East Austin is definitely a microcosm of Austin as a whole– a little bit gritty, a little bit eclectic, a little bit classic Texas, and a whole lot of amazing food. In doing our research for this guide (read: eating some of the most fantastic food in the city), we were impressed time and again how many thriving brick-and-mortar restaurants have their roots in East Austin, usually as a scrappy food truck. It’s almost as if with enough perseverance, determination, and probably a little luck, anyone can make it here.
The Very Best East Austin Restaurants
Our guide to the best East Austin restaurants aims to feature some of everything and, let’s be honest, so, so much delicious “everything” is going on in East Austin, we just couldn’t narrow it down anymore. So, we bring you 26 of our favorites.
26. Buenos Aires Cafe
Located in the heart of East 6th, Buenos Aires Cafe is a true East Austin restaurant gem. As their name would suggest, Buenos Aires Cafe serves up authentic Argentinian cuisine. Think house-made empanadas served with the most incredible chimichurri, hot and cold sandwiches on in-house hoagie rolls, and dinner entrees featuring beef (Argentinians love their beef!). The dining room is gorgeous and moody and oozes romance for an intimate date night. And any restaurant that has a pastry case filled to the brim with an impressive array of house-made treats right as soon as you walk in immediately has our attention.
If you’re looking for delicious Italian cuisine in an upscale setting in East Austin, look no further than Intero. Situated on Cesar Chavez Street, this locally owned restaurant utilizes as many regional and seasonal ingredients as possible. The patio here is absolutely stunning and the cuisine that’s served is just as picturesque. Menus at Intero change regularly, but we recommend sampling at least one item from each portion of their menu including the snacks, small plates, hand made pasta, and main course items.
24. Tamale House East
A guide to the best East Austin restaurants wouldn’t be complete without Tamale House East: Tex-Mex comfort food at its finest. The food is simple yet delicious, and so perfectly Austin with the accompanying flavors and even a beautiful patio (the famous Magical Secret Tamale House Gardens). The tamales here are truly delicious, with the pork tamale coming in as our favorite, made by the same recipe handed down through the family since Tamale House began on Congress in 1958. Get them smothered in a signature sauce (Tex-Mex chili, verde, mole, or queso) with a side of chips and guac for a completely satisfying and hearty meal. We also love Tamale House East for breakfast. Their migas taco is stellar and the chilaquiles verdes are to die for. We promise if you eat here once it won’t be your last time!
Paperboy has come a long way over the past couple of years. Like so many other successful restaurants in Austin, Paperboy started as a food truck serving a humble menu of breakfast staples (think cinnamon toast and biscuit sandwiches), and has grown into a gorgeous brick and mortar that sits in the exact same location as its original food truck. Along with a new building came a much larger brunch menu that you’ll be hard pressed to pick just one thing from. We recommend the Texas Hash, which is full of braised pork shoulder, crispy kale and sweet potatoes, and an irresistible pecan mole to spice things up a bit. We’ve loved Paperboy from the beginning and are here for whatever they want to dish out next!
22. Sour Duck Market
Home to one of our favorite patios of any East Austin restaurant, Sour Duck Market is a bakery, cafe, and sister restaurant to South Austin favorite Odd Duck. Don’t get us wrong, we love Odd Duck, but Sour Duck Market is a little bit of the best of both worlds– they serve really great, thoughtful food intricately layered with all the flavors and quality in a kid-friendly, relaxed, don’t-need-a-reservation environment. A good portion of the menu rotates with the seasons and the whims of the kitchen, however, there are permanent menu items we love. The Lamb Meatloaf Sando with potato salad on milk bread is a surprising gem and is just the ticket if you’re craving something hearty that’s not just a burger. Speaking of burgers, Sour Duck Market’s is amazing (double smash cheeseburger on a house challah bun, of course), their soft pretzel with queso is fantastic, and we always have to get the featured vegetable side– always the highlight of our meal.
21. Micklethwait Craft Meats
Micklethwait Craft Meats serves some of the best barbecue in Austin from a Comet trailer tucked back in off the road in a grassy little field. Currently open Thursday thru Sunday, the same motto applies here: come early before they sell out! While the meats are delicious (the ribs, both pork and beef, are stellar) the sides are the true shining stars at Micklethwait. The lemon poppy slaw is unique, pairs perfectly with the rich, salty meat, and is our favorite slaw in town. The jalapeno cheese grits are also fantastic and creamy beyond belief. Micklethwait’s even offers family style meals – grab a group of friends to get a little taste of everything.
20. Dai Due
Dai Due is what we consider a delightful cross between a butcher shop and a restaurant– a place where you can come for meat-forward dishes with a special emphasis on ingredients that are regionally available. You’ll see conventional offerings like pork chop or gourmet cheeseburgers, and more unique menu items like grilled quail, or wild borscht confit. Dai Due is open for dinner every night except Monday, and opens for brunch on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday (our favorite). Brunch favorites include the sourdough pancake and biscuits and gravy, and for dinner don’t miss the pork chop and dry-aged wagyu double cheeseburger.
19. Old Thousand
Old Thousand is known for serving American Chinese favorites all gussied up true to eclectic East Austin style. Here you’ll find beloved stand-ins like Beef & Broccoli (made with ribeye and a punchy mustard-soy sauce), Fried Rice (with in-house smoked brisket), and Brussels Sprouts given the Kung Pao treatment (yum!). The General Tso’s Chicken is reminiscent of the version you grew up eating but with a much more robust flavor profile thanks to additions like kohlrabi and fresh tart apple matchsticks. We love the funky yet surprisingly fancy vibe at Old Thousand and definitely consider it one of the best East Austin restaurants.
18. Easy Tiger
While Easy Tiger might be best known in Austin for its amazing hearth-baked bread, Easy Tiger is also a beer garden serving up a menu full of solid sandwiches, seasonal salads, and house-made sausages. Oh, and don’t forget the gorgeous pastries Easy Tiger’s talented bakers make fresh daily. But what we’re here for and can never leave without getting at least one of is the GIANT golden soft pretzel served with beer cheese, mustard, and salted whipped butter (it almost has an angelic glow to it, doesn’t it?). This pretzel is known to cure any bad Monday and is loved by young and old alike. Easy Tiger is our East Austin restaurant favorite when we’re craving some carb-y goodness.
17. Salty Sow
Neighborhood gem Salty Sow is a farm-to-table restaurant serving rustic yet updated and unpretentious eats. Their menu is full of classics freshened up in a way that still feel familiar but with a little extra oomph. Salty Sow boasts amazing service with generous portions and a really great happy hour, which can sometimes mean a drop in quality but is certainly not the case here. The shatteringly crispy and addictive brussels sprout leaves are not to be missed. The fried chicken is everything it should be– salty and crispy with a touch of honey, a side of gravy, and a pillowy-soft biscuit to mop everything up with. Did we mention Banana Foster Beignets? Yeah, they are as good as they sound. Salty Sow is one of our favorite East Austin restaurants to take our “meat and potatoes” parents to ease them out of their comfort zone and into the world of the contemporary American gastropub.
16. Veracruz al Natural
East Austin is chock full of taco trucks, and, though we haven’t tried all of them quite yet, we had a hard time picking just a few favorites. It’s a hard job but someone has to do it, right? One truck we ALL agreed had to be on our guide to the best East Austin restaurants is Veracruz All Natural. Veracruz was started by sisters and best friends Reyna and Maritza who grew up in Veracruz, Mexico and wanted to bring their love of traditional Mexican cooking to Austin. Though they now have several locations, the original truck in East Austin is our favorite to visit. The tacos at Veracruz are simple and classic but never lacking in flavor– think al pastor, barbacoa, grilled steak, fish, and chicken, and some of the very best breakfast tacos in all of Austin. Chef Reyna and Maritza aren’t afraid to mix it up here and there to create something amazing (their birria special was seriously life changing!). Yes, you can find fancier more intricate tacos at other taco joints but there’s something special about the “for-the-people” style that Veracruz does that we keep coming back to again and again.
15. Nixta Taqueria
Another not-to-be-missed taco joint on the East side of Austin Nixta. Nixta’s main focus is definitely on the maiz, the corn they use to make all their tortillas in house. The process they use to transform the corn into tortillas (nixtamalization) is super old school and dates back over 500 years to the Aztecs. Chef Edgar Rico spent years in award-winning kitchens around the country before taking a break to work and eat his way through Mexico. Nixta combines traditional Mexican cooking techniques and flavors with modern American touches. The result is essentially a flavor explosion in every. single. bite. The cauliflower taco with romesco, pine nuts, and queso fresco is a fan favorite, as is anything with refried beans (odd, we know, but they are made with duck fat and are crazy good). The menu is seasonal, so you never know what you’ll get. With their to-die-for namesake tortillas as the star of the show, it’s guaranteed to be delicious.
14. Kerlin BBQ
East Austin boasts some of the best barbecue in town, and Kerlin BBQ is one such place. Kerlin is quite possibly one of the most underrated spots for the barbecue in Austin, but is no doubt one of the best East Austin restaurants. In true form, scoring some barbecue from Kerlin’s can be tricky; they’re only open on the weekends from 11 am to 3 pm or until they sell out, which happens more often than not. Get there early on a Friday afternoon and you’ll be rewarded with buttery brisket, tangy sweet pulled pork, sausages with a really excellent snappy casing, pork belly burnt ends (aka sticky glazed bacon-y deliciousness), and if you’re lucky one of their kolaches (Sunday only).
13. Salt & Time
What’s not to love about butcher shop restaurant Salt & Time? First, their Butcher’s Burger is our top pick for the best burger in Austin— it’s made out of daily steak trimmings and is simply incredible. Next, nearly every menu item features a house made, animal-based specialty (they are a butcher shop after all). From the chevre to the bacon to the salame and the sausages, these in-house delicacies really set Salt & Time apart for their attention to detail and quality among East Austin restaurants. Finally, no matter what meal you’re eating at Salt & Time, whether it’s the Country Style Benedict with hot sauce hollandaise, country ham, and crispy chicken skin for brunch or the Butcher’s Bolognese for a date night dinner, it will be made with care and an impressive attention to detail. And yes, those beef fat fries are a must!
12. Via 313 Pizzeria
Another food truck turned successful brick and mortar is Via 313 Pizzeria. Via has recently started expanding outside of Austin, but they’ll always call their original East 6th location home. Started by two brothers from Detroit wanting to share their love of their hometown’s pizza style, Via has hands-down some of the best pizza in Austin. They bake their thick, chewy crust in rectangular metal pans to achieve the perfect combination of perfect crispy edges and soft, pillowy insides. And, in true Detroit-style fashion, their top-selling pizza, The Detroiter, has two kinds of pepperoni, a layer above and beneath the cheese, with big dollops of red sauce on top. It’s as rich and decadent as it sounds and is so, so satisfying. Via 313 is a great place to share a pizza with family or friends, but be careful how many people you bring along– we promise you won’t want to share those prized crispy edge pieces.
Austin is home to some really excellent Southern-inspired restaurants (we are in the South after all!), and Jacoby’s is high on our list of favorites. Jacoby’s sources all of their beef from their own family ranch located in Central Texas, where it is also cut and dry-aged for a minimum of 21 days. This home-grown difference stands out in some of our favorite menu items: the chicken fried steak served with a puddle of to-die-for black pepper gravy and rich mashed potatoes (transformed into chicken fried steak with waffles during the weekend), and the cheeseburger with fries, which we rated as one of our favorites in all of Austin. It has that perfect crisp on the outside, juicy on the inside patty topped with melty, gooey cheese, and it’s exactly what you’re looking for on a Friday night out. Don’t forget a slice of Grandma Hagler’s Strawberry Cake– there’s always room for a slice of this pink perfection.
Patrizi’s is a handmade pasta food truck with some serious deliciousness going on. Tried and true authentic Italian classics are the name of the game here with recipes and techniques the Patrizis served for 50 years at their family restaurant in Beaumont, TX. While the original brick and mortar in Beaumont is no longer open, the Patrizis have brought their family heritage to Austin via food truck (lucky us!). The menu is small but they’ve covered all their bases with a classic red sauce, perfect cacio e pepe, a luscious carbonara, and ridiculously good garlic bread with whole cloves of roasted garlic on top. The pasta is pulled to order but we promise the potential wait is always worth it. Almost everything comes with a generous shower of grana padano, and 100% we are here for it. Come for a plate of carb-y al dente pasta perfection, stay for some trivia at the Butterfly Bar next door, and leave utterly and incandescently satisfied.
Birdie’s is definitely the newest kid on the block on our guide to the best East Austin restaurants but is destined to be a beloved neighborhood gem. Captained by a husband and wife duo with a culinary fairy tale past (they met while working in the bustling New York City food scene), Birdie’s is a counter-service wine bar with a nod to French and Italian cooking styles. That’s right– no reservations here, so come early and be prepared for a wait that we can guarantee will be worth it. The menu changes daily at Birdie’s and is ultra-seasonal, but if you do happen to visit when the Panisse are on the menu, ordering a plate (or two!) of these crispy chickpea flour fritters is a must. And any wine bar that keeps a chocolate chip cookie as a regular on its dessert menu to, you know, keep things real, has our approval.
8. Bird Bird Biscuit
What do you get when you combine a mile-high flaky biscuit, thick-cut bacon, melty cheddar, and the most glorious bacon-infused chipotle mayo? One of Bird Bird Biscuit’s phenomenal breakfast sandwiches is precisely what you’ll get, and we simply cannot get enough! The biscuits are definitely the star of the show at this East Austin Restaurant, but the fried fresh to order chicken is no sleeper either. Pair the two along with some cayenne black pepper honey and that aforementioned bacon mayo for the Queen Beak, which is basically breakfast nirvana in sandwich form. All-day breakfast for the win!
Award-winning Chef Fermin Nunez brings his vast knowledge of traditional Mexican cooking and flavors to East Austin restaurant Suerte. Suerte means “lucky” in Spanish, but the Mexican-inspired cuisine with an emphasis on using local central Texas ingredients is by no means a stroke of luck. As is the case with so many of our favorite restaurants, the menu at Suerte is seasonal and rotates often, but permanent menu items we can’t get over are the suadero tacos (worth all the hype and every last penny) and the goat barbacoa. But every single thing we’ve tried here has been amazing, you truly can’t go wrong. As if Suerte needed another feather in its cap, their open dining room is gorgeous, featuring carefully curated textiles and art from Mexico. Reservations can be hard to snag but we promise the effort will be worth it.
6. Vixen’s Wedding
Located in the ARRIVE Austin hotel on East 6th Street is Vixen’s Wedding, the sister restaurant to local and Female Foodie favorite LENOIR. Vixen’s Wedding currently offers a prix fixe shared tasting menu featuring flavors from Portugal and Goa (a small seaside state in India) with some Austin flare thrown in for good measure. Before opening its doors, the head chef at Vixen’s Wedding spent months in Goa immersing himself in the rich food traditions of the state, which has a unique culinary heritage since it was colonized by Portugal instead of England. All of this to say that the offerings at Vixen’s Wedding are so full of the most delicious and unique blend of spices, heat, acidity, and freshness (think crab salad with green tomato, a chickpea tamal with sunflower, date, and curry aioli, and the MOST amazing piri piri chicken biryani), we can hardly stand it. Yes, a tasting menu can be more pricey than a traditional appetizer and entree, but the chef-designed meal you will have at Vixen’s Wedding is a culinary experience, not just dinner. We simply can’t recommend it enough.
5. La Barbecue
Austin is swimming with amazing and noteworthy barbecue joints, and la Barbecue is one of the very best. Owner LeAnn Mueller hails from the legendary barbecue Mueller family of Taylor, Texas, so keeping things traditional here is important but with an updated twist. Highlights include the brisket (obviously) and the ribs. La Barbecue’s sides are a step up from other contenders in town. The slaw is one of our favorites and the mac and cheese cannot be missed. Arrive just before opening to avoid long lines or missing out on your share of the brisket.
In a city full of taco trucks, Discada stands out. This is incredibly impressive not just because of the sheer number of other options but because Discada only serves one kind of taco– a “discada-style” taquito filled with a kitchen-sink combination of beef, pork, onion, and bell pepper slowly braised in a tractor plow disc that’s been welded shut to resemble a shallow wok. This technique has been around for generations in Northern Mexico. The guys at Discada have modernized it a bit, gave it a Mexico City street taco spin, and the result is an irresistibly flavorful taquito that might be one of our favorite tacos in all of Austin.
3. Kemuri Tatsu-ya
You won’t find a restaurant like Kemuri Tatsu-Ya anywhere else in the world. This gem of an Izakaya (think Japanese tapas bar) where a fusion of Japanese and Texan menu items are served has everything you want in a great restaurant: killer ambiance, friendly service, and absolutely out-of-this-world delicious food. The goal here is to try as many different menu items as you can comfortably manage from their menu divided up into munchies, raw fish, smoked meats, skewers, exotic items, and dessert. Popular orders include the cornbread taiyaki, guaca poke, smoked brisket, and the hotate. Don’t forget reservations!
Tucked in the heart of the quaint Holly neighborhood is East Austin restaurant Launderette, a chef-driven café housed in a used-to-be laundromat. Launderette exudes a “cool without trying too hard” vibe and would be the perfect spot for a girls’ night or celebratory dinner. The more the merrier at Launderette– the good-sized menu has at least ten things you’re going to want to try, so bring friends for sharing. The Plancha Burger (on our guide for the Best Burgers in Austin) is just simply so good, the Beet Hummus with pickled golden beets and everything cracker hits every texture and flavor with perfection, and a Launderette meal simply wouldn’t be complete without a Birthday Cake Ice Cream Sandwich, currently our favorite dessert in the city. Yes, they are THAT good.
1. Franklin BBQ
Where do celebrities, the President of the United States, and pretty much everyone else who visits or lives in Austin (hello SIX hour line!) go for the best East Austin restaurant which also happens to have the best barbecue in town? They go to Franklin Barbecue. Even if you’ve never been to Austin, you’ve probably heard of Franklin Barbecue. They’ve won pretty much every barbecue award there is to win multiple times. Pitmaster Aaron Franklin won the 2015 James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef along with numerous other accolades. There’s a reason it’s famous: Franklin Barbecue smokes the best meat in town, and it’s 100% worth all the hype. Smoking brisket well is not easily done, and when someone can master that craft like Aaron Franklin has, that six hour line is totally worth it (pro tip: if you know when you’re going to visit, you can skip the line by pre-ordering meat + sides). The brisket truly is perfection, the beef ribs are truly to die for, and you pretty much can’t go wrong with any meat on the menu. The sides are pedestrian, but the meat is so good that this honestly doesn’t matter. So grab your friends, grab your lawn chair and a cooler full of drinks, and brave the line for one of the most quintessential food experiences in all of Austin.