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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.

1. Top Notch

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7525 Burnet Rd
Austin, TX 78757
(512) 452-2181
Visit Website

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

Top Notch
Top Notch
Arnaud F./Yelp

2. Fonda San Miguel

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2330 W North Loop Blvd
Austin, TX 78756
(512) 459-4121
Visit Website

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

3. Quality Seafood

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5621 Airport Blvd
Austin, TX 78751
(512) 454-5827
Visit Website

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

4. The Omelettry

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4631 Airport Blvd
Austin, TX 78751
(512) 453-5062
Visit Website

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

5. El Patio

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2938 Guadalupe St
Austin, TX 78705
(512) 476-5955
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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.

6. Dirty Martin's Place

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2808 Guadalupe St
Austin, TX 78705
(512) 477-3173
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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

7. Jeffrey's

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1204 West Lynn
Austin, TX 78703
(512) 477-5584
Visit Website

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

8. Scholz Garten

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1607 San Jacinto Blvd
Austin, TX 78701
(512) 474-1958
Visit Website

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

9. Texas Chili Parlor

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1409 Lavaca St
Austin, TX 78701
(512) 472-2828
Visit Website

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

10. Sam’s Bar-B-Que

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2000 E 12th St
Austin, TX 78702
(512) 478-0378
Visit Website

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

11. Chinatown

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2712 Bee Caves Rd #124
Rollingwood, TX 78746
(512) 328-6588
Visit Website

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

12. The Hoffbrau

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613 W 6th St
Austin, TX 78701
(512) 472-0822
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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.

13. The Driskill

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604 Brazos St
Austin, TX 78701
(512) 474-5911
Visit Website

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

14. Cisco's Restaurant & Bakery

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1511 E 6th St
Austin, TX 78702
(512) 478-2420

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

15. Joe's Bakery & Coffee Shop

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2305 E 7th St
Austin, TX 78702
(512) 472-0017
Visit Website

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]

16. Sandy's Hamburgers

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603 Barton Springs Rd
Austin, TX 78704
(512) 478-6322

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

17. Matt's Famous El Rancho

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2613 S Lamar Blvd
Austin, TX 78704
(512) 462-9333
Visit Website

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

18. Mattie's at Green Pastures

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811 W Live Oak St
Austin, TX 78704
(512) 444-1888
Visit Website

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

1. Top Notch

7525 Burnet Rd, Austin, TX 78757
Top Notch
Top Notch
Arnaud F./Yelp

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

7525 Burnet Rd
Austin, TX 78757

2. Fonda San Miguel

2330 W North Loop Blvd, Austin, TX 78756
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.

2330 W North Loop Blvd
Austin, TX 78756

3. Quality Seafood

5621 Airport Blvd, Austin, TX 78751
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.

5621 Airport Blvd
Austin, TX 78751

4. The Omelettry

4631 Airport Blvd, Austin, TX 78751
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.

4631 Airport Blvd
Austin, TX 78751

5. El Patio

2938 Guadalupe St, Austin, TX 78705

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.

2938 Guadalupe St
Austin, TX 78705

6. Dirty Martin's Place

2808 Guadalupe St, Austin, TX 78705
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.

2808 Guadalupe St
Austin, TX 78705

7. Jeffrey's

1204 West Lynn, Austin, TX 78703
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.

1204 West Lynn
Austin, TX 78703

8. Scholz Garten

1607 San Jacinto Blvd, Austin, TX 78701
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.

1607 San Jacinto Blvd
Austin, TX 78701

9. Texas Chili Parlor

1409 Lavaca St, Austin, TX 78701
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.

1409 Lavaca St
Austin, TX 78701

10. Sam’s Bar-B-Que

2000 E 12th St, Austin, TX 78702
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.

2000 E 12th St
Austin, TX 78702

11. Chinatown

2712 Bee Caves Rd #124, Rollingwood, TX 78746
Chinatown
Chinatown
Claudia M./Yelp

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.

2712 Bee Caves Rd #124
Rollingwood, TX 78746

12. The Hoffbrau

613 W 6th St, Austin, TX 78701

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.

613 W 6th St
Austin, TX 78701

13. The Driskill

604 Brazos St, Austin, TX 78701
The Driskill
The Driskill
The Driskill/Facebook

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.

604 Brazos St
Austin, TX 78701

14. Cisco's Restaurant & Bakery

1511 E 6th St, Austin, TX 78702
Cisco’s
Cisco’s
Raymond Thompson/EATX

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.

1511 E 6th St
Austin, TX 78702

15. Joe's Bakery & Coffee Shop

2305 E 7th St, Austin, TX 78702
Joe’s Bakery
Joe’s Bakery
Joe’s Bakery [Official]

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.

2305 E 7th St
Austin, TX 78702

Related Maps

16. Sandy's Hamburgers

603 Barton Springs Rd, Austin, TX 78704
Sandy’s Hamburgers
Sandy’s Hamburgers
Koji L./Yelp

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.

603 Barton Springs Rd
Austin, TX 78704

17. Matt's Famous El Rancho

2613 S Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78704
Matt’s El Rancho
Matt’s El Rancho
Raymond Thompson/EATX

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.

2613 S Lamar Blvd
Austin, TX 78704

18. Mattie's at Green Pastures

811 W Live Oak St, Austin, TX 78704
Mattie’s at Green Pastures
Mattie’s at Green Pastures
Robert J. Lerma/EATX

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.

811 W Live Oak St
Austin, TX 78704

Related Maps