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A meal from Mattie’s at Green Pastures
A meal from Mattie’s at Green Pastures
Nick Simonite/Mattie’s/Facebook

18 Classic Restaurants Every Austinite Must Try

Austin's edible history from burgers to enchiladas to barbecue

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A meal from Mattie’s at Green Pastures
| Nick Simonite/Mattie’s/Facebook

Austin's dining history runs very deep. To honor the city’s culinary past, Eater updated its guide to historic Austin restaurants that are worth checking out. Ranging from 19th century institution Scholz Garten, which was founded in 1866, to early ’80s classics like Chinatown, here are the best places to experience the roots of Austin's ongoing culinary explosion.

Sadly, Austin's longtime Tex-Mex restaurants have been disappearing. This map said goodbye to Hut’s Hamburgers, which closed in 2019 (apart from the airport location), and Threadgill’s, Dart Bowl, and Chez Nous, which all closed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. House Park Bar-B-Que is closed after being damaged in a fire in 2020 but is open for catering orders, and Nau’s remains closed for the time being due to staffing and pandemic-related difficulties.

In better news, Hoffbrau Steakhouse has reopened after closing due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

For other iconic dining experiences in the city, seek out Austin's emblematic dishes, meat dishes, barbecue, burgers, pizza, drinks, and the Eater 38.

With updates by Nadia Chaudhury and Erin Russell.

Are there any historical Austin restaurants missing? Let Eater know through the tipline or the comments.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.
If you book a reservation through an Eater link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics policy.

Top Notch

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Top Notch enthusiasts swear by the charcoal-grilled patties, available since 1971.

Top Notch
Top Notch
Arnaud F./Yelp

Fonda San Miguel

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Late chef Miguel Ravago and his business partner Tom Gilliland introduced interior Mexican cuisine to Austinites in the ’70s. Come for the brunch buffet, stay for the folk art.

Fonda San Miguel
Fonda San Miguel
Paul Bardagjy

Quality Seafood

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Quality Seafood has changed hands many times since opening in 1938, and it’s been in the current Airport Boulevard location since 1970. The ever-evolving restaurant and fish market now features an oyster bar and a food truck dishing out seafood tacos under current owner Carol Huntsberger.

Quality Seafood
Quality Seafood
Raymond Thompson/EATX

The Omelettry

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Originally in Rosedale, the breakfast diner was started by an ambitious hippie from California and spawned both Magnolia Café and Kerbey Lane Café. Open since 1978, the Omelettry moved to North Loop, but the same delicious recipes remain.

The Omelettry
The Omelettry
Melanie Haupt/EATX

El Patio

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A campus landmark for over 65 years, El Patio is one of Austin’s oldest operating Tex-Mex restaurants. The 65-year-old Tex-Mex restaurant had closed in the summer of 2019, but came back under new ownership that fall.

Dirty Martin's Place

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Visiting the campus burger dive at least once is a requirement for every UT student. John Martin opened the campus spot in 1926 as Martin's Kum-Bak, renamed Dirty because of the original dirt floor.

Dirty Martin’s
Dirty Martin’s
Stefanie C./Yelp

Jeffrey's

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Another Clarksville landmark, Jeffrey’s started as a simple French-style cafe in 1975, and got the gussied-up McGuire Moorman Lambert treatment in 2013. It now serves fancy steaks, lobster, and caviar.

Jeffrey’s
Jeffrey’s
Jeffrey’s/Facebook

Scholz Garten

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The center of German culture in Austin, Scholz’s specializes in the three Bs: beer, brats, and bowling. Those tenets remain the same under new operators, who formerly owned the sausage and hot dog spot Frank. It is Austin’s oldest restaurant, open since 1866.

Scholz Garten
Scholz Garten
Scholz Garten/Facebook

Texas Chili Parlor

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The campus classic and political institution doles out bowls of Texas red since 1976. The parlor was even immortalized in Quentin Tarantino's Death Proof.

Texas Chili Parlor
Texas Chili Parlor
Jennifer G./Yelp

Sam’s Bar-B-Que

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Sam’s Bar-B-Que opened on the east side in 1957 and is known for having mutton in addition to the usual barbecue staples and sides. Unfortunately, Sam’s is somewhat in danger of closing as the land is very valuable.

The Sam’s Bar-B-Que building
The Sam’s Bar-B-Que building
Sara L./Yelp

Chinatown

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Ronald Cheng opened Austin’s oldest-operating Chinese restaurant in 1983. There are two locations in Austin (North Austin and Westlake), which are known for dishes like dim sum dumplings and spicy Szechuan duck.

Chinatown
Chinatown
Claudia M./Yelp

The Hoffbrau

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This classic steakhouse opened as a biergarten in 1934, right after Prohibition ended. It specializes in steaks served in lemon-butter sauce with fried potato wedges and a garlicky salad.

The Driskill

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The Driskill’s restaurants have had many different incarnations over the hotel’s 130+ year history. The current Driskill Grill was established in 1929. The classic bar makes for a beautiful meeting place in downtown Austin too.

The Driskill
The Driskill
The Driskill/Facebook

Cisco's Restaurant & Bakery

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The charismatic Rudy “Cisco” Cisneros frequently volunteered to serve on grand juries and would bring tacos and biscuits to the weekly meetings. Open since 1943, Cisco's was a longtime politico hangout, and the migas and biscuits are a classic Austin breakfast. Now there are new owners, including Rudy's grandson Matt Cisneros, who brought dinner service and booze to the restaurant.

Cisco’s
Cisco’s
Raymond Thompson/EATX

Joe's Bakery & Coffee Shop

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This place is legit, from the breaded bacon and scratch-made tortillas to the pan dulces and lardy refried beans. The current location has been open since 1969.

Joe’s Bakery
Joe’s Bakery
Joe’s Bakery [Official]

Sandy's Hamburgers

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This old-school burger and custard stand was opened in 1946, according to the Chronicle. Sandy's makes for a great pit stop pre- or post-Barton Springs.

Sandy’s Hamburgers
Sandy’s Hamburgers
Koji L./Yelp

Matt's Famous El Rancho

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The long waits for a table on weekends suggest that for some, nostalgia, tradition, and Bob Armstrong dip trump haute cuisine. Tex-Mex icon Matt’s has been an Austin classic since 1952.

Matt’s El Rancho
Matt’s El Rancho
Raymond Thompson/EATX

Mattie's at Green Pastures

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Mary Faulk Koock was beloved for her hospitality, opening up her family home for weekly Sunday suppers and kicking off a tradition still going nearly 70 years later with renovated digs courtesy of La Corsha Hospitality Group and developer Greg Porter and an updated menu from chef Ethan Holmes. The Sunday brunch at Mattie’s takes on a new format, but the peacocks and milk punch are still there.

Mattie’s at Green Pastures
Mattie’s at Green Pastures
Robert J. Lerma/EATX

Top Notch

Top Notch
Top Notch
Arnaud F./Yelp

Top Notch enthusiasts swear by the charcoal-grilled patties, available since 1971.

Top Notch
Top Notch
Arnaud F./Yelp

Fonda San Miguel

Fonda San Miguel
Fonda San Miguel
Paul Bardagjy

Late chef Miguel Ravago and his business partner Tom Gilliland introduced interior Mexican cuisine to Austinites in the ’70s. Come for the brunch buffet, stay for the folk art.

Fonda San Miguel
Fonda San Miguel
Paul Bardagjy

Quality Seafood

Quality Seafood
Quality Seafood
Raymond Thompson/EATX

Quality Seafood has changed hands many times since opening in 1938, and it’s been in the current Airport Boulevard location since 1970. The ever-evolving restaurant and fish market now features an oyster bar and a food truck dishing out seafood tacos under current owner Carol Huntsberger.

Quality Seafood
Quality Seafood
Raymond Thompson/EATX

The Omelettry

The Omelettry
The Omelettry
Melanie Haupt/EATX

Originally in Rosedale, the breakfast diner was started by an ambitious hippie from California and spawned both Magnolia Café and Kerbey Lane Café. Open since 1978, the Omelettry moved to North Loop, but the same delicious recipes remain.

The Omelettry
The Omelettry
Melanie Haupt/EATX

El Patio

A campus landmark for over 65 years, El Patio is one of Austin’s oldest operating Tex-Mex restaurants. The 65-year-old Tex-Mex restaurant had closed in the summer of 2019, but came back under new ownership that fall.

Dirty Martin's Place

Dirty Martin’s
Dirty Martin’s
Stefanie C./Yelp

Visiting the campus burger dive at least once is a requirement for every UT student. John Martin opened the campus spot in 1926 as Martin's Kum-Bak, renamed Dirty because of the original dirt floor.

Dirty Martin’s
Dirty Martin’s
Stefanie C./Yelp

Jeffrey's

Jeffrey’s
Jeffrey’s
Jeffrey’s/Facebook

Another Clarksville landmark, Jeffrey’s started as a simple French-style cafe in 1975, and got the gussied-up McGuire Moorman Lambert treatment in 2013. It now serves fancy steaks, lobster, and caviar.

Jeffrey’s
Jeffrey’s
Jeffrey’s/Facebook

Scholz Garten

Scholz Garten
Scholz Garten
Scholz Garten/Facebook

The center of German culture in Austin, Scholz’s specializes in the three Bs: beer, brats, and bowling. Those tenets remain the same under new operators, who formerly owned the sausage and hot dog spot Frank. It is Austin’s oldest restaurant, open since 1866.

Scholz Garten
Scholz Garten
Scholz Garten/Facebook

Texas Chili Parlor

Texas Chili Parlor
Texas Chili Parlor
Jennifer G./Yelp

The campus classic and political institution doles out bowls of Texas red since 1976. The parlor was even immortalized in Quentin Tarantino's Death Proof.

Texas Chili Parlor
Texas Chili Parlor
Jennifer G./Yelp

Sam’s Bar-B-Que

The Sam’s Bar-B-Que building
The Sam’s Bar-B-Que building
Sara L./Yelp

Sam’s Bar-B-Que opened on the east side in 1957 and is known for having mutton in addition to the usual barbecue staples and sides. Unfortunately, Sam’s is somewhat in danger of closing as the land is very valuable.

The Sam’s Bar-B-Que building
The Sam’s Bar-B-Que building
Sara L./Yelp

Chinatown

Chinatown
Chinatown
Claudia M./Yelp

Ronald Cheng opened Austin’s oldest-operating Chin