It’s a new school year at the University of Texas at Austin, and all of the reading, projects, and tests will soon pile up. Luckily, Eater Austin has done some homework for scholars. For those new-to-Austin freshmen or returning students, this collection of maps and features can teach the most important lesson of all: how to eat and drink well in Austin.
Let’s start with the basics. Here are the sites to bookmark for Austin’s general dining information gathered to solve happy-hour hankerings, sweet-tooth emergencies, and simply to answer the daily question, what’s for dinner tonight?
- An Eater’s Guide to Austin: From coffee to cocktails and late-night pizza to patios with views, this guide will help everyone navigate it all.
- The Heatmap: This is a full breakdown of Austin’s hottest restaurants. It gets updated monthly to reflect the city's freshest restaurant options.
- The Eater 38: Updated every season, this is a roster of the essential restaurants around town, offering a selection of neighborhood standouts, with a range of locations, cuisines, and price points.
- Eater Cocktail Heatmap: Before grabbing that ID and heading out for the night, check out these must-try drinking spots. Updated monthly. For reliable choices, visit the city’s classic cocktail bars and dive bars.
- Essential Brunch Map: An antidote to an overindulgent evening, an excuse to meet up with friends, an opportunity to impress parents — brunch can do it all. These are Eater's picks, updated seasonally. For other brunch picks, check out the monthly heatmap with the city’s newest offerings.
- Essential Food Trucks Map: The Austin food scene is studded with food trucks. Pay heed — some of these could be the humble beginnings of Austin’s next big thing.
- Campus Dining Guide: Eater's best bets for dining on and around the campus area. There's a lunch version too.
Austin College Standbys
- How Austin does barbecue, a primer to the city’s smoked meat obsession.
- Austin’s essential barbecue spots include not-to-be-missed house-made sausages at Micklethwait Craft Meats (1309 Rosewood Avenue, Central East Austin) and classic Texas brisket from La Barbecue (2401 East Cesar Chavez Street, East Cesar Chavez).
- The best breakfast tacos — This delicacy is basically Central Texas's national treasure and the proper way to start the day. Vaquero Taquero (104 East 31st Street, Hyde Park) and Taco Joint (2807 San Jacinto Boulevard, Central Austin) serve up excellent ones near campus.
- Must-eat tacos in Austin, like Con Todo’s border-style tacos (10001 Metric Boulevard, North Austin) and Cuantos Tacos’s Mexico City-style ones (1108 East 12th Street, Central East Austin).
- Pizza is a college staple. For those staying close to campus, check out Detroit-style pizza at Via 313's Guadalupe restaurant. (3016 Guadalupe Street, North Campus).
- Slices are nice, too.
- Where to find the best classic Tex-Mex dishes, from sizzling fajitas to cheese-laden enchiladas. Don’t miss the massive migas at cash-only spot Habanero Cafe (501 West Oltorf Street, South First).
- New to Tex-Mex? Here’s a glossary of terms to know.
- The city’s best burgers range from no-frills to over-the-top creations. Both Crown & Anchor Pub (2911 San Jacinto Boulevard, West Campus) and Dirty Martin’s Place (2808 Guadalupe Street, North Campus) are adjacent to campus.
- Do the dip here. (It’s more than melted cheese, y’all). Bonus: Within campus walking distance are Kerbey Lane (2606 Guadalupe Street, West Campus), Torchy’s Tacos (2801 Guadalupe Street, North Campus), and Posse East (2900 Duval Street, North Campus).
- No meat? No dairy? No problem — Austin offers vegetarian and vegan options, including the groovy macrobiotic-centered Casa de Luz (1701 Toomey Road, Zilker).
- Get gluten-free goods and meals too.
- Sandwich shops students should know. Tip: FoodHeads (616 West 34th Street, North Campus) and Otherside Deli (1104 West 34th Street, Bryker Woods) are both fairly close to campus.
- Get coffee here. 24-hour Bennu (2001 East Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, Central East Austin) on the east side fits the bill for coffee and study sessions at any hour.
- Great coffee shops with Wi-Fi offer a change of scenery from home or the dorm. Flightpath Coffeehouse (5011 Duval Street, North Loop) is worth a visit for no distractions — the coffee shop doesn't allow any live music.
- Craft beer abounds Austin, including the underrated gastropub Hopfields (3110 Guadalupe Street, Central Austin) which is near campus.
- The city’s best dive bars. Hole in the Wall (2538 Guadalupe Street, West Campus) offers that sweet blend of live music and drinks.
- Tart or spicy, frozen or on the rocks margaritas. Head down to the iconic Texas Chili Parlor (1409 Lavaca Street, Downtown) for the Mad Dog margaritas that musician Guy Clark sang about.
- Other essential frozen beverages.
- Take tours of the Austin area’s great breweries.
- Eat well at bars with the best snacks.
- Self-soothe the next morning with hangover cures. The migas plate at Cisco’s (1511 East Sixth Street, East Sixth) has aided many a student.
- Trying to eat healthy? No need to hate life. The Beer Plant in nearby Tarrytown (3110 Windsor Road) is an all-vegetarian, healthy choice, or grab a grain bowl at Cava (2420 Guadalupe, Campus).
- It’s not an oxymoron: quality fast food. Homegrown burger stand P. Terry’s (404 South Lamar Boulevard, South Austin) is worth checking out.
- Make all those dessert dreams come true. Plus, sno cones, and sno balls, and shaved ice might be necessary deep into October (welcome to Texas).
- Poke. (Yup, the beloved Hawaiian dish made it to Texas.) Poke Bowl is a good bet. (2828 Guadalupe Street, Campus)
- Need to entertain a special friend? Try these date night destinations, or go with the city’s best ice cream for a budget-friendly option.
- 24-hour restaurants for when you can’t stop, won’t stop.
- Belt it out at karaoke bars around town. Ego's Lounge is a good place to start (510 South Congress Avenue, South Congress).
- Chicken wings for all of that football you're going to watch. Right on campus is Pluckers Wing Bar, which happened to be founded by UT alums (2222 Rio Grande Street, West Campus).
- Root for the Longhorns at these sports bars. Nearby Scholz Garten (1607 San Jacinto Boulevard, Medical District) has been the celebratory spot since 1893. Plus, check out Eater’s tailgating guide.
For the budget-conscious, these are our picks.
- Indispensable affordable eats spots. Near campus are kum-bak burgers from Dirty Martin's Place (2808 Guadalupe Street, West Campus) and breakfast and lunch spot The Omelettry (4631 Airport Boulevard North Loop).
- Fun and useful happy hours.
- Fine dining on the cheap; it can be done.
Here are guides and tips to keep in mind when you’re hosting friends and family. And trust us, everyone’s going to want to visit now that you’re in Austin.
- How to skip the line at Franklin Barbecue. The key? Preordering.
- These tourist trap restaurants are popular for a reason.
- Music is important, and of course, there are bars and restaurants featuring live performances.
- Classic restaurants everyone should try in Austin.
- Scenic dining.
- Eater’s favorite patios for dining alfresco and the best bets for rooftops.
Interested in sticking closer to home? Eater Austin’s coverage is organized by neighborhood. Here are a few close to UT, and check out the full directory for more.
- UT Campus news
- West Campus news
- North Campus news
- Hyde Park news
- The Triangle news
- Cherrywood news
- Central East Austin news
Other Austin Colleges
Yes, there are other colleges and universities in Austin, and we’ve got separate maps for those educational institutions
Keeping Up With the News
Eater Austin is updated every weekday with breaking news, maps, features, guides, trend pieces, and more. Here's how to stay connected.
- Check the Eater Austin homepage for the most up-to-date news and stories.
- Sign up for Eater Austin's newsletter for the latest news delivered to your inbox daily.
- Follow Eater Austin on Instagram or even on Facebook or Twitter for updates on new stories and more throughout the day.
- Also, visit the national site Eater for news and dining guides from across the country, plus international food news.
This guide was originally written by Elizabeth Leader Smith.