Austin has proven to be one of the most cherished cities within the state of Texas. As the capital of the second largest state in the U.S., Austin is home to a diverse community, deep history, and endless options for food and joy.
Home to the University of Texas at Austin, Austin has maintained a youthful sort of ambience throughout the city. 6th Street, known for its fair share of bars and eateries, welcomes visitors for nights of excitement and revelvery. Rainey Street District also provides fun and memories through the old homes that have been converted to bars and restaurants. For the nature enthusiast, the city offers plenty. Lady Bird Lake, named after former first lady Claudia Alta “Lady Bird” Johnson, is a reservoir where locals and tourists can kayak, wade, and paddleboard. The trail just above the lake provides excellent jogging for runners, and visitors can get a great view of the Texas city.
The joy that Austin provides through its parks, waters, restaurants, and bars, doesn’t stop there. Austin City Limits is an annual music festival held at Zilker Parker. Welcoming around 450,000 people each year, the fall event has been known to host some of the biggest names in music, including the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Foo Fighters, and Tame Impala. The land surrounds Barton Springs, a set of four natural water springs, including Barton Springs Pool. Each year, more than 1.5 million people visit the three-acre spring. The ancient waters sit in the heart of the city. With temperatures hovering around 68 degrees, the water provides incredible relief after a hot summer day (temperatures of which can reach over 100 degrees fahrenheit), or a great opportunity for restoration during the winter.
Among its many festivals, South by Southwest also attracts tens of thousands of visitors each year. Congregating over conferences, presentations, and panels, the event is one of the foremost events in music, film, and the creative arts. The event usually occurs around Spring Break, a lovely time to visit the city before the Texas heat truly takes over.
Austin also has its fair share of history, and plenty of museums and exhibits allow visitors to connect with Austin’s true roots, and some of the people who have contributed to its culture. Black history within Austin and Texas can be explored at the Texas African American History Memorial in the Texas State Capitol, the George Washington Carver Museum, and the African-American Cultural & Heritage Facility. The Mexic-Arte Museum offers a stunning display of the Mexican American influence on the city’s art and culture, while the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center helps to preserve the role of the arts within Latino communities. The Bullock Texas State History Museum highlights the Native American history in Austin and the state of Texas, while other centers, like the The Contemporary Austin – Jones Center and Blanton Museum of Art demonstrate the significant role of art within Austin’s culture.
There are plenty of ways to enjoy Austin, but one of the most well-known is through its food. Known as one of the best food cities in the world, Austin’s multicultural environment and predilection for adventure makes for a city that creates food that’s equally innovative and delicious. After enjoying the city’s outdoor offerings and artistic exhibits, enjoy endless options of food, drink, and fun, too. People may want to keep Austin weird, but Austin knows how to keep it fun, as well.
900 E 11th St
Austin, TX 78702
In Texas, people take their barbecue seriously. It’s why people form a line outside of Franklin Barbecue in the early hours of the morning, just to be first in line to get a taste of the ribs, brisket, sausage, pulled pork, and numerous other options. Founded by Aaron Franklin in 2009, Franklin Barbecue is known as one of the best places to enjoy the state’s meat tradition. Open for just four hours everyday except Monday, visitors pile in, eager to get their hands on thoughtfully prepared meat before it runs out. While the barbecue is great, the sides are also not to be missed. Enjoy potato salad, coleslaw, and pork and beans while digging into well-seasoned, tender brisket. Bonus points if you can finish off a slice of the pecan pie, too.
Veracruz All Natural
111 E Cesar Chavez
Austin, TX 78701
In Texas, there is perhaps nothing more revered than an excellent taco. Sisters Reyna and Maritza Vazquez recognized this truth, and got to work on opening their own taco business, joining a massive pool of taco stands, restaurants, and trucks. Despite the large number of taco institutions in Austin, the sisters have set themselves apart with Veracruz All Natural. With multiple locations throughout the city, and more opening in other U.S. cities, the taco joint has taken the state by storm. People flock from all over to get a taste of the migas taco – a corn tortilla filled with egg, tortilla chips, tomato, onion, cilantro, monterey jack cheese, and avocado; the shrimp macha taco – a tortilla filled with butter and garlic sautéed shrimp, rice, salsa macha, green onions, and avocado; the el sancho taco – a tortilla of chorizo, egg, and monterey jack cheese; and many others. Tacos are the focus here, but fabulous chips and queso, quesadillas, and a wide selection of agua fresca remind visitors that Veracruz can truly do it all.
Bird Bird Biscuit
2701 Manor Rd
Austin, TX 78722
In the south, buttermilk biscuits are the holy grail. Fill those biscuits with chicken, and there’s a meal built for Sunday lunch. At Bird Bird Biscuit, chicken and biscuits go hand-in-hand. Fried fresh to order, the chicken biscuits sandwiches are flavorful and comforting. Visitors love the many options, like the firebird – a hot chicken sandwich served with spiced chicken breast, dill mayo, thick cut spicy sweet pickles, and cilantro; queen beak – spiced and breaded chicken breast, cayenne black pepper honey, and bacon-infused chipotle mayo; and the Theodore, a spiced and bread chicken breast, bacon, bbq sauce, and cheddar. Recognizing the city’s value for health and non-meat options, the shop also offers options live the Lovely Day – sandwich of chicken sausage, free-range egg, cheddar, and basil pesto, and well as The Biscuitarian, a sandwich with impossible vegetarian sausage, an egg prepared over medium, and cheddar cheese.
3704 Kerbey Ln
Austin, TX 78731
Austinites cherish their institutions, and Kerbey Lane is one such chain. The small diner first opened in 1980, and has since exploded on the city’s dining scene. With multiple locations, it’s easy to grab a bite of the city’s seasonal menu, like lemon poppyseed pancakes and pumpkin French toast. The restaurant’s migas is, a dish of eggs and tortillas, often shows up on tables, and chilaquiles, and lunch and dinner dishes like chipotle beer-battered fish and chips and the vegan BBQ sandwich ensures that everyone can find something to enjoy. For those who fall for the restaurant’s charm and want to take something home, the restaurant made their beloved pancake mix available for sale at HEB, Costco, and Central Market.
Opened in Austin and expanded across Texas, P. Terry’s digs into the charm of the 1950s diner scene. The interior colors of white and blue-green with checkered patterns take visitors back to the Grease era. Simple burger options and an array of milkshakes like cookies and cream, vanilla, and strawberry, call back to the diners of the past. Visitors can stop by one of the many locations throughout the city, and enjoy eating inside or pick up an order in the drive through. Options range from double cheeseburgers to veggie burgers, and guests can even enjoy options like root beer floats and banana bread.
3010 S Lamar Blvd
Austin, TX 78704
Enjoying a burger under the blessing of an adorable fake cow is more charming than it sounds. This is because Wholly Cow makes it so. The humble burger joint values beef, and does their best to keep it simple. The Wholly Cheeseburger and Almighty Rueben are favorites. For those who don’t eat beef but enjoy the experience of a hamburger joint, non-beef sandwiches like greener pastures and bella bella bella, a mushroom sandwich, are excellent alternatives. Pair with fries and enjoy a chocolate chip cookie afterwards to enjoy the full experience.
11806 N Lamar Blvd
Austin, TX 78753
Vietnamese food? Excellent. Texas barbecue? Excellent. Put them together, and a superb meal is on hand. Couple Matt Roth and Thao Phan opened Smokin Beauty to combine their shared love of Vietnamese cuisine and smoked meats. The menu is divine: Brisket banh mi and king banh mi–a sandwich of brisket, pork belly, and jalepeño cheddar sausage, are equally innovative and irresistable. Viet style barbecue plates, the banh mi double cheeseburger, and the brisket double cheeseburger are enough to feed an entire group. Fair warning: eat lightly before coming. You’ll need your stomach for this meal.
1601 Guadalupe St
Austin, TX 78701
Elegant, yet unpretentious, the Clay Pit serves phenomenal Indian cuisine. Located in the heart of downtown Austin, the Clay Pit can be a restaurant for after work drinks or big celebrations. It’s versatility shows up in its menu offerings. The butter chicken is tender and well-seasoned, and the goat curry, a halal dish, is perfectly spiced and accessible. Goan yellow curry with shrimp is an excellent option for seafood enthusiasts, while the desi cucumber salad and green garden salad add freshness to the table. There are many, many ways to do naan, and Clay Pit appreciates that. Baked in the tandoor, the onion and cilantro naan is a flavorful alternative to standard naan, while the aloo naan – naan stuffed with potatoes – adds heft to an already delightful meal. If there’s still room for more, enjoy sweet lassi to finish the meal.
704 N Lamar Blvd
Austin, TX 78703
Birria tacos, originating in Jalisco, Mexico, have taken over the taco world. Originally served as a savory beef stew, the beef stew now fills fried tacos, and the tacos are then dipped in the stew, or consomme. The savory, meaty dish has changed the taco world, and Pepe’s Tacos has taken the love for the tacos to heart. The humble food trucks serve an excellent version that visitors can enjoy standing or sitting in their cars. Pepe’s also serves quesadillas, tortas, and can serve the birria taco without or without cheese, just to one’s liking.
Bikkle Jamaican Restaurant
3023 Guadalupe St
Austin, TX 78705
At Bikkie Jamaican Restaurant, Austin gets a glimpse of Caribbean cuisine. Staples like coco bread and a variety of patties are fresh, and served piping hot. The ackee and saltfish are deeply reminiscent of the Jamaican land, ensuring that Caribbean immigrants have a place in Austin to enjoy their cuisine. Visitors can enjoy other dishes, too, like curry shrimp served with rice, cabbage, and plantain, oxtails, and jerk chicken.
Drinks, Coffee, and More
Here Nor There
612 Brazos St
Austin, TX 78701
The invitation-only speakeasy is worth finding your way into. There’s a time limit on stays, so being decisive is beneficial here. Use the light they provide to read the menu, and enjoy hand-crafted cocktails from some of the most creative bartenders in the city.
Mozart’s Coffee Roasters
3825 Lake Austin Blvd
Austin, TX 78703
Located in Oyster Landing and overlooking Lake Austin, Mozart’s is a favorite of local residents and tourists alike. The coffee shop doubles as a place for live music, representing the heart and soul of Austin’s music culture. It’s often crowded, but with good reason. Lattes and coffee options are seemingly endless; pastries and desserts – from mini pecan pies, to empanadas, to cakes – sweeten the visit for those who indulge. During the holiday season, the coffee shop is dressed in holiday lights, offering an additional display of joy and optimism.
1512 Holly St
Austin, TX 78702
Gati offers vegan and gluten-free ice cream, 40 flavors worth, to be exact. Traditional flavors like cake batter and chocolate are available, while more innovative options, like pandan, Japanese red bean, and black sticky rice horchata, speak to the incredible influence of Asian and Latino flavors on Austin’s food culture. Grab a scoop – or two – with friends to wrap up a fast-moving food day.