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.

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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!

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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.

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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!