Best Restaurants in Austin

Austin relishes its status as the Live Music Capital of the World as much as it does its quirky, young-and-hip reputation


And before or after the show, the capital of the Lone Star State loves a good bite. Indeed, food is an attraction unto itself in Austin, so plan to get there hungry to enjoy a meal and share some memorable moments with friends and family. Diversity, rather than any one culinary offering, has made Austin a dream foodie destination. The result: an eclectic culinary repertoire for any meal of the day, including everything from Texas-style beef-centric barbecue to Mexican cuisine and its Tex-Mex spinoffs.

Barbecue Joints

Barbecue devotees flock to Franklin Barbecue on Austin's East Side, which Bon Appetit magazine named the "best barbecue in America." The prized menu item is beef brisket, smoked for up to 18 hours over an oak fire, but you also have a choice of sausages, ribs and turkey. Complete your meal with coleslaw or potato salad washed down with a Mexican Coke. Franklin only serves lunch and typically sells out within a few hours, so go early. A worthy alternative is the Central Austin institution, Stubb's BBQ, as famous for its brisket as for its live outdoor entertainment. With Sunday comes Gospel Brunch at Stubb's, a cherished local tradition that pairs a buffet breakfast—garlic cheese grits, biscuits and of course, brisket—with live gospel music.

Mexican and Tex-Mex Cuisine

The line between Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisines can become blurry. Chances are you won’t be overly concerned with the distinction as you munch on tacos fashioned out of homemade tortillas and sip hand-shaken margaritas made with fresh lime juice at Güero's Taco Bar. Located in the South Congress neighborhood of Austin, Güero's is located in a former feed store and evokes a Mexican cantina. Guacamole lovers can get their fix at La Condesa in Central Austin, which offers several varieties of the avocado dip, including traditional and seasonal versions. Order the sampler to try them all before moving on to a mouth-watering ceviche.

Classic American Fare

The burgers at Counter Cafe have few rivals in Austin, according to Food & Wine magazine—an assessment many locals would agree with. The iconic diner's two locations are open for breakfast and lunch, giving you the option to start off the day with hot cakes or crab cake Benedict. Or, stop by when the sun is higher for a burger or a signature dish, like the grilled pimento cheese sandwich or polenta fried oysters. If you find yourself hungry in the wee hours, head to 24 Diner, open round-the-clock. No matter what time of the day, you can feast on chicken and waffles, meat loaf, hash or other comfort food, or simply indulge your sweet tooth with an unconventionally delicious roasted banana and brown sugar milkshake.

Asian Food

In the mood for sushi? Head to Kome Sushi Kitchen in North Austin, a casual Japanese spot where you can watch your sushi as it's rolled. The menu also includes dumplings, tempura and skewers, among other dishes from the Land of the Rising Sun. Also in North Austin is Asia Café, an easily overlooked spot in a strip mall. Snubbing it would be a mistake, however, as you'd be missing out on some of the most authentic Chinese food—think shareable portions of spicy fish, General Tso chicken and other Sichuan delights—in the area.

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