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Ah, so you're one of the lucky ones heading down to the South by Southwest Interactive, Film and Music festivals, beginning this weekend in Austin, Texas. You’ve marked down the panels and concerts you will be attending and prepared yourself to sleep on a friend’s hotel room floor. Whatever, nobody sleeps at SXSX. You good. But you've forgotten (or neglected to plan) one very important thing. Where are you going to eat! We've got you.

Ah, so you're one of the lucky ones heading down to the South by Southwest Interactive, Film and Music festivals, beginning this weekend in Austin, Texas. You’ve marked down the panels and concerts you will be attending and prepared yourself to sleep on a friend’s hotel room floor. Whatever, nobody sleeps at SXSX. You good. But you've forgotten (or neglected to plan) one very important thing. Where are you going to eat!

Luckily, you've come to the right place to find out. Texas’s capital city has become a food favorite of ours, and we have traveled there multiple times in search of the best barbecue, breakfast tacos, margaritas and so much more. While our friends at Eater Austin are a great local resource for all the granular information and the bleeding-edge openings and parties, we wanted to make it easy. We picked 12 of our favorite places to eat and drink in Austin and called them up to see if tables are available, and how they can be secured. For the most part, you are in luck — with a little patience and planning and flexibility to dine early. But, heck, 5:45 p.m. dinner means one thing: Second dinner.  — Megan Giller, Matthew Odeam, Matt Rodbard

Also see: How To Eat Right At South By Southwest

Second Bar & Kitchen
For the past few years, chef David Bull has operated perhaps the finest restaurant in Austin (Congress), and this is his casual spinoff next door serving hearty dishes like rotisserie chicken sweet potato panzanella and braised short ribs with black truffle grits. There’s a great burger and fries too, and buffalo fried pickles with the chef’s own hot sauce too. Cocktails are big reason to visit too — smartly made with invention and small-batch spirits. SXSW Reservation Status: Only accepts reservations of six or more and all are booked through SXSW. Walk-ins are accept first come, first served. Depending on weather, more seating is available outside. 200 Congress Ave. 512-827-2750

The most anticipated restaurant opening in recent memory took place in June when Top Chef winner Paul Qui flung open the doors to his flagship restaurant. Found near many of the legendary East Austin divebars, smartly designed Qui has one of the most eclectic menus in the city — with influences ranging from the chef's Filipino grandmother to his world travels to his time at Uchiko (see below). The patio makes for a lively scene, and the doors to the glass dining room doors slide all the way open when the weather’s nice. SXSW Reservation Status: Next available reservation is March 17. The restaurant is closed March 7-8 for private events. Qui does accept walk-ins, beginning at 5 p.m. A nice reservationsist we spoke with encourages guests to come in as early as possible, beginning at 5 p.m. After 9:15 p.m. there is a second shot at walk-ins as well. The restaurant is closed on Sundays. 160 E. 6th Street, 512-436-9626

Barley Swine
Like all good Austin restaurant stories, Barley Swine’s started in a food trailer. Executive Chef Bryce Gilmore’s sustainably minded Odd Duck Farm to Trailer captivated the city, and his tiny brick-and-mortar location steps it up several notches. The seasonal small plate menu offers everything from scallops with fried Brussels sprouts and grapefruit to beef tongue with beets and grilled greens. SXSW Reservation Status: The restaurant books exclusively through Open Table, which reveals a few openings March 13 and 18. Check back or email for large parties and desperate pleas.  2024 S. Lamar Blvd., 512-394-8150

Veracruz All Natural
Austin’s official food is the breakfast taco, and there’s no place better than Tacos Veracruz. Rachael Ray rated this unassuming, family-run food trailer’s migas taco as one of the best in the South. With a thick, homemade flour tortilla and fresh scrambled eggs, Jack cheese and avocado salsa–marinated tortilla strips, this monster will keep you full until lunch, when you can try Veracruz’s tacos al pastor. SXSW Reservation Status: Hours of operation are 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. They sometimes run out of popular tacos and do not take reservations. 1704 E. Cesar Chavez Blvd 512-981-1760

You’ll find more than 42 beers on tap at Hopfield’s, a neighborhood French-inspired gastropub, as well as some fun cocktails and a small wine list. The knowledgeable bartenders will set you up with a brew that suits your mood as you chill at one of the community-style tables or the understated wooden benches, which were rescued from old churches. SXSW Reservation Status: Wide open except for Friday nights. 3110 Guadalupe Street 512-537-0467,

You may not remember Drew Curren from his brief appearance on Top Chef the season that Paul Qui dominated, but the chef and his restaurant group have a couple of hits on their hands in Austin, and Arro looks to make it a trifecta. Following the success of bakery/artisan sausage/beer garden Easy Tiger and upscale diner 24, the ELM Restaurant Group has opened this French country–inspired bistro on West Sixth. The menu, served late on weekends, includes croque monsieur, grilled lamb and sweetbreads, lemon goat cheese tart, and rosewater profiteroles. SXSW Reservation Status: The restaurant books exclusively through Open Table. There are openings daily through the weekend and into next week. 601 W. 6th Street 512-992-2776,

Founded by Rudy "Cisco" Cisneros in 1948, Cisco’s on East Sixth Street is an Austin legend known for drawing state officials for breakfast meetings and serving one fine plate of migas. Lyndon B. Johnson was apparently a fan. Housemade corn tortillas, fried to a slight crisp, are worked in with a scramble of bright yellow eggs topped with melted mounds of industrial cheddar cheese. But that’s only part of the deal. Alongside the scramble sits textbook Tex-Mex refried beans, a pool of warm salsa and a puck of pork sausage. You’re given a side choice of biscuit or tortillas. Order the airy yeast biscuits, which you can squirt with squeeze bottles of honey and liquid butter that sit on each table. They will taunt you for a second and third blast, which is almost impossible to avoid. SXSW Reservation Status: Cisco’s is open daily from 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and does not accept reservations. Weekend is the most crowded, when waits can extend over 30 minutes. 1511 E 6th Street, 512-478-2420

No Va
The Rainey Street district is known for its post-frat bar scene, but No Va is hoping to spiff up the street’s image. The restaurant is helmed by Next Food Network Star veteran chef Brad Sorenson and is located in a sleek, modern two-story building on the row populated by bungalows. The menu includes corn gnocchi with brown butter, roasted bell pepper and fava beans; Atlantic salmon with beet-radish salad and nicoise olive puree; and a “cheeseburger” tartare on an onion bun. SXSW Reservation Status: Reservations are accepted through the restaurant website, which was down when we attempted to check on status. Also, you can call after 3 p.m. 87 Rainey Street, 512-382-5651

This is the place Paul Qui made a name for himself before striking out on his own with the abovementioned Qui. The restaurant is billed as an homage to Japanese farmhouse dining, but that sort of sells the place as rustic, which it certainly is not. Exquisite cuts of tuna and yellowtail is flown in from the Tsukiji Fish Market while a course of wagyu beef seared on a Japanese river rock is now a classic. You’d think you were in Tokyo. SXSW Reservation Status: Waited on hold for 7 minutes for a reservationist. The music was terrible and we hung up. Not promising. 4200 N. Lamar, 512-916-4808

East Side Showroom
This popular cocktail den feels more like a speakeasy than a bar off East Sixth: A velvet curtain welcomes you inside, where you can sit at the bar or take a table for dinner while you watch silent movies. Dapper mixologists whirl classic cocktails like the Bee’s Knees as well as recent inventions like the Devil’s Left Hand (with El Tesoro añejo and lime oil). SXSW Reservation Status: Call at 5 p.m. on the dot to be added to the priority waitlist. Reservations for 6-12 can be made in advance. 1100 E. 6th Street, 512-467-4280

San Francisco Bay Area residents may recognize the name of this new tapas bar. It shares a name with chef Daniel Olivella’s Bay Area restaurant. Olivella, who lives in Austin, also owns B44 Catalan Bistro out west. Perfect for large groups looking to share small plates, Barlata serves about two dozen hot tapas plates (try the grilled morcilla sausage); 10 paella (including seafood, chicken, rabbit and vegetarian versions); a variety of “latas,” dishes served inside small tin cans. And, of course, there’s sangria and “calimochos” (a red wine and cola combination) to satiate your thirst for wine. SXSW Reservation Status: The restaurant books exclusively through Open Table, which reveals openings Friday through the rest of SXSW. 1500 S. Lamar Blvd, 512-473-2211,

East Side Kings
Paul Qui is not only re-inventing fine dining in Austin, he’s also quite the food truck master as well — operating static trucks in the back of some of Austin’s favorite dive bars. The chef's menu is often rotating. At Liberty Bar, order the classic ESK chicken karaage. Chicken thighs are first brined in garlic, Thai chilies and vinegar, then dusted with cornstarch and fried golden brown. At Thai-Kun (located at Wonderland), the emphasis is on the flavors of Thailand with dishes like grilled pork shoulder with sticky rice and fried chicken with boom sauce. Hole in the Wall specializes in ramen. See the photo above for details. Various locations, so visite for updates. (Note: This post has been updated and edited to reflect that the location at The Grackle has closed.)