Are you ready for SXSW 2023?! With thousands of attendees coming to Austin every March, the city is about to be buzzing with activity and innovation. While the possibilities for entertainment seem endless, the best way to truly experience the city of Austin is through its food. But where should you eat during SXSW 2023? From classic Tex-Mex to new and upcoming restaurants, we’ll show you the best spots to visit. You’ll also learn how to get the most out of your experience by strategically planning your meals and taking advantage of shorter lines and happy hour deals. Full disclosure: there are far too many places to eat in Austin to try to tackle them all during SXSW, so we’ll just share the highlights that you must try while you’re in town. So buckle up and get ready! Here’s where to eat during SXSW 2023.
All of the restaurants below are local favorites. If you’re visiting Austin, you should eat how the locals eat. Ditch the tourist traps, chain restaurants, and 'meh' eateries, and experience the tantalizing flavors that have made this city a culinary destination. Everything on this list is a rock solid representation of some of the best food and drink in Austin. We’ll guide you to the top-rated restaurants locals love.
The festival generally takes place across the downtown area, so you'll be able to explore all the city blocks, plus a few hotspots in East Austin and South Congress. Need more ideas in addition to this guide? We’ve got this epic map of 50 places to eat in downtown Austin!
Where To Eat During SXSW 2023
Better Half Bar
Go here for: morning coffee/breakfast, amazing burgers and cocktails, craft beer
Located on the western edge of downtown Austin, Better Half Bar is embraced by locals and SXSW visitors alike. Folks come here for the laid-back atmosphere and delicious all-day menu. From their phenomenal coffee program and scratch-made pastries to lunch burgers and hearty salads, there's something for everyone to enjoy.
In fact, Better Half Bar won Restaurant of the Year by Eater, making it the perfect spot for a quick bite while exploring the city during SXSW. Another reason to visit: Better Half Bar is adjacent to their sister business, Hold Out Brewery. It’s a popular craft brewery in Austin with its tasty food menu, indoor/outdoor seating, and casual Austin vibes. It’s a great spot to unwind after a long day of attending SXSW panels and shows.
Go here for: a cappuccino pick-me-up
When people think of Austin's vibrant community of specialty coffee shops, the first one that comes to mind is likely Houndstooth. Originally opened in 2010, Houndstooth quickly put Austin on the map as a coffee destination and has become a downtown Austin staple for coffee connoisseurs. They serve some of the best espresso-based drinks you can find in Austin.
At the heart of the shop's appeal lies its commitment to creating the perfect cup of coffee for each customer. It serves handcrafted coffee made from its own brand of roasted bean (Tweed Coffee Roasters), roasted in small batches to ensure each sip is full of rich, intense flavor. Houndstooth also offers a wide range of espresso drinks, as well as specialty cold brews and hot chocolate. Even in a city with plenty of places to get coffee, Houndstooth is a beloved original that still stands out from the rest.
Go here for: tacos on Rainey Street
Anyone coming to Austin in March is going to ask: “where can I get tacos near SXSW?” and our answer? Asador. These tacos are INSANELY good. So good, in fact, this small business, which started as a little taco stand behind Las Perlas bar (that location still exists!), has expanded into three taco shops. The largest location of Asador is on Rainey Street.
Their menu is insanely simple, and that’s what makes it so great. There are typically about 5 tacos on the menu, plus a rotation special and a quesadilla. DEFINITELY get the brisket taco. The meat is soft and flavorful and falls apart, but the tortilla is a little bit charred on the outside and holds it all together nicely. Add guacamole for two bucks (again, you’ll definitely want to do that.) Pro tip: get the chips and queso as a starter, and then dip your taco in the queso.
Banger’s Sausage House & Beer Garden
Go here for: outdoor dinner on Rainey Street
Banger's Sausage House is one of the best places to eat during SXSW, but don't take our word for it. Just keep an eye on this popular Rainey Street beer garden and sausage house and watch how the crowd never dwindles. With its ever-changing menu of classic dishes and new specials, Banger's has become a favorite amongst foodie locals and SXSW diners alike.
The atmosphere is the perfect blend of lively and casual, with rustic floors and a dirt-floor outdoor patio with community picnic tables. Banger’s has the largest beer tap wall in Austin, 20+ homemade sausages (try the rattlesnake and rabbit!), and good, classic late-night eats with light fried cheese curds, jalapeno cheddar mac n cheese, and an incredible burger with hand-cut American fries. If you need a place to grab a beer, listen to some music, or just sit down and enjoy a delicious dinner, add Banger's Sausage House to your list of must-try places in Austin.
Go here for: the best tacos al pastor in the city
There are several places that could compete for the title of best tacos in downtown Austin, but Vaquero Taquero wins the category for best tacos al pastor. They start with housemade corn tortillas, then fill them with flame-seared pork that’s carved off of their own trompo. They add a flick of pineapple; then the diner can choose her own salsa and maybe a squeeze of lime before devouring the tacos.
Vaquero Taquer also has other street tacos and breakfast tacos, so it really is a great place to go at any time of the day during SXSW.
Go here for: Neapolitan pizza and wine
This small Italian eatery is nestled into a small space just off Dirty Sixth street. It has a calm, inviting ambiance that will draw you in (in contrast to the loud, grungy bars where lots of the unofficial SXSW bands are playing around the corner.) The Backspace is small, with just a few tables and a row of a few bar stools. But if you can find a spot, you’re going to be able to enjoy one of the best pizzas in Austin during your time at SXSW.
Start with a glass of wine (½ off during their happy hour from 5-6:30 Tue-Sat), a plate of their famous pork meatballs, and maybe their insanely delicious Texas citrus salad. The pizzas are small and cooked in their wood-fired oven, so they’re delivered to your table quickly with a charred crust and bubbly cheese. Backspace is one of Austin’s best places to eat during SXSW if you need a quiet, cozy spot for happy hour or dinner.
Go here for: caffeine and a photo
No, the coffee here isn’t necessarily the best you can find in Austin. But Jo’s Coffee is an iconic Austin destination, with its green cement walls, big red sign, and iconic “I Love You So Much” mural painted on the side. It’s located on South Congress, so if you find yourself down there in the morning and need a pick-me-up, Jo’s Iced Turbo is a sugary-sweet concoction of hazelnut and chocolate and cream, and espresso that Austin locals love.
Buenos Aires Cafe
Go here for: a delicious lunch or dinner
Buenos Aires Café is a locally owned, laid-back Argentinian restaurant located right in East Austin. It’s a longtime popular spot among Austinites for its big servings of delicate grilled meats. They also serve other delicious Argentinian food like their famous homemade empanadas, milanesa, and traditional chimichurri sauce in their cute east Austin home. It has a cozy, bohemian feel to it, and it’s a great place to enjoy a quiet meal and escape the SXSW crowds for the afternoon.
They also have craft cocktails as well as a wine list that highlights the country's different regions as well as its most famous grape: Malbec.
Go here for: a quick food hall lunch of great Austin eats
Fareground is the first food court in Austin, and it’s just a few steps away from the Convention Center. You can quickly stop by for a delicious lunch at a local Austin eatery with your festival friends. Some of Austin's top restaurants and chefs are located here, so expect some of the best farm-to-table eats like Little Wu's dumplings, Taco Pegaso's Mexican street cuisine, Henbit (from the Emmer & Rye Group), and Austin Rotisserie's succulent French-style chicken.
Aside from their food vendors, they also have two bars with wine, cocktails, and beer. One is located inside, and one is outside, where you can enjoy your drinks on the sunny patio.
Veracruz All Natural
Go here for: the best breakfast tacos in Austin
When its first food trailer opened in 2008, Austin's Veracruz All Natural quickly established a reputation for serving the best Austin tacos, breakfast tacos, and chips + guac. If you need some tacos during SXSW, the Veracruz location at the Line Hotel is super convenient for festival-goers, and they serve some of the best breakfast tacos in Austin, served on homemade tortillas with fresh salsas.
You can also grab their famous migas, chilaquiles tacos, mole chicken tacos, and an AMAZING cochinita pibil taco with sweet, fried plantains and agua fresas. This taco restaurant is perfect for both breakfast and lunch during SXSW.
Go here for: a nationally-recognized Mexican restaurant in Austin
Suerte is still one of Austin’s most popular and award-winning Mexican-themed dining establishments. They won Best New Restaurant in 2019 from Food & Wine and haven’t stopped picking up accolades ever since then. Everything on their menu is made of masa, including the suadero tacos with black magic oil, carnitas tlacoyo, and an abundance of other delicious options.
To create their award-winning dining experience, Suerte produces a seasonally driven menu that focuses on combining traditional Mexican cooking methods with local Texas ingredients. Aside from that, they also have a full bar featuring a constantly changing menu of natural wines, handmade cocktails, and some of Mexico's most distinctive agave and succulent spirits. If you’re visiting Austin for SXSW and you want to be sure to check out one of the best restaurants in Austin, try to get a reservation at Suerte. (Reservations all full? Try to arrive early and grab a bar stool, where you can order both cocktails and menu items.)
Go here for: a nationally-recognized farm-to-table restaurant in Austin
Odd Duck is a beautiful, rustic, window-wrapped restaurant on South Lamar providing sophisticated farm-to-table food. They serve everything from amazing brunch to fantastic shareable dinner plates, and pretty much every Austinite knows and loves this restaurant. Odd Duck offers items like grilled lamb with green chile hummus and goat heart tacos, and so many other options. Local and seasonal foods are the restaurant's major focus, so the menu is constantly rotating.
Since the restaurant is just across the river, it has a more relaxed atmosphere and a most enjoyable dining experience than some of the downtown restaurants during SXSW. This place is perfect for larger groups who might want to share meals.
Go here for: barbecue for lunch
Since December 2012, Micklethwait has been offering sandwiches, combo platters, and Texas-style barbecue smoked meats from a trailer with picnic tables outside. They’ve been recognized multiple times by Texas Monthly in their Top 50 Texas BBQ Joints list, and Austin residents consider this one of the best bbq spots in the city. Some of their specialties include house-made sausage, brisket, and pork ribs; all served on house-made pickles and bread, as well as unique sides like their jalapeno cheese grits.
Micklethwait is a food trailer that’s parked behind Saddle Up, an east Austin beer garden. Stop by and grab a craft beer to enjoy while you’re waiting in line for an authentic Texas barbecue.
P6 at The Line
Go here for: rooftop cocktails with a view of the lake
The P6 rooftop patio is located in downtown Austin and positioned on the sixth floor of the amazing hotel The LINE Austin. It was once a rooftop parking garage, but it’s been transformed into a cozy lounge area for al fresco dining and drinking with panoramic and breathtaking views of Lady Bird Lake, Congress Ave, and the South Austin skyline. After a full day of attending SXSW, you can never go wrong with getting some of their Mediterranean-inspired small plates paired with a cold cocktail. Psst: this is one of the best places to view of the Austin sunset.
Go here for: delicious all-day tacos
If you’re looking for all-day tacos, then be sure and visit OneTaco, an urban taqueria in downtown Austin. Famous for being featured on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives, this counter-service taco stand serves delicious food, including street food tacos perfect for breakfast, lunch, or dinner - or late-night nibbling - as well as agua fresca and chips and guac.
Go here for: the best breakfast and brunch during SXSW
Need a delicious brunch spot in downtown Austin during SXSW? Forthright serves delicious food from scratch, made with the best ingredients. Start out with a coffee drink from the bar (they use Counter Culture coffee), and then order your classic American breakfast like chicken and waffles, avocado toast, or the most delicious eggs benedict. Forthright has tall windows, lots of natural light, and an outdoor patio.
Central District Brewery
Go here for: a craft beer break during SXSW
Central District Brewing is a small-batch brewery located in downtown Austin. If you’re hoping to visit a craft brewery during SXSW, Central District and Hold Out are the two that are closest to the festival.
Central District won a gold medal at GABF for the Wit-Tington (Belgo-style ale), so be sure to give that one a try. They also offer an extensive collection of in-house brews like their pillar beers, seasonals, and experimental beers. You can choose anything from light, dark sour, hobby, and strong to see what you like. Flights available.
Go here for: some of the best pizza in Austin
Via 313 is a food truck serving the best Detroit-style pizza. These are rectangular pies that are made with a thick, soft crust covered with cheese, meats, and then sauce on top. Via 313 started as a food truck in Austin and very quickly grew in popularity (try one bite and you’ll see why) and now they have multiple locations around the city. The E 6th Street location has indoor/outdoor dining, and it’s in close proximity to other east Austin bars.
Go here for: craft beer and tacos in east Austin
Lazarus Brewery is a cozy brewery for craft beer, coffee, and tacos, located in the heart of the East 6th Street entertainment district. They’re famous for their GABF award-winning beers, Mexican street food tacos, and incredible outdoor patio. If you’re not into beer, there’s actually a pretty wonderful wine list, as well as a full espresso bar. The patio is really big for east Austin standards, and it’s both kid-friendly and pet-friendly.
Brew and Brew
Go here for: coffee and beer
Located just between downtown Austin and east Austin, Brew and Brew is a trendy industrial bar and cafe that serves coffee, craft beers, and wine with sandwiches and light nibbles. There are 38 craft beer taps available, in addition to a wide variety of natural wines, cider, tea, and other cold drinks. On warm sunny days they’ll up the garage door-style walls, play some fun music, and keep the good times rolling. Brew & Brew is a local Austin favorite for great coffee and great beer.
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