An Engineer's Guide to Austin Restaurants
Due in part to the presence of the University of Texas, Austin has a very laid-back attitude towards dining and entertainment. You can go into almost any restaurant without being made to feel uncomfortable about your attire, whether you prefer blue jeans or bow ties. Also, Austin has quite a few places you can go if you want Enchiladas Rojas or a decadently rich slice of cheesecake at 3 a. m. We've got more restaurants per capita than the rest of Texas, and Texas has more per capita than the rest of the country. You can find just about anything you want to eat in Austin.
Austin has a city ordinance that requires non-smoking sections in all food establishments that don't derive most of their income from alcohol sales. This means that the Broken Spoke and Maggie Mae's can be smoke filled dens, but that just about every other place on this list has some fresh air.
The restaurant descriptions below are grouped in broad categories by what I feel is the main focus of each establishment. Many of the restaurants are located in clumps around frequently travelled areas or along major thoroughfares. Some such locations are on sixth street between I-35 and Congress (the nightclub district), along Guadalupe near the University of Texas, along Barton Springs Road between Congress Avenue and Robert E. Lee, Congress Avenue between the river and the Capitol, on Riverside Drive between I-35 and Pleasant Valley Road, and, less densely, along Ben White Boulevard and I-35.
[The figures in square brackets denote the date of a recent visit, when I remember to note such.] Restaurants in Boldface I have visited, others I have yet to visit. (I haven't managed to carry this over to HTML from FrameMaker yet.)
For a more general net.view of Austin Restaurants, try here.
William J. Watson, 5 November 1993 [In process of update... and in need of substantial revision.]
There's an index at the end of this guide.
A few years ago, the Austin American-Statesman caused a stir when they reported that Austin had more Chinese restaurants than Mexican restaurants. It turned out that the figures they used came from the Texas Restaurant Association, who reported only the number of members of their organization in each category.
Azuma closed in December 1992, due to the widening of US 183 and the owner's desire to retire.
Asian Restaurant 911 West Anderson Lane 452-5143
Good Chinese and Vietnamese cuisine with formica-and-linoleum-tile atmosphere.
Azuma Express 2501 West Parmer Lane 834-9304
Azuma features sushi, teriaki chicken, sukiyaki and a few side dishes in a "fast-food atmosphere." I haven't visited Azuma since the founder died (21 December 1994), but before that, Azuma had good prices and fairly good food.
Bangkok Cuisine 9041 Research Blvd. 832-9722
Bangkok Cuisine has a wonderful all-you-can-eat lunch buffet, and I could stuff myself every time I visit. This is a fairly up-scale strip center restaurant, with statuary and big chunks of crystal adding to the decor. The food isn't as hot as Thai Kitchen, but there seems to be more stylistic variation. You can get curries and coconut milk based dishes that cannot be matched elsewhere in Austin. Try the Special Bangkok Cuisine Butterflies.
Bombay Grill Indian Restaurant 3249-3 Bee Cave Road 329-0234
Another good Indian restaurant, the first Austin pseudopod from a Dallas operation. [5.11.92]
China Buffet 7301 Burnet Road 459-1600
China Buffet features a very large number of dishes in their buffet for both lunch and dinner at reasonable prices.
Chinatown 3407 Greystone Drive 343-9307
Chinatown 2712 Bee Cave Road 327-6588
Chinatown is two of the best Chinese restaurants in town. The one on Loop 1 (between Far West and Anderson Lane), is the easiest to find and reach. It's a bit on the "nicer" side, with entrees starting at about $8. An review posted at the Far West location suggests that the Bee Cave Road location has a more formal atmosphere.
Chou Down Stir Fry Bar 117 San Jacinto Blvd. 476-3938
Downtown center for Mongolian Barbecue
Kim Phung Restaurant 7601 North Lamar Blvd. 451-2464
Korea House Restaurant & Sushi Bar 2700 West Anderson Lane #501 458-2477
Your only source for authentic Korean food in Austin, Korea House is hidden on the inside face of one of the buildings of a group. Look at their map in the phone book if you don't want to wander around looking lost. The food is good, and the prices inexpensive. A coworker has described their reduced price sushi (Sunday through Wednesday) as the best sushi bargain in town. [5.12.92]
Kyoto Japanese Restaurant & Sushi Bar 315 Congress 482-9010
Kyoto II 4815 West Braker Lane 346-5800
Kyoto's Congress Avenue location used to house a hardware store, and a friend of mine says she finds it hard to get used to sushi in the plumbing section.
Mister Wasabi 215 East 6th Street 469-0477
Reported to have very fresh sushi, but slow service
Mongolian Barbeque 9200 North Lamar Blvd. 837-4898
The only remaining source for Mongolian Barbecue in town. This is basically fresh stir fried oriental food prepared on a large cooking surface in the corner of the dining room while you wait. You select the raw ingredients, including spice sauces, from a buffet. Lunch is only $5. [22.10.92]
Sushi Dokoro Musashino 3407 Greystone Drive 795-8593
Downstair from Chinatown. Reputed to use very fresh fish, large ill-constructed sushi, and high prices.
Seoul Sushi Bar & Restaurant 6400 South 1st Street 326-5807
Korean food and sushi
Osaka 13492 Research Blvd. 918-8012
Another Japanese food and sushi house, with service described as "very disappointing" on the net and food at the same level or "average for Austin."
Passage to India 3023 Guadalupe Street 477-7766
The lesser of Austin's Indian restaurants, Passage to India has been largely eclipsed by Taj Palace. I'm told that a few of the dishes are prepared better at Passage to India, but they are in the minority, and don't compensate for the abysmal service or atmosphere.
Pao's Mandarin House 800 Brazos Street 482-8100
Pao's has a reputation as one of the best Chinese restaurants in Austin. I've not been often enough to be able to say definitively, but the do serve good food. Weekday lunches must be awfully crowded, but weekday dinners are very quiet. I've recently found the reason for their reputation: Pao's has at least two different menus. If you know to ask for the Chinese menu (and can read it), you can get a wider variety of special dishes, which some claim no other restaurant can match. [~1.92]
Sakura Mo Mo Yaki 220 East Anderson Lane 339-8566
More fast-food sushi.
Satay Ltd. 3202 West Anderson Lane 467-6731
Satay has Thai food, but they also have Malaysian and Indonesian dishes. This gives them a more general South East Asian menu than anywhere else in town. It's sort of midway between Bangkok Cuisine and Thai Kitchen on the formality scale, and probably runs more expensive than either of them. While the entrees aren't large, they're very good. This isn't a place to come when you're ravenously hungry, but rather a place to enjoy the subtler nuances of Asian food. The Thai food here tends to be milder than that at the other two Thai places in town.
Sea Dragon 8776-B Research Blvd. 451-5051
Good Chinese and Vietnamese food...
Shogun 1807 West Slaughter Lane 292-1580
Shogun is reputed to have good cooked Japanese food and sushi, but without the "top of the line" types of suchi found elsewhere in town.
Taj Palace 6700 Middle Fiskville Road 452-9959
Taj Palace 4141 South Loop 360 447-1997
Once again, Austin has an alternative to Passage to India. This time, the alternative is substantially better. The menu is large, and the food very well prepared. My dining companion suggested that the Sag Paneer (?) was better at Passage to India, but that was only because theirs is exceptional. Prices run from about $6.00 for a simple vegetarian entree, to $26 for the "Maharaja dinner for two." The atmosphere is light, open, and clean, without being noisy. The lunch buffets are a good deal (even Saturday!), giving you many choices at a good price. However, the lunch buffet is very popular, so be sure to arrive early. [11.92]]
Thai Kitchen 3437 Bee Cave Road 328-3538
Thai Kitchen 803-A East William Cannon Drive 445-4844
Thai Kitchen serves very good Thai food, and has added a new "super hot" section to the menu. While I like spicy food, I think that I can live without dishes that stay burning in my gut into the next day. I'll probably never try the "Nuclear Shrimp" or "Never Again." The one and two star dishes can be quite hot enough for me, thank you very much. They used to have less than half the space they have now on William Cannon, and they got enough business that they opened a second, more central location on Bee Cave Road. Lunch specials start at $3.75, entrees run $5 to $12 (for steamed whole fish). Monday through Thursday, 11:00 - 2:30, 5 - 10; Friday & Saturday, 11:00 - 2:30, 5 - 11; Sunday 5 - 10. [27.11.92, 10.6.93]]
Tien Hong 8301 Burnett Road 458-2263
Tien Hong is one of the many fine Chinese restaurants in Austin. In addition to excellent entrees, they have a good lunch special, and Dim Sum on Sunday morning. [9.92] [25.10.92]
Tokyo Steak House 3563 Far West Boulevard 346-3112
Tokyo Steak House serves Americanized Japanese food cooked before you at your grill-top table. It's a bit more expensive than the other Japanese places in town, but you're buying entertainment as well as dinner. [16.12.91]
Twin Dragon 9717 North Lamar Blvd. 832-8393
Twin to Sea Dragon, also has good Chinese and Vietnamese food.
Zorba the Buddha 1701 Toomey Road 474-2247
Austin's only macrobiotic restaurant.
For something different, you could try Mongolian Barbecue in the Asian section.
Artz Rib House 2330 South Lamar Blvd. 442-8283
Described on the net in glowing terms...
County Line on the Hill 6500 W. Bee Caves Road 327-1742
County Line on the Lake 5204 Ranch Road 2222 346-3664
The County LIne is one of the main competitors for best barbecue in Austin. The decor is more formal than many people might think appropriate for a barbecue joint (plush carpets, and dark wood everywhere). I guess I should call this more of a restaurant, as they wait a while before bringing your orders, even though the meat has been cooking for about 12 hours. The "hill" location has a great view of the Texas Hill Country, and the patio's great for sunsets.
Drugstore Cowboy Barbeque 11800 North Lamar Boulevard 834-1858
North Carolina style Barbeque is based or rapid cooking and a pepper/vinegar sauce. It's a distinctly different from all other barbecue in Austin. I haven't visited since the name change from Cap'N Tom's, but I understand the menu didn't change appreciably as a result of bankruptcy.
Green Mesquite BBQ 1400 Barton Springs Road 479-0485
While I don't think the barbecue here compares to the Iron Works or County Line, it's still pretty good. As compensation, Green Mesquite sometimes has Gumbo or Red Beans and Rice, and features live music in their beer garden on weekends.
The Homestead Bar-B-Q 5808 Burleson Road 447-1600
I have yet to make it to The Homestead when they were open, but it's supposed to be one of the best in Austin. They close at 6:00 Monday through Friday, and at 3:00 pm on Saturday.
The Iron Works Barbecue 100 Red River 478-4855
The Iron Works has some of the best barbecue in Austin. It's located in a former blacksmith's shop, and displays some of the smithy's decorative pieces. This is a very informal place, with rolls of paper towels on the tables for use as napkins. However, it's only open on weekdays, so you better hustle if you want to give it a shot. Be warned, a two-meat plate has a full serving of each of the two meats. [22.9.92]
Ruby's Barbeque & Catering Co. 512 West 29th Street 477-1651
Ruby's has the best selection of side dishes of any of the barbeque joints in town. They serve the class of barbecue that I care less for, but you might like them. Ruby's serves "hormone free" beef.
The Salt Lick Ranch Road 1826, Driftwood, TX 444-8687
The Salt Lick is located about 20 miles southwest of Austin on RR 1826. The barbecue sauce is pineapple-based, and was developed by the Hawaiian wife of the founder. The quality of the food has declined somewhat since he died, but the "atmosphere" can't be beat in the springtime. Hordes of Hummingbirds flock to the feeders around the building, and the smell of the blooming flowers wafts through. The Salt lick has no air-conditioning, which may bother some people. Also, the Salt Lick is located in a dry county, so you need to bring your own beer.
For a better and more complete listing, try the
Austin Brewpubs page or the
Austin's Drinking Establishments listing.
The Armadillo Brewing Company 419 East 6th Street 322-0039
I've never visited The Armadillo Brewing Company, but I can quote their Yellow Pages ad: "Fresh Brewed Beer & Great Texas Cookin'."
The Dog and Duck Pub 406 West 17th Street 479-0598
Looking for an English Pub? In Austin? Go to the Duck and Dog. They have 17 varieties of beer on tap, served in Imperial Pints (20 oz.). I haven't tried their entrees (Fish and Chips, Bangers & Mash, etc.).
Maggie Mae's 512 Trinity Street 478-8541
Maggie Mae's claims to have the largest selection of bottled beer in town. They're located in the 6th Street nightclub district.
Scholtz Garten 1607 San Jacinto 477-4171
Scholtz' opened over a hundred years ago and is still going strong. They also serve Texas favorites and a few German dishes.
Waterloo Brewing Company 401 Guadalupe Street 477-1836
The first "brew-pub" to open under Texas new alcohol regulations, Weaterloo is said to have good, if pricey, food, and good beers.
Also check out the entry for the Kerbey Lane Cafe ("Whatever" category), Hudson's (Burgers) and La Fonda San Miguel's Sunday Brunch (Mexican). I've also heard advertisements for Mexican breakfasts at Manuel's, but they only serve it on weekdays.
Las Manitas Avenue Cafe 211 North Congress Avenue 472-9357
Try to make it to Las Manitas for a Mexican breakfast, particularly if you've never had one. The prices start at about $3.50, and you get lots of food. They make it up if you order fresh squeezed orange juice at $1.50. If you go late Sunday (after 10:30), you may have to share a table, as the after-church business is very heavy. It's worth it. [14.10.90]
Magnolia Cafe 2304 Lake Austin Boulevard 478-8645
Magnolia Cafe 1920 South Congress 445-0000
The Magnolia Cafe on Lake Austin Boulevard used to be known as the Omelettry West, and it still carries on the traditions after the partners split the business. Wonderful inexpensive breakfasts served any time. I always get a short stack of Gingerbread Pancakes as the side dish with an omelette. Try to get there before the church crowd on Sundays, unless you want to wait.
The Omelettry 4811 Burnett Road 453-5062
The Omelettry is about my favorite place to go for breakfast in Austin. You can get a wonderful omelette with a short stack of pancakes (buttermilk, whole wheat, or gingerbread!) for about $4 to $5, or a simpler breakfast for only about $3. The Omelettry is also open for dinner. [10.10.92]
Chili's Grill & Bar 9070 Research Boulevard 451-6229
Chili's Grill & Bar 4236 South Lamar 441-1899
Chili's Grill & Bar 7629 North I-35 454-8747
I've been eating at Chili's since 1979, and I think it's one of the best burger places around. You get free refills on soft drinks, and one free refill on chips and salsa. If you're not in the mood for a burger, you can get pretty good fajitas, soft tacos, or chicken salads at Chili's.
Fuddrucker's 4024 South Lamar Boulevard 444-8202
Fuddrucker's is the place to go if you want big "juicy" hamburgers. I find I don't really care for it, but others do, so...
Hudson's Grill 8440 Burnet Road 458-5117
Hudson's serves pretty good hamburgers in 50s-style atmosphere. They have a fish-burger, in addition to the more typical chick and beef versions. Hudson's also serves fairly standard breakfasts (omelettes, pancakes, waffles, etc.)
Hut's Hamburgers 807 West 6th Street 472-0693
Hut's has been in business since the 40s, and has tried to keep from being current in its decor. There are more than a dozen different kinds of burgers, and you can get buffalo or chicken instead of beef for a nominal charge. I've been trying to work my way through the combinations, but it'll take years. [23.11.92]
Hyde Park Bar & Grill 4206 Duval Street 458-3168
Burgers, Buttermilk-battered french fries and large sandwiches. Inexpensive.
Mad Dog and Bean's 512 West 24th Street 472-2676
Cheap burgers near the UT campus.
Martin's Kum-Bak 2808 Guadalupe Street 478-0413
Dirty's serves standard greasy-spoon burgers, fires, &c. A stalactite of grease hanging from the drain has been described to me. Some folks like the fountain drinks or fries. Eat here once so that you can say you've done it.
The Waterloo Ice House 1106 W. 38th Street 451-5245
The Waterloo Ice House 600 North Lamar Blvd. 472-5400
The Waterloo Ice House serves burgers, chili, gumbo, chicken fried steak, meatloaf, and several other standard items. The food is OK, and the prices fairly cheap. The 38th and 6th Street locations feature live folk music on many weekend evenings. Usually, the kitchen shuts down about the time the band starts. There's a separate cover charge. Beer is available on tap. [1.90]
You might also check the entries for Martin Brother's (Vegetarian), the Kerbey Lane Cafe (Breakfast), and Cafe Mozart (North European).
Amy's Ice Cream 3403 Guadalupe 458-6895
Amy's Ice Cream 10000 Research Boulevard 345-1006
Amy's Ice Cream 2308 Lake Austin Boulevard 479-8803
Amy's Ice Cream 1012 West 6th Street 480-0673
Amy's Ice Cream 3300 Bee Cave Road 328-9859
Amy's serves the best ice cream available in Austin. They're such stiff competition that two other ice cream chains have gone out of business trying to compete with them. You can get "Crush'n's" of nuts, cookies, fresh berries in season, or candy mashed into your ice cream if you want something beyond the selections available when you visit. The atmosphere is a bit loud and student-oriented, but you can sit outside to eat your ice cream.
Chez Fred 1014 Walsh Tarleton Lane 328-9187
Chez Fred 9070 Research Boulevard 451-6494
Chez Zee 5406 Balcones Drive 454-2666
Chez Fred and Chez Zee used to be the same company, but they had problems paying their taxes and sold off one location. The desserts are to die for. Entrees are "nice" and inexpensive to moderately priced.
Colorado Street Cafe 705 Colorado Street 479-6346
The Colorado Street Cafe serves some fine desserts, and their entrees aren't bad either. You can often find a "two entrees for $10" coupon in the Austin American Statesman movie or TV section. Otherwise, prices start at about $6. Daily specials are on the chalkboard, and live folk music is featured almost every night. Monday is usually a Scottish/Irish jam session. Closed Sunday. [8.10.90]
Dr. Chocolate 413 East 43rd Street 454-0555
Dr. Chocolate makes and sells chocolate cast into a wide variety of shapes (bunnies, champagne bottles, tennis rackets, diskettes, LPs, and even typewriters and telephones), as well as chocolate covered nuts, raisins, and cranberries. Dr. Chocolate also has several types of ice cream, which contain so much chocolate that they resemble slurries of ground chocolate more than ice cream. [10.11.92]
Mrs. Johnson's Donuts 4909 Airport Blvd. ?
Mrs. Johnson's Donuts 316 East 6th Street 474-2200
Mrs. Johnson's donuts have been a traditional late night or early morning snack in Austin for some time. They turn out batches of fresh glazed donuts at 9:15 pm and 6:15 am, which you can get while they're still hot. I believe that the 6th street address is just a second location. [17.12.92]
Old Pecan St. Cafe 310 East 6th Street 478-2491
The Old Pecan Street Cafe is located in the sixth Street nightclub district and is mainly known for their desserts. The Entrees are good too.
Some places are blessed with very good Italian restaurants, like San Francisco or Chicago. Austin isn't. Italian food here tends to be lighter and more decorative. Also check out the Brick Oven (Pizza), the Granite Cafe, Sfuzzi's, and Z Tejas Grill (all Eclectic).
Amore's Italian Restaurant ~6301 North Lamar ?
I've eaten a veggie calzone that Amore's served from a portable stand at a concert, and found it quite good. I've not tried their regular location.
Armen's Mediterranean-Armenian Restaurant 2222 Rio Grande 474-2068
Armen's North 12196 North MoPac Expressawy 835-8888
Armen's serves general Mediterranean fare. The prices are higher than you might pay at Ted's (maybe about $8 for an entree), but the menu is more varied. The service is less than energetic. Don't come here in a large group for lunch unless you have lots of time. [?.10.88]. Armen's new north location is only open Wednesday through Saturday.
Basil's Restaurant 900 West 10th Street 477-5576
Voted Most Romantic restaurant in the Austin Chronicle. Reservations and valet parking don't appeal to me much, so I have yet to visit.
Cafe Spiazzo 1014 North Lamar Blvd. 478-7799
Cafe Spiazzo 5416 Parkcrest Drive 459-9960
Fancy light Italian food, moderately priced. Cafe Spiazzo is also relatively quiet, compared to several other Italian places in town.
Jeffrey's Restaurant 1204 West Lynn 477-5584
Another coat, tie, and reservations restaurant that consistently receives very good reviews.
Mama Mia's Ristorante Italiano 8015 Shoal Creek Blvd. 451-0177
Mama Mia's location is not on a major thoroughfare, so the fact that they remain open makes a strong statement. Mama Mia's serves a wide variety of Italian dishes, relying more heavily on spices than artistic presentation.
Milto's Pizza Pub 2909 Guadalupe 476-1021
Pizza, Gyros, and other Greek dishes. Inexpensive.
Mezzaluna 310 Colorado 472-6770
Reservations are definitely in order if you decide to visit Mezzaluna. One time I went here without an advance reservation and was quoted a two-hour wait! The food is pretty good, but the atmosphere is more that of a yuppie bar than I care for. Mezzaluna is popular, though, so others certainly seem to like it.
Mykonos Restaurant Greek Food 7329 Burnet Road 451-0677
Greek food with an atmosphere even more informal than Ted's!
The Old Spaghetti Warehouse 117 West 4th Street 476-4059
The Old Spaghetti Restaurant is a major chain Italian establishment. I think they're overpriced, but other folks like their selection.
The Olive Garden Italian Restaurant 3940 South Lamar Blvd. 440-0130
This chain took over the locations of a Mexican chain, and is a dramatic improvement. You can just about make a meal from the salad and breadsticks. The prices are reasonable, and the food good.
Romano's Macaroni Grill 9828 Great Hills Trail 795-0460
Romano's menu describes their decor by trying to evoke images of a friendly kitchen of an Italian family, with gallon jugs of wine sitting on each table. Perhaps the tile floors would be appropriate in such a setting, but I find the barn-like interior incredibly noisy. Also, the night I visited featured a seafood and pasta entree. I would have thought that a daily special would have merited more attention in the kitchen. Maybe others like their seafood overcooked, though, so who am I to criticize? I intend to pay Romano's a second visit, but somehow it's not at the top of my priority list. [8.92]
Ted's Steak House and Greek Corner 417 Congress Avenue 472-4944
Ted's Steak house is never busy on weekends or evenings, which might leave you wondering about the food or the possible endurance of the place. Put aside any such concerns. Ted fixes good, simple Greek fare, and is swamped with customers during lunch on weekdays. If you want a quiet place where the help won't try to hint that you should be on your way, go to Ted's. Ted follows the European tradition of not bringing a bill, and goes it one further: he doesn't write it down. When you finish, you go up to the register and tell Ted what you had. We're all friends here, right? [10.10.92]
Also check out the descriptions for Mother's (vegetarian), the Kerbey Lane Cafe, and Las Manitas (both Breakfast).
Chuy's Comida Deluxe 1728 Barton Springs Road 474-4452
Chuy's #2 10520 North Lamar Boulevard 836-3218
Chuy's is an extremely popular New Mex-Mex restaurant. You can get your enchiladas in blue corn tortillas here. I don't eat dinner here often, because I don't like to wait 45 minutes to an hour for a table. This place is also rather loud, so if you're looking for a place to have quiet conversation, keep looking. The north location isn't quite as busy as the original location on Barton Springs Road, which means that you can actually get in for lunch with only a 10 minute wait. [29.11.90]
Cisco's Restaurant, Bakery, & Bar 1511 East 6th Street 478-2420
Cisco's established itself long ago as an Austin institution. Newcomers make themselves obvious by asking for menus. [1986?]
El Arroyo 1624 West 5th Street 474-1222
El Arroyo is a good, informal New Mex-Mex place, with both indoor and patio seating. They have good prices on large servings of good food. OK, your cholesterol level will shoot through the roof, just don't eat here daily. The management has been quite rude to acquaintances of mine, and I understand that frat rats make up a majority of the current clientele.
El Azteca 2600 East 7th Street 477-4701
El Azteca is located in the largely Hispanic part of Austin. They have some slightly different versions of familiar Tex-Mex dishes (cactus enchiladas anyone?) and inexpensive prices.
El Patio 2938 Guadalupe 476-5955
El Patio has served the same Tex-Mex food in this location for decades. Some folks think they've never had better. [1985?]
Guero's 614 East Oltorf 447-7688
Inexpensive Mexican fare, unlike most generic Tex-Mex places in town.
Jalisco Bar 414 Barton Springs Road 476-4838
Another Tex-Mex place, this one in the Downtown area. Tequila shots seem to be a specialty.
La Fonda San Miguel 2330 West North Loop Street 459-4121
This is an authentic (Interior) Mexican Restaurant. They take reservations, but I don't have any when suggesting eating here, unless you are on a very limited budget. The cevice is wonderful, and the sauces on the entrees are all delicious. The Sunday brunch is a bit expensive ($16.95), but I've been told that the variety of dishes is intimidating. [11.10.90] [8.10.92] [12.92]
La Reyna Restaurant & Bakery 1816 South 1st Street 447-1280
Another good, inexpensive Tex-Mex establishment. La Reyna is less obviously commercial than El Arroyo, and has recently added a patio.
La Tapatia 1501 East 6th Street 477-1234
Another good east-side Tex-Mex place.
La Zona Rosa 1612 West 4th Street 482-0662
La Zona Rosa is a joint venture of pianist Marcia Ball and her husband, chili magnate Wick Fowler. Lunch specials don't exist here, so you might as well come in the evening when you can listen to a band. Live music is almost as important as the food, and the wait to be seated can be quite long. The Tex-Mex food is reasonably good, and not overpriced. An enchilada dinner runs about $6. [23.10.90]
Manuel's Downtown 310 Congress 472-7555
Manuel's is another good New Mex-Mex place. The food here is fancier, better, and more expensive at El Arroyo, and the decor is much trendier. Manuel's is a place to visit if you like flat black paint and neon lights, or if you want enchiladas with a good mole' (cocoa based) sauce. The dining room isn't very large, so you may have to wait.
Margarita's Restaurant 2190 West Loop Street 458-1832
Don't let the exterior decor fool you. Margarita's serves good "solid" Tex-Mex fare at reasonable prices.
Matt's El Rancho 2613 South Lamar 462-9333
Many Austinites use Matt's El Rancho as the local standard for inexpensive Tex-Mex food. I don't quite see the attraction.
Mexico Tipico Restaurante 1707 East 6th Street 472-3222
Mexico Tipico is another good inexpensive Tex-Mex house, a bit off the beaten path. They serve a wider variety of dishes than most of the rest, with several options for Mexican steaks and Carne Guisada-type dishes.
On the Border Restaurant 10000 Research Blvd. 346-4580
In the former location of Charlie Spooner's, on the Border serves reasonable Tex-Mex food.
Papasita's ~6500 North I-35 ?
Near its corporate cousin Pappadeaux, Papasita's servers Tex-Mex food instead.
Peso's Mexican Restaurant 9515 North Lamar 837-8962
Good inexpensive Tex-Mex in North Austin. Peso's claims to have the best Chili Rellanos in town. They probably have the widest variety, but it's hard to beat La Fonda San Miguel and Mother's in this area. Peso's also has incredibly obnoxious advertising.
Pinch-A-Pollo 7915 Burnett Road 452-3088
Pinch-A-Pollo serves barbecued chicken that you pull off the bones and eat with soft tortillas and a wide variety of salsas. [1987?]
Seis Salsas 2004 South 1st Street 445-5050
Seis Salsas features, guess what, six different varieties of hot sauce to distinguish their inexpensive Tex-Mex food. To try the salsas, you have to pay $2.00 for your chips, however, so beware. [6.12.92]
Serrano's Cafe & Cantina South 321 W. Ben White Blvd. 447-3999
Serrano's Cafe & Cantina North 3010 West Anderson Lane 454-7333
Serrano's Cafe & Cantina Northwest 12636 Research Blvd. 250-9555
Serrano's Pollo 1644 East Riverside Drive 326-4222
Serrano's @ Symphony Square 1111 Red River Street 322-9080
Serrano's @ West Bank Market 3300 Bee Cave Road 327-4100
Serrano's serves pretty good Tex-Mex food. The prices seem quite reasonable (they have lunch specials), the menu is large, and the atmosphere is light and open. The Anderson Lane location was formerly Tortuga's. Serrano's service doesn't compare well to the food, in that it varies from excellent to poor, while the food quality remains consistent. [6.12.91] [8.92] [8.11.92]
Taco Cabana 711 East Ben White 462-0714
Taco Cabana 8620 Rockwood Lane (@Burnett) 458-2211
Taco Cabana is the best fast-food Tex-Mex place I've been to. The prices start at about $4, they're open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and the food's pretty good. The chicken Fajita Salad (#173) is made with dark meat, and is therefore more flavorful than you might otherwise expect. These people even take plastic ("Everything except Discover").
Milto's (Mediterranean) also serves a traditional thin pizza. Also you might try Olives's and Pizza Nizza (Yet to visit).
The Brick Oven 1209 Red River Street 477-7006
The Brick Oven Northwest 10710 Research Blvd. 345-6181
The Brick Oven has a good general Italian menu, featuring pasta dishes, Lasagna, Calzone and pizza. The pizza is of the thin variety, to which I am less partial than the thick, but it's very good nonetheless. You can even get an "Alfredo Pizza", which has Alfredo sauce instead of tomato sauce. The Calzone is sort of like a thin pizza with the sides folded over, making a long filled crust.
Conan's Pizza 2110 East Riverside Drive 441-9103
Conan's #1 603 West 29th Street 478-5712
Conan's #4 2438 West Anderson (@Burnett) 459-3221
I'm a fan of deep dish pizza, and Conan's comes pretty close to the ideal. I like to get extra cheese, but many consider that excessive. The large salad is good, and comes covered with heaps of mozzarella cheese. Non-pizza lovers, can get order good-sized sandwiches at Conan's. I know of at least one person who goes to Conan's and always gets sandwiches. There are slice and salad specials Monday through Friday. Otherwise the pizza runs from $3.56 to $18.31. Sunday - Thursday, 11 am - midnight; Friday and Saturday 11 am - 1 am. Conan's features free delivery. They aren't as fast as some of the other pizza places, but the pizza is much better. Conan's has added thin crust pizza to their menu, and Conan's #4 features a dinner buffet from 5:30 to 8:30.
DeRocco's Pizza 13233 Pond Springs Road 219-0091
A co-worker recommended DeRocco's to me. I have no idea what they're like.
Mangia Chicago Stuffed Pizza 2900 West Anderson Lane 454-5544
For a pizza pie with both bottom and top crusts, try Mangia. The spinach pizza is really very good. Conventional pizza is available here, but why bother? You might do well to look for a coupon. You won't miss their enormous green Godzilla. [30.9.92]
Milto's Pizza Pub 2909 Guadalupe 476-1021
Pizza and Greek specialties.
Olives's Gourmet Pizza 1112 West 6th Street 320-8400
Olive's features a selection of about eight different "gourmet" pizzas, all built on thick cornmeal-based crusts. They use what I've heard described as a "Chicago style" order of layers, with the cheese applied to the crust, followed by the toppings, and (only on some pizzas) dollops of tomato sauce. Considering their cornmeal basis, I found the crusts relatively light. Olive's piled the toppings on generously, but I prefer to have more cheese to hold things together and more tomato sauce. At $9 for a half pizza, I may reserve Olive's for rare occasions when I really need a "different" pizza from the norm.
Pizza Nizza 1608 Barton Springs Road 474-7470
Reputed to be good, and located in the Barton Springs Road strip.
Also check out Katz's in the Late Night section.
Alden's Overstuffed Sandwiches 5300 North Lamar Blvd. 454-6494
Another good local sandwich shop.
Delaware Sub Shop No. 1 107 West 5th Street 473-2319
Delaware Sub Shop No. 2 8105-C Mesa Drive 345-3816
Delaware Sub Shop No. 3 7210 West Highway 71 288-7414
Delaware Sub Shop No. 4 1104D West 34th Street 458-8423
Delaware Sub Shop No. 5? ~1000 West Parmer Lane ???
Delaware Subs is the place to go in Austin if you want a real cheese steak hoagie. Closing time is about 7:00, so don't dawdle. Also, the grill shuts down half an hour before closing time, so if you want a true authentic Delaware-style cheese steak sandwich, you have to hurry. [1.10.92][20.2.93]
Schlotzky's Sandwiches 2205 East Riverside 443-6518
Schlotzky's Sandwiches 115 West 5th Street 474-6808
Schlotzky's Sandwiches 111 West William Cannon 462-2222
Schlotzky's started out as a chain of sandwich shops in Austin, and branched out over Texas before being sold in 1981. The new owners "cleaned up" / "destroyed the character of" the shops, and started national franchising. Schlotzky's still serves sandwiches on round sourdough buns, now in more varieties. These sandwiches provide a break from the standard sub.
Slicer's 3616 Far West Blvd. 345-9466
Another local sub shop, Slicer's originally started out in East Austin, but has moved west over the years. [18.11.92]
Thundercloud 201 East Riverside Drive 447-7696
Thundercloud 4211 South Lamar 443-0960
Thundercloud 2021 East Riverside 445-4163
Thundercloud is one of several Austin sandwich shop chains. They bake their own bread, and stick pretty much to sandwiches. Thundercloud serves bottle beer.
Also check out Azuma Express (Asian), Good Eats' (Texan) daily specials or Dan McKlusky's Restaurant (Steak).
Catfish Parlor 4705 East Ben White Blvd. 443-1698
Catfish Parlor North 11910 Research Blvd. 258-1853
The Catfish Parlor specializes in beer-battered catfish filets fried in cholesterol-free oil. The hush puppies are shaped like tootsie rolls, but good. The Catfish Parlor has an all-you-can-eat special every evening for $8.50. Other entrees run from $4.95 to $9.95. If you don't want fish, but everyone else does, you can get a chicken fried steak or fried chicken. Open 11am - 2pm Monday through Friday, 5pm - 10pm everyday, 11am - 10pm Sundays.
City Grill 401 Sabine Street 479-0817
More expensive, "nicer" seafood restaurant. The prices are moderate to expensive, but $10 off coupons can easily be found for late or early dining.
Gilligan's Seafood & Oyster Bar 407 Colorado Street 474-7474
Jazz, A Louisiana Kitchen 212 East 6th Street 479-0474
I've not been here, but Jazz has been recommended to me.
The Lakeview Cafe 3800 Lake Austin Blvd. 476-7372
Kind of a west-side, slightly "yuppie" place featuring seafood and other dishes.
Landry's Seafood House 600 East Riverside Drive 441-1010
The first branch of a Houston based operation, Landry's offers seafood in the former "Magic Time Machine" location.
Oyster Kracker Seafood Restaurant 911 West Anderson Lane 458-3915
Longevity should mean something, right?
Papadeux Seafood Kitchen 6319 North I-35 452-9363
The moderate to expensively priced dishes are very large, so you might want to share. Good Cajun food, with "Blackened" everything.
Pearl's Oyster Bar 9033 Research Blvd. 339-7444
Pearl's is one of the best places to go in Austin for Cajun food. You can get blackened anything, gumbo, and crayfish in season. The prices are in the $6 to $8 range, and Pearl's feature live music every night of the week.
Ted's Greek Corner and Steak House (Mediterranean) often has steak specials, and the Draught House (Beer) advertises steaks.
Dan McKlusky's Restaurant 419 East 6th Street 473-8924
Dan McKlusky's Restaurant - North 10000 Research Blvd. 346-0780
Dan McKlusky's serves some of the better steaks in town. 6th street gets busy at night (it's the nightclub strip), so parking may be a problem. McKlusky's is open for lunch from 11:00 to 2:00, and for dinner from 5:00 to 10:00 (maybe 10:30 or 11:00 on Friday and Saturday). They're not open on Sundays.
The Hofbrau 613 West 6th Street 472-0822
The Hofbrau serves steaks and little more. Don't expect fancy vegetables or salads here! [1986?]
The Night Hawk Restaurant 6007 N. I-35 452-0296
The downtown location of the Night Hawk opened in 1932, and closed a few years ago after yet another fire. Their I-35 location continues the tradition.
Old San Francisco Steak House 8709 North I-35 835-9200
Major chain steaks for moderate to expensive prices. I believe they accept coupons and have specials, but check the days. It's been a while.
Ruth's Chris Steak House 3010 Guadalupe 447-7884
Ruth's Chris probably serves the best cuts of steak in town. They're mighty proud of them, and charge accordingly. All prices ala carte.
U R Cooks Steakhouse 9012 Research Blvd. 453-8350
U R Cooks will cook your steak for you if you ask. Otherwise, you're on your own on their grill.
"Texas style" cuisine is also know as "southern style", and tends to feature chicken fried steaks, and lots of other fried food. You might also check out the Hole in the Wall and tell me how you like them (yet to visit).
The Black Eyed Pea 3909 South Lamar Boulevard 836-5127
The Black Eyed Pea 9041 Research Boulevard 836-5127
The Black Eyed Pea serves "southern style" dishes, with the traditional overcooked vegetables. Inexpensive to moderate prices.
The Broken Spoke 3201 South Lamar Blvd. 442-6189
The Broken Spoke is known more for "country" dancing (Two Step's and the Cotton Eyed Joe) than their food. The entrees are acceptable, and inexpensively to moderately priced.
Dot's Place 13805 Orchid Lane 255-7288
Dot's serves southern style food from a cafeteria line for lunch only. Despite the inconvenient location (one block south of Howard Lane, east of Burnett/MoPac), Dot's draws a large crowd of IBM employees.
Good Eats 1530 Barton Spring Road 476-8141
Good Eats 10508 North Lamar Blvd. 832-8291
Good Eats 6801 Burnett Road 451-2560
More "southern style" food, but with fresh fish dishes daily. Inexpensive to Moderate prices. The Burnett Road location took the place of Jambalaya.
Lone Star Cafe 4200 South Lamar Blvd. 443-0515
Lone Star Cafe 6406 North I-35 451-9965
Lone Star Cafe 2200 South I-35 445-4344
More "southern style" food, with a variety of desserts in the same style (cobblers and pies). Inexpensive to moderate.
The Texas Chili Parlor 1409 Lavaca 472-2828
If you want to try real Texas Chili (X, XX, or XXX), this is the place to do it. They have a release to sign before you eat the XXX chili. Don't bother coming here if you're a vegetarian. The last time I was here, they had added "yankee chili", with beans. The addition of beans to chili touches on people's religious beliefs, so you might not want to get into an argument over it.
Threadgill's 6416 North Lamar 451-5440
If you've never had Southern Cooking, don't miss Threadgill's. The Chicken Fried Steak is a local favorite, and you can get your dose of Calf's Liver and Onions, or Chicken Livers here, too. The thing that makes Threadgill's stand out from all the other Southern Style restaurants isn't the skill used in preparation of the main dishes, though that's hard to beat. What makes Threadgill's unique is that they actually understand vegetables. The broccoli is served al dente with a chunk of lemon, and even the Lima Beans taste good. I've taken to ordering the 9 vegetable Chef's Choice (a.k.a. the Nine Vegetable Orgy), because you get to enjoy so many at one sitting. Even if you skip lunch, you probably won't have room for any of the deserts that Threadgill's serves. The entrees run $6 to $10, and you'd best get there by 6:30 if you don't want to wait for a table. Be sure to check out the neon on the ceiling of the front dining room if you go. (4.93) Threadgill's has adopted a new menu, with new entrees, new vegetables, and new styles of bread to accompany your meals. On any given day, you can select from two dozen different vegetable side dishes! The only recent change for the worse is that you can no longer specify a salad as one of the vegetables in an "Orgy."[12.91] [31.10.92] [11.4.93] [18.4.93]
Also check out Threadgill's (Texan), The Acorn Cafe, The Castle Hill Cafe, and The Kerbey Lane Cafe (all "Eclectic")...
Martin Brother's Restaurant 2815 Guadalupe Street 478-9001
Martin Brothers serves what a friend of mine calls "new sincerity cuisine." The food here is healthier than anywhere but Mother's Cafe They do close at 12, so you may have to go elsewhere for a late night snack. Martin Brother's changes to a "be seated and we'll bring the menus" format recently, much to the dismay of many. The food hasn't changed, however.
Mother's Cafe and Garden 4215 Duval Road 451-3994
Mother's Cafe is my favorite vegetarian restaurant in Austin. Don't let the idea of vegetarianism scare you off, though, as Mother's has a wide variety of delicious meals, and you'll hardly notice that they don't have meat. (Except for the Barbecued Tofu, that is.) The Lasagna is excellent, and the Chili Rellanos are among the best in town. You can eat inside, or in the enclosed "tropical garden" patio. Mother's doesn't allow smoking. Don't miss the beverages listed on the back of the menu or the specials on the board.
The West Lynn Cafe 1110 West Lynn Street 482-0950
The West Lynn Cafe serves somewhat lighter, "trendier" vegetarian fare than Mother's. The West Lynn tends towards Italian dishes, with Chinese and Mexican thrown in for variety. The food is plentiful, the prices moderate, and the service a little slow. As a result, reservations might be a good idea. Coat and tie optional.
Austin actually has also had an Iraqi restaurant, but reports passed along from folks who tried it (including some native Iraqis) were very negative.
The Belgian Restaurant 3520 Bee Cave Road 328-0580
(L'Estro Armonico Restaurant)
The Belgian restaurant features a limited dinner menu daily. You get a multi-course meal that's reputed to be worth the money. It's a bit on the expensive side, and reservations are probably in order.
Chez Nous 510 Neches 473-2413
Chez Nous serves French cuisine, but has valet parking and probably isn't the kind of place I expect to frequent.
Cafe Mozart 2414 Exposition Blvd. 479-6660
Cafe Mozart serves remarkably light German fare, with amazingly light desserts. Moderate to Expensive.
The Ethiopian Restaurant 9434A Parkfield Drive 836-5363
Good food, and definitely a change of pace. Utensils are available if you don't care for the traditional Ethiopian method of eating. The prices are inexpensive to moderate, and they'll even tell you how you are supposed to eat the food. I've heard Ethiopian food described as hot, but not found it so. Perhaps my palate has simply been desensitized by too much Thai food. [9.10.92. 17.11.92, 20.11.92, 19.2.93]
Gunther's Restaurant 11606 North I-35 834-0474
Gunther's also serves German food, possibly somewhat "heartier" fare than at Cafe Mozart. I've heard mixed reviews of the food, and don't know the prices.
The Paggi House 200 Lee Barton Drive 478-1121
The Paggi house serves "continental cuisine" with "fresh seafood and steaks."
More of the "well what would you call it" places are Chez Fred & Zee, the Colorado Street Cafe (all Dessert listings), the Hyde Park Bar & Grill(Burgers), and the Kerbey Lane Cafe (Late Night). Also check out the Dog & Duck Pub in the Beer section for British food (actually "Pub Grub") and the Belgian Restaurant (Yet to visit).
Acorn Cafe 2602 Guadalupe 472-2816
Inexpensive, short, largely vegetarian menu. Located behind the 7-11. [12.92]
Ballyhoo's Fish Taco Company 1603 West 5th Street 499-8575
Would you believe blackened fish tacos with cabbage and white sauce?
Cafe Chino 12636 North Research Blvd. 335-8888
How about a Tex-Mex/Chinese restaurant?
Castle Hill Cafe 1101 West 5th Street 476-0728
In the former location of the Treaty Oak Cafe.
Eastside Cafe 2113 Manor Road 476-5858
The Eastside Cafe serves dishes with fresh herbs and vegetables from their own garden. They also serves good breakfast dishes, such as Eggs Benedict, crepes, waffles, and Huevos Rancheros. You can tour the garden when you visit.
El Chino 200 East 6th Street 477-3644
Would you believe another Tex-Mex Chinese restaurant?
The Flightpath Coffee House 5011 Duval Street 458-4472
A new "neighborhood coffeehouse.
The Granite Cafe 2905 San Gabriel Street 472-6483
The Granite Cafe is your source for weird pizza. Care for Duck, Eggplant, Chicken, or roast Poblano peppers? Other interesting combinations are available, along with a variety of salads and other lighter fare, moderately priced.
The Hole in the Wall 2538 Guadalupe Street 472-5599
I've heard a couple of the Hole in the Wall's dishes (such as "the reality") lavishly praised, but they're more known for live music featuring new bands.
La Vista Lakeside Restaurant 208 Barton Springs Road 477-1234
La Vista is the restaurant on the second floor of the Hyatt Regency Hotel. Their Fajitas are called the best in Austin. I haven't done exhaustive comparisons, but I can say that they're pretty good. If you are in the area around dusk in the summer, you can watch the hundreds of thousands of Mexican Free Tail Bats leaving their daylight homes under the Congress Avenue Bridge.
Mars Restaurant & Bar 1610 San Antonio Street ?
Mars serves an ecectic variety of food, including spicy Thai dishes. It's a bit noisy, and possibly more pricey than you might expect, but they seem to focus a bit on decor and atmosphere in keeping with their name.
Senior O'Brien's 624 West 34th Street 451-9665
Senior O'Brien's is your basic Irish/Tex-Mex place, with Irish Stew, Black Bean Nachos that you can easily make a meal of, and a special price on Shiner Bock if you can pray in Gaelic. You can get a fly in your trash soup for an extra 25 cents, unless they run out. The name recently changed from simply "O'Brien's Cafe" to make the eclectic menu more obvious.
Rock Isle Cafe 13450 Research Blvd., Suite 230 219-1166
The Rock Isle Cafe features a small but varied menu, including Greek, Lebanese, Cajun, and "Continental" dishes. The Chef used to work at Tandem Computers, but decided he'd really rather run a restaurant where he could cook "all his favorite dishes."
Sfuzzi's IX 311 West 6th Street 476-8100
Sfuzzi's is a bit loud, and seems to be more of a place to be seen than to eat. The food is good, but I prefer to be able to converse with my dinner companions. The prices are moderate to expensive, and the wine list is good (I'm told by someone who has much more of a taste for wine than I).
Z Tejas Grill 1110 West 6th Street 478-5355
Would you believe a cross between Tex-Mex and Italian? Z Tejas starts there and keeps going. Some folks make a big deal of the Chili Fudge Pie, but it's not really all that spicy. Moderate prices.
Also check out the Magnolia Cafe and The Omelettry (breakfast), and Amy's Ice Cream (desserts).
Katz's 618 West 6th Street 472-2037
Katz's is the closest approximation to a New York deli to be found in Austin. The prices are a bit high, and it's a "place to be seen", which may be part of the required ambiance. "Katz's Never Kloses."
Kerbey Lane Cafe 3704 Kerbey Lane 451-1436
Kerbey Lane Cafe South 2700 South Lamar 445-4451
Kerbey Lane Cafe NW 12602 Research Blvd. 258-7757
The Kerbey Lane Cafes are is among the best places to satisfy a 4 am craving for a slice of heavy cheesecake or dinner, as they're open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. (Actually, the NW location closes on weeknights.) The central location seems to be busy at all hours. That is, you always have to wait to be seated, which isn't exactly the same thing. The Kerbey Lane Cafes serve "new sincerity cuisine", with a Tex-Mex leaning. The soups are very good. [8.92, 18.11.92, 4.6.93]
Trudy's Texas Star 409 West 30th 477-2935
Trudy's Southern Star 1000 South Lamar Blvd. 442-4488
Trudy's original location serves southern style and Tex-Mex favorites, margaritas, and other specialties in an informal "college" atmosphere. The north location, "Trudy's North Star" (8800 Burnett Road) has served me a couple of really terrible meals, so I cannot recommend it. I haven't visited Trudy's Souther Star in years.