Lower East

Chef Nick Belloni, former executive chef of Eden East, gives guests a one-man show from open to close. Featuring organic, house-nixtamalized corn tortillas; smoked local meats; and an innovative lineup and layering of lesser-known, local farm veggies (collard greens, rapini, tempura-fried fava leaves) with fermented hot sauces that have vegetarians rushing to bring their friends. And yes, you can put an egg on it.

What’s in a name? A picnic with any other spelling might only match the bright array of tastes and freshness of Leanne Valenti’s Japan-inspired joint, an Eastside delight with indoor and outdoor seating and plenty of grab-and-go meals at the ready.

2600 E. Cesar Chavez

Photo by John Anderson

John Anderson

Brazilian street food at its finest, this bright yellow neon sign of a food truck serves up tasty yuca fries and empanadas. But the pièce de résistance is probably the picanha grelhada with sirloin steak, rice, beans, and a fried egg.

1209 E. Sixth

The most magnificent element of TBT is its commitment to being an ever-evolving workshop of thoughtfully creative dishes that pair with complex, robust beers. Sure, we support drinking beer and eating indulgent food in all forms, but TBT has provided a master class in how to treat beer as a reciprocal tribute to food. And while the dinner menu is too weighty to extrapolate in magnificent detail inside one blurb, TBT’s aged pork ribs should be recognized as a true knockout. Also, TBT’s Lager Garden happy hour specials are criminally underhyped.


John Anderson

John Anderson

Sometimes you want NY-style pizza. Sometimes Chicago-style. Sometimes one of those Detroit-inflected pies. And sometimes you want ’za like it came directly from Naples, but with local ingredients (house-made mozzarella!), and on perfectly crisped dough via a wood-fired oven. And that’s when you come here.

1519 E. Cesar Chavez

Casa Colombia is Austin’s best reminder that not everything from below the border comes from Mexico. This South American staple features some of the world’s best comfort food with dishes that have universal appeal and regional roots.

2409 E. Seventh

John Anderson

Photo by John Anderson

Even if Eden is a faraway place with irresistible produce, Austin has the next best thing: Eden East. Bountiful Texas fruit and vegetables are plucked, prepared, and then presented on a rotating weekly menu that focuses on highlighting nature’s production in vibrant ways.

755 Springdale

In a town full of trendy restaurant concepts, this sleek East Austin spot succeeds by keeping it simple and nailing the basics. Order a cacio e pepe (all the pasta is handmade), margherita pizza, and Negronis for a perfect date. Or treat yourself to Monday’s limoncello and lasagna night. Little-brother restaurant La Matta, also blessed with native Italian chef Erind Halilaj, takes the same approach for a casual Italian lunch of paninis and insalate with a Peroni or an espresso. There’s nothing “ugly” about it.

1601 E. Sixth

Photo by John Anderson

Photo by John Anderson

What do you get when a chocolatier (Krystal Craig) and her chef husband (Ian Thurwachter) launch an Italian restaurant focused on using the whole animal and locally sourced produce? An ultramodern sustainable restaurant that’s just as kind to the palate as it is to the planet.

2612 E. Cesar Chavez

Since originally opening, Nic Yanes and the Juniper team have kept their vision intact, while moving from a more delicate approach to one based around adept interpretations of the classics. The self-described “Northern Italian meets Central Texas” menu interprets local ingredients through an Italian lens, and not an element is out of place.

2400 E. Cesar Chavez #304

photo by John Anderson

Photo by David Brendan Hall

Pierre Pelegrin and Justine Gilcrease have been dazzling us for close to a decade now, having cultivated an enduring energy that keeps devoted locals coming back, and a legacy that pulls tourists and celebrities from all corners of the globe. In a city of too many choices, the small but memorable French menu and well-executed cocktails aren’t what keep folks obsessed, but rather the sultry, immersive vibe and annual designer Winter Tent, transporting us to what feels like another time, or even another dimension.

4710 E. Fifth

First they brought Japanese soul food to Austin, and now they’re adding Austin soul to Japanese food. The chefs behind Ramen Tatsu-ya have blended their roots with the influence of this barbecue-proud state to create brisket ramen, meat skewers smoked over mesquite, and banana pudding made with miso caramel.

2713 E. Second

photo by John Anderson

photo by John Anderson

Peruvian food ain’t just ceviche, and chef Kati Luedecke will gladly introduce you to the wide range of bright flavors and bold ingredients Lima is known for. The aji amarillos, ubiquitous in Peru, are bountiful here, too, sliding perfect amounts of flavor and heat into this inspired, must-try Peruvian-Texan menu.

828 Airport

Indo-Mexican cuisine sparks a big “hell yes” when it’s from the wheeled kitchen of chef Ravi Chandra, a tandoori-trained talent who can put the best of both traditions on a paratha flatbread and win your tummy’s devotion every time. Habla tikka masala? ¡Sí!

2730 E. Cesar Chavez

John Anderson

photo by David Brendan Hall

LeAnn Mueller carries on the family name with her East Austin BBQ joint, specializing in locally sourced, grass-fed meats smoked low and slow, served alongside classic sides and house-made pickles or in crazy sandwich combos.

2401 E. Cesar Chavez

Leave it to Austin’s beloved Rene Ortiz and Laura Sawicki to create an East Austin institution out of the “global comfort food” concept, often trotted out by hotels and restaurant consultants to middling effect. Ortiz’s time in New York, Australia, and beyond coupled with Sawicki’s continued pastry mastery (and whimsy) make this mélange of influence an anytime favorite filled with regulars.

2115 Holly

Photo by John Anderson

“A comfortable cantina serving Mexico City-style botanas,” we wrote in our original review in 2014, and that remains true and tasty. So much tequila and mezcal is available at this Eastside eatery, you could forget your own name – but even then, you’ll remember the meal’s savory depths.

1306 E. Sixth

With ingredients harvested straight from a garden just one mile away from the restaurant, Pitchfork Pretty serves up the soul of the South through family-style creations. Pitchfork Pretty also offers vegan, veggie-forward, and gluten-free options fitting for a variety of diners. But fear not, meat lovers – you can feast on their popular beef ribs with pickles, onions, and sauce.


photo by John Anderson

Image via Instagram

Donuts by day, burgers by night? Republic Diner pulls off the Two-Face look nicely. Starting at 5am, you can get fresh, marvelous donuts like bourbon vanilla glaze and peach cake. Then at night, the place flips and serves a delightful smashed burger on a potato roll. Republic is the trailer Gotham deserves.

1401 E. Seventh

Come for the hand-butchered steaks and bespoke salumi, stay to dine on house-made pasta, burgers, steaks, and brunch. The iconic Eastside butchery-cum-restaurant will soon open a cafe at the recently renovated Republic Square in Downtown.

1912 E. Seventh

photo by John Anderson

Photo by Jana Birchum

This truck boosts small-batch, artisan saucemakers by showcasing their low-heat sauces (pepper, BBQ, and salsas) at their sauce bar, complete with free tours. In the same shady space, guests can mix-and-match their way through a chef-driven, snacky menu created to be a canvas for the sauces. Rotisserie chicken and root vegetables are the big draws here, as well as a daily “world nacho” option. No matter what, don’t skip the foamy tea.


Spicy Boys, parked at Zilker Brewing, is the second endeavor from the team behind Soursop. If that alone isn’t enough of an endorsement that you immediately need a pint of Marco IPA and whatever delicious commodities Spicy Boys are pushing (spicy fried chicken!), then how about some iron law suggestions from us: sambal jumbo wings, a leg quarter of fried chicken, a hot gai sandwich, and (listen up, this is critical) a side of roti and a Zilker seasonal to cool you off between bites. That should hold you over until breakfast.

1701 E. Sixth

Photo by Jana Birchum

Photo by John Anderson

Suerte’s popularity has soared in the past year since its opening, including nabbing the No. 2 spot in Food & Wine’s annual Best New Restaurants in the country list. But, y’all, we knew all that praise was well-deserved long before the rest. Executive chef Fermín Nuñez is serving up captivating Oaxacan-Austin food in a uniquely curated space. Suerte’s house-made tortillas and goat barbacoa tacos are out of this world, but their heirloom corn has moves you’ve never seen.

1800 E. Sixth

Owned and operated by Austin restaurant veteran Phoenix Pai, Sweet Chive centers on Taiwanese cuisine, including a panoply of dumplings, noodle dishes, and daily cold samplers devoted to seasonal produce. Get fired up with some beef noodle soup, then cool things down with a bubble tea.

2515 E. Cesar Chavez

Photo by John Anderson

Classic. Legendary. Iconic. It doesn’t get more Hall of Fame-worthy than this East Sixth staple. Since 1953, when founder Rudy “Cisco” Cisneros opened his restaurant in a former meat-packing plant, Cisco’s has been slinging Tex-Mex dishes like enchiladas and migas to the masses. Folks even credit Cisco’s with making staples like huevos rancheros famous – so much so that it’s literally written on Cisneros’ tombstone. His grandson Matt Cisneros, and partners, bought the property several years ago and gave it a well-deserved makeover; in 2019, the city of Austin granted historic designation. It’s open later these days and offers a bar full of cold beer, but those beloved recipes haven’t changed a bit. If you love Austin’s enormous Tex-Mex scene, be sure to stop by Cisco’s and pay homage to the OG. Inducted in 2021.

1511 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

Photo by John Anderson


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