Updated: Nov 18
Ya'll - I have lived in A LOT of places. When I say a lot, I have moved essentially every year since I graduated from college. However, my reigning favorite among the vast list will always be Austin, Texas. There is something about Texas that makes me feel right at home, and this could simply be in my blood as I was born in the Lone Star State. Now that I have moved back to the dark side (California), there are moments I pause at how much I miss the culinary explosion that Austin supplies.
Austin is the city for foodies, with a vast array of Tex Mex, famous Texas BBQ, & a surprisingly extensive cuisine selection. Here I have rounded up a couple of my favorites to visit when the world gets a little safer! (this also does not include drinks/coffee because frankly, I can do drinks and coffee as a separate list. Let me know if that is something you would like to see!)
Image by Travel & Leisure
A perfect spot for upscale brunch! The interior/exterior is a modern farmhouse vibe with a beautiful patio to enjoy in spring and fall. They serve food all day long and have only heard incredible things about their dinner menu as well. Order the lemon ricotta pancakes or a tasty bakery item!
Holly Roller (UPDATE: PERMANENTLY CLOSED)
***A kind friend of mine has informed me that Holy Roller is permanently closed and I am DEPRESSED. Adding a new favorite above this one to compensate!
I have such a strong love for this place. Between the 'holy' decor or the hangover cure for the century: trash fries, this spot is hands down one of my favorite brunch spots in Austin. Located in the heart of West 6th, Holy Roller is a perfect start to a day drinking excursion or exploring downtown. Get there early (the wait can get long!) and enjoy a mix of classic and southern brunch favorites.
Best BBQ in Austin. Do not fight me on it. I state the facts. Franklins is incredibly famous for its smoked meats, and let me tell you; it does not disappoint. With COVID, they are only open for curbside pick up. My suggestion is to go online two weeks before your visit to see if meat selection is available for purchase. In other circumstances, I would also order to go as the line tends to curve around the block on the weekends. Order the brisket & pulled pork!!
Image by Mattie's website
My favorite ambiance of any restaurant in Austin for so many reasons! I have actually looked up if you can get married here; it is that beautiful! Mattie's is essentially a sizeable southern mansion located in a tranquil part of the city (although the restaurant remains close to downtown). At night, the outside is strung with lights and has the most magical feel. The food is upscale southern and changes with the seasons! Try their buttermilk biscuits and read more on the history of Green Pastures. I loved the story!
Loro holds a special place in my heart as it is the first restaurant I went to when I arrived in Austin in 2018. Located in the South Lamar area, this restaurant's outdoor seating is aesthetically pleasing with woven swings and large family-style tables. The food is incredibly unique as this spot hosts a creative mix of Asian fusion and a full smokehouse! Many favorites on this menu, but consider ordering the crunchy sweet corn fritters & the smoked beef brisket (the mango sake slushie does not disappoint either!).
Fairly certain I took every visiting friend of mine to this spot for breakfast at one point or another. Boasting locally sourced meat and products, I love the quality of food that Counter Cafe serves up. With a local diner feel, this spot on the east side of Austin is perfect for an early morning bite. Counter Cafe has favorites like Joe's Special and the Fried Chicken Biscuit on the menu that taste incredible. If you're looking for a more local experience, this is the place for you!
Image by Justine's Brasserie Website
French food in Texas. Sounds weird, right? But Justine's is seriously the real(e) deal. If you are going to try escargot anywhere, this is the place to do it! I promise Justine's does a fantastic job with their preparation and dishes. Located on the east side of Austin with an incredibly moody setting on the inside, it is one of the better upscale restaurants I enjoyed in my time in Austin.
Pizza lovers look no further. Known for its Detroit style pizza, Via 313 was a quick walk from my place, and boy did I go here often. I am actually lactose intolerant, and this place offers dairy-free pizza ON SITE. Honestly, having the option to have pizza all the time was such a beautiful thing. They have locations in the surrounding Austin area!
A complete upscale dining experience, but worth every penny. Rivaling a similar ambiance to Mattie's, Rosewood offers a more classic unique dining experience with favorite menu items such as bone marrow and gulf shrimp. Try the lamb main or the strip steak. You cannot go wrong with any meat item you choose in Texas.
Image by Culture Map Austin
I am sure you're asking yourselves...a Vietnamese Bakery and Cafe Kathryn? Why? When it comes to aesthetics, Elizabeth Street is poised with a beautiful exterior and even more beautiful food. Located just off South Congress, Elizabeth Street has an incredible selection of pho and noodles. They have an incredible brunch, so try random favorites such as the banana stuffed crepe, beignets and jam, Singapore noodles, or Pork Belly Bun.
Image by Torchys Website
The jury is out on the best tacos in Austin, but personally, these are my favorite. I'm going to get a lot of slack for that because it is touristy, but Torchy's is a treasure, people! This is another spot (the South Congress location). I took a lot of visiting guests, and it does not disappoint. Try Torchy's Taco of the month (they always do kooky ones like Asian fusion & chili wagon) or their fresh queso (Queso is HUGE in Austin) or guacamole and chips. Torchy's was basically my chipotle when living in Austin and I never regret how many times I went on a weekly basis.
Have you visited Austin and have favorites of your own? Ready for the drink list? Let me know below!
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