Lower East

We'd be hard pressed to name a hipper, faster changing culinary area of River City than East Austin. In the historically Hispanic neighborhood from Cesar Chavez up to East Seventh, warehouses, empty businesses, new retail space on the street level of condos, and charming old cottages are filling up with restaurants, watering holes, and artisan food shops. While Qui was certainly the most auspicious debut in this area over the past year, La Barbecue's move into the hood upped the good barbecue quotient; Mettle, Weather Up, and Hi Hat Public House have added some interesting dining; Salt & Time added both dinner and brunch to their offerings; and the brand new Hightower snuck open just as we were putting this issue together. 2014 looks to be every bit as busy and exciting, what with the ladies of LaV set to open this month and new eateries on the horizon along East Sixth from Bridget Dunlap and the Contigo boys, too, just to name a few. – Virginia B. Wood

John Anderson


The pizza expert here offers a frequently rotating menu for some of the very best wood-fired pizza in town and inventive Italian starters. Look for a delicate pie with cremini mushooms, caramelized onions, and thyme, or one loaded with the likes of caviar and paddlefish. Local beer and nice wine list; always busy. – Gracie Salem

1519 E. Cesar Chavez, 512/524-2523


This is one of our favorite feel-good trailers, proving that health and flavor can harmonize in the right hands. Love the veggie burger and the lamb and feta meatballs. The brunch menu is delightful. – Gracie Salem

4204 Manchaca Rd., 512/769-9560

East Side Show Room

As much about craft cocktails as the creative, locally sourced menu, the Show Room has been pleasing the Eastside set for years and now has a new chef, plus a monthly guest chef dinner series. The small menu hits high notes with Southern-style quail and tender short ribs. Also, look out for beets roasted in corn husks. This place is a delight for all the senses. – Gracie Salem

1100 E. Sixth, 512/467-4280

Eden East

Quintessentially farm-to-table, Eden East is both beautiful and charming. The inimitable Sonya Coté changes the menu weekly to provide the most seasonal and sustainable fare, direct from local farmers. Tucked away on Springdale Farm, dine al fresco at community tables among towering pecan trees under suspended crystals and twinkling lights. Yes, please. – Anna Toon

755 Springdale Rd., 512/428-6500

El Sunzal

At the west end of the Seventh Street H-E-B parking lot, a cozy little gem has long resided under the radar. Since the neighborhood renaissance, it is a secret no more. This neighborhood hole-in-the wall offers an excellent selection of Mexican and Salvadoran specialties. Rejoice in the tamale elotes, pupusas, and fried plantains. Wash it down with a 32-ounce beer. – Anna Toon

642 Calles, 512/474-7749

Mick Vann

John Mueller Meat Co.

The legend moved to the yard behind Kelly's Place on East Sixth last year, turning out his famous brisket, smoked turkey, beef ribs, and sausage as well as sandwiches and traditional sides. Undaunted by barbecue controversy, Mueller does what he was raised to do: smoke meat. Lines queue up at 10:30am until it's all gone. – Gracie Salem

2500 E. Sixth

Justine's Brasserie

Still one of the hippest, busiest destinations on the Eastside, Justine's offers simple French fare with understated service and one-of-a-kind atmosphere. Butter lettuce salad with lardons and the steak tartare are must-haves. With honest cocktails, a good wine list, and a magical outdoor space, Justine's continues to amaze. – Gracie Salem

4710 E. Fifth, 512/385-2900

John Anderson


Here is the classic story of a wildly popular trailer finding a permanent home and well-deserved recognition for the best kebab in Austin. Traditional beef/lamb combo or chicken are the standards, but the super-loaded Spoiled Brat has it all, literally, and the 12-inch king size will take you down. Be sure to add the fiery red sauce. – Gracie Salem

1311 E. Seventh, 512/394-6562

Kerlin BBQ

A relative newcomer to the Austin barbecue landscape, Kerlin BBQ promises a transcendent brisket experience without the Franklin-esque wait. Word on the street is that Bill Kerlin also makes a mean blue cheese coleslaw. – Melanie Haupt

1700 E. Cesar Chavez, 512/412-5588

Kenny Pailes

la Barbecue

This Eastside transplant recently landed on Chronicle writer Mick Vann's Top 10 Austin Barbecue Joints, and for good reason. Leading with delectable sausage and excellent smoked meats, the El Sancho Loco sandwich will drive you wild: pulled pork and chopped brisket on top of house-made sausage with red onion slaw. – Anna Toon

1906 E. Cesar Chavez, 512/605-9696


Likely the most anticipated restaurant opening of 2013, Paul Qui's eponymous restaurant is a celebration of creativity, from cuisine to ambiance. The innovative daily menu of surprises (dinuguen and squid ink pasta make the cut sometimes) pairs beautifully with his renowned staples, such as the whimsical Rabbit 7 Ways, to reinforce our hometown hero's star power. – Anna Toon

1600 E. Sixth, 512/436-9626

John Anderson

Salt & Time Butcher Shop & Salumeria

An artisan butcher shop offering craft beer along with lunch, dinner, and brunch service, Salt & Time is where nostalgia meets ingenuity. Whether you take a basic hog butchery class, join the goat revolution, or put your name on the list for a butcher box, everyone agrees this place is offal-ly good. – Anna Toon

1912 E. Seventh, 512/524-1383


At Takoba, relishing in the beauty of aesthetic bliss is of equal importance to experiencing the bursting flavors of Interior Mexican cuisine. Choose from an extensive mezcal list and dive into their signature Chile Relleno en Nogada. Once you make yourself at home on the backyard patio, sign up for tango lessons. – Anna Toon

1411 E. Seventh, 512/600-4715

John Anderson

Tamale House East

From the migas to the inexpensive breakfast tacos to the ample parking options: Be still our beating heart, Tamale House East. Operated by Carmen Valera (granddaughter and namesake of Tamale House founder Carmen Vasquez) and her siblings, the Tex-Mex hot spot hosts pop-up dinners and a diverse selection of events. Enjoy an agua fresca on the expansive outdoor patio. – Anna Toon

1707 E. Sixth, 512/495-9504

John Anderson

The Vegan Yacht

With an emphasis on organic, local, and non-GMO, this trailer isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Made-from-scratch, cruelty-free sandwiches, tacos, and chalupas await even the most virulent of meat lovers. For instant karma, hit up the Freeto Burrito. – Anna Toon

2324 E. Cesar Chavez

Via 313

Cuddled up to the Violet Crown Social Club, Via 313 doles out four square "corner" slices per pie in styles like the Cadillac, with gorgonzola, fig, prosciutto, Parmesan, and a balsamic glaze. Pizza bakes in steel pans originally used on automotive assembly lines from the Motor City. – Gracie Salem

1111 E. Sixth, 512/939-1927

Yellow Jacket Social Club

Patio trees throw shade over picnic tables and twinkling lights at this haven near the railroad tracks. Boasting a healthy balance of hard rock and hipster, YJSC is perfect for beer and whiskey. It's not your average bar menu, either, with a variety of excellent cheese plates and charcuterie. Be healed with kickass Bloody Marys and Sunday brunch. – Anna Toon

1704 E. Fifth, 512/480-9572
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