5 Must-Try Places to Eat in Austin
Updated: April 19, 2023
AAA Travel Editor Laurie Sterbens
flickr / CC BY/Dale Cruse
900 E. 11th St.
Chances are if you mention to anyone that you’re going to Austin, you’ll hear about Franklin Barbecue. Locals and tourists alike line up for what Texas Monthly called “the best barbecue in the known universe.” And when we say “line up,” that’s not a figure of speech. The restaurant opens at 11 a.m. for lunch only and generally sells out by 2 or 3, so hungry hopefuls show up early as early as dawn with lawn chairs and coolers and wait 3 to 5 hours for Franklin’s fork-tender, moist smoked brisket, ribs, pulled pork, turkey and juicy sausage.
801 Red River St.
If you’re short on time (or patience), no worries. You can still fill up on traditional Texas barbecue at Stubb’s BBQ. Start off with fried green tomatoes, then choose from freshly smoked meats including Angus beef brisket, chicken, chopped beef, pulled pork, ribs, turkey breast and sausages. If your trip includes a Sunday, you can experience the Gospel Brunch, where you can enjoy live gospel music and feast on a buffet spread with barbecue, Tex-Mex and southern fare such as brisket, fried catfish, enchiladas and biscuits with cream gravy.
Guero's Taco Bar
1412 S. Congress Ave.
It may still say Central Feed and Seed on the front of its historic building, but the heart of this SoCo hotspot is pure cantina, serving up authentic Mexican fare with a splash of Tex-Mex, along with delicious hand-shaken margaritas. Order enchiladas with your choice of fillings such as shredded chicken, picadillo or marinated pork, topped with your choice of sauces including verde, chipotle and Guero’s own mouthwatering mole. If there’s a wait, head outside to the Oak Garden, which offers live music and a full bar Wednesday through Sunday.
Courtesy of Kerbey Lane Cafe
Kerbey Lane Cafe-UT
2606 Guadalupe St.
Speaking of Tex-Mex, you’ll find that it’s not just for lunch and dinner here. Put breakfast tacos and migas (scrambled eggs with tortilla strips, onions, tomatoes, peppers and cheese) on your must-try list during your trip to Austin. Both of the above restaurants have breakfast menus, but for an all-day breakfast menu sure to please the whole family, try Kerbey Lane Café. Check breakfast tacos off your bucket list or dig into a stack of pancakes, available all day in a variety of flavors including apple whole wheat, gingerbread and blueberry.
Courtesy of Matt's El Rancho
Matt's El Rancho
2613 S. Lamar Blvd.
If you’re looking for fun places to go with friends to get a Tex-Mex fix, hit happy hour on the patio at Matt’s El Rancho. Opened in 1952, this restaurant bills itself as “The Original Austin-Style Tex-Mex,” and here you’ll find all your favorites—enchiladas, burritos and tacos, all with fresh, house-made tortillas—or try something new, such as a Mexican seafood entrée. Be sure to start off with the renknowned Bob Armstrong Dip—taco meat covered in queso and topped with sour cream, guacamole and pico de gallo—and one of their many margarita options.
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AAA Travel Editor Laurie Sterbens
Laurie Sterbens is a AAA Travel Expert.