South by Southwest (SXSW), the annual festival of film, interactive media, and music is in full swing this week in Austin and between all the events and networking dinners, you might have all your meals covered. If not or if — yikes!– you’re in charge of wow-ing a potential client with your choice of restaurant, here’s a list of awesome places that prove Austin’s culinary scene is anything but boring.
1503 S 1st St, 5000 Burnet Rd, and 2700 S Lamar Ave
Gourdough’s is an iconic stop on any Austin food journey. For a quick bite, find one of their Airstream trailers for some hot doughnuts made fresh to order. Or, visit their brick-and-mortar restaurant (Lamar Ave.) for an extended menu and the space to lay down and contemplate how you just ate the heaviest meal of your life.
1917 Manor Rd
While really great vegan restaurants DO exist in Austin, meat is still very much the main attraction at most restaurants. But it’s not your run-of-the-mill BBQ. Chefs at places like Salty Sow have added a refined take on comfort-food classics with tasty variations like their duck breast with turnip purée, oil-cured olives, and cardamom orange sauce.
400 W 2nd St A
If your group wants Tex Mex but you still want to keep it classy, La Condesa is the vibrant restaurant you should visit. Share the chips and dip tasting platter with a variety of salsas and guacamoles, get the cauliflower steak, and definitely order one of the house cocktails, like the El Cùbico.
2115 Holly St
This upscale diner serves New American fare (think classics with better ingredients) and supposedly has one of the best burgers in the city. The honest menu at Launderette still manages to keep things exciting and trendy with a good selection of seafood and super flavourful appetizers.
3235 E Cesar Chavez St
Jacoby Mercantile is the restaurant with the most Texas feel of this short list. A polished rustic aesthetic carries throughout the restaurant, bar, and adjacent boutique. The menu is very much southern classics but with a trendy farm-to-table ethos. The food is delicious and hearty, but keep some room for the all-American apple pie.
4710 E 5th St
For something European and very mysterious, get a table at Justine’s (website is NSFW). It’s charming for its total espousing of the sexy French after-hours vibe and the fact that it serves food until 2 am. Go all out and get the escargots, moules frites (with mayo of course), and a bottle of bubbly.
1201 S Lamar Blvd
Odd Duck is fresh, wholesome, and hearty. A great place for lunch or dinner, it focuses on elevated local and Mexican-inspired flavours as seen in the oven roasted sweet potatoes, whipped cajeta, and pecan pork fat crumble dish. With lots of affordable daily specials, it’s laid back but still totally charming and Instagram-worthy.
Emmer and Rye
SkyHouse, 51 Rainey St #110
Emmer and Rye have flipped New American on its head by serving it “dim sum” style. On paper, that sounds wild, but in practice, it’s a lot like shareable, small-plate or tapas-style dining. Honestly, everything sounds so amazing, you WOULD want to try it all. For example, dry aged beef tartare, potato miso, egg custard, carolina gold rice cracker has me thinking “what is that?” followed by “I’ll take two”.
509 Rio Grande St
Self-described as “inspired by the spirit of punk-rock with a hint of religious kitsch,” Holy Roller is a local favourite for its fun atmosphere and delicious comfort food, like the shrimp and Grits with pickled okra, sriracha butter, and creole sauce. Go for brunch, lunch, or dinner!
2708 E Cesar Chavez St
At Pitchfork Pretty, you’ll get all the staples like fried chicken and beef rib, but in the most stylish happy hour spot in town. It’s great for a group since they have special tasting options for adventurous gangs and can adapt to any dietary restriction. They love suggesting flavours and pairings, so don’t be scared to trust your waiter.
BONUS: Where to drink
The Roosevelt Room
2911, 307 W 5th St
The Roosevelt Room is a fun cocktail bar with an extensive cocktail menu organized by decade. Get a history lesson as well as a great drink.
Happy Travels xox