Heading to SXSW (March 9-18 in Austin, Texas)? Don’t forget to stop by the CHOW/Foodspotting Street Food Fest on Saturday to eat with us! And if you feel really ambitious, eat your way through this entire guide on our Foodspotting profile!
Waiting to get into Curra’s for breakfast is actually fun thanks to servers who are happy to deliver the Mexican restaurant’s blended avocado margaritas to the line. When you get in, try the huevos motuleños: eggs served over refried black beans with fried bananas and chipotle sauce.
A butcher shop and farmers’ market stand whose owner is a leader in Austin’s artisanal food movement, Dai Due serves a damn good biscuit and gravy with an entire patty of homemade pork sausage. Good for a hangover!
A local chain of shipping containers–turned-cafés, they serve a strong cup of coffee and world-class croissants (don’t miss the almond) made by baking star Barrie Cullinan.
This tiny East Side taco stand parked in front of a laundromat is a Chowhound favorite for tacos like the barbacoa and the bean and egg, served on fresh, hot, homemade corn tortillas.
810 Vargas Road, Austin
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Arguably Austin’s best barbecued brisket is served in a bright turquoise building that stands out from its residential surroundings. Get there an hour (or more!) before it opens, and get in line. The wait’ll be worth it once you get your giant platter of melting, beefy brisket with white bread, pickles, and a few slices of raw onion.
This restaurant in downtown Austin, a James Beard Award nominee, serves contemporary Mexican food in an airy space. Its outdoor patio is a good place to enjoy a fresh-squeezed margarita and a giant, messy carnitas-stuffed torta ahogada. The latter is served in a bowl of brothy sauce.
The chef-owners of this North Austin shop make virtually everything that will touch your sandwich, including the bread, condiments, pickles, and lunch meats. Don’t miss the Reuben, made with duck pastrami and rye-bread-flavored pickles.
Chef-owner Bryce Gilmore keeps the local-ingredient-driven menu relatively short and totally sharable at this extremely popular restaurant. Order a drink from the well-curated selection of U.S. and Belgian beer and about three plates per person. The menu changes constantly, but any dish Gilmore makes with sweetbreads or eggs is a sure bet.
This almost entirely open-air restaurant in a residential part of town mixes dude-ranch-vibe fire pits and picnic tables with upscale bar food (homemade pigs in a blanket) and fancy cocktails like the “Texecutioner,” a mix of mezcal, grapefruit, anisette, and Cocchi Americano. Good for groups.
If Alice Waters were a thirtysomething steampunk, this is the restaurant she might open. Chef Sonya Cote keeps the unfussy menu locally sourced to create dishes like heritage hog pork chops with apples, served in a room full of cool metal décor hand-welded by the owner. Make sure to start with one of the well-mixed cocktails like a classic French 75 (and come between 5 and 7 p.m. for $5 cocktails!).
The more casual sister of the restaurant Congress may look a little slick on the outside, but it’s fun once you’re inside. The strong, well-made cocktails like the Franco’s Martinez (made with reposado, Carpano Antica, maraschino, and Spanish bitters) are great with Second Bar’s neo–comfort food like chicken-fried olives stuffed with pimento cheese or green chile “chicken and dumplings” soup.
Cough up the cash for the 10-course tasting menu of Japanese food that will blow away your idea of what flavors go with fish. The timing is so efficient that plates come and go from your table at virtually the same time thanks to the army of chefs who put together the psychedelic-looking dishes like salmon with crispy kale, blueberries, Asian pear, and candied quinoa. Short on time and money? Go between 5 and 6:30 p.m. for the Sake Social Hour to try some of the signature dishes for cheap.
You can’t leave Austin without watching a movie at this theater featuring tiered seating that allows for full food and drink service throughout the show. Whatever you get to eat, make sure it starts with chips and queso and one of the local craft brews like a (512) Pecan Porter.
If you’re looking for blast beats and shredding guitars served with a cheap, greasy slice (and, oh, we are), this is your spot. Slapped right in the middle of Sixth Street’s great music-meets-frat-boys-meets-skintight-dress-girls, it’s just the breath of fresh pepperoni-and-hesher-scented air you might need to keep going through the night.
The Liberty Bar on Austin’s East Side has a punk vibe, a huge backyard with picnic tables, and one of the city’s best food trailers out back, put together by Uchiko (see “Dinner and Drinks” above) Executive Chef Paul Qui. Take your drink outside and make a meal of stuff like fish-sauce-marinated nuggets of fried chicken thighs tossed with Thai-style sweet and spicy sauce, cilantro, and mint, or beet home fries covered with Kewpie mayo.