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A plate of fish with a yellow broth and vegetables.
A fish dish from Birdie’s.
Nadia Chaudhury/Eater Austin

The 38 Essential Restaurants in Austin

A guide to the city's defining restaurants spanning all cuisines, neighborhoods, and price ranges

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A fish dish from Birdie’s.
| Nadia Chaudhury/Eater Austin

Austin’s Eater 38 aims to provide a restaurant recommendation for any situation. This list covers the entire city, spanning numerous cuisines and budgets, and collectively satisfies every restaurant needs, from taco trucks to finer dining spots. These are the restaurants and food trucks that all truly define Austin.

Every quarter, Eater Austin adds pertinent restaurants that make the cut, whether they have become newly eligible (open for at least six months) or revamped their menu or services, and aims to keep the list inclusive and reflective of the Texas city. This summer 2022 update adds Usta Kababagy, Birdie’s, and Canje. This round also means we’re saying farewell to La Tunita 512, Buenos Aires, and Emmer & Rye.

For a running list of past featured restaurants, head to the Eater 38 archive. For other Austin picks, check out the heatmap, a collection of the city’s hot new dining options.

As with all businesses, be sure to call ahead to make sure each restaurant/truck is still open or if there are updates on current offerings and service models, as things are changing constantly. Wear a mask, tip well, and if you’re ordering delivery, try to order directly from the restaurants/trucks themselves.

Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; it may pose a risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial COVID transmission. The latest CDC guidance is here; find a COVID-19 vaccination site here.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.
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Seoulju Korean Kitchen and Bar

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For truly wonderful Korean food in Austin, look no further than this fun North Lamar restaurant from owner John Lee and his mother, chef Sang Mi Kang. The menu showcases staples from crispy marinated Korean fried chicken and beef bulgogi rice plates to kimchi pancakes. Don’t miss the hot pots, especially the loaded spicy rice cake hot pot — and, yes, go ahead and add that slice of cheese. Pickup orders can be placed online. Email reservations are required for groups of seven or more people.

A wide shallow pot full of orange-hued pork belly chunks and octopus, with a bite of noodles lifted up.
The stir-fried pork belly and octopus with noodles at Seoulju.
Seoulju/Facebook

Usta Kababgy

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This casual Middle Eastern restaurant in North Austin focuses on delectable halal grilled meats. There are all sorts of kebabs, from lamb-and-beef adana to chicken, as well as shawarma bowls and wraps. the lahmajun (meat flatbread) is really nice, as are the falafels and dolmas. Pickup and delicious orders can be placed online.

A container of yellow rice, grilled vegetables, a salad, hummus with spices, and two long meat kebabs.
The kebab plate at Usta.
Nadia Chaudhury/Eater Austin

Julie's Noodles

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The Chinese food truck-turned-North Austin restaurant from Julie Hong boasts wonderful, thick, chewy noodles. The noodle soups are salves during colder days or when you need a warming pick-me-up (the stewed options — especially the lamb — are particularly great). Round off the order with some of the best soup dumplings in town. Pickup orders can be placed online.

A black bowl with a red-lacquered interior full of minced brown meat, green vegetables, and white noodles.
A bowl of noodle soup from Julie’s Noodles.
Julie’s Noodles/Facebook

Bufalina Due

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Owner Steven Dilley and his pizzeria team continue to impress diners at Bufalina Due, the Brentwood offshoot of the temporarily closed East Austin original (which is actually reopening later this summer). The Neapolitan pies are simple but skillfully executed; you can’t go wrong with the classic margherita and specials such as the potato and Parmesan pie, alongside well-constructed burrata starters and Caesar salads. Wine nerds will dig the intriguing and affordable bottles selected by wine director Rania Zayyat. Pickup orders are placed online.

A pizza with a charred crust topped with melted white cheese, diced yellow peppers, and wilted green leaves.
A pie from Bufalina.
Bufalina/Facebook

Bird Bird Biscuit

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This fast-casual shop from Brian Batch and Ryan McElroy serves delightful biscuit sandwiches in Brentwood and at its original location in Cherrywood. The chicken sandwiches aren’t to be missed, especially the sweet and spicy Queen Beak with black pepper honey and chipotle mayonnaise. Pickup orders can be placed online.

The Peached Tortilla

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It’s a tried-and-true Austin story: this Southern meets Asian food truck became so popular that owner Eric Silverstein was able to open a slightly more upscale restaurant space in Allandale. That’s where he and the team dish out an expanded comfort food menu that pulls from his upbringing in Tokyo and Atlanta raised by his Chinese-American mother and Jewish-American father. There are the kimchi arancini balls; a satisfying Hainan chicken; plus an array of tacos, salads, and bowls of noodles and rice. Pickup orders are placed online.

A cast-iron skillet with diced brown potatoes, a sunny-side-up egg, and slices of red peppers.
A brunch dish from Peached Tortilla.
Peached Tortilla/Facebook

Quality Seafood Market

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The longstanding North Loop marketplace, run by Carol Huntsberger, takes advantage of its fresh seafood supply at its counter-service restaurant. The menu includes fresh oysters, shrimp cocktails, grilled or blackened fish, and po’ boys stuffed with fried seafood. The blackboard highlights catches of the day for one-off specials. Pickup orders are placed online or over the phone.

An oval white plate with a piece of corn, a grilled piece of salmon, and a bowl of coleslaw.
The salmon plate at Quality Seafood.
Quality Seafood/Facebook

Foreign & Domestic

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Co-owners and chefs Sarah Heard and Nathan Lemley are still knocking it out of the park at this North Loop restaurant with their fresh energy and ideas. The New American menu is familiar but spruced up, with soothing dishes like sweet pepper risotto and Parisian gnocchi. Adventurous eaters should seek out the offal dishes such as goat heart bolognese or foie gras mousse. The neighborhood restaurant works as well for spontaneous meals as it does for special occasions. Pickup and DoorDash deliveries are placed online.

A white plate of yellow pasta, light brown pieces of meat, and green leaves for garnish.
A pasta dish from Foreign & Domestic.
Foreign & Domestic/Facebook

JewBoy Burgers

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El Paso native Mo Pittle honors his Jewish heritage and Texas border city upbringing with his food truck-turned-restaurant in the North Loop neighborhood. The unkosher diner menu centers on burgers and burritos, filled with beef, cheese, hatch green chiles, and even latkes. There are chili dogs and sides like queso. Pickup orders can be placed online.

A burger with two patties, each covered with melted yellow cheese.
A burger at JewBoy Burgers.
JewBoy Burgers/Facebook

Otherside Deli

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Some of the city’s best sandwiches can be found at the casual Old West Austin deli from co-owners Derrick Smith and Conor Mack. The pastrami is amazing, so you can’t go wrong with the classic sandwich, which pairs the meat with mustard on rye bread. To-go orders can be placed online, and the indoor dining room is open.

L'Oca d'Oro

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Under co-owner and chef Fiore Tedesco, the Mueller Italian restaurant serves up a thoughtful menu full of house-made pasta and well-prepared vegetables like bucatini or cavatelli and grilled zucchini or the eggplant Milanese. Tedesco and co-owner and general manager Adam Orman have been championing the rights and well-being of restaurant workers for some time, such as paying fair wages and advocating for the Austin industry in general.

A single large yellow ravioli with sprinkles of brown crumbs and ground meat and green garnish on a white plate.
A stuffed pasta dish from L’Oca d’Oro.
L’Oca d’Oro/Facebook

Dai Due

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The Cherrywood New Texan restaurant — which is so regionally minded that even beer and wine are exclusively from the state — is equally satisfying for brunch or a blow-out meat fest at dinner. The restaurant version of this formers farmers’ market stand/supper club from chef Jesse Griffiths is everything Austin could have hoped for. He even won a James Beard book award for his tome about wild hogs. The Texas-forever menu has heavier dishes like giant rib-eyes, fried chicken, and wild boar confit, as well as lighter fare, like mixed green salads and grilled marinated carrots. Takeout orders can be placed online.

A thick square cut of brown meat topped with green leaves and sliced apples in a brown sauce in a white bowl.
Wild boar confit from Dai Due.
Dai Due/Facebook

Hoover's Cooking

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Owner and chef Hoover Alexander has been bringing a good ol’ mix of Southern soul fare to Cherrywood for over 20 years with his homey restaurant. The menu highlights classic dishes done extremely well, from the chicken fried steak and the fried chicken to any of the sweet pies. Pickup orders can be placed online and there are third-party deliveries (DoorDash, Favor).

A white plate with fried food, and two bowls, one with coleslaw and the other with potato salad, plus a small cup of white sauce.
Dishes from Hoover’s Cooking.
Hoover’s Cooking/Facebook

Patrizi's

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At this bustling Cherrywood Italian food truck, owners Nic and Matt Patrizi whip up some of the freshest pasta in Austin. There are classic pasta dishes, like cacio e pepe, pomodoro, and the Great Leopold (made with basil and arugula pesto and served with pumpkin seeds and crushed red chilis). No order is complete without a side of meatballs. Pickup orders can be placed online.

A dish of red pasta topped with shaved white cheese and green garnishes, served with slices of garlic bread.
The Amatriciana from Patrizi’s.
Patrizi’s/Facebook

Olamaie

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Fancy Southern restaurant Olamaie is truly a sensational dining experience. There are inventive plates from James Beard Award semifinalist Amanda Turner, like the butter-drenched blackened dayboat fish with blue crab sauce and Carolina Gold rice or smoked cabbage. The pastries from Jules Stoddart include some of the best biscuits in the country and desserts like Kentucky butter cake. Then there’s the fantastic cocktail and wine menu. The restaurant itself is elegant and offers excellent service.

Birdie's

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This casual neighborhood wine bar on the east side with a giant patio serves an ever-rotating menu of simple dishes done right. There’s usually handmade pasta, a hearty steak and potatoes dish, and a variety of wine-friendly seasonal appetizers like roasted beets with charred grapefruit, mascarpone, and hazelnuts. Don’t miss the creamy soft serve for dessert nor the after-dinner drinks. There are no reservations as it’s a walk-up joint.

Nixta Taqueria

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The funky little taqueria, from co-owners chef Edgar Rico (who is James Beard Awards’s emerging chef of 2022) and Sara Mardanbigi, has quickly become a taco darling for good reason. Rico works magic into every single one of the East Austin spot’s new-school tacos and tostadas. While the meatier items are great, the vegetarian options really showcase his inventive skills: the beet tartare is a pure work of art. The multiple patios are great for spreading out, and there is a natural wine list worth exploring. Curbside pickup orders are placed online.

A blue plate with a circular tostada with pink beets on it.
The beet tartare tostada from Nixta Taqueria.
Robert Jacob Lerma/Eater Austin

Better Half Coffee & Cocktails

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This all-day spot was named Eater Austin’s restaurant of the year in 2018, and co-owners Matt and Grady Wright, and Matthew Bolick continue to deliver fantastic service and convivial vibes. The West Fifth space feels appropriately Austin with its large patio, great coffee, and excellent beer lineup. Chef Rich Reimbolt’s menu is full of laidback dishes with nice touches like breakfast sandwiches layered with hash brown patties or the iconic cauliflower tater tots. Executive pastry chef Lindsay O’Rourke’s desserts are wonderful too, ranging from burnt cheesecake slices paired with sweetly tart preserves to savory danishes. Pickup orders are placed online.

Two plates of food, one with a sunny-side-up egg and a broth and the other with a sandwich with a cup of latte and a drinks menu on a wooden table.
Food and coffee at Better Half.
Courtney Pierce/Eater Austin

Franklin Barbecue

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Pitmaster Aaron Franklin’s smoky meats have risen from their humble trailer origins to become a fixture at one of the country’s most talked-about barbecue destinations. Yes, you will wait in line. Yes, it will be worth it. Weekend waits can be very long, so consider opting for a weekday brisket fix instead. If pitch-perfect brisket happens to run out, try the ribs, turkey, and sausages. Advance preorders can be placed online.

A tray of various barbecue meats ranging from brisket slices to ribs to sausages, alongside sides of coleslaw and potato salad and slices of bread, pickle slices, and onions.
Barbecue from Franklin Barbecue.
Franklin Barbecue

Koriente

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The pan-Asian restaurant is a hidden gem in downtown Austin, where owner Jay Lee and his mother serve up balanced and flavorful dishes, including many vegan and gluten-free items, like curries with rice medallions, japchae, and miso-honey-glazed mahi mahi. Takeout orders can be placed over the phone, and there are third-party deliveries available.

Veracruz All Natural

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At essential food truck Veracruz All Natural, sisters Reyna and Maritza Vazquez make the best tacos in the city, served on handmade corn and flour tortillas with fresh salsas. It’s not a complete order without the migas taco and an agua fresca. Pickup and delivery orders are placed online or in person for all six of its locations.

A hand holding up a taco with eggs, tortillas, an avocado slice, and white shredded cheese.
The migas taco from Veracruz.
Veracruz All Natural/Facebook

East Austin Caribbean restaurant Canje pays tribute to executive chef Tavel Bristol-Joseph’s Guyanese roots with dishes like buttery roti, wild boar pepper pot, and jerk chicken. The restaurant has an upscale tropical vibe, with fruity but balanced cocktails, a large bar, and a small outdoor patio.

Tamale House East

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The spirit of the long-gone Austin institution Tamale House lives on with this colorful east side restaurant, which is run by Diane Valera, the fourth generation of the Vasquez family, to oversee the institution. The migas are plentiful and tamales are abundant (the chicken one is a good bet). The patio is lush, and yes, there are cocktails and beer. Pickup orders can be placed online.

An oval white plate with a pale brown tortilla topped with brown meat, green jalapeno slices, and pickled onions.
A dish from Tamale House East.
Robert J. Lerma/Eater Austin

Joe’s Bakery & Coffee Shop

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The historic Mexican bakery, founded in 1962 by Joe and Paula Avila and now run by Regina Estrada, who leads the next two generations of the family, is a pillar to the East Austin community in two ways. First, there’s the quite exceptional daytime menu, from the wonderfully tender and juicy barbacoa breakfast and the migas to the lunch tacos. Then there is its community service: Estrada is an advocate for East Austin, making sure people are informed of what’s going on in local politics and even directly registering voters. Pickup orders can be placed over the phone or in person.

A white oval plate with a crispy taco, rice, refried beans, and enchiladas covered in yellow cheese sauce.
Chicken enchiladas, crispy beef taco, rice, and beans from Joe’s.
Deana Saukam

Odd Duck

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At his relaxed Zilker restaurant, chef and partner Bryce Gilmore and the rest of the team embrace Texas ingredients through the New American menu. There are magnificent dishes (grilled quail, crawfish queso fundido) and on-point desserts (yaupon tea panna cotta, honeydew sorbet).

Several mismatched plates on a wooden table, one with tacos, one with a pale green soup, and another with an open-faced sandwich.
Dishes from Odd Duck.
Odd Duck/Facebook

La Barbecue

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The city has an embarrassment of world-class smoky meats, and this East Austin spot (which recently relocated down the street from its previous location) gives Franklin a run for its money. After all, the barbecue joint is from LeAnn Mueller, who is from a legendary Texas barbecue family dating back to 1949. Go for the brisket, sausages, and any of the inventive sandwiches. Be sure to order the superb shells and cheese with smoked vegetables and a little spicy kick. There’s also a deli menu with tinned fish, cheeses, and caviar. Pickup orders are placed online (order in advance to bypass the line), and there is in-person ordering.

Kemuri Tatsu-Ya

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Texas meets Japan at this Lone Star-influenced izakaya in Holly from the team behind the city’s best noodle shop Ramen Tatsu-Ya. Eater Austin’s lively restaurant of 2017 is full of fun dishes, like tofu hot pocket skins stuffed with brisket and cheese. Elsewhere, the menu spans yakitori, smoked meats (the sharable fish collar is a must-order), and a funky chinmi section featuring rare delicacies like jellyfish menudo salad.

A skewer with meat being dipped into a bowl with yellow sauce.
The chicken meatball yakitori at Kemuri.
Jane Yun

Justine's

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This East Austin restaurant has all the makings of a neighborhood classic: French food with an east side twist in a convivial atmosphere. There are steak frites, escargot, duck confit, and ratatouille, along with a hefty burger topped with Gruyere cheese. Plus, the reasonably priced wine list means this tucked-away gem is great for a long, lingering meal. Opt for a bungalow table for ultimate vibes. Takeout orders can be placed online or in person.

For a really special evening out, opt for the high-end omakase at the South Congress Hotel’s hidden Japanese restaurant. It’s where chef Yoshi Okai puts on a delicious magic show in his 12-seat restaurant, slicing and dicing and presenting 20 or so courses full of Tokyo-style sushi and Kyoto-style kaiseki right in front of everyone’s eyes. Reservations are required for the $275 indoor seatings.

A metal plate with a piece of rice topped with orange uni and black caviar.
Hokkaido uni at Otoko.
Otoko/Facebook

Bouldin Creek Cafe

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Beloved by denizens of the 78704 and beyond, the Bouldin Creek cafe from owner Leslie Martin offers a diverse menu of vegetarian fare, paired with locally roasted coffee, and a taste of old-school Austin in the forms of aesthetics and food. The vegetable sandwiches are legitimately delicious, as is the tofu scramble. Curbside pickup and DoorDash delivery orders are placed online.

A sandwich with vegetables spilling out of it.
A breakfast sandwich from Bouldin Creek Cafe.
Bouldin Creek Cafe/Facebook

El Naranjo

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The fine-dining Mexican restaurant in the South Lamar neighborhood delivers the best taste of interior Mexico in Austin, thanks to James Beard Award-winning chef of the first-ever Texas category and co-owner Iliana de la Vega. The menu focuses on Oaxacan fare — where de la Vega is from — like rich moles and hearty cochinita pibil. Pickup orders can be placed online.

A white plate with brown shredded meat topped with pink pickled onions next to dark brown beans and a person picking out a purple corn tortilla from a colorful open basket.
The cochinita pibil at El Naranjo.
El Naranjo/Facebook

Dee Dee

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Chef Lakana Trubiana cooks up a small but mighty Thai menu from this South Lamar neighborhood truck. The flavorful Isaan-style dishes (rooted in the northern region of Thailand) range from comforting om gai to a very spicy laab moo. In the summer months, the mango sticky rice is worth it. Pickup orders have to be placed online (read: no in-person orders).

A black plastic fork holding up minced brown meat with green leaves.
The laab moo at Dee Dee.
Dee Dee

Sichuan River

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Austin’s best bet for Sichuan food is found in the no-frills South Austin restaurant off West Gate from owner Cindy Zhao. Bypass the Chinese-American selection for fiery dishes like the mapo tofu, spicy jumping fish, and exemplary spicy stir-fried chicken. Takeout orders can be placed online or over the phone.

Taste of Ethiopia II

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Owner Woinee Mariam expanded the notable Pflugerville Ethiopian restaurant into the St. Edwards neighborhood. There’s a stellar array of East African dishes, including stews, spiced meats (the chicken-based doro wot is particularly outstanding), and simmered vegetables, all served with injera, a round spongy bread. Go for the sampler, which comes with a bunch of vegetarian dishes such as shiro wot (ground peas stew) and gomen (steamed and spiced chopped collard greens) along with some honey wine. Takeout orders can be placed over the phone.

Distant Relatives

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The McKinney food truck parked at Meanwhile Brewing has grown into an essential Austin barbecue spot — there’s a reason we named it one of the best restaurants in the country and in the city in 2021. James Beard Awards semifinalist pitmaster Damien Brockway and his team explore and showcase the foodways of the African-American diaspora through a deceivingly casual menu. There are succulent chicken legs paired with a chili-vinegar dip, pillowy pulled pork with tangy tamarind-molasses barbecue sauce, and superb sides like buttery lima beans and burnt ends mixed with black-eyed peas. Takeout orders can be placed in person.