Years ago, when I’d think of Austin food culture, it was BBQ and Tex-Mex. Now? Food culture in Austin is this beautiful amalgamation of numerous cuisines combined with a love of delectable, cravable, comforting food. That continues to be aided by Austin being one of the fastest growing cities in the nation, situated in the middle of a massive state with so many food influences. Amazing chefs, brewers, farmers, distillers and food innovators are calling Austin home now and continuing to push the envelope when it comes to food, traditional and fusion cuisine, and more. Truly, Austin is in the midst of a food renaissance and I am here for the ride.
If you want to eat out in Austin, be prepared to be a bit overwhelmed. The variety of cuisines in Austin is staggering and the quality of those options is impressive. You can easily find a delectable fish taco if that’s what you’re feeling or perhaps the best brisket around? Is innovative and groundbreaking sushi your jam instead? What about huge, fluffy diner pancakes that are as delicious as you’re imagining? And this is merely scratching the surface.
I wanted to put together a day of indulgence in Austin to not only honor the food culture here, but also support local businesses. One day with ten different stops. The goal was to go from breakfast to late night snack (or supper), all while honoring establishments that are iconic to Austin. This is my list of ten places I’d visit during an Austin Day of Food:
Round Rock Donuts
106 W Liberty Ave
Round Rock, TX 78664
For almost 100 years, people from all over the world have been stopping by to try Round Rock Donuts. This yeast risen donut is famously golden thanks to farm fresh eggs. And just like they did in 1926, their donuts are still hand rolled, cut, fried and iced.
Gotta Try It: Want to keep it classic? Get the Round Rock Glazed Donut. Want to feed a family of ten? The Texas Sized Donut is 14″ wide and bigger than your face. It uses the same amount of dough as 12 of the standard-sized donuts. I know, I know. Everything’s bigger in Texas. But really, this donut is massive.
Quick Tip: Expect to wait in line for one of these tasty treats. It’s well worth it, though. You can use the drive thru or order inside, depending on how much time you have, as well as parking availability.
Other Tasty Treats: The Cream Bismark uses their famous golden dough, and is filled with a white buttercream and then topped with chocolate icing. Not a fan of sweets? Their Jalapeno and Cheese Kolache is absolutely delicious. Well worth the trip for that savory bite alone.
Juan in a Million
2300 E Cesar Chavez St
Austin, TX 78702
Serving Mexican breakfast and lunch in East Austin since 1980, Juan in a Million is known for delicious food and even better handshakes. The food is fresh and also very reasonably priced, making it a staple for college students, as well. That’s how I found Juan in a Million. And just in case this place sounds familiar, but you just can’t place it, you might’ve seen Juan in a Million on Man v. Food. Juan in a Million is home to its own food challenge!
Gotta Try It: Speaking of that food challenge, it’s all about the famous Don Juan El Grande Taco, a warm tortilla covered in eggs, potatoes, bacon and a lot of cheese. Some people say it’s enough to feed a family of four. Either way, I just know it’s delicious.
Quick Tip: I always order 2 extra tortillas for my Don Juan, and then add salsa and queso to the top. So much flavor and such a good value. Since I need to eat fairly low carb, I also sub bell pepper for potatoes. Also, parking can be really challenging, so be prepared to hunt!
Other Tasty Treats: If you want something cold to wash down all that delicious food with, both the limonada and the horchata are really good. Starting with their queso will never steer you wrong. Additionally, their Migas really are so very good. Give it all a try. You won’t be disappointed.
2337 E Cesar Chavez St
Austin, TX 78702
Counter Culture is more than just a restaurant, it’s a revolution. It started as a food truck in 2009, and then with the help of Kickstarter became a brick-and-mortar only 3 years later. Their mission? Transform the world of food by offering healthy, plant-based options at accessible prices. They buy local and organic whenever possible and compost and/or recycle 97% of their waste.
Gotta Try It: Really, any of their teas, juices. They serve Green Minerals by Goldthread. It’s super yum. And really, that’s why I head to Counter Culture. I love their drinks. That being said, they also have a great food menu filled with gluten-free and sugar-free options, since they are very dietary restrictions friendly.
Quick Tip: Order ahead. This place is very popular and somewhat small and even if you’re just heading there for some drinks, you’ll likely find yourself waiting quite a bit of time.
Other Tasty Treats: Kale Orange Ginger juice is a fan favorite. They also have a gluten-free biscuit topped with gluten-free gravy that is really that good.
619 N Colorado St
Lockhart, TX 78644
With over 100 years of tasty barbecue tradition, Kreuz is one of the oldest barbeque restaurants in Texas. Starting as a Texas German meat market in 1875 (and then owned by Jesse Swearingen), Kreuz is now a crown jewel in the middle of the Barbecue Capital of Texas. If you ever find yourself interested in learning more about Lockhart barbecue, definitely read up about Kreuz and Smitty’s and all of the interesting history (and drama). It makes for an excellent read.
Gotta Try It: You definitely need to try the brisket. The moist is really that yummy. They keep it classic with a salt and pepper dry rub and smoke it over post oak wood.
Quick Tip: Be smart about what you order. This place sells their meat by the pound and before you know it, you might order enough for an army. Also, if you’re ordering brisket, make sure to specify if you want lean, moist, burnt ends. Otherwise, you get cutter’s choice.
Other Tasty Treats: My hubby swears by the beef rib. It is massive and feels very cartoonish. Delicious and cartoonish. They also have really delicious sides. The creamed corn was spot on.
Capital City Bakery
2211 E Cesar Chavez St
Austin, TX 78702
Capital City Bakery might’ve started as a home baking business in 2010, but quickly turned into a food truck and then a storefront. Over two years. It’s also women-run and Texas grown! One of the most interesting parts, though? It’s 100% vegan! All their baked goods are made fresh daily, are cholesterol-free, and use a majority local ingredients. Oh, and the boxes are even recyclable.
Gotta Try It: The cupcakes are all really delicious. If you love chocolate, the Fauxstess Cupcake is very tasty. Vegan chocolate cake, cream filling, and chocolate buttercream.
Quick Tip: Order ahead of time for super simple pick-up. This adorable bakery is basically a small house in an awesome Eastside neighborhood, so there isn’t a whole lot of space. Or parking.
Other Tasty Treats: Their faux meat kolaches are delicious. The Buffalo Chicken Kolache was beyond good. And it’s not just good “for vegan food”. It’s really good. The Chocolate Chip Cookie Sammie is delectable, as well.
1300 S Congress Ave
Austin, TX 78704
The South Congress institution is home to the iconic “I love you so much” mural, as well as very good beverages. It opened in 1999 and has been serving tea, coffee, tacos, and the very best in people watching ever since. It’s also notoriously dog friendly, which is a definite plus in Austin. They also support local artists with first Thursday makers shows, as well as live music on Sundays. And if you’re a chili fan, you’ll never want to miss their chili cook off, which started in 2005.
Gotta Try It: So, real talk, I don’t drink coffee. But I love a good chai. And Jo’s has an excellent chai. Whenever I’m in the neighborhood, I must grab an iced soy chai latte (easy ice). And a photo with the “I love you so much” mural.
Quick Tip: Parking is definitely a challenge, so carpool as much as possible and also try to be patient. Same with that iconic mural. People line up for their Instagram post photo, so make sure to be mindful and respectful of everyone waiting.
Other Tasty Treats: Listen, I don’t drink coffee but too many people swear by Jo’s Coffee and their Iced Turbo, so I can’t ignore it. Turbo is their signature cold coffee drink with chocolate, hazelnut, coffee and cream served over crushed ice.
1509 S Lamar Blvd
Austin, TX 78704
Chi’Lantro started as a food truck in 2010. It’s Korean and Mexican fusion and is absolutely tasty. Many years later, and Chi’Lantro is a Asian fusion empire with restaurants, food trucks, and catering. If it sounds familiar to you, you might’ve seen Chi’Lantro on Shark Tank where they got a deal with Barbara Corcoran. They operate under the “Chipotle” method, so you can choose your base (bowl, wrap or ssam, fries) and then add your toppings, protein and sauce(s).
Gotta Try It: The Original Kimchi Fries are 100% fire. They consist of fries, caramelized kimchi, onion, cilantro, their Magic Sauce, sriracha, sesame seeds and your choice of protein. You can choose between tofu, Korean bbq steak, spicy chicken, spicy pork, and soy glazed chicken. I also go with the tofu, You won’t be disappointed.
Quick Tip: Place your order ahead of time, so you can skip the line. And if you are a fries fan, make sure to ask for them well done. They’ll stand up to all the toppings better. If you aren’t a kimchi fan, they also have fresh cabbage which is an excellent substitution.
Other Tasty Treats: Korean fried chicken is delicious, Chi’Lantro continues that tradition with their Korean Fried Chicken Wings. Their sweet chili sauce is really so good. The wings are super crunchy and packed with flavor.
1910 Guadalupe St
Austin, TX 78705
CoCo’ Cafe is a locally owned business that specializes in Taiwainese food and bubble tea. It was a staple for me during my college years at UT Austin and then when I moved to North Austin, their north location became a staple in my mid-20s and on. The food feels authentic and comforting and the service is always spot on.
Gotta Try It: The Taro Smoothie is my signature drink there. I generally get it without pearls, because my body doesn’t like pearls, but definitely try it with pearls for your first time.
Quick Tip: Confirm if they are offering dine in or takeout only before you head their way so you can best prepare for the adventure. Additionally, you can request more sugar, less sugar, more ice, less ice for your drinks, so you can customize as preferred.
Other Tasty Treats: The Green Onion Pie is absolute money. It’s far too delicious and should be eaten in moderation because it’s a substantial amount of food. Thankfully, you can order a half portion, too. The Fried Tofu is also delicious, Especially the peanut dipping sauce. Finally, the Curry Fried Chicken w/ Rice is worth every penny and comes with some pickled cabbage on the side that perfectly adds acidity to a well-balanced dish.
Amy’s Ice Creams
1301 S Congress Ave
Austin, TX 78704
Amy’s Ice Cream started in 1984 and has since taken the Texas ice cream scene by storm. They are probably most famous for their Mexican Vanilla, but with a rotating menu of over 350 flavors of ice cream, dairy-free fruit ices and frozen yogurts, there really is something for everyone. They also offer their diverse list of “crush-ins”, which isn’t the first time an ice cream brand has offered this kind of mixed in add-on, but Amy’s does it with a lot of flare.
Gotta Try It: Sweet Cream is the base for most of their ice creams, so definitely start there and get a feel for their flavor profile. That being said, they really do have so many options to try. Over 350. And then there are all the crush-in flavor combinations, so let your palate go wild.
Quick Tip: Be prepared for what you want to order before you get to the front of the line, because Amy’s is a well oiled machine and they are ready to serve. That being said, they will also offer you samples of the ice cream so you can gauge which flavor is best for you.
Other Tasty Treats: If you are dairy-free (or even if you aren’t), the Vegan Belgian Chocolate is so creamy and decadent and really deserves a second, third and fourth bite.
Kerbey Lane Cafe – Central
3704 Kerbey Ln
Austin, TX 78731
Kerbey Lane started in 1980, serving delicious comfort food out of a small 1930s bungalow in Central Austin. All these years later and it’s still a family owned business serving scratch made food to so many hungry people from around the world. They focus on thoughtfully sourcing their ingredients (from local purveyors when possible), as well as making sure their prices are affordable and accessible. They are also very dedicated to charitable giving, especially back to the Central Texas community who has helped them be the staple they’ve become in the food culture here.
Gotta Try It: The Migas are life. 100%. Don’t pass Go. Don’t collect $200. Just stop at Boardwalk, eat the Migas and enjoy the view. I also love ordering their Orange Spritzer which is a yummy beverage of orange juice mixed with sprite. A great non-alcoholic spritzer option for brunch.
Quick Tip: This is an ideal brunch location but be prepared for long wait times. Check their website and see if you can join the waitlist at that location so you aren’t just standing in front of the restaurant and waiting for an hour+.
Other Tasty Treats: The Cowboy Queso is worth a mention. It’s their famous queso with black beans, pico de gallo and freshly made guacamole added to it. It’s really just good on everything and will likely fill you up before you get to their generous entree portions.