Austin is known for its mouthwatering barbecue and creative breakfast tacos, but not everyone is familiar with the city’s complete food scene, one that is just as eclectic and diverse as the Austinites who live here. To get a true taste of what the city has to offer, you must visit Downtown Austin. With more than 80 restaurants in this area of town, there is a different style of cuisine around every corner. Take a peek at these local favorites and try some of best restaurants in downtown Austin.
Lamberts. Credit Casey Dunn.
This vegan-friendly, Pan-Asian spot was the brainchild of a mother-daughter duo who wanted to bring downtown Austin a restaurant with balanced meals at affordable prices. The miso honey-glazed mahi-mahi is both savory and sweet and is topped with spring greens, rice and a red onion relish. This mom-and-pop-shop is the perfect spot before a night of live music shows on Red River.
Insider Tip: they have free parking out back!
This refurbished general store is the place to go for smoked meats, craft cocktails and, of course, live music. Starting around 11 a.m., you can smell Lamberts' barbecue from blocks away. Stop in and nosh on spicy deviled eggs and their natural black Angus brisket rubbed with brown sugar and coffee.
24 Diner. Courtesy of ELM Restaurant Group.
Comfort Food: Moonshine Patio Bar & Grill
Good ol’ southern comfort food is pretzels and pimento cheese, chicken fried steak and banana cream pudding. Looking for Texas-sized portions of the comforting classics? At Moonshine, seasoned popcorn will greet you at your table and warm cornbread comes out with every plate. Order one of the house moonshines if you want the full experience.
Diner: 24 Diner
Situated in heart of the Live Music Capital of the World®, this all-night diner serves nostalgic brunch fare and American classics every day of the week. Stop in after browsing shops in the Market District, then fill up on a big breakfast platter or the sweet potato hash, with roasted poblanos, sausage and Jack cheese. Pop in for breakfast, lunch or a late-night bite.
Italian: The Backspace
Rustic, Neapolitan style pizza hidden in the backspace (hence the name) of Parkside restaurant. This intimate spot is right off of Sixth Street and seats less than 30 guests. Seasonal antipasti like the house-made mozzarella or the cauliflower, with pecorino, Calabrian peppers and salsa verde, will get you ready to enjoy that delicious, lightly charred crust.
La Condesa. Photo credit Jody Horton.
Mexican: La Condesa
One of the posh dining spots in the 2nd Street District of Downtown, La Condesa boasts the largest collection of 100% blue agave tequila and mezcal in the city (did someone say margaritas?). The menu is filled with regional Mexican staples like queso fundido, cevices, and elotes. This restaurant is also great for those looking for vegan or vegetarian options.
New American: Emmer & Rye
This upscale and contemporary farm-to-table restaurant, highlights local Austin produce and meats on Rainey Street. You can find their top dishes served dim sum style, where small portions of fully-cooked dishes are wheeled around the dining room to showcase each tasty creation in person. Paying homage to the name, Emmer & Rye mills heritage grains for their pastas, breads and desserts. The cacio e pepe spaghetti is simple and delicious.
Red Ash Italia. Credit Ashlyn Allison.
Seafood: Red Ash Italia
Make date night dinner reservations at Red Ash, a romantic downtown locale which serves up fresh Italian seafood dishes straight from the blazing wood-burning oven and grill. Enjoy a walnut Old Fashioned with small plates and crispy country Italian bread, or dive straight into delicacy with a glass of wine and wild red snapper a la plancha. This hearty, rustic cuisine is sure to warm you right up.
Steakhouse: Vince Young Steakhouse
Locally owned and operated, Vince Young Steakhouse is unique to its kind. Named for former NFL and University of Texas quarterback, Vince Young, the steakhouse sources its ingredients from farms and ranches either in Austin, or as local as possible. The menu is revised daily in order to keep current with seasonal, fresh ingredients. This elegant steakhouse aims to offer a personal, Austin touch.