Why should you take my suggestions? I live in Austin and have tried over 150 local restaurants. I’ve frequented these places multiple times and had great experiences time and again. While there are tons of other wonderful places to try, I find these places to be unique and authentic. All places listed can only be found or originated here in the Texas Capitol city.
Stiles Switch BBQ is my go-to barbecue joint in Austin. Franklin is great, but nobody really wants to wait in line for three hours when it is 100 degrees outside. Stiles Switch has earned it’s spot on Texas Monthly’s Top 50 list, with melt-in-your-mouth brisket, fantastic corn casserole, and delicious chocolate banana pudding. If you do opt to go for Franklin, go with a group (min. 5 pounds) and order ahead online.
You cannot go wrong with Kerbey Lane for breakfast, but they also happen to be the best 24-hour dinner if you’re looking for late night eats.
For some down and dirty Tex-Mex, head to Polvos. Order their fajitas rancheros. I promise, you won’t regret it. If you’re looking for something a little more scenic, grab a stuffed avocado at Hula Hut, but be prepared to wait. Wander over to Mozart’s for a cup of joe while you’re waiting.
Odd Duck– has a rotating menu that is always delicious. They serve small plate style, so go with a friend, order several different things, and share!
Second Bar and Kitchen is a great eatery with adorable boutiques and ACL’s Moody Theater within walking distance.
For quick casual eats downtown, grab a pressed sandwich from Royal Blue Grocery. I highly recommend the Cuban. For more eats under $10, Banger’s on Rainey street has fantastic sausage. Most recently, I devoured a duck, bacon and fig sausage.
Looking for a splurge? Olamaie is a wonderful date night spot. Barley Swine is another great option. Lenoir has some of the best dishes I’ve had in the city, but while it is a splurge spot, the community-style dining table isn’t exactly conducive to private conversations or googley eyes.
Emmer and Rye is a unique experience. They serve modern small plates, suggesting you order just a few per table so you can grab additional bites off of the dim sum cart as it passes. If you do nothing else. order one of their pasta dishes: they mill their own grains and make the pasta in house.
You will find Uchi and/or Uchiko on almost any Austin list you find. And there is a reason. If you can spring for it, go! Happy hour at Uchiko is delightful.
Wood fired pizza is my favorite style of pizza and Bufalina‘s calabrese is my go-to pie. It just might be the best pizza I have ever had.
Ramen Tatsu-ya has ruined me for ramen. My husband got me hooked on the creamy Japanese soup, and we often search for a hearty bowl when we travel. Nothing has compared. Ramen Tatsu-ya is the most consistent restaurant I have ever dined at, with perfectly cooked ajitama every time. And for approximately $20 for two bowls, it is probably the restaurant we frequent most in the city. Kemuri Tatsu-ya, the new sister restaurant that is also stand-out.
Swing into Elizabeth Street Cafe, even if you only grab a Vietnamese iced coffee and an eclair to go. The colorful and charming spot serve Viatnamese-French fusion.
Prohibition Creamery makes boozy ice cream and milkshakes and stays open late. Their tiramisu ice cream or their sorbets are phenomenal.
Lick is locally made ice cream made from ingredients that come from local farms.
Spun is fairly new to town and has a limited selection of flavors, but the liquid-nitrogen frozen ice cream will be some of the creamiest you’ll ever eat.
Maggie Louise Confections is magical and delightful. The chocolates are as scrumptious as they are stunning and the shop is spectacular.
Uncommon Objects on South Congress is always a very well curated treasure hunt. Spartan on South Lamar carries a great selection of artisinal goods.
Museums and Activities:
I have been to four Presidential Libraries and visiting them all in on my bucket list, so of course I think the LBJ Presidential Library and Museum can’t be missed.
Harry Ransom Center is a small museum on The University of Texas campus that is always free. Stop in for a quick look at the first photograph and one of the few surviving copies of the Gutenberg Bible. Summer 2015 they had a whimsical and wonderful Alice In Wonderland exhibit.
The Blanton, is Austin’s modern art museum and the area just past the lobby is a sight itself.
Despite the hot Texas summer, Austinites love outdoor activities. If you want to join in, try stand-up paddle boarding, water biking, canoeing or kayaking on Lady Bird Lake or taking a dip in Barton Springs Pool.
If you want to leave your mark on Austin, grab a can of spray paint and head to the Graffiti Park at Castle Hill. Rather admire other people’s street art? Check out the Butter Half Mural or the Greetings from Austin Mural at Roadhouse Relics.
Been there, done that? Shoot me a message and I’d be happy to make more recommendations.