The Best East Austin Restaurants | A Definitive Guide For 2023
East Austin is overflowing with delicious dining options, and there's a good reason why: It's the BEST Austin! From its vibrant history to its craft breweries and dive bars, East Austin exudes an unmistakable essence of Austin's character. So whether you're a foodie, music lover, or just appreciate a great atmosphere, this part of town is sure to satisfy. Plus, it's packed with neighborhoods to explore and small-name concert spaces to enjoy – why not check it out for yourself today?
From the vibrant culture to the plethora of delicious restaurants and bars, East Austin offers Austinites an exciting and diverse range of activities. East Austin is bordered by I35 to the west, the Colorado River to the south, and Airport Boulevard to the north, making the area an ideal nexus of modern-day convenience and traditional, small-town appeal. With so many residents in close proximity, this walkable area of Austin is a hotspot for delectable restaurants, unique bars, and a wide selection of entertainment options. Supply meets demand and the combination creates a truly dynamic atmosphere.
But there’s also a culture in east ATX that supports dingy start-up food trucks, diverse restaurants, and interesting food offerings. Restaurants in east Austin don’t have to have the polished high-rise look of downtown Austin restaurants or the instagrammable factor of South Congress. East Austin restaurants just get to focus on exceptional food and fun experiences.
There are far too many places to list every single worthwhile east Austin restaurant here, so we’re going to weed through and try to highlight the most notable among them. Go ahead and use the map of the best east Austin restaurants (below), or read on for more detailed descriptions and photos.
The Best Restaurants In East Austin
One of the most popular, award-winningest, and beautiful Mexican restaurants in the city of Austin, Suerte is a shoe-in for this guide to the best restaurants in east Austin. It’s all centered around a love of masa, from nixtamalized corn tortillas to a corn-based menu of yummy tostadas, exceptional tacos, and even corn-based desserts. Their cocktail program is incredible, so even if you can’t get a reservation and you just pop by to sit at the bar and order a few bites, you’re in for a treat.
The new sister restaurant to Suerte, Este is also a Mexican restaurant, but this one is inspired by the coastal seafood cuisine of Mexico. You can expect a lively, open-concept restaurant with tall ceilings and skylights (it was quite the renovation job to transform the building from the old Eastside Cafe restaurant that inhabited this space for years and years!), indoor dining and an outdoor patio, and a small lounge where you can order a drink and apps while you wait for a table. Raw seafood, Mexican-inspired coastal dishes, and (of course) an emphasis on excellent corn tortillas. Este feels fun and celebratory.
Where are the best Italian restaurants in east Austin? Well, there just so happens to be a lot of them! Il Brutto is going to be one of your best bets if you want a beautiful bar with Italian cocktails, delicious handmade pasta, Neapolitan pizza, and a very trendy, modern interior. Oh, and their giant corner patio is one of the best outdoor dining spots in east Austin. Read on for two more wonderful Italian restaurants in east Austin.
Juniper is a lovely, splurge-worthy east Austin restaurant that serves northern Italian cuisine. They’re continually ranked among one of the best restaurants in the city of Austin. Something unique about Juniper is that they offer a prix fixe menu; if you’re open to splurging a little bit, go for the tasting courses with the beverage pairings!
And finally, one more wonderful Italian restaurant in east Austin: Intero. It’s a locally-owned Austin restaurant with an emphasis on sustainability. The chef at Intero tries to use the whole ingredients, nose-to-tail or root-to-tip, and they rotate the menu based on seasonality. It’s a small, quaint restaurant with both indoor and outdoor dining. They also have a chocolate shop at the entrance to the restaurant where you purchase delicious handmade truffles to enjoy after your meal or to go.
You simply can't discuss the best east Austin restaurants without mentioning Vixen's Wedding. Chef Todd Duplechan (Lenoir, Dovetail Pizza) created this incredible restaurant at the base of ARRIVE Austin hotel. Vixen's Wedding serves Goan-inspired food in the heart of Texas. There’s really nothing quite like it in Austin! The menu draws from the flavors and cooking techniques of Portugal, India, and Goa. There are SO many incredible things to try on the menu, so if you’re able to splurge on the prix fixe menu, go for that. From the sourdough naan with chai-spiced apple butter to the incredible selection of seared fish or pork chops or chicken in Goan curry and coconut salad and yummy grilled vegetables, the menu and experience at Vixen’s Wedding easily put this restaurant on the map for the best food in east Austin.
You’ve probably read about Justine’s on this website many times…and that’s because it’s just that incredible! It’s romantic, beautiful, upscale, memorable, and the most delicious french food you can find in Austin. Make a reservation in advance (especially if you’re dining on the weekend), and then prepare to be amazed by their fun French cocktails, homemade French Onion Soup, steak frites, and another classic French fare. It's certainly one of the best east Austin restaurants.
This is one of the cutest neighborhood wine bars and restaurants you’ll ever see! Birdie’s is a husband/wife-owned counter-service restaurant that’s walk-in only. They change the menu daily (it’s a bit dilly-dally) based on whatever is available, but just know that you’re getting the freshest, most sustainable, and most delicious local ingredients they were able to find that day. The wine list is incredible (talk to a staff member to help you find a fun bottle) and the environment just feels like a local eatery you’ll want to frequent again and again.
Hands down, the best Korean-American restaurant in east Austin is Oseyo. The menu is inspired by the owner’s mother, who had comforting, classic Korean recipes she often served at home. The result is a restaurant that feels comfortable, like you’re eating at home (if a home had servers and the most amazing dishes prepared for you!) The grilled dishes are served with steamed rice, lettuce wraps, dipping sauces, and daily banchan (side dishes like pickled radishes and kimchi), Oseyo has a communal feel to it. This is actually a really great place to bring families.
The accolades that Launderette has gathered are impressive (James Beard Award nominations, Eater’s restaurant of the year, etc.), but it’s worth remembering that this little neighborhood cafe started as a laundromat! Yep. The building started as a boring place to wash clothes, and it was renovated into an adorable space that you can visit today. Launderette is one of the very best American restaurants in Austin. If you’re visiting for brunch, go for the pastry of the day and the fried chicken sammy on challah (you won’t be disappointed!). But the dinner menu opens a world of possibilities, with the “Snacky Bits” like potato chips and housemade pimento cheese, crab toast, and the most decadent burrata. And for entrees, you must try the famous Plancha Burger (add fries!) and the Brick Chicken at least once in your life. Psst: the outdoor covered patio is an adorable spot for happy hour.
Buenos Aires Cafe
Buenos Aires, a family-owned Argentinian restaurant, is a dark, cozy, absolutely lovely place to dine on the best empanadas in Austin. There are two locations for this restaurant now, but the east Austin restaurant is for sure the more moody and sultry of the two. It goes without saying to order a glass (or bottle) of Malbec, based on the cuisine…but you also might want to try one of their cocktails. The empanadas are a family recipe, stuffed full of authentic ingredients like chopped raisins, olives, and ground beef. And the main menu is (of course) an excellent portrayal of authentic Argentinian grilled beef entrees. Buenos Aires Cafe is one of those places that you might ignore based on the exterior (there are so many new, flashy restaurants in Austin), but once you dine here, you’ll quickly declare it one of your favorites. PS: they have a speakeasy bar underneath the restaurant!
When you visit the Dai Due website, you’ll see a link to click for more information about their hunting school…and that describes this east Austin restaurant perfectly. Everything on the menu is sourced in Texas, including a local game that restaurant owner Jesse Griffiths hunts. (In fact, Griffiths even wrote a James Beard Award-winning book all about the feral hog titled “The Hog.” ) Dai Due the restaurant, however, is one of the most exceptional dining experiences in Austin. From the smoky grilled sourdough bread with whipped lard to the 16-oz dry-aged wagyu rib eye, the menu at Dai Due is a meat-forward feast of local and expertly prepared hard-to-find eats from Texas. It’s completely unlike any other restaurant in Austin.
Named after the Canje pheasant, this east Austin restaurant serves traditional Caribbean food like ceviche with sour orange and peanuts, plantains dipped in a coconut lime aioli, wild boar pepper pot, and the best (and spiciest!) jerk chicken around.) You must start with a Caribbean cocktail mixed with ingredients like passion fruit, white cacao, and pickled pepper. And for your main meal, try to order a few items to share..there are so many fun and interesting flavors packed into every dish. Canje is from the Emmer & Rye restaurant group, which runs several award-winning restaurants in Austin and San Antonio, like Hestia, Henbit, and Emmer & Rye.
Salt and Time
A butcher shop, a restaurant, a wine bar…what are you, Salt and Time? Here’s what’s for certain: it’s one of the best places in Austin to get a perfectly-prepared burger, an amazing glass of cab, and a dry-aged steak. The space is small yet modern, with just a few tables and a long bar for dining. It’s immediately connected to the butcher shop, so you might see customers coming and going to order fresh-cut steaks from local Texas ranchers or purchase unique artisan goods from the food store. Worth noting: the beef-fat brussels sprouts will completely change everything you thought you knew about vegetables.
Best BBQ In East Austin
It’s hard to visit east Austin and not hear about Franklin Barbecue. The name is synonymous with Austin’s bbq culture. After all, Franklin put Austin on that map as one of the best BBQ destinations in the country. Aaron Franklin started smoking meat in his backyard, developed a passion, and grew his business into one of the most well-known barbecue brands on the planet. The restaurant is still a small shack in east Austin…but you’ll smell it from blocks away. Those smokers work all night to create the melt-in-your-mouth brisket experience that you can expect from Franklin Barbecue. Even though standing in line here could take up your entire morning, Franklin is one of the best east Austin restaurants for a reason.
Another popular barbecue name in Austin, La Barbecue, is also found in east Austin. While the lines are quite as long as Franklin, the food is arguably just as delicious. In fact, La Barbecue has been named one of the best barbecue pits in Texas by some of the biggest publications in the food scene, like Bon Appetit and Texas Monthly’s 50 Best Barbecue list, among others. Brisket, ribs, smoked sausages…all of those things are exceptional, which is expected at a Texas barbecue joint. But something La does really well (that not every barbecue place excels in) is the sides. Be sure to load up on those when you’re placing your order.
Micklethwait Craft Meats
Tom Micklethwait (pronounced “Mickle-wait”...no “th” sound) started this little east Austin bbq trailer back before east Austin was the destination it is now… its popularity has only grown, and east Austin has expanded. The difference now? It’s connected to a beer garden called Saddle Up. You can order your craft meats and amazing sides (seriously, get that lemon poppyseed slaw!) and then head into the small bungalow bar to get a craft beer. Bring it all outside to enjoy in the east Austin backyard space.
The Best East Austin Food Trucks
If it’s late-night greasy bar food you’d want, you’ll have a hard time finding something more satisfying than the fried chicken sandwiches and fries at Golden Tiger. Fried chicken thigh, lettuce, dill pickles, red onion, and special sauce on a soft white bun…it hits just right after a night of drinking in east Austin. Bonus: it’s parked behind Whisler’s cocktail bar, so it’s a convenient place to order some fried food to soak up the booze.
Yet another option if you need some incredibly satisfying fried chicken sandwiches to pair with your cold beverage, Spicy Boys is a pan Asian-inspired food truck. Go “OG” with a fried chicken thigh topped with papaya relish and sweet chili honey, or try “Hot Gai” to try your sandwich topped with chili oil and massaman mayonnaise. Also not to be missed: the panang curry served with two flaky roti flatbreads. Spicy Boys is parked outside Zilker Brewing, a fun craft brewery with an outdoor patio.
This can hardly be considered an east Austin food truck, considering it’s had a permanent residence at the butterfly bar for a decade. But yes, Patrizi’s is a family-owned Italian food truck that makes everything from scratch. If you love handmade pasta, traditional red sauce, fresh toppings, and authentic Italian plates like cacio e pepe, grilled ciabatta garlic bread, and big ol’ beef and pork meatballs, you’ll absolutely fall in love with Patrizi’s.
Discada food truck in east Austin is the perfect example of an Austin food truck that does one thing and does it very well. Discada is a style of cooking in northern Mexico where an assemblage of meat, veggies, and spices (typically a secret recipe!) are cooked together in a large plow disc and used to fill very small corn tacos. So, don’t be surprised when you find yourself eating 5 or 7 of these tiny tacos! They’re small, a bit greasy, very flavorful, and some of the best tacos you can find in Austin.
Las Trancas taco stand is an Austin institution. Locals have been eating here in east Austin for years, but every time a large downtown event happens (like SXSW in the spring), visitors flock to this food truck, too. The tacos are pretty simple and standard: carnitas, barbacoa, and the like. They’re delicious as a late-night bite, smothered in that homemade salsa, and consumed in large quantities. (They're very cheap.)
Fil ‘n Viet
One of the newcomers to the east Austin food truck scene, Fil ‘n Viet is the brainchild behind a married couple of superstar Austin chefs. It marries their respective background (Filipino and Vietnamese food) into the perfect fusion of crispy, spicy, marinated skewers and wings, and more. Try the crispy sisig over rice with fried egg, the decadent coconut Vietnamese iced coffee, and any specials they have on hand.
Best Casual East Austin Restaurants
Although there is Via 313 locations all over the city of Austin, if we’re talking about restaurants that are local to east Austin, it has to be mentioned. This Detroit-style pizza is SO delicious with its crisp-crunchy exterior shell, soft and thick pizza dough and an extra thick layer of melty cheese with tomato sauce on top. The East Austin restaurant is a great family-friendly spot or a wonderful place to grab a big, greasy meal to wrap up your night of drinking on E 6th St.
Similar to Via 313, Ramen Tatsu-ya is one of those east Austin restaurants that have plenty of locations around the city of Austin. But if you’re in east ATX and wondering where to eat on a rainy day, you can’t find anything better than a hearty, creamy bowl of ramen with thick chewy noodles.
Grizzelda’s = pink, fun, margaritas, tacos, BEST place for a girlfriend's night out. It’s from the Jacoby Restaurant Group, so in addition to serving fun, crave-able Tex-Mex fare, they source locally from their own family ranch. Be sure to go for happy hour; this is one of the best east Austin restaurants for discounted drinks and bites.
Jacoby’s Restaurant and Mercantile
Jacoby’s is a ranch-to-table restaurant that serves southern favorites and family-owned recipes, sourcing locally from their own family ranch. They operate from southern roots and have an emphasis on excellent hospitality; once you walk in, you’ll feel like you’re family. The supper menu is beef heavy, with a wide selection of hearty salads, southern classics like shrimp and grits and seared salmon, and (worth noting!) the most amazing strawberry cake you’re ever tried in your life.
Sour Duck Market
Although Odd Duck is located in south Austin, not east Austin, you can get a little taste of the award-winning farm-to-table restaurant here in east Austin at Sour Duck Market. It’s slightly more casual, with an open-air outdoor dining set-up, cocktails, beer on tap, and pastries made daily (stop by for breakfast!)
Theeee destination for bachelorette parties, Gabriela’s is a Latina-owned restaurant with spice, flavor, and STRONG drinks. You’ll definitely want to get those margaritas, the choriqueso, and the authentic tacos.
While Ramen Tatsu-ya (mentioned earlier in this guide) has locations around town, Kemuri Tatsu-ya is the one-and-only location. And it’s in east Austin! It’s a Japanese Izakaya-meets-Texas BBQ. Yep. Totally unique and totally wonderful. Order some Japanese whisky cocktails, and be sure to try something from the raw bar, the munchies, the skewers, and the smoked entrees.
One of the best Neapolitan pizza restaurants in Austin, Bufalina serves wood-fired pies that are flash-cooked in their oven that came straight from Italy. They have an exceptional wine program (you’ll definitely want to order a bottle), handmade kinds of pasta, and fun starters. This could definitely be a date night spot or a casual afternoon place to grab a happy hour or an early dinner.
Tamale House East
An Austin institution! Tamale House East is not only one of the best east Austin restaurants...it's also one of the oldest, open since 1958. It’s a must-try for every single Austin resident. One of the most delicious things on the menu is the tamales (duh), but they also have exceptional tacos.
This could also be listed under brunch restaurants in east Austin because their weekend brunch is amazing (and the line proves it!), but the lunch and dinner menus here are exceptional as well. Located inside a historic pharmacy building in east Austin, this tiny neighborhood cafe serves New American farm-to-table cuisine like raw oysters, crab cakes, burgers, blackened gulf drum, and craft cocktails.
Their tagline is “dope Chinese food,” and that wraps up the restaurant in three words! Casual, fun, no pretension…just really good American-Chinese food. It’s a Texas-meets-Chinese food type of menu, with authentic ingredients like plenty of tingly Szechuan peppercorn and fermented chili sauce, but some “not-so-Chinese” takes, too. Basically, they serve food that tastes good and whatever is fun makes it on the menu.
From James Beard Award-winning chef Edgar Rico comes Nixta, a small taco restaurant tucked into east Austin. These might be the best corn tortillas you’ll find in the city of Austin; they take great pains to source and prepare the corn perfectly, and it truly shows. The tacos aren’t your typical taco truck offerings like carnitas and barbacoa… Instead, you’ll get to try really “chef-y” offerings like yellowfin, smoked sweet potato, and duck-fat refried beans. This is a counter service/no reservations restaurant.
One of the BEST happy hours in Austin and also one of the coziest neighborhood gastropubs, Salty Sow is a staple in the east Austin restaurant scene. The duck fat fries put them on the map (you must try them,), but the handcrafted cocktails, farm-to-table entrees, and friendly staff keep people coming back again and again.
If you need an east Austin restaurant that’s good for big groups, Easy Tiger is an easy (ha ha..) spot. They’re a popular Austin bakery with lots of local craft beer on tap, delicious sandwiches, and other German-inspired entrees, and a large outdoor space with 100 shaded yard tables and outdoor games.
Licha’s Cantina serves some of the best Mexican food in east Austin. It’s a small bungalow with an outdoor patio, a festive environment, and good (strong!) tequila-based drinks. It's located in the heart of 6th street, and it’s considered one of the best Mexican restaurants in Austin. The cochinita pibili, hearty birria tacos, and incredible enchiladas potosinas are all can’t-miss items.
Best Breakfast In East Austin
Ever since Rudy "Cisco" Cisneros opened Cisco's in 1948, it has played a significant role in Austin's history. It’s been serving up delicious Tex-Mex breakfast staples, including migas, huevos rancheros, and plenty of others. Known for its popular breakfast cuisine and legendary status, Cisco's serves staples like migas, huevos ranchero, and biscuits for breakfast (and lunch!). They’re also known for their classic breakfast dishes, the "Wolf Omelette," fajitas, enchiladas, tacos, carne guisada, and a fantastic chicken fried steak available for breakfast and lunch all day.
Yep, this is a breakfast place! Lazarus Brewing is a cozy indoor/outdoor space and a family-pet-and-child-friendly brewery that serves and shares housed-roasted coffee, award-winning beer, and the best Mexican street food like homemade salsas, choriqueso, and delicious street tacos. But what many people forget is that they also have AMAZING breakfast tacos. And while Lazarus will become absolutely packed in the afternoons and evenings, it’s typically fairly quiet in the mornings. In addition to beer/tacos/coffee, they also offer a wide variety of wine lists and a full espresso bar. The indoor space has a well-designed warm living room vibe with comfy couches, and the shaded patio is one of the most popular outdoor E Sixth St hangs.
Counter Cafe is an authentic American diner offering sophisticated diner-style food made with fresh, organic, and local ingredients. They’re open for breakfast and lunch, serving customers a wide range of breakfast/brunch food choices to enjoy in a vintage/modern dining room and counter. They also have a wide range of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks available on the drink menu, including chocolate milk, Abita root beer, and some local craft beer. If you love a delicious, classic, all-American breakfast, Counter Cafe is for you.
Similar to Counter Cafe in that they offer American breakfast staples, Paperboy is the trendier, more “instagramable” restaurant of the two. It is a casual all-day restaurant known for serving breakfast, lunch, coffee, and cocktails in its cozy atmosphere. They only use high-quality ingredients, including homemade bread, juices, sauces, and preserves. Whether you just grab a pastry and cup of coffee or sit and enjoy a meal with your friends, you’re going to love this spot!
Along with the migas, classic beef and pork, and vegetable tacos, Veracruz All Natural also serves some of Austin's favorite breakfast tacos. If you’re hoping to try some of the best breakfast tacos in Austin, this is where you need to go. They also offer homemade tortillas, fresh juice, and organic aguas frescas (<- absolutely amazing on a hot Austin day.) They're open for both lunch and breakfast. If you want to order takeout, you can do that and just eat outside on the patio; of course, everyone is welcome to eat in the dining room as well!
Bird Bird Biscuit
Bird Bird Biscuit is a small eatery that serves breakfast and lunch dishes like house-made buttermilk biscuits, chicken sandwiches, and other EPIC biscuit sandwiches. These fluffy biscuits are prepared with top-notch ingredients, and they’re made to be the perfect consistency to hold up a big ol’ sandwich…not too soft and not too hard.
Cenote is one of the go-to destinations when it comes to casual brunch dishes. They offer a full food menu of fresh dishes produced with the best ingredients, including local produce from various Texas farms, pasture-raised eggs, and premium bacon. It’s a coffee house, but they don't just serve coffee…you can also find a fantastic assortment of local craft beer and wine.
The Best Bars In East Austin
Brew and Brew
Brew and Brew is a hip corner bar and cafe serving coffee, LOTS of taps of craft beer, sandwiches, and light fare in a chic and industrial setup. They’re open for takeout, patio sitting, beer, coffee, and wine. Choose from their 38 craft beer taps with a wide variety of natural wines. (Not into coffee and beer? They also have tea, cider, and wine!)
Looking for a good cocktail bar in east Austin? Whistler’s is where it’s at! It’s incredibly popular (read: crowded) on the weekends, and it’s a fun spot to enjoy a few drinks with friends. One of the coolest parts of this cocktail bar is the Mezcal bar above the main bar (Mezcaleria Tobala). If it’s a beautiful night, enjoy your cocktail on their patio with regular live music performances. Aside from cocktails, the bar's food truck, Golden Tiger (mentioned earlier in this guide), offers some good “drunk food” options like greasy burgers, fried chicken thigh sandwiches, and fries.
Lolo Natural Wine
The owners of Hotel Vegas and Volstead Lounge teamed up to open this adorable natural wine bar in east Austin called LoLo Natural Wine. It’s actually the first place in Austin to be considered a 100% natural wine bar! They have a spacious back patio with picnic tables (very dog-friendly) and a few small tables in the interior space. There’s also a to-go bottle shop inside the bar. The wine selection focuses on natural, minimal-intervention wines, and it’s strongly influenced by French and Italian wines, (but they also offer a good selection of wines from Texas and California.) The bartenders here are incredibly knowledgeable about natural wine; if you don’t know what to order, ask for help!
Is it a restaurant or someone’s apartment? Hmm... Restaurant and wine bar APT 115 is designed to feel like you’re walking into someone’s (adorable) apartment unit. They serve seasonal dishes, often sourcing ingredients from nearby farms. When it comes to wine, they only offer minimum intervention, small production wines that are carefully chosen from throughout the globe. No time for dinner and just stopping by for a drink? Pair your wine with their cheese boards, charcuterie, nibbles, and snacks.
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