Austin is fast becoming a popular destination for tourists, thanks in large part to the music scene in general and especially the South by Southwest (SXSW) music and film conferences (March 11-20 for 2011). But no matter your reason for coming out, there really is only one truly important question: What’s to eat around here, anyway? Fear not weary travelers, the Daily Meal and the Austin Food Junkies have you covered. We have compiled a list of places that Austinites love to frequent any chance they get.
So let’s say you arrived in town for the SXSW conferences last night. You’ve decided to get an early jump on things and make a real plan of attack, but that’s hard to do on an empty stomach. So where to go breakfast?
Juan in a Million: A real Austin staple. Juan in a Million serves up some great TexMex cuisine all day long, but their breakfast tacos and migas (scrambled eggs, tortilla chips, peppers, and cheese) are the stuff of legend!
Manny’s Uptown Kitchen: A New York –style deli in the N.W. corner of Austin. Breakfast is served all day long. My favorite: the Challa Bread French Toast.
Magnolia Cafe: You don’t get much more “Austin” than Magnolia. Open 24/7, serving some of the best café/diner fare in town.
Upper Crust Bakery: In my opinion, the best bakery in town. Open first thing in the morning offering all manner of pastry perfection.
Crepes Mille: Some of the best crepes you will ever have, and served out of an Airstream in the heart of South Congress. For breakfast I recommend the Crepe Benedict.
After having spent a grueling morning club hopping and checking out every free show that you can possibly pack into one morning, it is now late afternoon and time for lunch:
Man Bites Dog: Nothing says American street food better than a great hot dog or sausage, especially when served out of one of the better trailers downtown.
Izzoz Tacos: Some of the best tacos and tortas (Spanish for sandwich) in Austin, and served out of a big blue horse trailer. I recommend the portabella torta.
Aster’s Ethiopian: In the mood to try something totally new? Aster’s serves authentic Ethiopian cuisine right in the heart of the music and U-District. Their Doro Wat is my favorite.
Taco-Mex: Some of the best and most authentic tacos you’ll get anywhere outside of Mexico. All made fresh daily by Abuela herself.
Kismet Café: Truly excellent Middle Eastern food. One of the best things about Kismet: wraps. You can swing in, get a wrap and head back out to the next event with lunch in hand.
Holy Cacao: Sweets served out of a trailer, and conveniently located next to Man Bites Dog. Why not wash that dog down with a frozen hot chocolate or cake shake?
You’re still not ready to toss in the towel and head back to the hotel but it is now dinner time, so where to go?
The Best Wurst: A real icon in downtown Austin. They serve some of the best bratwurst around right out of a hot dog stand. Located in the heart of all the action — 6th Street.
East Side King: Want something totally off the wall? How about an Asian-fusion trailer located on the patio of the Liberty Bar? Try the Tongue Bun and the beet home fries. Just trust me on this one.
The Odd Duck: Featured on Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations, this is probably my favorite place to eat in the entire city. Everything served is sourced locally and made fresh daily. They open for dinner and tend to sell out, so get there quick. My favorite item: the Grilled Butternut Squash and Goat Cheese Sandwich. The menu changes daily, so check their website.
Mister Tramps: A genuine gastro-pub right here in Austin. Not only do they have a huge beer selection, they also have one of the best kitchens in town. The corn and crawfish bisque and the chicken pot pie are absolutely delicious.
Chi’Lantro: A combination of the words kimchi and cilantro, fitting given that they serve a combination of Korean and Mexican. Bulgogi served on tortillas, and quesadillas topped with kimchi. They’re a mobile outfit with two trucks, so check their website for their schedules.
Haddington’s: Hands down, this is one of the best restaurants in town. It’s an American tavern serving up some great Old World grub with a New World kind of twist. For appetizers I recommend the Toast Pots with the raw egg yolk and white truffle custard. And the dinks? The mastermind behind the drinks is none other than renowned bartender Bill Norris (he doesn’t like the term mixologist). The drinks he serves are every bit as well composed as the food on the menu. I recommend the Duck Fat Sazerac or the Smoking Jacket. The latter drink uses raw egg, and the former uses duck fat infused rye whiskey. I know, it sounds bizarre but just trust me on this. Haddington’s is where foodies hope to go when they die.
While we certainly hope everyone finds this list helpful, if you get to town and still need some help deciding just drop us a line! Hope to see y’all soon,
Austin Food Junkies