There aren’t a ton of places to get arepas in Austin, but this tiny trailer on East Sixth Street undoubtedly offers the best. Carlos Quitian opened up this Colombian food walk-up in November 2014, serving authentic empanadas and cooling ice pops in a casual spot in the middle of the Pangea Lounge.
1211 E. Sixth
Serving self-proclaimed “authentic badass Cajun,” Baton blurs that Louisiana-Texas line with ease, bringing Cajun-inspired, Austin-friendly twists on old faves. Dark roux gumbo, jambalaya batons, and poutine fries with brie are only a few of the mouthwatering bayou flavors on this menu.
1016 E. Sixth
When it comes to Neapolitan pizza, it doesn’t get better than the pies at Bufalina. Now with two locations (lower East Austin and Brentwood), you’ve got even more reason to go get you some house-made mozzarella, seasonal small plates (oh hey, ricotta gnocchi with pesto), and exceptional wines, all served in cozy neighborhood spots.
1519 E. Cesar Chavez
Curcuma (aka turmeric in science-speak) offers healthy alternatives to the typical food truck fare. The ayurvedic meals like the kitchari bowl and raw pecan tacos are as full of flavor as they are nutrients, and the charcoal lemonade and Golden Mylk beverages have amassed a cult following.
2207 E. Cesar Chavez
Northern Thai street food made with fresh, high-quality ingredients is the name of the game at this trailer that’s recently made its first move to behind the new Eastside bar La Holly. In addition to spicy favorites like laab moo and pad kaprow, find newer additions like tofu stir-fry and som tom tod (shredded papaya and carrot in a crunchy tempura batter).
4204 Menchaca Rd.
Eden East extols the values of intentional eating and intends to do so even as Springdale Farm closes. The tiny on-site kitchen will continue farming the land and serving up hyperlocal seasonal food for the foreseeable future by supplementing their prix fixe menu with more à la carte items. Show ’em some love, Austin.
This quintessential hole-in-the-wall eatery maintains only a bare-bones appearance on the outside, but every dish is complex in flavor. Pupusas, fried yucca, chicharrónes, plantains, and seafood soup – all of the sweet and salty notes are married in ways best described in a Romance language.
Grizzelda’s lured us into their handsome dining room with striking wallpapers and impressed us with perfectly tender birria de res, but the “ATX-Mex” concept from the Jacoby’s fam won us over with “flaming mezcal.” Why yes, we would like to add a shot of mezcal to our queso fundido and light the whole thing on fire. Thank you for asking.
With its shiny teal walls and fairy-light-strung patio, Il Brutto is anything but ugly. The menu is dedicated to classic Italian dishes like squid ink tagliolini (don’t even think about asking for Parmesan!) and delightfully crisp-edged wood-fired pizzas, perfect with a glass or two of spumante.
1601 E. Sixth
Austin’s newest Italian eatery revived the space Bud’s Motorcycle Shop occupied for over 30 years. The original sign out front honors the building’s past, and the house-made pastas, delectable small plates, and artisan chocolates promise good things to come. Happy hour on the sun-striped patio (with half-off bar snacks) shouldn’t be missed.
2612 E. Cesar Chavez
Ranchers know good food, y’all. Go early for happy hour and watch the sun set over the Colorado River before staying for a dinner of Texas-inspired comfort food like chicken-fried steak, deviled eggs, and mac & cheese.
3235 E. Cesar Chavez
Embracing the time-honored ways of Italian fare alongside our modern Central Texas pride, chef Nicholas Yanes is consistently raising the bar. Here you’ll find locally and thoughtfully sourced ingredients from distilleries to groves that are incorporated into handmade dishes that reinvent the term “classic.”
2400 E. Cesar Chavez #304
You could stick to the classics like escargots à la bourguignonne or steak tartare, but you’d be remiss to pass up the ever-changing chalkboard specials. Then again, maybe you’re just popping in for a late-night cocktail/rendezvous with a lover, or perhaps a glass of bubbles before your photo sesh with Lumiere Tintype.
4710 E. Fifth
This Texan izakaya concept from ramen gurus Tatsu Aikawa and Takuya Matsumoto marries barbecue-inspired Asian dishes with a wide variety of beer, sake, shochu, Japanese whiskey, and inventive cocktails. Start with playful snacks – like their take on a Hot Pocket and chili cheese takoyaki – before moving on to yakitori, kushiyaki, and a menu of smoked items (order the BBQ Boat to try a selection of proteins). Be sure to save room for brisket ramen – around these parts, it’s considered dessert.
2713 E. Second
Nestled in the cutest little turquoise school bus off Airport, this bright jewel-toned Instagram darling delivers as much substance as style, with Austin-influenced spins on Peruvian flavors. Think yucca hummus with white miso and kale chimichurri, or eggs Benedict with boar instead of bacon.
It might be an island thing, but Kreyol Korner’s gourmet Caribbean combinations have become an Austin thing. Specializing in Haitian dishes, they are bringing the Creole culture to Texas with their fresh herbs and spices and options like fried pork shoulder or legume combo plates with red beans & rice and plantains.
For a line that’s much shorter than Franklin’s epic stretch – and barbecue that’s arguably just as droolworthy – head to this trailer-turned-brick-and-mortar, which shares a space with Quickie Pickie. The buttery brisket is mandatory and the beef ribs are legendary, but that moist and flavorful turkey might be their best-kept secret. Can’t decide? Order one of their next-level sandwiches, like El Sancho Loco, which comes piled with sausage, pulled pork, and chopped beef.
2027 E. Cesar Chavez
Masterminded by two Italians, La Matta is a sunny shop that features classic Italian paninis, salads, and salumi boards. Much of the bread is made in-house and pairs excellently with the slow-cured meats and exceptionally creamy burrata, which you should really use as butter instead of cheese (on everything).
Fixer Upper stars Chip & Joanna Gaines would go nuts for the shiplap-centric interior, but we’re particularly fond of this little gem’s Mexican soul food dishes like sopes and huaraches. The friendly and knowledgeable staff is an added bonus to the dizzying list of mezcals and tequilas.
1306 E. Sixth
Gluten-free, grain-free, but definitely not cheese-free, Lua Brazil offers cheese bread that is a pull-apart globe of satisfaction. They’ve also recently begun offering tapi-tacos, which are exactly what you would expect, except the “tortilla” is made out of tapioca flour.
517 N. I-35
Stylish new restaurants are a dime a dozen on the Eastside these days, but with its sleek eco-modern A-frame design and flavor-forward approach to Southern classics like pimento cheese and (yes!) that infamous spicy fried chicken, Pitchfork Pretty stands out from the herd.
This welcoming, no-frills butcher shop showcases fresh cut meats from sustainable ranches in its glass cases, and uses that same high-quality meat in its restaurant. They’ve got all three meals covered for meat-eaters: shareable steak and Butcher’s Bolognese make a top-notch dinner, corned beef hash with veggies and potatoes nail brunch, and a Roast Beast sandwich should be your lunch.
1912 E. Seventh
We could marvel all day at the colorful custom front door by local wood artist Aaron Michalovic, but once inside, Suerte’s food impresses with standout “frio” (read: raw) offerings and masa-driven small plates. With a stellar cocktail menu that’s as culinary as it is crafty, the new kid on the block is already making big waves.
1800 E. Sixth
Since 1961, the Avila family has been providing Austinites with some of the best greasy spoon Tex-Mex in the 512, with homey takes on classics like huevos rancheros, breakfast tacos, and, of course, their infamous hangover-busting menudo. Make sure to stop by the bakery out front for a concha after breakfast. Inducted in 2018.
2305 E. Seventh
Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin. Support the Chronicle