52 Places to Dine, Drink, Shop & Stay in Austin

Featuring a cookbook café, a community-focused natural wine bar, and plenty of tacos.

May  1, 2023
Photo by Mariela Camacho (left), Nick Simonite (right)

This article is part of 52Cities, a column where we share editor-curated and community-loved recommendations for visiting our favorite places.

If you’ve spent any time in Austin, Texas, you’ve probably heard the city’s motto: “Keep Austin Weird.” It reflects the locals’ desire to hold on to the city’s rich tradition of creativity and artistic production, as evidenced by its famous murals, live music, and inventive food scene. While ravenous real estate development has slightly decreased the city’s weird factor over the past two decades, it’s still a place full of zany nooks and crannies (take, for example, the Cathedral of Junk). And it’s also the perfect place to spend a weekend (or longer) eating, drinking, and exploring.

Whether you’re here for the tacos or want to pick up some home design inspiration, it’s time to grab your sun hat, rev up your appetite, and get ready for all the barbecue, tacos, cocktails, coffee, and art that awaits you in Austin.

Where to Stay

Hotel St. Cecilia Photo by Nick Simonite

1. Hotel St. Cecilia (112 Academy Dr.)

This is one hotel that really earns its boutique descriptor. Named for the patron saint of music, the St. Cecilia brims with thoughtful design touches—you’ll never feel like you’re in a cookie cutter hotel room when staying here. The second you enter the cobalt-blue lobby, or sit down for a signature cocktail by the pool, you’ll know you’re in good hands.

2. The Wayback (9601 Bee Cave Rd.)

If you’re looking for a quiet place to rest your head after a day of touring the city, consider this option just outside of Austin’s busiest areas. It features eight understated, cozy cottages on a tree-filled property that also includes a pool and a light-filled café.

3. Hotel San José (1316 South Congress Ave.)

Our community recommended this more than any other hotel in Austin, and it’s easy to see why. A sister property of the St. Cecilia, the San José is known for being a little livelier—it’s a classic spot for musicians to stay, and the hotel often hosts regular pool parties (Micheladas optional, but highly encouraged). If you’re here for the nightlife, this is the hotel for you; if you’re an early riser, avoid rooms around the courtyard where the live music carries.

Where to Eat During the Day

Comadre Panadería Photo by Mariela Camacho

4. Tiny’s Milk & Cookies (Multiple Locations)

This family-friendly walk-up window offers homemade ice cream, freshly baked breads and pastries, and coffee throughout the day—an ideal stop if you need a mid-afternoon pick-me-up. Their ice cream flavors and pastry options lean classic, so you can expect scoops of mint chip, glazed morning buns, and the like.

5. Mrs. Johnson’s Bakery (4909 Airport Blvd.)

Open since 1948, this Austin staple has always stuck to classic, old-fashioned doughnuts. It’s only open four days a week, but its drive-through window offers hot doughnuts from 7 p.m. to 9 a.m. (Psst: If you’ve got a late-night hankering for sweets, this is your spot.)

6. Swedish Hill (1120 W 6th St.)

This recommendation came to us with no fewer than four exclamation points following its name, which is roughly the same reaction we had when we saw a photo of Swedish Hill’s heavily-glazed cinnamon rolls. This all-day café offers baked goods, breakfast, and lunch, with a breezy outdoor patio for lounging and snacking.

7. Cookbook Café (710 W. César Chavez St., Second Street Entrance)

For many Food52ers, say the words “cookbook-inspired café inside a public library branch” and we are there. Cookbook Café is a grab-and-go outfit inside Austin’s Central Library where you can snag a savory popover or a glass of rosé to sip while you pore over the café’s special collection of over 500 cookbooks (all of which belonged to the late Virginia B. Wood, Austin Chronicle food editor, food critic, and champion of Austin food culture).

8. Republic Square Farmers’ Market (Multiple Locations)

Pop by this Saturday morning farmers’ market beloved by locals for a bouquet of flowers, a bit of fresh fruit, or a small breakfast. It’s one of the best ways to get to know local farmers, ranchers, beekeepers, cheesemongers, and more, whether you’re just curious about local food or want to whip up a locally sourced meal at your rental.

9. Comadre Panadería (1204 Cedar Ave.)

Baker Mariela Camacho has been selling conchas, masa sugar cookies, and cajeta-glazed pound cake as a pop-up bakery that has won her local devotion and a James Beard semifinalist spot. She currently operates out of Nixta Taquería—also on this list—but is crowdfunding to open her own brick-and-mortar shop that will allow her to expand production and become a more permanent fixture. Wherever she’s selling, we recommend you show up.

10. Veracruz All Natural (Multiple Locations)

You’d be a fool to travel to Austin without eating a breakfast taco or five, and Veracruz is a local favorite. Founded and run by sisters Reyna and Maritza Vazquez, Veracruz has been hugely influential in the Austin food scene. Don’t miss their migas taco, one of their best-known dishes; you’ll likely want to wash it down with a fresh juice or smoothie.

11. Cuantos Tacos (1108 E. 12th St.)

Another heavily-recommended restaurant, Cuantos Tacos is a food truck offering Mexico City-style tacos in East Austin. The menu ranges from meaty classics like brisket and beef cheek to veggie-friendly mushroom and grilled onions.

Where to Eat at Night

La Condesa Photo by Jody Horton

12. Uchi (801 South Lamar Blvd.)

One of the most-recommended places on this list, Uchi is a sushi standout in Austin. You can get a full omakase dinner, or order sushi and sashimi à la carte alongside hot dishes like grilled branzino and mapo tofu.

13. Loro (2115 South Lamar Blvd.)

You’ve probably heard of Franklin Barbecue, an Austin institution where visitors wait for hours to eat Aaron Franklin’s smoked brisket and other BBQ essentials. Loro is Franklin’s “Asian smokehouse,” where you’ll find Malaysian Bo Ssam, Thai green curry sausage, and green papaya salad alongside the classic brisket.

14. Canje (1914 E 6th St. Ste. C)

In East Austin, chef Tavel Bristol-Joseph celebrates Caribbean food in a joyful atmosphere. Here, the Guyanese-born chef has been serving outstanding roti, wild boar pepper pot, and boozy rum bunch sorbet since 2021.

15. Ramen Tatsu-Ya (Multiple Locations)

This is, as one community member noted, a “huge city favorite.” Started by a pair of DJs-turned-chefs, this restaurant set off a ramen craze in the city upon opening, and has since become its own buzzy restaurant group that includes a BBQ-focused ramen restaurant, among others.

16. Matt’s El Rancho (2613 S Lamar Blvd.)

While there’s a great wealth of regional Mexican restaurants to explore in Austin (see: Veracruz and Cuantos Tacos), Tex-Mex also has a rich history in the city. One such stalwart (which came highly recommended) is Matt’s, which has been serving chiles rellenos, enchiladas, and mesquite-grilled steaks since 1952.

17. Valentina’s (11500 Menchaca Rd.)

Austin’s food scene is a perfect example of how easily the tradition of barbecue fits into other culinary histories—and shares history with them, too. As one community member described it, Valentina’s is “the perfect intersection of two great Texas cuisines,” serving Tex-Mex barbecue in fajita-style tacos alongside brisket-topped queso.

18. Odd Duck (1201 S. Lamar Blvd.)

Described by one Food52er as a “restaurant with amazing seasonal menus where you can say ‘one of everything,’” the offerings here rotate regularly and focus on locally sourced ingredients like Gulf seafood, Texas cheese, and even Texas-made wine.

19. Nixta Taqueria (2512 E. 12th St.)

This new-school taquería is both casual and ambitious, and has been lauded by critics and locals alike since it opened in 2019. They source the corn for their masa from Oaxaca, and it’s the backbone of their menu, supporting beet “tartare” tostadas, duck carnitas tacos, and even an optional “salsa flight.”

20. Julio’s (4230 Duval St.)

In our search for the top Austin spots, one Julio’s super-fan commented that the restaurant makes the “best nachos in the world, no exaggeration, verified by science.” It’s an emphatic recommendation if we’ve ever heard one. (They also serve other Tex-Mex classics like fajitas, enchiladas, and breakfast tacos.)

21. Apt 115 (2025 E. 7th St., Apt 115)

This restaurant was described by one community member as an “amazing wine bar and chef tasting menu in a cozy spot that plays vinyl records.” Designed to make you feel like you’re eating in someone’s (very beautiful) apartment, this restaurant keeps the vibe easy and the food elegant.

22. Hestia (607 W. 3rd St.)

Hestia is an elegant dinner spot that focuses on open-hearth cooking, which happens in an enormous, 20-foot, custom-made hearth. Opt for a chef’s tasting menu, or go à la carte—you really can’t go wrong either way.

23. Hopfields (3110 Guadalupe St.)

Sometimes when you’re in a new place, you want to just have a simple, good dinner—and that’s exactly what you’ll get at Hopfields. Food52 user Amy F. loves this “sweet neighborhood French bistro,” with great service and food that’s “consistently delicious.” Sign us up.

24. Distant Relatives (3901 Promontory Point Dr.)

At Distant Relatives, pitmaster Omari Mackey and his team set out to explore and celebrate the relationship between the African Diaspora in the United States and the history and traditions of barbecue. While you’ll find the requisite brisket here, you’ll want to try the pulled pork with tamarind molasses sauce and berbere-spiced pickled carrots.

25. Con Todo (10001 Metric Blvd.)

Con todo means “with everything” in Spanish, e.g. the best way to order a taco: with all available toppings. One community member loves the chori-papa tostada, but it doesn’t seem like you’ll go wrong here, whether you’re jonesing for a chicken mole taco or a beef and chorizo taco washed down with a glass bottle of Mexican Coke.

26. Jewboy Burger (5111 Airport Blvd.)

Mo Pittle (the titular and self-appointed “JewBoy”) began this restaurant as a food truck that would honor his El Paso Jewish upbringing through food. Now a brick-and-mortar spot, JewBoy gives you the rare opportunity to order an entire latke atop your burger.

27. La Condesa (400A West 2nd St.)

While this highly-recommended downtown restaurant offers excellent Mexican food, it’s also a great place to savor an Austin special, the Mexican martini. Here, it’s made with ​​mezcal, gin, sweet vermouth, and orange.

28. Olamaie (1610 San Antonio St.)

For great Austin fine dining, Olamaie can’t be beat. Helmed by James Beard Award semifinalist Amanda Turner, the restaurant focuses on inventive and seasonally driven Southern food, like BBQ-smoked cabbage and Blue Hopi corn hushpuppies. (They’re also famous for their biscuits.)

29. Dai Due (2406 Manor Rd.)

This farm-to-table restaurant first began as an underground supper club. Now, it’s a one-stop shop for all things Texas: local meats, local meals, and local experience. Because they insist on using ingredients found in the region, their menu is always changing and features a wide range of preserved ingredients. Even the wine and beer they serve is Texas-made. And if you’re looking for some hands-on experience, their New School of Traditional Cookery offers classes in butchery and hunting.

Where to Drink

LoLo Wine Photo by LoLo Wine via @rezacristian

30. Desnudo (2505 Webberville Rd.)

Another community recommendation, this time caffeine-focused: “You'll find the best coffee in town at a tiny trailer in East Austin called Desnudo,” says Amy F. “You'll fall in love with Juan. We all do. Try whatever he suggests.” Before you’ve had your first cup, it’s easiest to take an expert’s lead.

31. The Grackle (1700 E. 6th St.)

One community member described this as a “dive bar with amazing whiskey,” which is music to our ears. If you want a low-key bar that doesn’t skimp on quality, pull up a stool at the Grackle.

32. Batch Craft Beer & Kolaches (3220 Manor Rd.)

This small brewery is all about experimentation when it comes to beers, but they also draw crowds for their homemade kolaches, a Czech-Texan filled baked good with both sweet and savory iterations.

33. Lazarus Brewing (Multiple Locations)

If you’re looking for a comfortable place to spend an afternoon, Lazarus is one of the best brewery options in town. Yes, they sell beer—like a coffee golden ale and a peppercorn-infused rice lager—that you can only buy there, but they also sell kombucha, coffee, and tacos, making it a great location for drinkers and non-drinkers alike.

34. LoLo Wine (1504 E. 6th St.)

If, instead, you’re looking for a lazy spot to sit outside and drink wine, head to LoLo. Here you’ll find a great selection of natural wines to enjoy on their breezy patio, plus snacks to keep you going.

35. Kinfolk (303 B Red River St)

This is, as one Food52er explained, an “amazing speakeasy downtown with fantastic craft cocktails.” This self-described “spirits library” is an ideal destination for cocktail nerds, but don’t be intimidated—it’s also a great place to enjoy a martini in a quiet atmosphere.

36. Garage (503 Colorado St.)

This cocktail bar with speakeasy vibes is hidden away in, you guessed it, a parking garage. Expect warm service and top-tier drinks. And—rare for a speakeasy!—they offer regular happy hour specials.

What to See

Photo by Blanton Museum of Art

37. Mexic-Arte Museum (419 Congress Ave.)

You can’t talk about art in Texas without talking about Mexican and Tejano art. This museum in downtown Austin is one of the only museums in the country dedicated exclusively to Mexican art, and offers a range of well-curated exhibits featuring established and emerging artists from Mexico, the U.S., and Latin America. They’ve also got a great selection of art for sale in their shop.

38. Women & Their Work (1311 E. Cesar Chavez St.)

This nonprofit is one of the best non-museum spaces to take in art in all of Austin. Open for over 40 years, they put on exhibitions and programming that highlight female artists from Texas and beyond.

39. Barton Springs (Barton Springs Rd.)

If you need a place to cool off and get away from the bustle of the city, head to Barton Springs. Within city limits, this set of naturally-fed springs is open to swimmers, is family-friendly, and is also a habitat for two endangered species of salamander.

40. Blanton Museum of Art (200 E. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.)

As the largest museum in Central Texas, the Blanton Museum on the University of Texas at Austin’s campus is the perfect place to go if you want to spend a long afternoon looking at art. One of its most famous—and most beloved—pieces is a chapel-like structure designed by Ellsworth Kelly, with multi-colored stained glass windows.

Where to Shop

Photo by Antonelli's

41. BookPeople (603 N. Lamar Blvd.)

If you need a book to read on the shores of Barton Springs, hit up BookPeople first. This large, independent bookstore has been open for over 50 years and offers a wide and well-curated selection of books, whether you’re looking for a literary masterpiece, a beach read, or something to keep your kids entertained on the plane ride home.

42. Kick Pleat (624 N. Lamar Blvd.)

Maybe you decide to book a dinner at Olamaie at the last minute, but you forget to pack for fine dining. Maybe you’re dying for the perfect woven straw hat to wear on your Barton Springs outing. If you’re looking for a next-level shopping experience that will introduce you to some new and exciting designers, head to Kick Pleat, one of the city’s best boutiques.

43. Maufrais (1512 S. Congress Ave.)

If you’re traveling to Texas, you might want to get yourself a new hat. And not just any hat—a real-deal, hand-made, customizable Stetson hat. Maufrais is the top-recommended shop in town. While you can make a reservation, it’s also easy to walk in if you’re going on a weekday—one of their staff will help you determine your size, then you’ll design the hat of your dreams.

44. Allen’s Boots (1522 South Congress Ave.)

Once you’ve got your hat, you may want a pair of boots to go with it. Allen’s comes highly recommended, thanks to its almost warehouse-like selection of great boots. Whether you want something subdued and classy or full-on wacky Western, you’re likely to find it here.

45. Modern Redux (8120 Research Blvd. Ste. 108)

While Modern Redux is known as one of the best spots in the city to pick up top-quality mid century modern furniture, they also have an amazing collection of home décor—their pottery selection is unparalleled. Plus, a vase is far more likely to fit in your suitcase than an Eames chair.

46. The Renner Project (3018 N. Lamar Blvd.)

Before she opened this store, Kimberly Renner was known for restoring homes; Now, she’s taken her design expertise and turned it into a 5,000 square-foot shop packed with furniture, textiles, and décor. Even if you’re not looking to take anything home, it’s a great place to browse.

47. Keith Kreeger Porcelain (916 Springdale Rd. Bldg 2-104)

If you plan to eat your way through Austin, you’re likely to see ceramicist Keith Kreeger’s plates and serveware on the city’s tables (specifically the likes of Olamai, Uchi, and Emmer and Rye). While he doesn’t have a showroom, you can visit his studio by appointment.

48. Antonelli's Cheese Shop (Multiple Locations)

If you want to find a charcuterie board for a picnic at Zilker Park or pack your rental fridge with raclette, Antonelli’s is the place to be. While they have ready-made boards, you can also get a cheesemonger’s advice on which wedge will be best for your particular adventure.

49. Supply Showroom (1513 W. 6th St.)

If you love pattern, fabric, and texture, you’ll want to spend a few hours browsing the wallpaper and textiles at Supply Showroom. They also have a great selection of unexpected tiles.

50. Noah Marion (2053 South Lamar Blvd.)

This store is all about hand-made leather items, from bags to wallets to pocket mirrors. But the most important question that the Noah Marion shop poses is this: Why wouldn’t you want to own a concrete doorstop with a leather handle?

51. Uncommon Objects (1602 Fortview Rd.)

If your home décor style is less “mid century teak” and more “taxidermy and antique statues,” Uncommon Objects is the “one-of-a-kind emporium of transcendent junk” you’ve been searching for. Open since 1991, it’s one of the city’s most-loved destination for odd and old stuff.

52. Austin Pottery (5442 Burnet Rd.)

This community pottery studio offers multi-week classes, but it also has a showroom where you can purchase ceramics made by their members. If you’re curious what the potters of Austin are up to, check out their gallery and bring home an ornamental teapot, hand-hewn mug, or delicately painted serving platter.

Where are your favorite places to visit in Austin? Tell us in the comments below!

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • tahatariq0966
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Marian Bull

Written by: Marian Bull



tahatariq0966 November 1, 2023
Nice Blog, for travel-related blogs and articles, also follow the:
Shannon R. May 23, 2023
The Cookbook Cafe in the Central Library is long gone, a victim of the pandemic (and perhaps the lack of evening hours to enjoy wine and snacks on the patio?). It was such a lovely idea too...
trentsky May 1, 2023
Please please please stop putting Matt's El Rancho on lists! It's a place memorialized by people who went to college in the '70s who had never had Tex-Mex food before moving here. There are SO many better places
indiestar May 18, 2023
Hahahaha, agree! I went to college in Austin in the early 90's and agree that there are waaaaay better places (then and now)!