For better or worse, the East Austin has changed significantly in recent years, with nationally acclaimed restaurants and high-end hotels opening among food trucks and dive bars.
This rapidly evolving mix of old and new Austin has become an attractive area for visitors, with many, many excellent dining options within walking distance — which unfortunately means that those with limited time must make some tough decisions.
Thus, Eater put together this itinerary to a full day of eating and drinking on the East Side. It covers most of the classic Austin bases (breakfast tacos, honky tonk, Lone Star) while still exploring the diverse flavors and posh offerings of the culinary scene (local produce, nose-to-tail dining, fancy cocktails).
9 a.m. - Juan in a Million
It’s essential to start any day in Austin with breakfast tacos, and family-owned Mexican restaurant has been serving up some of the best for almost 40 years. Choose fillings like eggs, beans, migas, nopalitos, or machado to put in a warm tortilla, and don’t skimp on the salsa. Beware of the portion sizes — meaning, don’t attempt the Don Juan El Taco Grande with fewer than two people. After all, there’s a full day of eating ahead.
2300 East Cesar Chavez Street, Holly
11 a.m. - East Austin Hotel
This hip new hotel on the East Sixth is a great spot to post up for a few hours with a drink in hand. First, do a lap around the building to soak in all the bright colors and picturesque murals. Then step into ground-floor casual restaurant Sixth & Waller for a morning cocktail like the champagne paloma (with grapefruit and tequila) or a local beer. If it’s nice out, stop by the Pool Bar for alfresco drinks. Be sure to grab a cookie of the day before heading out.
1108 East Sixth Street, East Sixth
1 p.m. - Bento Picnic
Visitors to Austin often beg for a vegetable course between all the Tex-Mex and barbecue, and Bento Picnic provides that reprieve (though there are many places where you can eat healthy without hating life throughout the city). The small shop on East Cesar Chavez creates customizable bento lunch boxes using colorful local produce, with lots of options for different dietary needs. There are also dumplings, bowls, vegan ice cream, and drinks like kombucha or matcha lattes.
2600 East Cesar Chavez Street, Holly
3 p.m. - Cuvée Coffee
Chase the afternoon lull with a caffeine jolt from local coffee roasters Cuvée. The retail cafe on East Sixth offers both espresso drinks from its ethically sourced coffee beans and its famed nitro cold brew on tap (the other taps are occupied by a rotating selection of wine and beer). In addition to a sleek, calming interior, friendly service makes this a chill spot to linger for a while.
2000 East Sixth Street, East Sixth
5 p.m. - Whisler’s
One of the best cocktail bars in the city, Whisler’s is home to an expansive patio, a weekend-only mezcal bar, and an excellent Old Fashioned, which is included on its weekday happy hour. Located directly on East Sixth, it’s great for people watching.
1816 East Sixth Street, East Sixth
6 p.m. - Intero
One of the classier options on the east side, Intero takes an Italian bent to nose-to-tail dining, all found in a cozy, intimate space. The menu that changes frequently based on seasonal ingredients, but try any of the handmade pasta in dishes like paccheri with chile-braised lamb and share small plates of fresh, expertly prepared vegetables. After enjoying the savory creations from co-owner and chef Ian Thurwachter, grab some jewel-like chocolates to-go from the counter up front, made by his wife and co-owner Krystal Craig.
2612 East Cesar Chavez Street, Holly
8 p.m. - Prohibition Creamery
Get the evening revelry started with boozy ice cream. Prohibition Creamery offers several flavors of alcohol infused (and regular) ice cream, toppings like the essential espresso fudge, milkshakes, and floats. There’s also a full bar, so cocktails (like a tamarind whiskey sour) are available too.
1407 East Seventh Street, East Seventh
9 p.m. - White Horse
After a full day of eating, White Horse is a great place to get your honky-tonk on, with live music nightly and free dance lessons available Tuesday through Saturday (depending on the night, the music could also be blues or swing). Sample essential Texas beers like Lone Star and Pearl by the pool tables, or grab some of the whiskey on tap and soak in the night on the large outdoor patio.
500 Comal Street, East Sixth
11 p.m. - Nickel City
You’ll likely have to get a ride (or scooter) to the last place on the list, but it’s worth it. Nickel City is one of Austin’s best all-around bars, with reasonably priced, well-made drinks, a convivial atmosphere, and, crucially, a food truck (Delray Cafe) with perfectly greasy options like cheesy tots, sliders, and wings. Order a Pursue Happiness boilermaker to try the bar’s truly impressive whiskey selection.
1133 East 11th Street, Central East Austin