One of Austin’s biggest venue openings in recent years is the Moody Center, the new arena on the University of Texas at Austin campus. It’s a Texas-forever venue — Austinite and actor Matthew McConaughey is its minister of culture. Since its opening in April 2022 at 2001 Robert Dedman Drive, it’s hosted everything from the university’s women’s and men’s Austin basketball games to ginormous concerts (ahem Bruce Springsteen and Harry Styles) to the forthcoming Country Music Television’s Music Awards on April 2.
AMoody Center attendees are probably going to want to eat and drink before, during, and after their respective events. So Eater Austin put together this nifty guide to where to eat at and around the Moody Center at 2001 Robert Dedman Drive.
Where to Eat and Drink at the Moody Center
Yes, the arena sells food and beverages. Keep in mind that cash is not accepted; only Apple Pay, Google Play, and credit/debit cards are accepted. There’s a two-alcoholic drink maximum per purchase, and alcohol sales end 30 minutes before the end of the show. There’s also a clear bag policy or clutch bags/wallets no bigger than five inches by nine inches by one and a half inches. Tailgating isn’t allowed. Here are your best dining and drinking bets within the arena.
Koko’s Bavarian: It makes sense that the Bavarian prince-backed German restaurant in Austin would be at the arena: one of the venue partners is concert promotion company C3 Presents, and one of the restaurant’s partners is C3 co-founder Charles Attal. Order the jalapeno-cheddar sausage paired with barbecue sauce. (Main concourse near section 123 and portal 13; and then upper concourse near section 212)
Tony C’s: The Austin mini-chain’s pizza offerings in Moody include an array of New York-style coal-fired slices from pepperoni to sausage to cheese. (Main concourse near section 114 and portal nine)
Big Chicken: The Moody Center contains the only Austin location of the fast-casual chain restaurant Big Chicken, which is co-owned by basketball player Shaquille O’Neal. So maybe go with the MDE, a fried chicken sandwich with pickles and sauce. (Main concourse near sections 102 and 103 and portal two)
Right On ‘Cue Tacos: It’s Austin, get tacos. This stand’s Buffalo chicken tacos made with blue cheese coleslaw and shaved celery/carrots will do the trick. (Upper concourse near section 220)
Where to Eat and Drink Before Shows and Games
Maybe arena food isn’t your thing and you want to eat and/or drink before your event. Luckily, Austin is chock-full of great dining and drinking places. Here are your best dining bests, arranged by location:
West of Campus
For food: The campus location of Taiwanese restaurant CoCo’s Cafe offers wonderful rice and noodle plates for hearty meals (the spicy beef noodle soup isn’t to be missed). There’s a good amount of vegetarian-friendly dishes, such as vegetable noodle soups and tofu options. It’s open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and then from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday through Sunday. (1910 Guadalupe Street, the Drag)
For drinks: The longtime campus dive bar Hole in the Wall is legendary for good reason. Find beers, mixed drinks, and live music (Ethan Hawke is a fan). It’s open from 3 p.m. to 2 a.m. daily. (2538 Guadalupe Street, the Drag)
North of Campus
For beers, queso, and burgers: Dive restaurant Posse East is a chill place for food and drinks. It’s open from 11 a.m. to midnight Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday, with the kitchen serving from noon to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and then from noon to 8 p.m. Sunday. (2900 Duval Street, North Campus)
Across the Highway/Central East Austin
For two taco trucks in one location: Cuantos Tacos and Ensenada ATX are quite awesome. The former menu focuses on small Mexico City-style tacos, so get a bunch of ’em, but especially the cachete and champinones. The latter serves a focused menu of two seafood tacos, a fish and a shrimp, plus there are fun weekend specials. Cuantos is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Ensenada is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and then from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. (1108 East 12th Street, Central East Austin)
For casual New Texan fare plus a great patio: The most casual of the Bryce Gilmore restaurants, Sour Duck Market makes for an easy dining destination, offering everything from daylong breakfast tacos, sandwiches, cocktails, and superb pastries. It’s open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday; and until 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Bonus: there’s 20 percent off entire orders from 3 to 5 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, and then from 8 to closing on Friday through Sunday.(1814 East Martin Luther King Junior Boulevard, Blackland)
For easy drinks: Nickel City is one of the best bars in town and has a drink for every taste. There are indoor and outdoor dine-in areas. It’s open from noon to 2 a.m. daily. (1133 East 11th Street, Central East Austin)
Across the Highway/Cherrywood
For Southern fare: What sounds better than chicken fried steak and a beet margarita at Hoover’s Cooking? It’s open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and then 4 to 9 p.m. Friday; and then 3 to 9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. (2002 Manor Road, Cherrywood)