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Tacos with meat and herbs on a tray.
Tacos from Fonda San Miguel.
Fonda San Miguel

21 Classic Restaurants Every Austinite Must Visit

Austin's edible history from burgers to tacos to barbecue

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Tacos from Fonda San Miguel.
| Fonda San Miguel

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. And yes, sadly, Austin's longtime restaurants have been disappearing as the years progress, like Nau’s Enfield Drug (2023), La Mexicana Bakery (2022), Chez Nous (2021), Dart Bowl Cafe (2020), Threadgill’s (2020), Cafe Josie (2020), Eastside Cafe (2019), Hut’s Hamburgers (2019), and so on. Currently, longtime steak restaurant the Hoffbrau has been temporarily closed since 2020.

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

With updates by Nadia Chaudhury.

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Eater maps are curated by editors and aim to reflect a diversity of neighborhoods, cuisines, and prices. Learn more about our editorial process. If you buy something or book a reservation from 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 in Crestview. And yes, it’s the same burger spot featured in the iconic film Dazed & Confused. Takeout orders can be placed online or through the carhop; there are indoor and outdoor dine-in services.

Fonda San Miguel

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Co-founders chef Miguel Ravago (who passed away in 2017) and his business partner Tom Gilliland introduced interior Mexican cuisine to Austinites in the 1970s with this Allandale restaurant. The menu is full of great dishes like cochinita pibil and ancho rellenos, plus stay for the folk art. There are indoor dine-in services.

A restaurant dining room with art on the walls.
Fonda San Miguel.
Paul Bardagjy

Quality Seafood

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Quality Seafood has changed hands many times since its opening in 1938, and it’s been in the current Airport Boulevard location in North Loop since 1970. The ever-evolving restaurant and fish market now features an oyster bar and cooking classes under current owner Carol Huntsberger. Takeout orders can be placed online; there are indoor dine-in areas.

The front of a restaurant and market with the sign “Quality Restaurant” and “market” and “Seafood”.
Quality Seafood.
Raymond Thompson/Eater Austin

Avenue B Grocery & Market

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Austin’s oldest grocery store — Avenue B opened in 1909 — came back from its long pandemic break in 2022, still serving classic deli sandwiches like roast beef, turkey, egg salad, and pimento cheese along with salads and soup for eating on the nice patio outside. Be forewarned that the store sells out quickly and its hours can be unpredictable. There are indoor and outdoor dine-in areas.

A white old-timey storefront with antique soda signs, a banner that says Homemade Sandwiches, and picnic tables to the side and trees in the background.
Avenue B Grocery.
Erin Russell/Eater Austin

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. Takeout orders can be placed online, there are indoor dine-in services.

The inside of a restaurant.
The Omelettry.
Melanie Haupt/Eater Austin

Hyde Park Bar & Grill

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The American restaurant opened in, yes, Hyde Park 41 years ago with a timeless menu full of comfort dishes including perfect fries, chicken fried steaks, and bacon-glazed meatloaf since 1982. Unfortunately, its second location down in Westgate closed in September 2023. Pickup orders can be placed online; there are indoor and outdoor dine-in services.

El Patio

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A campus landmark for over 70 years, El Patio is one of Austin’s oldest operating Tex-Mex restaurants since 1954. And actually, the Tex-Mex restaurant closed in the summer of 2019 but came back under new ownership later that fall. Takeout orders can be placed online; there are indoor dine-in services.

A restaurant sign reading El Patio Mexican Food.
El Patio.
Hunter Townsend

Dirty Martin's Place

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Visiting the campus burger dive at least once is a requirement for every UT student, while there’s still time (just in case). John Martin opened the campus spot in 1926 as Martin's Kum-Bak and later renamed it Dirty because of the original dirt floor. Takeout orders can be placed online; there are indoor and outdoor dine-in areas.

Posse East

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Another deep-rooted campus bar, Posse East has been around for 52 years, serving up beers, burgers, and queso to college kids and Austinites alike since 1971. It’s also a prime tailgating spot. There are indoor and outdoor dine-in areas.

Jeffrey's

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Another Clarksville landmark, Jeffrey’s started as a simple French-style cafe in downtown Austin in 1975 and got the gussied-up McGuire Moorman treatment in 2013. It now serves high-quality fancy steaks, lobster, and caviar with high-end hospitality. There are indoor dine-in services.

Scholz Garten

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The center of German culture in Austin, the downtown spot specializes in the three Bs: beer, brats, and bowling. Those tenets remain the same under new operators, who formerly owned now-closed sausage spot Frank. It is Austin’s oldest restaurant, which opened in 1866. There are indoor and outdoor dine-in areas.

Texas Chili Parlor

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The campus classic and political institution has been doling out bowls of Texas red since 1976. The parlor was even immortalized in Quentin Tarantino's Death Proof. There are indoor dine-in services.

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. There are indoor and outdoor dine-in areas.

Chinatown

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Ronald Cheng opened Austin’s oldest-curently-operating Chinese restaurant in 1983. There are two locations, this one in North Austin and other out in Westlake, are known for dishes like dim sum dumplings and Sichuan ducks. Takeout orders can be placed online, and there are indoor dine-in services.

The Driskill

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The Driskill’s restaurants have had many different incarnations over the downtown hotel’s 137-year history. The current Driskill Grill was established in 1929 and reopened in 2023 after a long temporary closure during the pandemic. The classic bar makes for a beautiful meeting place in downtown Austin too. There are indoor dine-in services.

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 in East Austin. Now there are new owners, including Rudy's grandson Matt Cisneros, who brought dinner service and booze to the restaurant. There are indoor dine-in services.

Joe's Bakery & Coffee Shop

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The East Austin restaurant is great, from the breaded bacon and scratch-made tortillas to the pan dulces and lardy refried beans. The current location has been open since 1969 and was named as one of the James Beard Foundation’s America’s Classic restaurants in 2023. Takeout orders can be placed in person or over the phone; there are indoor and outdoor dine-in areas.

A restaurant facade that reads Joe’s Bakery.
Joe’s Bakery.
Joe’s Bakery

Sandy's Hamburgers

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This old-school South Austin 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, Zilker Park hangs, or ACL Music Festival. Takeout orders can be placed in person.

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 outmaneuvers haute cuisine. The Tex-Mex icon Matt’s has been an Austin classic since 1952 in the South Lamar neighborhood. Takeout orders can be placed online; there are indoor and outdoor dine-in services.

A restaurant with a sign that reads “Matt’s Famous El Rancho”.
Matt’s El Rancho.
Raymond Thompson/Eater Austin

Mattie's at Green Pastures

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Mary Faulk Koock was beloved for her hospitality, opening up her Bouldin Creek family home as Green Pastures for weekly Sunday suppers in 1946, and kicking off a tradition still going strong 77 years later with renovated digs courtesy of La Corsha Hospitality Group and developer Greg Porter and an updated menu. The weekend brunch at Mattie’s takes on a new format, but the peacocks and milk punch are still there. Takeout orders can be placed online; there are indoor and outdoor dine-in services.

A restaurant dining room.
Mattie’s at Green Pastures.
Robert J. Lerma/Eater Austin

Phoenicia Bakery & Deli

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The Abijaoude family opened the Mediterranean deli-slash-bakery-slash-market-slash-restaurant in 1979, per Statesman, serving excellent shawarma, za’atar bread, and pastries. There’s this location in the Barton Hills neighborhood and a second one up on Burnet in the Brentwood neighborhood. Takeout orders can be placed in person; there are indoor dine-in areas.

Top Notch

Top Notch enthusiasts swear by the charcoal-grilled patties, available since 1971 in Crestview. And yes, it’s the same burger spot featured in the iconic film Dazed & Confused. Takeout orders can be placed online or through the carhop; there are indoor and outdoor dine-in services.

Fonda San Miguel

Co-founders chef Miguel Ravago (who passed away in 2017) and his business partner Tom Gilliland introduced interior Mexican cuisine to Austinites in the 1970s with this Allandale restaurant. The menu is full of great dishes like cochinita pibil and ancho rellenos, plus stay for the folk art. There are indoor dine-in services.

A restaurant dining room with art on the walls.
Fonda San Miguel.
Paul Bardagjy

Quality Seafood

Quality Seafood has changed hands many times since its opening in 1938, and it’s been in the current Airport Boulevard location in North Loop since 1970. The ever-evolving restaurant and fish market now features an oyster bar and cooking classes under current owner Carol Huntsberger. Takeout orders can be placed online; there are indoor dine-in areas.

The front of a restaurant and market with the sign “Quality Restaurant” and “market” and “Seafood”.
Quality Seafood.
Raymond Thompson/Eater Austin

Avenue B Grocery & Market

Austin’s oldest grocery store — Avenue B opened in 1909 — came back from its long pandemic break in 2022, still serving classic deli sandwiches like roast beef, turkey, egg salad, and pimento cheese along with salads and soup for eating on the nice patio outside. Be forewarned that the store sells out quickly and its hours can be unpredictable. There are indoor and outdoor dine-in areas.

A white old-timey storefront with antique soda signs, a banner that says Homemade Sandwiches, and picnic tables to the side and trees in the background.
Avenue B Grocery.
Erin Russell/Eater Austin

The Omelettry

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. Takeout orders can be placed online, there are indoor dine-in services.

The inside of a restaurant.
The Omelettry.
Melanie Haupt/Eater Austin

Hyde Park Bar & Grill

The American restaurant opened in, yes, Hyde Park 41 years ago with a timeless menu full of comfort dishes including perfect fries, chicken fried steaks, and bacon-glazed meatloaf since 1982. Unfortunately, its second location down in Westgate closed in September 2023. Pickup orders can be placed online; there are indoor and outdoor dine-in services.

El Patio

A campus landmark for over 70 years, El Patio is one of Austin’s oldest operating Tex-Mex restaurants since 1954. And actually, the Tex-Mex restaurant closed in the summer of 2019 but came back under new ownership later that fall. Takeout orders can be placed online; there are indoor dine-in services.

A restaurant sign reading El Patio Mexican Food.
El Patio.
Hunter Townsend

Dirty Martin's Place

Visiting the campus burger dive at least once is a requirement for every UT student, while there’s still time (just in case). John Martin opened the campus spot in 1926 as Martin's Kum-Bak and later renamed it Dirty because of the original dirt floor. Takeout orders can be placed online; there are indoor and outdoor dine-in areas.

Posse East

Another deep-rooted campus bar, Posse East has been around for 52 years, serving up beers, burgers, and queso to college kids and Austinites alike since 1971. It’s also a prime tailgating spot. There are indoor and outdoor dine-in areas.

Jeffrey's

Another Clarksville landmark, Jeffrey’s started as a simple French-style cafe in downtown Austin in 1975 and got the gussied-up McGuire Moorman treatment in 2013. It now serves high-quality fancy steaks, lobster, and caviar with high-end hospitality. There are indoor dine-in services.

Scholz Garten

The center of German culture in Austin, the downtown spot specializes in the three Bs: beer, brats, and bowling. Those tenets remain the same under new operators, who formerly owned now-closed sausage spot Frank. It is Austin’s oldest restaurant, which opened in 1866. There are indoor and outdoor dine-in areas.

Texas Chili Parlor

The campus classic and political institution has been doling out bowls of Texas red since 1976. The parlor was even immortalized in Quentin Tarantino's Death Proof. There are indoor dine-in services.

Sam’s Bar-B-Que

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. There are indoor and outdoor dine-in areas.

Chinatown

Ronald Cheng opened Austin’s oldest-curently-operating Chinese restaurant in 1983. There are two locations, this one in North Austin and other out in Westlake, are known for dishes like dim sum dumplings and Sichuan ducks. Takeout orders can be placed online, and there are indoor dine-in services.

The Driskill

The Driskill’s restaurants have had many different incarnations over the downtown hotel’s 137-year history. The current Driskill Grill was established in 1929 and reopened in 2023 after a long temporary closure during the pandemic. The classic bar makes for a beautiful meeting place in downtown Austin too. There are indoor dine-in services.

Related Maps

Cisco's Restaurant & Bakery

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 in East Austin. Now there are new owners, including Rudy's grandson Matt Cisneros, who brought dinner service and booze to the restaurant. There are indoor dine-in services.

Joe's Bakery & Coffee Shop

The East Austin restaurant is great, from the breaded bacon and scratch-made tortillas to the pan dulces and lardy refried beans. The current location has been open since 1969 and was named as one of the James Beard Foundation’s America’s Classic restaurants in 2023. Takeout orders can be placed in person or over the phone; there are indoor and outdoor dine-in areas.

A restaurant facade that reads Joe’s Bakery.
Joe’s Bakery.
Joe’s Bakery

Sandy's Hamburgers

This old-school South Austin 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, Zilker Park hangs, or ACL Music Festival. Takeout orders can be placed in person.

Matt's Famous El Rancho

The long waits for a table on weekends suggest that for some, nostalgia, tradition, and Bob Armstrong dip outmaneuvers haute cuisine. The Tex-Mex icon Matt’s has been an Austin classic since 1952 in the South Lamar neighborhood. Takeout orders can be placed online; there are indoor and outdoor dine-in services.

A restaurant with a sign that reads “Matt’s Famous El Rancho”.
Matt’s El Rancho.
Raymond Thompson/Eater Austin

Mattie's at Green Pastures

Mary Faulk Koock was beloved for her hospitality, opening up her Bouldin Creek family home as Green Pastures for weekly Sunday suppers in 1946, and kicking off a tradition still going strong 77 years later with renovated digs courtesy of La Corsha Hospitality Group and developer Greg Porter and an updated menu. The weekend brunch at Mattie’s takes on a new format, but the peacocks and milk punch are still there. Takeout orders can be placed online; there are indoor and outdoor dine-in services.

A restaurant dining room.
Mattie’s at Green Pastures.
Robert J. Lerma/Eater Austin

Phoenicia Bakery & Deli

The Abijaoude family opened the Mediterranean deli-slash-bakery-slash-market-slash-restaurant in 1979, per Statesman, serving excellent shawarma, za’atar bread, and pastries. There’s this location in the Barton Hills neighborhood and a second one up on Burnet in the Brentwood neighborhood. Takeout orders can be placed in person; there are indoor dine-in areas.

Related Maps