Here’s your guide to some of the best casual restaurants in Austin. When you’ve been working from home all day in sweatpants and a messy bun and you’re not in the mood to wear makeup or put on “real” clothes, use this list to find a casual Austin restaurant near you.
Because we’ve all been there, and we get it. Pants are overrated, anyway. (By the way, want to go really casual? Head to one of these drive-thru restaurants in Austin and you don’t even have to get out of the car.)
Read on for some of the best casual restaurants in Austin.
What counts as a “casual” restaurant in Austin?
Honestly, most restaurants in Austin are pretty casual. It’s hard to find an Austin restaurant that has a dress code requiring a sports coat. However, there are certain restaurants where you’d want to make at least a bit of an effort and dress up a little bit.
We’re not talking about those restaurants here. Instead, all of the casual Austin restaurants on this list are places where you could show up in shorts and a tee and flip-flops, no problem. Most of these places don’t take reservations, so they’re all good options for walk-in meals when you need a meal right now.
The Best Casual Restaurants In Austin
When it comes to casual restaurants in Austin, Texas, Phoebe's Diner has set itself apart from the competition. Located on the corner of Oltorf and South First (with two other newer locations in downtown Austin and north Austin, Phoebe's has been serving up delicious food and providing outstanding customer service since it first opened its doors in Austin.
The restaurant itself has a classic diner feel to it, with various indoor/outdoor seating arrangements and a cozy atmosphere. The staff is always friendly, helpful, and quick to make sure that your experience at Phoebe's is nothing short of exceptional.
The menu is full of classic diner favorites with a Texas twist. Their burger is unbelievably delicious, all messy and drippy, and everything you want a diner burger to be. The bacon slab is a big, thick, salty piece of pork, and it pairs perfectly with scrambled eggs or biscuits and gravy. And the prices for such quality food are pretty reasonable and the portions are plenty, making Phoebe's Diner one of the best values around. If you need good, classic, diner food near you, Phoebe’s is easily one of the best casual restaurants in Austin.
Yes, it’s another diner, but unlike Phoebe’s, Counter Cafe feels slightly more elevated. It’s still a casual restaurant in Austin, though! They take pride in sourcing locally and using fresh ingredients, so everything on the menu is packed with flavor, texture, and color.
From the farm fresh egg sandwich with sharp cheddar cheese to the grilled local quail with Counter fries and a salad, Counter Cafe has the perfect dish for anyone with a big appetite. Finish off the meal with an espresso or cold brew coffee, and be sure to add sweet potato fries if you’re dining for lunch. Oh, and Counter Cafe offers both breakfast and lunch all day, so they’re ready for you no matter what you’re craving. With a welcoming atmosphere, friendly service, and delicious eats, Counter Cafe is sure to become one of your favorite casual restaurants in Austin.
Ok, ok….one more dinner! We’re gradually moving up in sophistication because 24 Diner is the least “diner-y” of the three we’ve mentioned thus far. They start with the classic diner favorites like chicken & waffles, burgers and sweet potato fries, and frittatas, and add a farm-to-table spin on the menu that elevates everything up a notch.
The meatloaf sandwich sounds a bit strange, but it’s actually delicious and one of the best things on the menu. And 24 Diner has a full bar, so you can do this as a boozy brunch, a nice dinner out, or just a casual Tuesday afternoon solo lunch spot in Austin.
Need a casual lunch spot in Austin? Jewboy Burgers on Airport Blvd is serving some of the tastiest burgers in Austin. It’s a counter service spot (or order ahead to save time) where you can easily and quickly dine for a casual meal in Austin and enjoy some of the best local food the city has to offer.
The concept is a mixture of US/Mexico border cultures paired with a traditional Reform Jewish upbringing. Thinks: burgers, latkes, epic burritos, and coney dogs. Everything is better with a side of dipping queso, fyi.
Fresa’s Grilled Chicken is one of the most beloved restaurants in south Austin. Mention it to almost any local Austinite and they’ll probably start talking about how much they love the creekside patio, the prickly pear margaritas, and the deliciously grilled chicken tacos.
It’s very casual and chill, so it feels like Austin. But the food is amazing, and you’re going to start craving it again and again. The menu is simple: grilled chicken served with tortillas and beans and taco fixings, or big hearty bowls and salads, as well as some tasty Tex-Mex apps like queso and, of course, those amazing margaritas. Don’t forget about their dessert menu! Their ice cream is some of the best in the whole city of Austin. Yeah…ice cream served at a chicken restaurant. Don't knock it until you try it.
There’s pretty much no better place to eat on South Congress than Homeslice Pizza, especially if the sun is shining and you can enjoy a NY-style meatball sub or a big slice of pepperoni pizza on the back patio.
The weekends get crazy with tourists, but if you need a good casual lunch spot in Austin on a weekday afternoon, both locations of Homeslice (SOCO and north loop) tend to be a bit quieter and a great spot for a casual lunch with friends.
Matt’s El Rancho
If you’re looking for the best Tex-Mex in Austin, you’ve got to add Matt’s El Rancho to the running. It’s a giant restaurant, but it still manages to be completely packed on any night of the week. The margaritas are strong, the mariachi band is loud, the fajitas are sizzling, and the Bob Armstrong Dip is endless.
And while you definitely can find some upscale fajita restaurants in Austin (La Piscina, ATX Cocina) where you’d probably want to dress up a bit, there’s nothing formal or pretentious about Matt’s. Show up in street clothes, sneakers, flip-flops, whatever. Matt’s is a casual Austin restaurant with great vibes.
Hold Out Brewery
It’s a brewery, so it’s super casual, but did you know that Hold Out has some of the best food in Austin? (By the way, any one of these Austin breweries with food would be a great option for a casual Austin restaurant spot.) It’s a fun indoor/outdoor brewery with a lot of hoppy beers on tap, a big covered outdoor patio, and plenty of parking in the back lot (a rare treat in downtown Austin!)
Hold Out has a lot of burgers and sandwiches on the menu. The 50/50 burger (made with both pork and beef) is amazing. And the comeback chicken sandwich with curry bread & butter pickles is one of the best chicken sandwiches in Austin. Oh, and the salads at Hold Out? AMAZING. The cobb salad is one of those menu items that’s, oddly, almost as crave-able as the chicken wings. It’s all good, and it’s all very casual.
It looks like a coffee shop from the outside, but The Meteor is actually a full restaurant. Order brisket breakfast tacos, avocado toast, or lox for breakfast in the morning, or go for the salad or burger in the afternoon and evening. The Meteor has an excellent natural wine selection. You can buy a bottle and enjoy it on the back patio.
They also have fun patio snacks like crackers, fish tins, and charcuterie. There aren’t many places on South Congress that have a big, sprawling back patio like this one, so it’s a hidden gem.
There aren’t many restaurants in Austin that are better for solo diners needing a casual Austin lunch. Ramen Tatsu-ya has set itself apart from the competition as the go-to spot for a quick bowl of ramen in Austin. Pick any of their locations, sit at the counter, order a bowl of Tonkotsu, and you’ll be slurping those noodles about 10 minutes later.
Thai Fresh is one of the neighborhood restaurants tucked into Bouldin Creek, yet folks all around Austin know about it for their famous pad thai, hearty curries, and gluten-free baked goods. It really feels like a local spot with mismatched furniture, low ceilings, and a cozy coffee shop feel to it. The open kitchen means you can watch the big wok flame hard at work, heating the wok to high temperatures to get those perfect stir fries, noodles, and curry dishes served quickly and packed with flavor.
The pizza at Little Deli stands out among the best pizza in Austin, with an authentic New Jersey-style crust and a generous selection of toppings. The sauce is flavorful and slightly tangy, creating just the right balance of flavors. The cheese is perfect, always made from freshly grated mozzarella. Everything is cooked to perfection and served on a hot, freshly baked pizza. Oh, and the sandwiches are equally delicious here. Try the Harry’s Perfect Pastrami, made with a half pound of hot top round pastrami, thousand island dressing, fresh coleslaw, griddled on rye bread. It’s a big sandwich, so half sizes are available.
With generous portions, quality ingredients, and a casual neighborhood atmosphere, there’s a reason why Little Deli has been a staple in Austin for two decades. Two locations and they’re both great options for casual restaurants in Austin.
Need a casual restaurant for a night out with friends? Bar Peached is a sister restaurant to Peached Tortilla, but it feels just a bit more casual…after all, bar is in the name, and that’s what it feels like! Bar Peached is going to quickly become your favorite happy hour destination, with a delicious selection of discounted tacos, Asian-inspired comfort food, and cocktails.
When you need some delicious Tex Mex in Austin and a fun, festive setting, head to Grizzelda's in east Austin. It’s an excellent spot for a casual dinner or happy hour with girlfriends. They use locally sourced beef from their own ranch, serve really good cocktails, and (best news yet!) Grizzelda’s offers a really generous happy hour menu.
One more Tex Mex option…because this is Austin Texas and you can never have too much queso. Polvos is a fan favorite in the south Austin area, serving up heaping plates of Mexican classics like beef fajitas, enchiladas, and tacos. They are known for their signature queso, which is made to perfection every time and served with all the fixings that you can mix in. And Polvos is famous for their homemade flour tortillas and big pitchers of margaritas.
Whether you are in the mood for something light, like a queso and margaritas happy hour, or a big filling dinner, Polvos has it. With its classic Tex-Mex feel, and laid-back atmosphere Polvos is one of the best casual restaurants in Austin.
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