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Sandy’s Hamburgers.
Sandy’s Hamburgers

19 Classic Restaurants Every Austinite Must Try

Austin's edible history from burgers to enchiladas to barbecue

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Sandy’s Hamburgers.
| Sandy’s Hamburgers

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 restaurants have been disappearing. Nau’s diner remains closed due to staffing and pandemic-related difficulties and the entire business will close anyway in March 2023. There are also temporary closures, like House Park Bar-B-Que after it was damaged in a fire in 2020, but it should reopen soon, Driskill Grill still also still temporarily closed.

In better news, Hoffbrau Steakhouse has reopened after closing due to the hot summer, and Avenue B Grocery reopened after an extended closure due to COVID-10.

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

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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Top Notch

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Top Notch enthusiasts swear by the charcoal-grilled patties, available since 1971. Takeout orders can be placed online or through the carhop, and 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. Alas, the brunch is paused, but there are still 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 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. 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 — serves 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

El Patio

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A campus landmark for over 67 years, El Patio is one of Austin’s oldest operating Tex-Mex restaurants. The 67-year-old Tex-Mex restaurant had closed in the summer of 2019 but came back under new ownership that fall. Takeout orders can be placed online, and there are indoor dine-in services.

A restaurant sigh 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. John Martin opened the campus spot in 1926 as Martin's Kum-Bak, renamed Dirty because of the original dirt floor. 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 1975, and got the gussied-up McGuire Moorman Lambert treatment in 2013. It now serves fancy steaks, lobster, and caviar for indoor dine-in services.

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, opened in 1866. There are indoor and outdoor dine-in areas.

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. 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.

Z'Tejas

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The Southwestern chain opened in 1989 with chef Jack Gilmore, now of Jack Allen’s Kitchen, as the head chef. It’s known for dishes like Santa Fe enchiladas, fish tacos, and ancho fudge cake. Although time to visit the Sixth Street location is limited — it will close in March 2023 — there’s a location in Avery Ranch. Takeout orders can be placed online, and there are indoor and outdoor dine-in services.

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

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 a lemon-butter sauce with fried potato wedges and a garlicky salad. 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. 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.

A restaurant dining room.
Cisco’s.
Raymond Thompson/Eater Austin.

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. 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 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. 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 trump haute cuisine. Tex-Mex icon Matt’s has been an Austin classic since 1952. Takeout orders can be placed online, and 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 family home for weekly Sunday suppers and kicking off a tradition still going over 75 years later with renovated digs courtesy of La Corsha Hospitality Group and developer Greg Porter and an updated menu. The Sunday brunch at Mattie’s takes on a new format, but the peacocks and milk punch are still there. There are indoor and outdoor dine-in services.

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

Top Notch

Top Notch enthusiasts swear by the charcoal-grilled patties, available since 1971. Takeout orders can be placed online or through the carhop, and there are indoor and outdoor dine-in services.

Fonda San Miguel

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

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. Alas, the brunch is paused, but there are still 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

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

Quality Seafood has changed hands many times since its 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. 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

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.

Austin’s oldest grocery store — Avenue B opened in 1909 — serves 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

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

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

El Patio

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

A campus landmark for over 67 years, El Patio is one of Austin’s oldest operating Tex-Mex restaurants. The 67-year-old Tex-Mex restaurant had closed in the summer of 2019 but came back under new ownership that fall. Takeout orders can be placed online, and there are indoor dine-in services.

A restaurant sigh 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. John Martin opened the campus spot in 1926 as Martin's Kum-Bak, renamed Dirty because of the original dirt floor. There are indoor and outdoor dine-in areas.

Jeffrey's

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 for indoor dine-in services.

Scholz Garten

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, opened in 1866. There are indoor and outdoor dine-in areas.

Texas Chili Parlor

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. 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.

Z'Tejas

The Southwestern chain opened in 1989 with chef Jack Gilmore, now of Jack Allen’s Kitchen, as the head chef. It’s known for dishes like Santa Fe enchiladas, fish tacos, and ancho fudge cake. Although time to visit the Sixth Street location is limited — it will close in March 2023 — there’s a location in Avery Ranch. Takeout orders can be placed online, and there are indoor and outdoor dine-in services.

Chinatown

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

The Hoffbrau

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

Cisco's Restaurant & Bakery

A restaurant dining room.
Cisco’s.
Raymond Thompson/Eater Austin.

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. There are indoor dine-in services.

A restaurant dining room.
Cisco’s.
Raymond Thompson/Eater Austin.

Related Maps

Joe's Bakery & Coffee Shop

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

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. 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 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. Takeout orders can be placed in person.

Matt's Famous El Rancho

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

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. Takeout orders can be placed online, and 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

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

Mary Faulk Koock was beloved for her hospitality, opening up her family home for weekly Sunday suppers and kicking off a tradition still going over 75 years later with renovated digs courtesy of La Corsha Hospitality Group and developer Greg Porter and an updated menu. The Sunday brunch at Mattie’s takes on a new format, but the peacocks and milk punch are still there. There are indoor and outdoor dine-in services.

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

Related Maps