South Lamar and Barton Springs

John Anderson

Young chef Bryce Gilmore achieved national renown with his Odd Duck trailer, enabling him to open gastropub Barley Swine, where he showcases his flair for farm-fresh, local ingredients prepared with deft excellence. Small plates and a wide selection of microbrews, served in a convivial, communal atmosphere. – Kate Thornberry

6555 Burnet Rd. #400
512/394-8150
www.barleyswine.com

For more than 30 years Chuy's has defined the term "Tex-Mex." Consistently good and slammingly popular, Chuy's serves big ol' plates of cheesy enchiladas, tacos, relleños, burritos, and house specialties. There's a full bar, three flavors of frozen margaritas, and a bright, party atmosphere. – Kate Thornberry

1728 Barton Springs Rd.
512/474-4452
chuys.com

With this second shop, nestled in good company on South Lamar, El Mesón takes it up a notch with a lavish tequila selection and extended hours to include dinner of authentic Mexican fare. We adore the amuse-bouches here, like the unexpected tiny bowls of fideo or a little street-style corn on the cob.– Gracie Salem

2038 S. Lamar
512/442-4441
www.elmesonaustin.wordpress.com

Nothing like a just-made crepe from a cute trailer to take you back to Paris. The traditional ham and Gruyère cheese with green onion is our favorite, but the Texas-style shredded pork with cheddar cheese, pickles, and Tabasco gets our attention, too. –Gracie Salem

CLOSED

photo by John Anderson

Boy oh boy, did South Austin need a shop like Henri's. To-die-for sandwiches, package wine sales, charcuterie, and an inviting, inspiring cheese case for generous tasting and purchase by the ounce. The Beecher's cheddar with house-roasted turkey and avocado could change your life. Great for lunch, and lovely for an early dinner, too. – Gracie Salem

CLOSED

The inventive, and frankly brilliant, chef Luke Bibby helms this exemplary trailer, where he dishes up gourmet "griddled" sandwiches, fascinating appetizers, and culinary whims such as homemade peppermint ice cream sandwiches and kimchi empanadas. – Kate Thornberry

CLOSED

photo by John Anderson

photo by John Anderson

Little screams South Austin as loudly and proudly as a Sunday morning at Maria's Taco Xpress. Nothing short of an institution, Maria's offers simple, fast fare like the hangover-curing gorditas plate, plenty of seating, live music, a build-your-own Bloody Mary bar at brunch, and lots of folks keepin' it weird. – Gracie Salem

CLOSED

Continually successful for more than 50 years, Matt's El Rancho has never strayed far from its winning formula: authentic Mexican food made from scratch, on the premises, and according to revered family recipes. Handmade tortillas, freshly fried tostadas, classic salsas, and tart margaritas, all served in echoing, tiled rooms.– Kate Thornberry

2613 S. Lamar
512/462-9333
mattselrancho.com

photo by John Anderson

John Anderson

Chef James Holmes serves up eclectic, upscale fare made from local, organic, seasonal produce, Gulf seafood, and local pastured meats. Excellent wine list, private tables, exemplary service, plus candles and flowers flawlessly converge in a gorgeous, Michael Hsu-designed building. – Kate Thornberry

CLOSED

Interior and traditional. The empanadas de huitlacoche of handmade corn masa are stuffed with corn truffle or "corn smut" to make a real delicacy. Look for salsa made with a molcajete, or mortar and pestle, and be sure to try the puerco pipian, which are pork carnitas smothered in a roasted pumpkin seed sauce. – Gracie Salem

1816 S. Lamar
512/326-4395
www.sazonaustin.com

John Anderson

Tacodeli boasts easily the most talked-about breakfast taco in town, but the lunch menu will take you down at the knees, too. Don't overlook the handmade mole, and absolutely try the Tacoloco with adobo-braised brisket, caramelized onions and mushrooms, and topped with cilantro, avocado, and queso fresco. Best four bucks you ever spent. – Gracie Salem

1500 Spyglass
512/732-0303
www.tacodeli.com

This is famed chef Tyson Cole's flagship restaurant, where he brought his Japanese fusion fare to national prominence. Stellar sushi, sake, and sashimi, outstanding daily specials, hot and cold tasting menus, and topographical desserts, served in a relaxing, opulent atmosphere. – Kate Thornberry

801 S. Lamar
512/916-4808
uchiaustin.com

Photo by John Anderson

P. Terry's

If you’re wondering how a burger drive-through earned a spot in our Hall of Fame, you haven’t earned your Austin stripes. Everyone recognizes the infamous Golden Arches, but thanks to Patrick and Kathy Terry, alongside architecture guru Michael Hsu, the futuristic aesthetic of this Central Texas mega-chain – more than 21 locations and counting – is also recognizable from the highway … but for way better food and business practices. Since 2005, when they opened the original location on Barton Springs, it’s largely been the same simple menu, and the ingredients are real: 100% Angus beef and ground chicken breast, Mrs. Baird’s special buns, fresh-cut Idaho potatoes, house veggie patties, and more – all at “fast food” prices. They welcome customizing your combo (say yes to jalapeño and grilled onions), offer breakfast sammies, and frequently surprise us with monthly milkshake specials and their staff with birthday cakes. As if we couldn’t fall any more in love, in 2021, a year of turmoil, P. Terry’s executives raised the minimum wage for all employees to $15 per hour. Heroes? We think so. Inducted in 2021.

404 S. Lamar
512/473-2217
pterrys.com

Many of us became obsessed with noodles thanks to an affection for Eighties and Nineties Asian crime dramas: In almost every film, there is a scene of a meal shared between cohorts, cops, or often just regular people. And they slurp those noodles, and they spoon that broth, and we’re like, “That looks like the most amazing combination of ingredients in the universe!” Restaurants like Ramen Tatsu-ya effortlessly expand all of our palates, and we are lucky they chose Austin to become a ramen mecca, now with a family of offshoots like Domo Alley-Gato Tatsu-ya, Kemuri Tatsu-ya, DipDipDip Tatsu-ya, and Tiki Tatsu-ya. Despite (and because of) the pedigree of minds – like chef Tatsu Aikawa – behind these delightful bowls of wonder, it all comes down to the noodles. Slurping them here is a singular experience. Inducted in 2019.

1234 S. Lamar
ramen-tatsuya.com

photo by John Anderson

John Anderson

South Lamar’s Uchi has been setting the gold standard for Austin cuisine for years, and shows no signs of slowing down. James Beard Award winner chef Tyson Cole continues to serve intricate and exquisite renderings of Japanese cuisine that will be the most worthwhile, treat-yourself splurge you make all month … maybe even all year. Inducted in 2017.

801 S. Lamar
512/916-4808
uchiaustin.com

 
South Congress, South First, and Farther South
Southwest and Lakeway

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle