Austin is a major destination, whether for tourists looking to explore the Texas city, conference attendees flocking to the convention center, traveling musicians playing gigs, concert and festival-goers (hello, Austin City Limits and South by Southwest), or just locals looking to re-explore their home town. The city is also jam-packed with great restaurants, food trucks, and bars serving up some of the best barbecue, tacos, cocktails, beers, and more, around the capital of the state.
Sometimes it’s hard to know where to start, and sometimes there just isn’t enough time to explore everything. (Not everyone has time to wait in line for Franklin Barbecue, but, hey, if you’ve got time, it really is worth it.)
With all of that in mind, Eater Austin put together this handy dining itinerary guiding you through a perfect 24 hours (and then some) in Austin, full of great food and drink.
7 a.m. at Patika
2159 South Lamar Boulevard, South Lamar
For some of the best coffee in Austin, wake up bright and early with the help of Patika. The coffee shop focuses on well-crafted espressos and lattes (don’t miss out on the just-sweet-enough vanilla latte) made with local roasts from Flat Track and Wild Gift. Throw in one of the cafe’s biscuits or pastries to start the day with some food too.
9 a.m. at Veracruz All Natural
111 East Cesar Chavez Street, Downtown; 4208 Menchaca Road, South Lamar
For a quintessential Austin experience, grab some of the city’s best tacos for breakfast tacos. Migas are a must, a cheesy mess of eggs, tortilla chips, cilantro, tomatoes, and onions. Wash it down with one of the refreshing aguas frescas. Veracruz has multiple locations, but the two with the best experience for Austin visitors are (for convenience) at the Line Hotel downtown or (for a true Austin vibe) at Radio Coffee in South Austin.
11 a.m. at Better Half
406 Walsh Street, Clarksville
Since you’re aiming to get as much food and drink in you as possible, it’s time for day-drinking. Better Half answers that call with a.m.-friendly libations of wines, beers, and cocktails. The ciders are particularly fun, featuring Austin cideries like Fairweather Cider Co. If you’re hungry, the cauliflower tots with beet ketchup or a truly excellent breakfast sandwich will do the trick.
1 p.m. at La Barbecue
2401 East Cesar Chavez Street, Holly
Afternoon means it’s time for barbecue. Head back to the east side for smoked meats courtesy of LeAnn Mueller, who happens to be from the legendary Mueller barbecue family (her late father ran Louie Mueller Barbecue in Taylor, Texas). Get the brisket and beef ribs, especially if the latter is available. There’s indoor dining and a patio for alfresco dining too. Note that the restaurant is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.
3 p.m. at Salt & Time Wine Shop
1912 East Seventh Street, East Seventh
Post-barbecue seems like the right time to grab a glass or two of wine, and this local butcher shop’s creative, natural wine-focused list and adorable patio make for a nice afternoon break. For snacks, the wine bar has cheese boards, tinned fish, and other small plates, although the full restaurant two doors down also has great options if you want something more substantial (think: a stellar burger and fries, pastas, etc.).
5 p.m. at Uchi
801 South Lamar Boulevard, South Lamar
The key to enjoying the exquisite sushi and dishes at fine dining Japanese restaurant Uchi is partaking in its less expensive happy hour, aka the sake social. The notable restaurant serves up discounted nigiri, hand rolls, and other fun bites (think fried onigiri or crudos). Reservations tend to fill up for sake social, so snag one or arrive early for a spot at the sushi bar (sake social runs from 4 to 6 p.m.).
7 p.m. at Odd Duck
1201 South Lamar Boulevard, Zilker
Just down the street, settle into Odd Duck for a proper dinner highlighting the Austin dining scene with an eye to seasonal ingredients and meats used in creative ways. Chef Bryce Gilmore has been nominated for several James Beard Awards for a reason. What you might see on the ever-rotating menu: grilled quail with Carolina rice and hot sauce butter, corn “ribs,” and a famous draft paloma. Reservations are highly recommended, otherwise, hope for a spare seat at the bar.
Couldn’t get a reservation at Odd Duck or Uchi? Head to Nixta Taqueria (2512 East 12th Street, Chestnut) for incredible vegetarian tacos from James Beard Award-winning chef Edgar Rico. Just be prepared to wait in line at the first-come, first-serve restaurant for those duck carnitas or beet tartare masterpieces.
9 p.m. at The Roosevelt Room
307 West Fifth Street, Downtown
For after-dinner drinks, cocktail bar Roosevelt Room is the place to be. The drinks den is an homage to everything that makes up a perfect drink. While the menu might seem overwhelming as it spans eras of cocktails (yes, there’s actually a killer cosmopolitan), everything is made thoughtfully.
11 p.m. at Nickel City
1133 East 11th Street, Central East Austin
End the night and even begin the next day at casual bar Nickel City, where you’ll probably see the very same chefs, servers, bartenders, etc. who served you earlier that day. The neighborhood spot pays an equal amount of attention to beers and shots as it does to cocktails (the “unknown” section is worth exploring). Stave off a potential hangover with late-night bites from on-site food truck Delray Cafe, which whips up drinking-friendly food like coney dogs and sliders.
1 a.m. at Vaquero Taquero
603 Sabine Street, Downtown
If it’s Friday or Saturday night and you’re somehow still hungry, head to the downtown location of taco spot Vaquero Taquero. With a simple menu of al pastor, bistec, tinga de pollo, and nopales tacos, plus a smattering of specials, it’s the perfect finale to a full day of eating in Austin.