I had the pleasure of spending a week in Austin for SXSW. Now, I don't normally love Texas. However, Austin is a major departure from the other ultra conservative cities it shares a state amongst. The city's moto is "keep Austin weird" which lends itself to expressing the city's eccentricity and diversity. The vibe is laid back, everyone you meet is nice, and there's booze & music everywhere. People come from all over the country to live there, it's a great melting pot.
Of all the things I love in Austin, the food is center stage. There's tremendous diversity and so much of it is done well. Food trucks are everywhere you look. People have spent years perfecting their craft in those trucks and the epic lines prove it. Restaurants are comfortable with huge beer selections and tons of outdoor seating. Everyone you meet has an opinion and ready-made list of must-try places to send you to. My food adventure co-warrior Michelle (coffeeandchampange.com, check her out!) and I set out to try it all. We learned very early on that the lines for food are hell. No one seems to be in a rush to do anything. Coming from New York that made me a *little* crazy. That being said I’d go back and wait all over again. The city has so much more to offer than barbecue and tacos, but those are top notch too. Below you'll find a list of places we visited, complete with my glowing stamp of approval. Here we go y'all:
Torchy's Tacos - get the breakfast tacos at this establishment and anything else you can fit inside your stomach. They serve the best tacos I've had in Austin. Barack Obama was there 15 minutes before we got there. Glad he left me some
La Barbeque - some of the best chopped beef and pulled pork I've ever had. The smoked turkey was increedibly juicy and flavorful. Get a sandwich piled high with 2 meats, jalapenos, pickled onions, and fritos. It's basically a heart attack but YOLO
Chi'lantro - I dont care what else they serve besides kimchi fries and neither should you. They arrive topped (nay, drowning) with ribeye, caramelized kimchi, cheddar + monterey jack, onions, cilantro, magic sauce, sesame seeds, sriracha. It's like crack.
Homeslice - people go crazy for this place so it deserves a spot on the list. However, it is no different than the NY $1 slices you get on every corner in Manhattan. Nothing wrong with that, not everyone can be as luck as us New Yorker's
Ramen Tatsu-ya - I didn't come across a lot of Asian food options in Austin so I'm glad I found this place. Locals say it's the best ramen around. I'm inclined to agree. The broth takes 3 days to make which makes it incredibly rich and flavorful. They use Sun Noodle for the noodles, like many of the best ramen places in the country.
Jacoby's - this place is so gorgeous and picturesque in nature I'd honestly let them serve me dirt. The gardens and a picnic area overlooking the Colorado River Wildlife Sanctuary. Lucky for me, they serve an amazing meal to go with a stunning outdoor space. Here you'll find southern comfort food with hyper-local meats and ingredients.
Veracruz All Natural - ask anyone in Austin where the best tacos are and they will point you to this place. Find homemade tortillas, fresh ingredients, and hands-down the best migas taco in Austin here.
Franklin Barbecue - No discussion about Austin is complete without mentioning Franklin Barbecue. Widely revered as the greatest BBQ in America, Franklin is a smoked meat mecca. People show up at 6am to wait in line for the food which is often sold out by 2pm for good reason.
Hey! You Gonna Eat or What? - deep fried monte christo drowning in jam served out of a bright red food trailer and a side of sarcasm to go with your food
Hopdoddy's Burgers - good value, well seasoned burgers, and tons of toppings. Didn't change my life, but people like it and it's a solid, affordable burger