Lower East

Photo by John Anderson

The effervescent Leanne Valenti’s local-as-can-be take on Japanese bento box dining is exactly the sort of homestyle freshness and rainbow flavor your midday meal demands – and reason to spend many a wine-sipping evening (with the Saba San’s crowd) on that landscaped patio along East Cesar Chavez. Washoku, FTW!

2600 E. Cesar Chavez
512/987-8767
www.bentopicnic.com

Those priced out of the extravagance of Brazilian rodízio buffets (or simply with more forgiving tendencies toward indulgence/masochism) can explore the country’s street food offerings at this vibrant food truck – and with the blessings of Guy Fieri! Their claim to fame is picanha grelhada (rice bowl with top sirloin), but surprise yourself with the legendary feijoada stew.

1209 E. Sixth
www.botecoatx.com

John Anderson

When you think of Argentinian food, all-you-can-eat steak, chimichurri, and empanadas come to mind. Thanks to this Eastside cafe, Austinites know this cuisine is more than just beef: It’s olives and cheese and bread and freaking excellent wine. But, you know, the steaks here are pretty tremendous, too.

1201 E. Sixth
512/344-9198
www.buenosairescafe.com

Standing out like an island in an ocean of Tex-Mex, Casa offers flavors from a bit farther south of the border: yuca frita, savory empanadas, arepas, tamales wrapped in plantain leaves, and chimichurri. Try the rum-based Coco Loco, served in a hollowed coconut, to kick things up a notch.

2409 E. Seventh
512/495-9425
www.casa-colombia.com

John Anderson

photo by Rod Machen

It turns out that spice is the spice of life, and with Distant Relatives we have a new entry on the barbecue scene that knows exactly how to use it. Self-described as “modern African American,” this trailer (currently at Meanwhile Brewing) takes the familiar meats of Texas barbecue and creates a whole new world of delicious flavors.

3901 Promontory Point Dr.
512/717-2504
www.distatantrelativesatx.com

We love the head chefs’ names as names – Ian Thurwachter and Krystal Craig – but it’s what they do in their acclaimed kitchen, with those robust Italian mains and sides, and chocolatier Craig’s amazing desserts, that fluently speaks our taste buds’ strongest desire.

2612 E. Cesar Chavez
512/599-4052
www.interorestaurant.com

Photo by John Anderson

It’s still surprising that Austin hasn’t yet joined the hibachi fan club in full force, but with these hearty portions of fried rice peppered with grilled steak, teriyaki chicken, plump shrimp, and fresh charred veggies, plus yum yum sauce … it’s bound to happen soon.

900 E. Cesar Chavez St.
www.instagram.com/jshibachi

These perennial First Platers have perfected the art of immersive dining. Their refined menu of French delicacies is complemented by an immaculate atmosphere and meticulously curated playlists that elevate evenings of fun into romance, and romance into fun. To eat here is to embrace the unknown and the nebulous possibilities within.

4710 E. Fifth
512/385-2900
www.justines1937.com

Photo by David Brendan Hall

photo by John Anderson

Another of Tatsu-ya’s unique concepts, Kemuri is a combination Japanese izakaya bar and Texas barbecue joint, offering brisket and ribs alongside smoked octopus and jellyfish salad. Inventive cocktails brighten the experience, and shareable skewers and munchies encourage communal dining. A perfect mix of casual vibes and unexpected flavor combos, Tatsu-ya does it again with Kemuri, deservedly earning a spot on Bon Appétit’s national Top 10 list in 2017.

2713 E. Second
512/803-2224
www.kemuri-tatsuya.com

At this gas station-turned-hang zone, everything’s, well, a little bit tropical. Pineapple and coconut find their way onto burgers and shrimp, and it’s an island oasis vibe on the Eastside. From the chill atmosphere to the daiquiri ice pops to the CBD-infused waffles complete with a pot leaf imprint, they’ve got laid-back on lock.

3501 E. Seventh
512/373-8430
www.kindatropical.com

John Anderson

photo by David Brendan Hall

Recently scooted just a little farther east on East Cesar Chavez, LeAnn Mueller’s ’cue-linary triumph continues its reign of good eatin’ with a full menu of locally sourced, grass-fed meats smoked to perfection, offering hot plates or cold boards (supercharged with cheeses from Antonelli’s) in a casual neighborhood atmosphere.

2401 E. Cesar Chavez
512/605-9696
www.labarbecue.com

Sure, Rene Ortiz and Laura Sawicki’s popular eatery is a few blocks south of the relentless Restaurant Row that East Cesar Chavez has become, but that only makes it more attractive, right? Like it’s your little global-contemporary dining secret? Pro tip: Do not skip dessert.

2115 Holly
512/382-1599
www.launderetteaustin.com

Photo by John Anderson

Serving self-described “Mexico City soul food,” these folks specialize in distilled agave spirits, masa, and slow-and-low proteins and bold spices. Cochinita pibil sopecitos, mole con pollo huaraches, huitlacoche quesadillas? Yep, all of that, please. Licha’s also hosts one of the best happy hours in town, with $6 craft cocktails and munchies. The convivial patio space is always a great time.

1306 E. Sixth
512/480-5960
www.lichascantina.com

Chef/owner Ramon Sanchez sets his food apart from other Venezuelan spots by specializing in pepitos, or open-faced sandwiches made Barquisimeto-style, Caracas-style hot dogs piled high with toppings, and Venezuelan-style barbecue served as parrilla bowls with homemade barbecue sauce made with Frescolita and rum.

1211 E. Sixth
512/574-2953
www.pepitos512.com/

photo by John Anderson

photo by John Anderson

You wouldn’t think that a butcher shop would also be the site of a stealth high-end restaurant, but you also wouldn’t not expect to be able to eat steak or a really excellent burger in a butcher shop, accompanied by a glass of crisp biodynamic rosé or a light summer red from the adjacent wine shop. Not on the Eastside? Grab a fig and brie baguette sandwich or a sardine snack at that butcher shop’s cafe in Republic Square.

1912 E. Seventh
512/524-1383
www.saltandtime.com

Ah, chérie, 2Dine4 Catering’s Stephen Shallcross knows just what he’s doing with this classic American diner and its New Orleans-influenced menu of breakfast spreads, gumbos, and boudin balls and remoulades and more, its blue-plate specials and patty melts and Big Easy coffees and cocktails, its deep Eastside Austin history.

4827 E. Cesar Chavez
512/531-9033
sawyerand.co

John Anderson

Photo by Jana Birchum

Lotsa folks subscribe to the pizza & beer dine-in ethos, while others are more inclined to the burgers & beer wonder tandem. But the real ones know that it’s the chicken & beer that makes Luda keep rappin’. That’s why fried chicken savants Spicy Boys became quick besties with two of the town’s greatest breweries in Zilker and St. Elmo, knowing that a quality hops experience includes Spicy Boys’ marvelous crispy bird.

1701 E. Sixth
www.spicyboyschicken.com/home

How do we love thee? Let us count the ways. We love the goat picadillo pupusa with smoked tomato at brunch. We love the oyster mushroom carnitas and always perfect heirloom corn tortillas. We love the traditional Mexican cooking techniques and close partnerships with local farmers. And we love how much executive chef Fermín Nuñez and his teams translate their talent and inspiration into culinary wizardry.

1800 E. Sixth
512/953-0092
www.suerteatx.com

Photo by John Anderson

Photo by John Anderson

Is there any bowl of yum more flavorful and satisfying than the rice and noodle concoctions from this venue of Taiwanese cuisine? That’s a rhetorical question, but the evidence – the fresh vegetables, the succulent meats, the unabashed spices – is brightly empirical and easy on the wallet.

2515 E. Cesar Chavez
512/394-5557
sweet-chive.com

There is simply not enough space here to explain the level of deliciousness served at this beloved Thai and Laotian food truck, in dishes like tom yum goong, hat yai fried chicken, and khoa soi dumplings. They’ve just closed for the summer, but the whole city is holding their collective breath for a quick return.

1606 E. Sixth
737/867-9701
www.taladaustin.com

courtesy of TaLad Thai and Lao Streetfood

courtesy of Tender Thighs

Winning rhymes aside, Tender Thighs, located on the patio of Shangri-La, is a solid bar food follow-up to their treasured momma truck, Baton Creole, stationed in front of Sagebrush. Thighs and fries, chicken sandos, or a vegan tempeh and fries, they got all grounds covered.

1016 E. Sixth
tenderthighs.com

They’re serious about Southern comfort here, meaning you’ll find deviled eggs dotted with crispy bacon, po’boys dressed just right, and brunch with lemony, garlicky shrimp on cheesy grits. But their “Taco Fuego” pop-up celebrating canceled Taco Bell items and events like Drag Brunch show they know how to have fun, too.

2400 Webberville
512/696-4318
www.thecavalieratx.com

photo by David Brendan Hall

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
512/478-2420
www.ciscosaustin.com

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
512/472-0017
www.joesbakery.com

Photo by John Anderson

 
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