I don’t make it back to Austin often since I left in the spring of ’16 so, when I returned recently for Eeyore’s Birthday, I made sure to make all the stops I miss most. This is a rundown of those and a few others I couldn’t make it to. Disclaimer: some of these may have changed or disappeared since I moved away.
Every restaurant in Austin that I’ve visited has something special to share; however, a few key locations stand out in my mind for their incredible execution of a particular cuisine.
The revolution starts with breakfast, more specifically with breakfast Tacos, and most specifically at Austin Java. They have a number of locations throughout the city which are all great, but the Barton Springs location is my favorite, since North Lamar closed. I only skip breakfast tacos for Sunday brunch at Bangers.
For lunch I also recommend tacos and my favorite spot is Paco’s Tacos, hands down. If you don’t want to venture that far out of the city, Slake is a great option downtown that always seems to be getting bigger and better. Their Dirtybird sandwich may well be the meaning of life.
For dinner I obviously have to recommend barbeque, which no one does better than Lamberts. Once you have ordered the entire menu there go to Odd Duck and do the same thing, the presentation is especially noteworthy at the latter.
Coffee is basically a religion in Austin, and, between Austin Java’s Texas Pecan and literally everywhere’s cold brew, you will be born again. Another good option is Jo’s on South Congress, which has live jazz every Sunday from 12:30 to 3 pm.
There are literally dozens of bars I could have recommended to get you through the day, but since bars turn over every month in Austin and you probably spent your day on a paddleboard anyway I will move straight to evening cocktails.
Jazz at the Elephant Room is a good option all night. They have live music from 9 until 1:30 am every night. The drinks are standard but the music and atmosphere are unbeatable.
For a classy, intimate cocktail Garage is fantastic. Just far enough off of Dirty 6th, it is a bit quieter than the rest of downtown and has a fantastic menu. If classy isn’t your scene, just go to Cheers Shot Bar and order some Flaming Dr. Peppers, (in the back).
If you like mezcal, check out Whistler’s. It’s on the east side so you’ll need to get a ride, but it’s well worth the trip for the unique hideaway upstairs.
One stop for local arts and crafts you can’t miss is Parts & Labor. They have a huge selection of art and apparel all designed and/or made in Austin. Chances are you’ll recognize a few t-shirts while browsing around.
There is a lot of weird art in Austin and the Austin Art Garage is a good place to find it. If you’re there in November, you can also meet some of the artists at the East Austin Studio Tour, which is also a fantastic way to explore the city.
The best part about a small city with lots of energy is that you really can’t go wrong, it’s all good. Some areas have become very touristy and less Austiny, but even the fast-food chains are respectable. I hope you enjoy your time and discover something new, and then let me know so I can check it out next time I’m back.
Here’s a Map of all the places mentioned.