With apologies to barbecue mecca Lockhart, Austin is very much the best eating city in Texas—and we aren’t just talking about the killer tacos and breakfast burritos. With the annual South By Southwest digital and music festival hitting town later this week, we’ve decided to pull together a list of our favorite restaurants, break taco spots and burger joints.


Foreign & Domestic
The music rocks. The crowd is young and fabulous. The husband-and-wife chefs are brilliant. But there’s really only one thing anyone needs to know about F&D: Duck fat fried chicken with goat heart gravy and biscuits. Well, that and an excellent yogurt sorbet with dried cherries and dill syrup. 306 E.53rd St., 

Barley Swine
Chef Bryce Gilmore parlayed a food truck (here they’re actually trailers) into his first brick-and-mortar, where he serves an interesting small-plates menu of things like corn-battered pig face with pickles and deviled egg, plus one of the best beer selections in Austin. 2024 South Lamar Blvd., 512-394-8150

This year-old taco hut has one of the best margarita gardens in town, plus a killer weekend brunch with migas and menudo. 1411 E. Seventh St., 512-628-4466

Iron Works
Food tourists and music geeks alike have been raving about the new Franklin’s BBQ (3421 N. I-35, 512-653-1187), but for our money, the barbecue to beat in Austin—especially for Texas-style beef sausage and slow-smoked brisket—is the 33-year-old Iron Works. 100 Red River St., 512-478-4855

Homemade hot dogs. Beer. And maybe the best coffee in town. In the heart of the warehouse nightlife district. 407 Colorado St., 512-494-6916

Beef tongue terrine and South Texas goat, straight from the ranch, enjoyed outside at picnic tables in the beer pit. 2027 Anchor Lane, 512-614-2260

Exquisite Japanese cuisine from owner of the now-legendary Uchi. You’d think you were in Tokyo. 4200 N. Lamar, 512-916-4808

Matt’s El Rancho
There’s been a lot of buzz about the interior-style Mexican fare at the new location of El Mesón (2038 S. Lamar Blvd., 512 442-4441) but, hey, this is Texas, so we still prefer the authentic Tex-Mex (best queso on the planet) at Matt’s El Rancho, just down the street. 2613 S. Lamar Blvd., 512-462-9333

Second Bar & Kitchen
For the past few years, chef David Bull has operated perhaps the finest restaurant in Austin (Congress), and this is his newish casual spinoff next door with rotisserie chicken, braised short ribs, a great burger and fries. 200 Congress Ave. 512-827-2750

Red’s Porch
Chicken-fried steak. Beer-battered onion rings. Frito pie. Porch. Lawn chairs. View of the hills. It doesn’t get any more Texas (with a wry dose of Cajun) than this! 3508 S. Lamar Blvd., 512-440-7337

Breakfast Tacos

Makes their tacos compact and tiny enough to stick one in your pants pocket and walk out the door if you’re ever hungover enough to make such a strange decision. They also cook their ingredients together, so what you’re getting has a content integration more like an omelet than what you’d find at other shops. 2608 West 7th St., 512-474-7271

Overstuffing is the the law here, throwing chile, guacamole and escabeche carrots into what’s already a pretty quantifiable mix. Holding one is like holding a raw, hot steak; you can feel the deadweight. Various Locations  

Juan in a Million
Has been world famous since a 2009 episode of Man Vs. Food, makes their Don Juans humungous — so large that each comes with four additional tortilla shells. You do not need to order two. 2300 East Cesar Chavez St., 512-472-3872 


Julio’s Cafe
The place in town with the best bang for your buck may be Hyde Park’s Julio’s Cafe, which, fortunately, is less than a five minute bike ride from my house. Selling for $2.50, Julio’s serves overstuffed tacos with your choice of three main ingredients — with extra ingredients tacked on at $.50 a piece. Shop owner Estella Lucero says that they make about 300 tacos every weekend morning, and that the secret to their success boils down to three main components: Freshness, Congealment, and Potatoes. For those trying at home, take Lucero’s ideals to heart. 4230 Duval St., 512-452-1040

Your Mom’s Burger Bar
Because owner Ryan Blackmore decided to put his cheese inside the meat, making the rest of the sandwich a little cleaner and the patty more cohesive. Blackmore stuffs his 1/2-lb. Marie Laveau burger with Monterey Jack cheese and boudin, then tops it with lettuce, tomato, onions and roumalade sauce. The whole mix goes into two buttered-up slices of Texas toast, which, since they’re slightly bigger than the patty, hold things together and don’t let that roulade sauce get out.  1701 East Cesar Chavez St., 512-474-6667

P. Terry’s
For some, P. Terry’s is religion. For others, it’s option #1 when you’re cruising down Lamar and need a quick fix without getting out of the car. Packed like a pee-wee league linebacker, these quasi-fast-food shops capture the essence of what the old school burgers in Austin are all about: greasy, cheesy, yet somehow the type to not leave you bloated. Even a Double won’t do you in. And as long as you can get it out of the wrapper by the time you leave the parking lot, the burger makes for good travel. Various Locations

Hut’s Hamburgers
Hut’s runs a 2-for-1 deal every Wednesday that is so conducive to their robust menu of burger options that it warrants picking a buddy and going every week. I’ve done it for stretches of six Wednesdays in a row, but I’ve got to be honest: I usually just get the Fats Domino. Something about the rusticity of grated cheddar cheese and that New Orleans seasoning that makes you feel every bite; it’s a burger with soul, just like Fats. 807 West 6th St., 512-472-0693

24 Diner
It’s really the caramelized onions that make every bite, but they’re just an example of the ways in which head chef Andrew Curren manipulates his burgers to make them taste like something far more glamourous, far less backyard, than any hamburger you or I could make on a given Saturday. With the Bacon Gorgonzola Burger, the chopped onions’ sweetness counters the sour hue of the blue cheese, a balance that really brings out the crumbly texture of the cheese without making it overbearing.  600 N. Lamar Blvd., 512-472-5400

Though most of the burgers here come with Black Angus Beef, it’s actually the Continental Club, a turkey burger, that warrants the bulk of attention when you walk into Hopdoddy. Which worked out well for me since I spent the first part of the meal loading up on the shop’s unreal kennebec fries. It also worked out for my buddy Z, who was quick to note that the combination of the turkey burger’s heartiness, the basil’s expansive freshness and the immediate crunch from the thick bacon made for one of the most fulfilling burger bites in town.  1400 S. Congress Ave., 512-243-7505

Compiled by Brad A. Johnson and Chase Hoffberger