South Austin is home to some of the most iconic, well-known restaurants in all of Austin. It’s almost a mini food city in and of itself. Its restaurants represent nearly all cuisines and price points, with options that range from uber-casual patios to gorgeous, upscale indoor dining.
Our Guide to the Best South Austin Restaurants
South Austin truly has something (more like at least five things!) for everyone and every occasion. So without further ado, we bring you our guide to the very best South Austin restaurants.
21. Matt’s El Rancho
Opened in 1952, Matt’s El Rancho has been grinding their own corn for their house-made corn tortillas and chips ever since. Opinions are widely split on who has the best Tex-Mex in town, but a few things cannot be debated when it comes to Matt’s: their Bob Armstrong dip (find the Bob Armstrong dip recipe here) and Asadero Tacos are THE best. The Asadero Tacos are the ultimate taco bliss with salty marinated beef tenderloin, melty grilled asadero cheese, and some crazy flavorful peppers and onions to round everything out. Matt’s may not be the most sophisticated restaurant on our guide, but it will cure any Tex-Mex craving, guaranteed. Pro tip: Matt’s El Rancho is a huge restaurant but is often packed and parking can be tricky. Get there before 6 p.m. to avoid long waits.
A South Austin restaurants guide simply wouldn’t be complete without at least one food truck, and we love everything coming out of Soursop. An Asian-fusion pop-up by Spicy Boys Fried Chicken, Soursop’s menu is—you guessed it—mostly based on fried chicken, and we aren’t mad about it. The chicken is fantastic, sandwiched or not, and the house-made tater tots with Thai basil ranch are not to be missed. Add a spacious patio into the mix, and it’s clear that Soursop is a South Austin winner.
19. Juliet Italian Kitchen
Juliet Italian Kitchen, one of the best South Austin restaurants, features solid Italian classics in a gorgeous, moody interior space with a patio made for weekend brunch. Juliet is a fantastic place to celebrate a birthday or an anniversary—because nothing says “love” quite like a giant plate of housemade pasta. Pretty much anything with the parmesan cream sauce is worth ordering, and please, please don’t forget the calamari with fried lemon wheels.
18. June’s All Day
June’s All Day is a very popular, well-loved establishment which hails from the McGuire Moorman Hospitality Group (Swedish Hill, Jeffrey’s, Clark’s Oyster Bar, Elizabeth Street Cafe, etc.). The food at this South Austin restaurant is delicious, albeit a tad pricey, and the beautiful ambiance and restaurant is sure to impress locals and tourists alike. Get the croque madame or buttermilk pancakes for brunch, the fried chicken sandwich if you’re there for lunch or dinner, and never leave without a marshmallow fluff brownie (you can thank us later).
17. Cafe No Se
Located in the South Congress Hotel, Cafe No Se is a lunchtime dream with a seasonal menu full of lighter fare (salads, sandwiches, bowls) plus some heartier entrees (the harissa chicken milanese is spicy perfection). Their gorgeous interior is designed impeccably—it’s light and hip and a touch moody all without trying too hard. Cafe No Se is truly one of the very best South Austin restaurants.
16. East Side King
Austin has its fair share of casual Asian-fusion restaurants, and East Side King is definitely one of our favorites. Their menu offers buns, a fried chicken sandwich with green curry mayo, crazy-flavorful specialty rice, and, of course, bento boxes to try a bit of everything. From crispy, perfectly salted fried beets, to tangy, umami-packed glazed brussels sprouts—East Side King does vegetables right and is a great option for vegetarians.
15. Fresa’s Chicken al Carbon
Fresa’s is the perfect place for everyone—go early enough, kids are more than welcome, go late enough and enjoy a romantic celebration dinner out on the patio. The Tex-Mex-ish menu at this South Austin restaurant is inventive enough to stray from the humdrum that traditional Tex-Mex restaurants can get trapped in, but isn’t so crazy that visiting in-laws who shy away from “spicy” would be intimidated. The chicken is always moist and smoky, the grilled sweet potatoes with poblano ranch the perfect pairing, and please don’t forget a glass (or two!) of the hibiscus agua fresca. Oh, and a pint of honeycomb ice cream for the road is simply a must!
14. Home Slice Pizza
Home Slice Pizza is not only one of the best South Austin restaurants, but also serves some of the very best pizza in town. You’re here for the authentic, New York-style pizza with crispy-on-the-outside, fluffy-on-the-inside slices that you can enjoy in house or for takeout next door at More Home Slice. Our favorite pie here is the margherita, made with fresh mozzarella, diced Roma tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, and basil.
Polvos is one of our favorite South Austin restaurants for delicious tacos. You can order just about any Tex-Mex dishes your heart desires, but the thing to get here is unquestionably the tacos. Polvos makes both their flour and their corn tortillas from scratch, and the filling options are absolutely delicious. The breakfast tacos are simple and delectable (get the chorizo or bacon with eggs and potatoes), but if you want something more suited for lunch or dinner we love their steak taco as a close second.
TLC’s specialty is seafood boils served in an easy-going, bring-the-whole-family atmosphere. The boils (gulf shrimp, snow crab, Maine lobster) come choose-your-own-adventure style: pick a flavor, a sauce or two on the side (drawn butter and habanero honey are a must!), and baby red potatoes and corn, of course. Beyond the boils, TLC’s menu is chock-full of Texas/Southern fare, and flavor is most definitely the priority here. The Fried Green Tomato BLT is a BLT perfected. Grab a picnic table and an order of candied bacon deviled eggs to go with a Texas gulf shrimp boil for the ultimate summer patio experience.
11. Carpenters Hall
Looking for an uber-cool, casually sophisticated spot for a girls’ night out? Or maybe the perfect spot for a sunny lunch on a swanky patio? Carpenters Hall is one of our favorite South Austin restaurants for all of the above. Just across the river from downtown, Carpenters Hall is located inside the boutique Carpenter Hotel, which has some seriously amazing post-war, mid-century vibes. The menu is small, but the quality and flavor here are top-notch, and the atmosphere cannot be beat. We’ll forever be dreaming about their turkey club on milk bread.
10. Odd Duck
Odd Duck is another establishment that doubles as not only one of the best South Austin restaurants, but one of the best restaurants in town. This farm-to-trailer turned farm-to-table restaurant serves delicious New American cuisine with a generous dose of Southern Flair. Menus change frequently but recent favorites include the country fried chicken on a bourbon pecan waffle for brunch and their dinner menu burger made with a dry-aged wagyu burger, goat chili, pimento, tostada, spicy greens, and cabbage.
When two of the best chefs in town come together and create a restaurant together, it’s bound to be good. But the food at Loro isn’t just good, it’s downright delicious. From Aaron Franklin of Franklin Barbecue and Tyson Cole of Uchi, everything served at this Asian smokehouse is executed brilliantly. Start with the brisket burnt end candied kettle corn (don’t knock it ’til you try it) and for entrees get the beef brisket sandwich or the Maalaysian chicken bo ssaam. Also not to be forgotten is their killer happy hour menu with favorites like the Loro cheeseburger and the chicken karaage.
8. Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ
Valentina’s Tex Mex is about as south as you can go before exiting Austin, but the food here is truly swoon-worthy and it’s no doubt one of the best South Austin restaurants. This family-owned-and-operated business serves some of the very best barbecue and Tex-Mex cuisine in town, with a menu that spans from breakfast tacos to authentic barbecue platters to rotating burger specials. If you can only eat one thing from Valentina’s, get the Real Deal Holyfield breakfast taco, made with tomato serrano salsa, fried egg, potatoes, bacon, and your choice of brisket or pulled pork (get the brisket), all served on a delectably fluffy and homemade flour tortilla.
7. Elizabeth Street Cafe
Elizabeth Street Cafe on South First is a South Austin staple. A Vietnamese cafe with to-die-for French pastries, Elizabeth St. offers tons of banh mis, traditional noodle bowls, and pho served in quite possibly the most quaintly sophisticated space complete with patio. Every time we return to Elizabeth St. Cafe, we are impressed. We have no doubt you’ll want to get your hands on their cookbook immediately after you take your first bite.
Mattie’s serves the very best brunch in Austin, let alone South Austin. At first glance, you’ll be smitten by this 19th century home situated on a beautiful 23- acre historic property (Green Pastures). But the ambiance and setting is just the beginning—the food at Mattie’s is truly the star of the show, with brunch classics served to perfection like buttermilk biscuits, french toast with berries, and (our favorite) fried chicken eggs benedict. Make reservations for an elegant weekend brunch and savor every last bite.
Located in a charming old house in the heart of South First, LENOIR features seasonal Texas produce throughout its small-but-well-rounded menu. LENOIR is quaint, and you’ll need a reservation, but goodness, what a treat! Quality and intention shine through each and every crafted bite at this South Austin restaurant. Not only is the food great, but the service is impeccable, offering spot-on recommendations and just the right amount of attention without hovering. The menu rotates almost weekly and with the seasons, but whenever you choose to visit, it’s important to start with the housemade pullman bread. And if you don’t know what to order (because everything sounds good), we highly recommend the “let us take care of you!” chef’s choice option. Satisfaction is guaranteed.
4. Ramen Tatsu-Ya
Ramen Tatsu-Ya is a quintessential dining spot in Austin, and thankfully you can snag their delicious bowls of heart-warming ramen at North, East, and (you guessed it) South Austin. The setting here is fast-casual and every component of the ramen is delicious, from the broth to the noodles to the various toppings. If it’s your first time dining at Ramen Tatsu-Ya, one of the best restaurants in South Austin, get the Tonkotsu Original, made with pork bone broth, braised pork belly, seasoned ramen eggs, woodear mushrooms, and scallion.
3. LeRoy and Lewis Barbecue
Looking for the very best barbecue in South Austin? Head straight to Leroy and Lewis, a smoked meat trailer that serves new school barbecue with old school service. Think innovative cuts of beautifully smoked meat like beef cheek, bean and cheese sausage, mac and cheese stuffed quail, and pulled whole hog with sides like kale caesar slaw, pig skins, and bbq fried rice. It’s the perfect combination of the juicy, nostalgic barbecue experience that we all love, made better with more flavor, more texture, and more flair.
2. Evangeline Cafe
Oh, Evangeline Cafe. The quintessential hole-in-the-wall cajun gem. Nothing fancy, nothing pretentious at this South Austin restaurant. But WOW! We cannot get over the amount of flavor perfection in every single bite. Start with an order of french roll pistolettes (stuffed or not, either will quite possibly be the best thing you eat all month long) while glancing over the menu. Ask for a recommendation and the server will likely rattle off the entire menu—everything is that good. Evangeline Cafe is a bit of a trek, but honestly, we couldn’t recommend it enough.
Do a quick online search for the best restaurants in Austin and Uchi will no doubt top almost any list you can find, especially among South Austin restaurants. We’re here to tell you that Uchi is 100% worth every ounce of hype it gets. Opened in 2003, Uchi features extremely creative Japanese dishes that are so far beyond sushi and sashimi (though they do both of those well, of course). Quality is definitely king here—the composed plates shine brightest, but with a large seasonal menu, trying a bit of everything is the way to go. Uchi’s price point is on the higher side, but don’t let that scare you away. A must-do for any food lover, Uchi has even expanded to several other cities throughout the US, along with Uchiko, its sister restaurant. Get yourself a reservation and enjoy the very best restaurant in South Austin.