to learn about hidden gems all over the United States and will definitely be checking them out as my travels lead me to these destination cities.
I know some of the first things people think of when thinking about Texas food are Tex-Mex and BBQ. While my list includes one of each, Austin is so much more than just Tex-Mex and BBQ. These are some of my family’s favorite restaurants in Austin. Restaurants that we bring family and friends to whenever they visit to give them a taste of Austin. And even the restaurants on the list that might not seem like the most kid-friendly, we’ve taken at least one of our daughters to.
10 Best Restaurants in Austin Texas
1. Chuy’s: This is the stuff you dream about when it comes to Tex-Mex. Fresh chips and salsa are only the start at this local chain. A surprising addition to the fresh chips and salsa to start your meal is the Creamy Jalapeno Ranch. Even if you aren’t usually a fan of ranch, this stuff is good and can’t be missed. From fish tacos to Chicka-Chicka Boom-Boom, there’s nothing on the menu that wouldn’t make you sing the praises of this delicious food. If you’re brave enough to visit Austin in August, Hatch season is in full swing and Chuy’s has a special menu featuring a new Hatch specialty every day of the week!
2. Home Slice Pizza: I’m a huge fan of pizza. It’s one of those things I could eat every day if all the calories were of no consequence. Sadly I’ve never to been to New York to visit one of the meccas for pizza, but my husband assures me I’m not missing a thing since we have authentic New York pizza right here in Austin. At Home Slice Pizza you will likely have the best slice or pie than you ever thought possible. This place is in high demand and there’s usually a wait with people milling around out front with those eager to get served. Again this is a place I’ve never had a bad experience at but for my money, I’d opt for the sausage, ricotta cheese, and roasted red pepper. In a hurry? There’s a to-go counter located right next door so you can take a slice of pizza and people watch while you eat on the patio tables out front.
3. Hudson’s on the Bend: If you’re in the mood for something different then this is the place to visit. It might be a drive to reach but the food is well worth the wait at this fine dining restaurant. Hudson’s on the Bend serves up exotic dishes featuring things like alligator tail, rattlesnake, and venison in the most delicious way imaginable. Aside from elk meat, I’ve never been a big of venison because of the gamey flavor but rest assured there are no lingering gamey flavors at Hudson’s on the Bend. Everything is paired with the perfect accompaniment and you’ll find yourself wondering how you’ve gone so long without trying all of these flavors.
4. Magnolia Cafe: Since living in Austin, we haven’t visited a chain diner or breakfast joint. Instead, we head over to Magnolia Cafe which is retro, very Austin, and has something for everyone. Breakfast is served 24 hours a day and the infamous gingerbread pancakes are worth the long weekend wait to try out. The portions are large, prices are reasonable, and service is commendable.
5. Moonshine Patio Bar & Grill: When you want something a little fancier or just more options at one time, then the Sunday Brunch at Moonshine is the place to be. Tucked away one stress over from I-35, is this gem with a very loyal following. Some of my favorite brunch items are the migas, King Ranch chicken, and green chili grits. Sunday Brunch Prices are on the higher side but this is a great restaurant to impress out of town guests with the rustic surroundings and savory dishes.
6. Phil’s Ice House: Burgers loaded with toppings and served on freshly baked buns, crispy sweet potato fries, and ice cold sodas and beer make this local eatery one of the best restaurants in Austin. But I wouldn’t fight traffic and make the drive across town nearly as often as I do, if it weren’t for the huge outdoor playscape and attached Amy’s Ice Cream. My picks for the best burger at Phil’s are the Crestview, a chili cheeseburger, or the Violet Crown featuring blue cheese and grilled onions.
7. Rudy’s BBQ: Would you believe me if I told you the best BBQ in Austin was from a gas station? I didn’t the first time someone introduced me to the smoky Oak flavored comfort foods of Rudy’s. But you better believe I’m a convert now. This regional chain is usually attached to a Shell gas station and feature meats smoked in house and chopping cam to see your dinner being prepared right in front of your eyes. The are no friers here but you can find sides like creamed corn and desserts such as peach cobbler and banana pudding. Next time you’re in Austin, go try the self proclaimed “worst BBQ in Texas.”
8. Torchy’s Tacos: I’m a sucker for queso. I could eat the stuff by the spoonful and even named my fantasy football team, Queso Face. As a Texas classic, it’s one of those items that’s available almost everywhere and something I like to try in my search for the best queso. Thus far, Torchy’s Tacos is the reigning champion in the queso department with their green chile queso. This casual dining restaurant reminiscent of some of the larger Mexican chains is anything but traditional. The generously stuffed tacos are served ala cart and feature names like Dirty Sanchez, Trailer Park, and Mr. Pink. Don’t forget to make your tacos trashy (topped with queso)!
9. Uchi: This trendy, upscale restaurant features contemporary Japanense cuisine and sushi. I was so impressed with the quality and freshness of the seafood, I even enjoyed a meal here while pregnant. Everything is plated very elegantly and provides a more robust sushi experience than dining solely on rolls. My favorite dish from their eclectic menu is the Wagyu (beef) Hot Rock where you sear raw slices of beef at your table on a hot, Japanese rock. Uchi offers such a unique, memorable sushi experience.
10. Various Austin Food Trucks/Trailers: Scattered throughout the city, you can find Airstreams, travel trailers, and even old school buses serving up some of the best food in the city. These unsuspecting restaurants are little gem and offer a wide range of food options. Things you’d never imagine would be served in this manner like sushi or crepes, can be found in Austin. Just last week I had one of the best BLTs of my life from Hey! You Gonna Eat or What?, a food trailer on South Congress in downtown Austin.
Which of these get your votes for the best restaurants in Austin?