A food crawl may not seem like the move in a city like Austin, which is known for temperatures found on the surface of the sun rather than its walkability. However, the Crescent, a bustling shopping center in the Highland neighborhood, packs a culinary punch, containing some of the city’s best Asian restaurants in one extremely walkable shopping center, such as Chinese dumplings, Vietnamese vermicelli bowls, Korean corn dogs, and Japanese sushi.
The plaza is so jam-packed with options that it may seem overwhelming. Here is Eater’s food crawl guide for a full day of eating at the Crescent, including not-too-sweet baked goods, creamy ramen, gamified sushi, and more.
First stop: 85C Bakery Cafe
Fuel up on sugar and caffeine at this Taiwanese chain to prepare for a full day of eating. 85C — aka “the Starbucks of Taiwan” — chose the Crescent for its first Austin location. Grab a tray and choose your fluffy baked goods — popular items include the egg tarts, the marble taro bun, or the mango custard bun. For drinks, there are milk teas (with the option to add boba), coffee, and blended fruit drinks.
Doing this food crawl with a tea devotee? It might be worth starting outside the Crescent with the nearby tea experts at Taiwanese chain ChiCha San Chen instead — there are specific machines to ensure each of the teas is brewed at the proper temperature.
85C: 6929 Airport Boulevard, Suite 197, Highland; ChiCha: 6501 Airport Boulevard, Highland
Lunch, part one: Steamies Dumplings
Next, it’s dumpling time. Steamies Dumplings, a family-owned farmers market favorite that opened a permanent shop, has a great lunch special that runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Choose two options from a selection of dumplings (you’ll definitely want those), scallion pancakes, Taiwanese beef tacos, sticky rice with Chinese sausage, pan-fried noodles, or Hong Kong-style noodle rolls. Dumpling choices include a vegan option, pork and cabbage, chicken and shiitake, or a rotating monthly special. Steamies also sells frozen dumplings to-go — something to consider before heading out for the day.
6929 Airport Boulevard, Suite 148, Highland
Lunch, part two: Bun Belly
No one said this was a food crawl for quitters. But maybe for the second lunch, it might be better to go with the lighter Vietnamese fare at Bun Belly. The vermicelli bowls are great (try the grilled pork), and there are also fresh spring rolls, bao, pho, and other noodle bowls.
Alternate choice: Oh K-Dog and Egg Toast. For those who’d rather eat something more substantial still, there are battered and deep-fried hot dogs at Oh K-Dog. Make your own choices here, but the ones studded with potatoes seem like the best option for carbs and social media posting.
Bun Belly: 6929 Airport Boulevard, Suite 132, Highland; Oh K-Dog: 6929 Airport Boulevard, Suite 133, Highland
You’ve done great work so far, and now it’s time to walk around for a bit. Some recommendations: Asian market 99 Ranch for any needed groceries (and maybe more snacks); the Kinokuniya Austin book store for the latest manga, adorable stationery, and gifts (get all of the Studio Ghibli merch you want); Hallyu Cosmetics to find Korean beauty brands; and Tanuki Games for board games.
99 Ranch: 6929 Airport Boulevard, Suite 110; Kinokuniya: 6929 Airport Boulevard, Suite 121; Hallyu: 6929 Airport Boulevard, Suite 137; Tanuki: 6929 Airport Boulevard, Suite 134; all in the Highland neighborhood
Dinner, part one: Sazan Ramen
Time to slurp some noodles. Locally owned Sazan Ramen specializes in paitan ramen — a creamy chicken and pork broths — with a choice of either chicken or pork chashus. Definitely add a spicy bomb if you can handle it. And there’s a vegan version with tempura balls too. This is also the place to grab a Japanese beer or sake, if desired.
6929 Airport Boulevard, Suite 146, Highland
Dinner, part two: Kura Revolving Sushi Bar
At the final savory stop in the Crescent food crawl, you are master of your own fate in terms of how full you want to be. Part sushi bar, part game, Kura Revolving Sushi Bar churns out pieces of nigiri, rolls, and hand rolls that you retrieve from a conveyor belt. Prizes appear for finishing a certain number of plates, so you can feel even more accomplished.
6929 Airport Boulevard, Suite 125, Highland
Dessert: Uncle Tetsu
Hope you saved room for dessert! The newest addition to the shopping center, Uncle Tetsu, is known for wobbly Japanese cheesecakes that are lighter and fluffier than its American counterparts. There’s also burnt Basque cheesecake and cookies, too.
6929 Airport Boulevard, Suite 151, Highland