South Congress and South First

Arrive early, because this trailer on the corner of Riverside and Congress almost always sells out of their Indian entrées and Indo-Mexican “takos” filled with options like grilled paneer, steak fajitas, green chutney, and cilantro coco rice.

ABGB is the Zack Morris of Austin’s brewery scene: oozing charm and always the first one invited to the party. But really, they’ve got great sound (their live music lineup is always packed), their brews are winning national awards right and left, and those big, greasy farm-to-table-veggie-heavy pies will make you as happy as Screech on a date with Lisa Turtle.

1305 W. Oltorf

Why, yes, we do want ricotta hotcakes and the grilled shrimp burger for brunch. And pastry chef Amanda Rockman has the power to make a decidedly dessert-free diner (blaspheme!) into a believer with that tres leches oat cake and the pistachio chartreuse semifreddo with orange caramel jus. Amen.

1603 S. Congress

Chef Casey Wilcox took over Central Stand­ard’s kitchen this past year, refreshing the South Congress Hotel restaurant’s brunch and dinner menus with items like pierogi ravioli, Akaushi carpaccio with bacon remoulade, and a big fat chicken Kiev. His tasty spin on classics will have you floating to the top of those lovely high ceilings like Charlie at Willy Wonka’s factory. Just kidding, you’ll be way too full for that.


photo by John Anderson

Photo by John Anderson

Since 2014, childhood friends Leo Mendoza and David Martinez have offered up the sweet treats of their Ciudad Juarez youth: churros made from scratch and topped with creative compotes, silky chocolate, and more. Look for a second location soon.

1906 S. First

Located in the lovely and bustling Boul­din Creek area, this neighborhood bistro and its exquisite French Vietnamese offerings – oh, those escargot! that bánh mì! – will have you offering prayers of prosperity to McGuire Moorman Hospi­tal­ity. Garlic and butter and lemongrass and broth and bread have seldom been so well-wielded.

1501 S. First

Photo by John Anderson

John Anderson

Part retro fern bar, part Parisian brasserie, this all-day cafe on South Congress features one of the city’s best wine lists and a wide variety of small and large plates ranging from matzo ball caldo to salt cod croquettes to a fried chicken sandwich. Pub nights on Sundays feature Indian-inspired specials and discounted pints.

1722 S. Congress

Open 24/7, this bakery fulfills your everyday Mexican food needs. With around-the-clock antojitos, like tortas and huaraches, plus killer breakfast tacos and enchiladas, La Mexicana offers a variety of authentic goodness. They also boast an array of lovely pan dulce, including Día de Muertos and Día de Reyes specialties.

1924 S. First

Photo by David Brendan Hall

John Anderson

This tiny restaurant mastered that vintage chic aesthetic you’ve been curating on Pinterest for years, but they’ve also got a lovely three-course prix fixe menu. With an option each for Field, Sea, Land, and Dream, the seasonal dishes draw inspiration from cuisines of other face-of-the-sun locales. Pair craveworthy snacks like smoked fish tartine with half-off bottles during happy hour in the tiered wine garden.

1807 S. First

It’s hard to improve on the art of traditional Texas barbecue, so the way to stand out from the salt-and-pepper-rubbed masses is to reinvent the brisket. LeRoy & Lewis do just that, using left-field proteins like beef tongue and eschewing beans and slaw for inventive sides like barbecue fried rice.

121 Pickle Rd.

photo by John Anderson

This fine-dining destination underwent a glamorous face-lift and name change in 2017, and though they’ve kept their Baby Boomer origin story, the beautiful grounds (attention millennials, there are peacocks) are very Instagrammable. With unique dishes like grilled Spanish octopus and countryside farm duck, there’s something for everyone at Mattie’s.

811 W. Live Oak

There’s no chef in town like Yoshi. The manic Kyoto-born punk rocker is obsessed with ingredients, transforming fish flown directly from Tokyo and obscure don’t-call-them-weeds from HausBar Farms into an intimate 12-seat kaiseki experience that tastes like nothing else in town.

1603 S. Congress

Perla’s often comes to mind when the sun’s shining in the ATX and we’re craving chilled oysters and country club vibes. But don’t forget about the tender charred octopus with papas bravas or baked mac & cheese with lobster – the hunt for parking on SoCo is worth it.

1400 S. Congress

Although it opened just last year, Phoebe’s already has the feeling of a neighborhood institution, pairing barbecue with indulgent diner staples like French toast (here it’s deep-fried sourdough bread) and breakfast burritos (with smoked cheddar and coffee-rubbed brisket, natch).

533 W. Oltorf

photo by John Anderson

Photo by John Anderson

Strip mall-style Thai will always be a staple, but Sway was the first in Austin to elevate Southeast Asian food to a special occasion with curries, noodles, and extravagant coursed feasts that make for one of the best communal dining experiences in the city. Extra points for a must-order vegetarian app, the salt and pepper tofu.


With most of Austin’s Filipino restaurants located north of the river, Tito Adobo’s south location is something we all need (and want). The tangy adobo fried rice and purple yam ube horchata are the perfect primer to the delicious playground that is Filipino-American cuisine.

2201 S. First

Photo by John Anderson

photo by John Anderson

This may be one of Austin’s oldest and most reputable vegan and vegetarian restaurants, but even omnivores can’t get enough of the Renedict and sweet potato and pecan tamales at this longtime favorite. Between the ever-changing exhibits by local artists and the blueberry cornbread, brunch will be worth the wait! Inducted in 2018.

1900 S. First

If, in the hallowed halls of your restaurant, Bill Clinton grabs a classic taco special and Quentin Tarantino shoots part of his Austin-based Death Proof (but not really), it’s fair to say you’re recognized as an Austin institution. But the venerable Güero’s Taco Bar needs not that shimmer of celebrity to shine. For over 30 years, the Lippincott family has been perfecting a menu rooted in Mexican street food with Texan flair – we see you, tacos al pastor – and the Austin party vibe could not be more apparent. Unless, of course, your afternoon involves downing one of Güero’s 20 specialty margaritas, witnessing the ghost of Stevie Ray Vaughan haunting Lucy in Disguise, whizzing over Congress bridge on an e-scooter, and searching for “vintage” pearl snap shirts (a screenplay that is being optioned, so hands off, QT). Inducted in 2019.

1412 S. Congress

Photo by David Brendan Hall

John Anderson

Despite the many new pizza places that have popped up around town since it first made a splash, Home Slice still packs the house with both out-of-towners and locals. The reason? Hot, fresh, New York-style pies that haven’t lost their luster in more than a decade. Inducted in 2017.

1415 S. Congress

The great philosopher Jimmy Buffett was likely prophesying Hopdoddy with “Cheeseburger in Paradise,” and fellow wordsmith Jean-Paul Sartre boldly proclaimed that “hamburgers are other people.” No, wait, that might have been Charlton Heston in that Soylent Green film. Regardless, no other local burger joint has struck such a chord as this purveyor of all things ensconced in a bun. Be it beef, lamb, chicken, or veggie, Hopdoddy has cast a spell on this town. The fries with green chile queso is a solid combo, particularly paired with the elegantly dangerous Doble Fina margaritas, but the real MVP is that Caesar salad. Two words: fried chickpeas. Add a turkey burger patty and you might just believe there is hope in this world. Now with more locations than we can count – and a sister restaurant, Lil’doddy – it’s safe to say this is officially an empire. Perhaps, at the end of the day, we are all cheeseburgers. Inducted in 2019.

1400 S. Congress Ste. A-190

photo by John Anderson

A SoCo staple from before it was called SoCo, the elegant eatery takes its name from the buzzing dining room. It’s classic Italian, with walls of wine, in-house butchery, a long list of house-made delights, and thoughtfully sourced ingredients. We love the calamari fritti arrabbiata, Scampi con Salsa all’Aglio, and the Sicilian cheesecake, so very much. Inducted in 2016.

1610 S. Congress

South Lamar and Barton Springs

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