Whether you’re in Austin for SXSW or you’re just in town for a visit, navigating the local food scene can be quite the adventure! Before you embark on your tasty journey through town, here are four places that Austinites love:
If you’re a fan of beer and sausage… Banger’s Sausage House and Beer Garden
Banger’s makes sausages with an Austin-twist. Whether you want a veggie sausage or the more traditional bratwurst, the menu boasts a variety of sausages with equally delicious sides. Their beer selection is very impressive, with over 100 beers on tap, many of which are local.
Try: The Currywurst! Pair it with a local beer like the Austin Beerworks Pearl Snap Pils – a German pilsner available on tap.
Tip: Rainey Street is lined with local bars, restaurants, and food trucks. Park, walk, and barhop.
If you’re craving tacos… Torchy’s Tacos
You’ll have to look elsewhere if you’re craving some traditional Mexican food. On the menu are taco fillings like carnitas, fajitas, and barbacoa, but the real treats are those unconventional combos – like tacos filled with fried chicken, fried avocado, or fried Portobello mushrooms. It doesn’t matter if you’re a meat eater, vegetarian, or vegan, there’s something on the menu for everybody.
Try: Fried Avocado Taco – this taco is a local favorite. And if you have room for dessert, order Lil’ Nookies, deep-fried chocolate chip cookies covered in powdered sugar and topped with cherries. You may need a nap after this meal.
Tip: There can be long waits at peak hours. Order online and have your order ready for you.
If you eat breakfast for dinner… Kerby Lane Cafe
When I was an undergrad at University of Texas, I had many late (early?) meals at the location across from campus. Now as an “adult”, I visit one of their other locations when I’m in need of a breakfast fix in a non-breakfast-appropriate time. They also serve lunch and dinner items, but their pancakes are legendary. All Kerbey Lane locations serve locally-sourced foods and are open 24 hours, so this is a popular hot spot for socially conscious night owls.
Try: Pancake of the day – if you’re lucky, it’ll be peanut butter, nutella, and banana. Mmm…
Tip: The locations closer to downtown and UT campus will be busier, especially during events like SXSW and football games, so choose a non-central location and explore the city!
If you want an experience… The Salt Lick BBQ
Hidden in the beautiful hill country just southwest of Austin, the Salt Lick in Driftwood is my personal favorite BBQ spot. This isn’t your typical restaurant. Drive past the huge dirt parking lot to find a shaded waiting area with picnic tables, 2 indoor seating areas, a winery, a playscape for the kiddos, and even an event venue. It looks more like some theme park/dude ranch than a restaurant. The Salt Lick is BYOB and cash only, so keep that in mind for your visit. You may purchase drinks at the winery, but I highly recommend you bring a cooler filled with your favorites.
Try: The Rancher Plate – you’ll get to try the brisket, pork ribs, sausage, and turkey. Ask for the spicy BBQ sauce.
Tip: If the wait is long and the weather is nice, order at the To-Go tent. Then pick a spot in the shaded outdoor seating area, listen to the live music, and you enjoy your barbecue.