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The brisket hash at Peached Tortilla
Peached Tortilla/Facebook

The 38 Essential Restaurants in Austin, Fall 2018

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

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The brisket hash at Peached Tortilla
| Photo by Peached Tortilla/Facebook

Now it’s time for the quarterly update of the Eater 38, the answer to any question that begins, "Can you recommend a restaurant...?" This highly elite group covers the entire city, spans myriad cuisines and budgets, and collectively satisfies all of everyone’s restaurant needs, from taco trucks to fine dining spots. Reminder: restaurants must be open for at least six months to qualify for the list.

The fall update adds Texas French Bread, 888 Pan Asian Restaurant, and Peached Tortilla to the lineup, and says farewell to Eastside Cafe, Din Ho Chinese BBQ, and Sway. Pay respects to the running list of retirees over at the Eater 38 archive.

For other city essentials, check out the heatmap (a collection of Austin's hot new restaurants), barbecue, tacos, iconic dishes (with a meaty edition), brunches, and cocktail bars, as well as Eater’s official Austin guide. Then there’s the official Texas 38 over on Eater.

For all the latest Austin dining intel, subscribe to Eater Austin's newsletter.

Upset over a missing favorite? Want to share your own personal Eater 38? Drop it in the comments below or through the tipline.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Biderman's Deli

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3742 Far West Blvd #101
Austin, TX 78731
(512) 340-1404
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Biderman’s Deli brings much-needed sandwiches and bagels to the Northwest Hill. The Jewish delicatessen serves up classic bagels loaded with cream cheese, lox, whitefish, and more. Then there are the classic sandwiches, from the standout Reuben to the pastrami/corned beef/chopped liver combination during daytime and early evening hours.

Biderman’s Deli’s Reuben sandwich
Biderman’s Deli/Facebook

2. The Peached Tortilla

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5520 Burnet Rd #100
Austin, TX 78756
(512) 330-4439
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It’s a tried-and-true Austin story: the Southern-Asian food truck became so popular, owner Eric Silverstein was able to open a slightly more upscale brick-and-mortar version in Allandale, dishing out an expanded menu full of comfort food items pulling from his background. There’s the Mom’s toast slathered in chopped shrimp, ground pork and gochujang chili sauce; the comforting Hainan chicken; plus an array of tacos, salads, and bowls of curries and rice.

A cocktail and dish from Peached Tortilla
Peached Tortilla/Yelp

3. Fonda San Miguel

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2330 W N Loop Blvd
Austin, TX 78756
(512) 459-4121
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The high-end restaurant up in Allandale is a classic for a reason: Fonda San Miguel is credited with bringing interior Mexican food into Austin, like rellenos and margaritas, while surrounded by Mexican artwork. Plus there’s a stellar Sunday buffet brunch.

Fonda San Miguel
Paul Bardagjy

4. Quality Seafood Market

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5621 Airport Blvd
Austin, TX 78751
(512) 452-3820
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Fresh seafood is best, and the longtime marketplace up in Hyde Park makes use of that proximity through its counter-service restaurant. The menu boasts of oh-so-fresh oysters both raw and grilled, grilled or blackened fish, and po’ boys. Make sure to check out the blackboard specials for the catch of the day and pick up some raw fish for home too.

Quality Seafood Market
Raymond Thompson/EATX

5. Foreign & Domestic

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306 E 53rd St
Austin, TX 78751
(512) 459-1010
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The North Loop restaurant has been revitalized with the energy of new co-owners Sarah Heard and Nathan Lemley. Foreign & Domestic’s New American menu remains familiar, but spruced up, with comforting dishes like beef cheeks and potato pappardelle and crispy beef tongue. Adventurous eaters should partake in the offal tasting menu.

A dish from Foreign & Domestic
Foreign & Domestic/Facebook

6. Musashino Sushi Dokoro

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2905 San Gabriel St #200
Austin, TX 78705
(512) 795-8593
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Everyone knows Uchi, Ramen Tatsu-ya, Kome, and Fukumoto, but all of those chefs worked and refined their sushi and restaurant skills at the longtime Japanese spot Musashino. While, yes, the Central Austin restaurant’s menu is a bit pricey, the atmosphere is casual, perfect for enjoying nigiri and hand rolls.

Sushi from Musashino
Musashino Sushi Dokoro/Facebook

7. L'Oca d'Oro

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1900 Simond Ave
Austin, TX 78723
(737) 212-1876
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Besides dishing out excellent and thoughtful Italian cuisine in Mueller (pasta to dry-aged meats to gelato), L’Oca d’Oro champions the rights and well-being of restaurant workers within its own restaurant, as well as throughout the industry. The restaurant pays fair wages (hospitality fees are included in all bills to help make this easier), offers paid sick days, and dubbed itself a sanctuary restaurant as a safe space for everyone.

L’Oca d’Oro
Robert J. Lerma/EATX

8. Texas French Bread

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2900 Rio Grande St
Austin, TX 78705
(512) 499-0544
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The casual neighborhood bistro and bakery focuses on a solid classic menu, making use of its house-made breads and stellar wine selection. The preserved sardines served with toast, mustard, and cornichons and a glass of wine make for the best simple meal, all from executive chef Max Mackinnon and wine director Carenn Mackinnon.

The sardines at Texas French Bread
Nadia Chaudhury/EATX

9. Contigo

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2027 Anchor Ln
Austin, TX 78723
(512) 614-2260
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Contigo is on the Texas 38 for good reason: the minimalist beer garden is the perfect setting for its ranch-inspired menu, which heavily features house-made charcuterie and other meaty delights. It's the perfect example of Austin in restaurant form found right in MLK.

Contigo
Contigo [Official]

10. Dai Due

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2406 Manor Rd
Austin, TX 78722
(512) 524-0688
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So regionally minded that even the beer and wine are exclusively from Texas, Cherrywood's Dai Due is equally satisfying for a light breakfast or a major blow-out meat fest at dinner. The brick-and-mortar incarnation is everything Austin hoped for from what used to be a hyper-local farmers' market stand and supper club from chef Jesse Griffiths. The Texas-forever menu includes everything from heavier dishes like giant rib-eyes, fried chicken, and wild boar confit, to lighter fare, like empanadas.

Dai Due
Dai Due [Official]

11. Hoover's Cooking

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2002 Manor Rd
Austin, TX 78722
(512) 479-5006
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Hoover Alexander has been bringing good ol’ mix of Southern soul fare to Cherrywood for the past 20 years with the casual table-service Hoover’s Cooking. Don’t sleep on the chicken fried steak (a Southern classic) nor the fried chicken.

Chicken fried steak at Hoover’s
Hoover’s/Facebook

12. Jeffrey's

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1204 W Lynn St
Austin, TX 78703
(512) 477-5584
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Restaurateur Larry McGuire and chef/partner Tom Moorman brought new life into the refined dining room of classic restaurant Jeffrey’s in 2011. Diners can expect to either spend half a paycheck or opt for an affordable meal of pork chops and souffles at the elegant bar (See also: Monday's all-night happy hour). The valets will park a '99 Corolla with as much panache as a Mercedes, so why not risk getting a little fancy? A visit to next-door effortlessly stylish sister restaurant, Josephine House, with bright brunch-inspired dishes and rejuvenating drinks, is worth a visit too.

Jeffrey’s
Jeffrey’s [Official]

13. Franklin Barbecue

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900 E 11th St
Austin, TX 78702
(512) 653-1187
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Aaron Franklin’s smokey meats have risen from humble trailer origins to become one of the country’s most talked-about barbecue destinations (so much so it’s on both the Eater National 38 and Texas 38). Yes, you will wait in line. Yes, it will be worth it. Weekend waits can stretch up to five to six hours these days, so consider ditching work for a weekday brisket fix instead. If brisket happens to run out, try the ribs and turkey.

Franklin Barbecue
Raymond Thompson/EATX

14. Holy Roller

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509 Rio Grande St
Austin, TX 78701
(512) 502-5119
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Holy Roller is the restaurant embodiment of chef/owner Callie Speer. The funky fun casual downtown Austin space is the backdrop for inventive, comforting foods that hit the spot consistently, like the very-rich migas kolache drenched in queso, French fries paired with soft serve, biscuit sandwiches loaded with Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew brisket, and choco tacos.

Holy Roller
Robert J. Lerma/EATX

15. Buenos Aires Cafe, Este

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1201 E 6th St
Austin, TX 78702
(512) 382-1189
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It’s all about Argentina at the fun and casual east side restaurant, where meat is the centerpiece, from grilled steaks, short ribs, chicken, to other South American specialities, like its take on Shepherd's pie. Be sure to order some empanadas.

Buenos Aires Cafe, Este
Buenos Aires Cafe, Este/Facebook

16. Tamale House East

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1707 E 6th St
Austin, TX 78702
(512) 495-9504
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Embrace the spirit of Austin institution Tamale House with the colorful east side Texas 38 restaurant, which is run by the fourth generation of the Vasquez family. The migas are plentiful, tamales galore, the patio is lush, and yes, there are cocktails and beer.

Breakfast tacos from Tamale House East
Bryan M./Yelp

17. Saigon Le Vendeur

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2404 E 7th St
Austin, TX 78702
(512) 351-6916
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Banh mi is a simple sandwich, layered with with pickled vegetables and meats like grilled pork or pate, and Saigon Le Vendeur does the Vietnamese speciality right from its East Austin food truck. There’s the brick-and-mortar restaurant, Le Bleu, up in North Shoal Creek that serves the sandwich too.

Banh mi from Saigon Le Vendeur
Kelsey E./Yelp

18. El Naranjo

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85 Rainey St
Austin, TX 78701
(512) 474-2776
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El Naranjo delivers the best taste of Oaxaca in Austin, thanks to chef Iliana de la Vega, who helms from the region. The Rainey Street restaurant focuses on upscale Mexican fare, with moles, chile rellenos, and other interior dishes.

El Naranjo
El Naranjo/Facebook

19. Dee Dee

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2500 E 6th St
Austin, TX 78702

Chef Lakana Trubiana cooks up a small but mighty Thai menu at Dee Dee’s food truck outside of East 6th Street bar La Holly. The flavorful Isaan-style dishes range from the comforting om gai to the very spicy laab moo. When in season, the mango sticky rice is worth it. The truck even expanded with a Thai barbecue truck too.

Dishes from Dee Dee
Grace C./Yelp

20. Bufalina

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1519 E Cesar Chavez St #200
Austin, TX 78702
(512) 524-2523
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Bufalina's perfectly executed Neapolitan pizzeria has won the hearts and minds of diners around town right on East Cesar Chavez. Wine nerds will dig the unique and affordable bottles on offer as well. Check out the expanded second location out on Burnet too.

Bufalina’s pizza
Donna S./Yelp

21. Veracruz All Natural

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1704 E Cesar Chavez St
Austin, TX 78702
(512) 981-1760
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Excellent tacos are served from Texas 38 spot Veracruz All Natural, helmed by sisters Reyna and Maritza Vazquez, served on handmade tortillas with fresh salsas. It’s not a real order without the migas, and don't forget to try the aguas frescas. In addition to the original location on East Cesar Chavez, there are late night tacos at Radio Coffee & Beer down in south Austin, and brick-and-mortars in North Burnet and Round Rock.

Breakfast taco from Veracruz All Natural
Veracruz All Natural [Official]

22. Via 313

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61 Rainey St
Austin, TX 78701
(512) 609-9405
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Detroit-style pizza in a Texas-only craft beer bar? Hell yes. The brothers Hunt make some of the best pies in town. Craft Pride's lovely patio is the right place to enjoy them because nothing is better than pizza and beer enjoyed outside. For other Via experiences, head the West Sixth trailer or the brick-and-mortar restaurants in Oak Hill and north campus.

Via 313’s pizza
Via 313/Facebook

23. Kerlin BBQ

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1700 E Cesar Chavez St
Austin, TX 78702
(512) 412-5588
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Pitmaster Bill Kerlin operates the under-the-radar barbecue trailer on East Cesar Chavez, smoking up fall-off-the-bone ribs and tender brisket. Even better: there are barbecue klobasnek served at the mini-trailer next-door, stuffed with brisket, sausages, cheese, and more.

Kerlin BBQ’s barbecue
Christine Y./Yelp

24. Uchi

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801 South Lamar Boulevard
Austin, TX 78704
(512) 916-4808
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For those looking to spend half a paycheck, this new-school sushi institution on South Lamar is the restaurant. Trust the server and don't skimp on the more traditional sushi. The sake social hour (read: happy hour) is one of Austin's fine dining's greatest deals too. For expanded dishes beyond sushi, hop up to sibling restaurant Uchiko up in Rosedale.

Sushi from Uchi
Logan Crable/Uchi

25. Emmer & Rye

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SkyHouse, 51 Rainey St #110
Austin, TX 78701
(512) 366-5530
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From the grain-obsessed mind of executive chef and owner Kevin Fink comes Texas 38 restaurant Emmer & Rye, serving all-things local on a higher-end level, right on the edge of Rainey Street’s bar-packed district. Order from the menu, and grab whatever catches your fancy from the roaming dim sum-style carts filled with special dishes. Make sure to get the handmade pasta and knock-out desserts from pastry chef Tavel Bristol-Joseph.

Emmer & Rye
Nicolai McCrary/EATX

26. Odd Duck

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1201 S Lamar Blvd
Austin, TX 78704
(512) 433-6521
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Bryce Gilmore delivers exactly what one expects from the Texas-focused chef with Odd Duck: some of the most pleasurable dining experiences in Austin. The casual-leaning essential Lone Star restaurant exudes a Texas-forever vibe with New American dishes, magnificent large-format dishes and on-point brunch, which all work very well for groups (but get those reservations) in the homey setting. Likewise, Gilmore et al also have the more experimental Brentwood restaurant Barley Swine and all-day cafe Sour Duck Market.

Dishes from Odd Duck
Odd Duck/Facebook

27. Kemuri Tatsu-Ya

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2713 E 2nd St
Austin, TX 78702
(512) 893-5561
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Texas meets Japan with the Lone Star-influenced izakaya from the Ramen Tatsu-ya team in Holly. The Texas 38 restaurant’s focus is on small plates and bites. There are fun dishes like a take on Frito pie made with octopus and hot pockets with brisket. Then there are expected fare with yakitori, sashimi, smoked meats including barbecue eel and fish collars, and, of course, ramen. Explore the funky choices of the exotic and rarities menu.

Kemuri Tatsu-Ya
Kemuri/Facebook

28. Justine's Brasserie

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4710 E 5th St
Austin, TX 78702
(512) 385-2900
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Justine's menu of classic French fare with an east side twists makes for a neighborhood classic. Late night parties, secret musical performances, and art shows lend to the buzzy, magical atmosphere of the convivial space. Plus, the reasonably-priced wine list means this tucked-away gem is perfect for a long, lingering meal, which’ll have to include the steak frites.

Justine’s
Justine’s/Facebook

29. Launderette

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2115 Holly St
Austin, TX 78702
(512) 382-1599
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From the superstar team of chefs Rene Ortiz and Laura Sawicki is Launderette, the stylish Mediterranean-influenced neighborhood cafe in Holly with a focus on all-day dining. This means more upscale takes on on the usuals, like toasts topped with crab, grilled prawns, and burgers served on challah. Don’t miss out on the desserts, especially that birthday cake ice cream sandwich.

Launderette
Robert J. Lerma/EATX

30. Otoko

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1603 S Congress Ave
Austin, TX 78704
(512) 920-6405
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For a really special evening night, opt for the high-end omakase at the South Congress Hotel’s hidden Japanese restaurant. Otoko chef Yoshi Okai puts on a magical show in the 12-seat restaurant, where he slices, dices, and packs together 20 or so courses full of with Tokyo-style sushi and Kyoto-style kaiseki right in front of everyone’s eyes. Reservations are $150.

Tasmanian ocean trout at Otoko
Otoko/Facebook

31. Enoteca Vespaio

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1610 S Congress Ave
Austin, TX 78704
(512) 441-7672
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Classic, casual Italian can be found at the Bouldin bistro, with an all-day menu full of pastas, charcuterie, and desserts. Duck into the next-door Vespaio for a slightly more formal dinner in a dimly lit space.

Pasta from Enoteca Vespaio
Enoteca Vespaio/Facebook

32. Lenoir

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1807 S 1st St
Austin, TX 78704
(512) 215-9778
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This tiny South Austin restaurant features global dishes made with Texas-sourced ingredients, served on a three-course menu priced at $48 (think grilled quail, heirloom tomatoes, berry tarts). Make reservations early — there are only about thirty seats available at the prix fixe restaurant. The wine garden also features an a la carte trailer for a more casual evening along South First.

Lenoir
Ryann Ford

33. Bouldin Creek Café

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1900 S 1st St
Austin, TX 78704
(512) 416-1601
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Beloved by denizens of the 78704 and beyond, Bouldin Creek Cafe offers a diverse menu of vegetarian fare, locally roasted coffee, and a taste of old-school Austin during the daytime and evenings. The vegetable sandwiches are legitimately delicious.

Bouldin Creek Café
Bouldin Creek Café [Official]

34. Jack Allen's Kitchen

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7720 TX-71
Austin, TX 78735
(512) 852-8558
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Great, reliable, locally sourced food in a mid-century building, Jack Allen's Kitchen is the casual suburban restaurant of your dreams out in Oak Hill. Hunker down with chicken-fried anything, from steak to beef ribs, and good ol' pimento cheese. There are three other locations out on 360, West Anderson Lane, and Round Rock.

Food from Jack Allen’s Kitchen
Jack Allen’s Kitchen/Facebook

35. Sichuan River

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4534 West Gate Blvd
Austin, TX 78745
(512) 892-6699
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Austin’s best bet for Sichuan food can be found in the no-frills South Austin restaurant off West Gate. Bypass the Chinese-American dishes for good, spicy dishes like the mapo tofu, spicy jumping fish, and excellent spicy stir-fried chicken.

Sichuan River’s dry pot lamb
Sandeep G./Yelp

36. 888 Pan Asian Restaurant

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2400 E Oltorf St #1A
Austin, TX 78741
(512) 448-4722
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The general Asian restaurant is a lifeline for many Austinites in the East Riverside neighborhood. The menu spans Thai, Vietnamese, and Chinese dishes, like warming bowls of curries, noodle soups like pho and egg noodles, and more, all at very affordable prices in a very casual setting.

37. Evangeline Cafe

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8106 Brodie Ln
Austin, TX 78745
(512) 282-2586
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Some of Austin’s best Cajun fare can be found at Evangeline Cafe. Feast on chicken fried gator, hearty seafood gumbo, and plenty of catfish and crawfish dishes in the festive, laidback space.

Food from Evangeline Cafe
Evangeline Cafe/Facebook

38. Valentina's Tex Mex BBQ

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11500 Manchaca Rd
Austin, TX 78745
(512) 221-4248
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Pitmaster Miguel Vidal melds the best of what Austin has to offer — smoked meats and tacos — down in far South Austin. There is a new brick-and-mortar to look forward to, but until then, head to the trailer for barbecue, tacos, and sandwiches, along with rotating specials like burgers, pastrami, and more. Don't neglect the excellent breakfast tacos, especially the Real Deal Holyfield.

Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ
Nick Solares/EATX

1. Biderman's Deli

3742 Far West Blvd #101, Austin, TX 78731
Biderman’s Deli’s Reuben sandwich
Biderman’s Deli/Facebook

Biderman’s Deli brings much-needed sandwiches and bagels to the Northwest Hill. The Jewish delicatessen serves up classic bagels loaded with cream cheese, lox, whitefish, and more. Then there are the classic sandwiches, from the standout Reuben to the pastrami/corned beef/chopped liver combination during daytime and early evening hours.

3742 Far West Blvd #101
Austin, TX 78731

2. The Peached Tortilla

5520 Burnet Rd #100, Austin, TX 78756
A cocktail and dish from Peached Tortilla
Peached Tortilla/Yelp

It’s a tried-and-true Austin story: the Southern-Asian food truck became so popular, owner Eric Silverstein was able to open a slightly more upscale brick-and-mortar version in Allandale, dishing out an expanded menu full of comfort food items pulling from his background. There’s the Mom’s toast slathered in chopped shrimp, ground pork and gochujang chili sauce; the comforting Hainan chicken; plus an array of tacos, salads, and bowls of curries and rice.

5520 Burnet Rd #100
Austin, TX 78756

3. Fonda San Miguel

2330 W N Loop Blvd, Austin, TX 78756
Fonda San Miguel
Paul Bardagjy

The high-end restaurant up in Allandale is a classic for a reason: Fonda San Miguel is credited with bringing interior Mexican food into Austin, like rellenos and margaritas, while surrounded by Mexican artwork. Plus there’s a stellar Sunday buffet brunch.

2330 W N Loop Blvd
Austin, TX 78756

4. Quality Seafood Market

5621 Airport Blvd, Austin, TX 78751
Quality Seafood Market
Raymond Thompson/EATX

Fresh seafood is best, and the longtime marketplace up in Hyde Park makes use of that proximity through its counter-service restaurant. The menu boasts of oh-so-fresh oysters both raw and grilled, grilled or blackened fish, and po’ boys. Make sure to check out the blackboard specials for the catch of the day and pick up some raw fish for home too.

5621 Airport Blvd
Austin, TX 78751

5. Foreign & Domestic

306 E 53rd St, Austin, TX 78751