30 Restaurants to Try in Downtown Austin

Eat some good food while you’re in town


La Condesa (Photo by John Anderson)

SXSW: Emotions are high, patience is low, and food lines are long. It's easy to give up on finding reasonable meals while darting between rideshares and film screenings, but do yourself a favor and skip the greasy pizza slices and flat beer. We've got restaurant options galore in our foodie city, and here are some close to the action. Check out our other SXSW recos for burgers, tacos, pizza, and barbecue.

1) La Condesa

Featuring a range of Mexican cuisine, the menu offers traditional tortas and more complex flavor profiles such as mole and ceviche. 400-A W. Second, www.lacondesa.com

2) 1886 Cafe & Bakery

The 1886 Cafe & Bakery – named after the year the Driskill Hotel opened – has been serving comfort foods like omelettes and soup since 2002. 604 Brazos, www.driskillhotel.com/dining

3) G'raj Mahal Cafe

Tasty Indian specialties in an haute bohemian atmosphere. 73 Rainey, www.grajmahalaustin.com

4) Papadom

From the owners of Star of India, this hideaway offers classic Indian dishes and Indo-Chinese specialties like tandoori chicken and ghost mirch masala. 310 Colorado, www.papadomaustin.com

5) Roaring Fork

Wipe off the Downtown grime and scale up for dinner with blackened redfish and a refreshing signature drink like the Niosa with Cinco Texas vodka, green tea, mint, and cucumber. 701 Congress, www.roaringfork.com

6) Otoko

By some miracle there are still reservations left for the intimate multi-course omakase tasting menu at this stellar 12-seat restaurant. Chef Yoshi Okai's creations inspire out-of-body experiences. 1603 S. Congress, www.otokoaustin.com

7) Manuel's

This staple restaurant specializes in mole, margaritas, and wild-caught sustainable seafood prepared with Mexican flair. 310 Congress, www.manuels.com

8) Cafe Blue Downtown Austin

Cafe Blue has lighter grub stuffed with omega-3s – grilled market fresh fish and an expansive oyster bar. Worry not, they also serve steak. 340 E. Second, www.cafebluetx.com

9) Swift's Attic

New on deck is chef Rene De Leon, who's offering new dishes like fish & chips, hamachi tartare, and pozole verde with mussels, radish, crispy onions, hominy, and crème fraîche. 315 Congress, www.swiftsattic.com

10) Threadgill's

Since its 1933 origin as a popular beer joint, Threadgill's brings together vagabond musicians and Southern food. Try their famous chicken-fried steak. 301 W. Riverside, www.threadgills.com

11) Emmer & Rye

This charming place has dim sum service and seasonal farm-to-table shareable plates featuring heirloom grains. 51 Rainey #110, www.emmerandrye.com

12) Lucky Robot

From edamame to seaweed, this is a healthy but hearty option, especially for those looking to keep things light or vegetarian. 1303 S. Congress, www.luckyrobotrestaurant.com

13) Moonshine Patio Bar & Grill

With special SXSW brunch hours, they're comfort-food-centric with chicken & waffles, shrimp & grits, and signature skillet apple pie. 303 Red River, www.moonshinegrill.com

14) Clay Pit

The Clay Pit brings a range of Indian flavors with naan dishes, curry creations, and tandoor plates. 1601 Guadalupe, www.claypit.com

15) Frank

These aren't your average backyard grill-style hot dogs. Frank elevates house-made franks with ingredients like smoked antelope, rabbit, and smoked alligator. 407 Colorado, www.hotdogscoldbeer.com

16) Scholz Garten

This historic biergarten serves bratwurst, German currywurst, and more beers than you need. Check out the enormous patio. 1607 San Jacinto, www.scholzgarten.com

17) Austin Java

Come early, stay late, and enjoy locally roasted coffee, a full bar, stacks of chocolate chip pancakes, and a taste of Spicy African peanut soup. 301 W. Second, www.austinjava.com

18) El Naranjo

A sophisticated window to Mexican cuisine, their moles bring a special elegance to the menu, while their appetizers and smaller plates like the guacamole and empanadas bring the simple deliciousness of everyday Mexican dishes. 85 Rainey, www.elnaranjo-restaurant.com

19) Chi'Lantro

Home to the original kimchi fries, this Mexican-Korean fusion food place curbs more than one craving at a time. 823 Congress, www.chilantrobbq.com

20) Vince Young Steakhouse

Locally owned and operated, this is one of the finer dining options – filet mignon, prime rib eye, and brown sugar roasted salmon. They've got cigars, too. 301 San Jacinto, www.vinceyoungsteakhouse.com

21) Boiler Nine Bar + Grill

Integrated into the old Seaholm Power Plant, enjoy their cocktails or wood-fire roasted items like noodles, sandwiches, and grilled brisket. 800 W. Cesar Chavez, www.boilernine.com


Geraldine's (Photo by John Anderson)

22) Geraldine's

Located in the Hotel Van Zandt, this trendy restaurant is named after Rainey Street's famous former resident guinea fowl, Geraldine. Shrimp hush puppies, y'all. 605 Davis, www.geraldinesaustin.com

23) backYARD at Waller Creek

Enjoy a Yardbird sandwich and a cocktail while you soak up some vitamin D on the lawn. 701 E. 11th, www.backyardbaraustin.com

24) Flower Child

For a healthier option, Flower Child's fresh lemonade, organic wine, salads, and bowls served in a serene, natural environment are the perfect stop. 500 W. Second, www.iamaflowerchild.com

25) North Italia

One of the latest additions to the Downtown roster, here's a streamlined Italian spot with prosciutto bruschetta, wood-fired pizza, and seared scallops with Parmesan risotto. 500 W. Second, www.northitaliarestaurant.com

26) Houndstooth Coffee

Find them in the Frost Bank Tower, or at the easy-access special SXSW Interactive patio coffee bar. They've also got specialty drinks such as the SXSW Lavender 9 Iron. 401 Congress, www.houndstoothcoffee.com

27) Wu Chow

Reppin' eight styles of Chinese cuisine and craveworthy dim sum, this lovely dining option has dishes like tangerine peel beef and honey pecan Gulf prawns. 500 W. Fifth, www.wuchowaustin.com


Wu Chow (Photo by John Anderson)

28) Kemuri Tatsu-ya

From the famed Ramen Tatsu-ya team, this Texas-influenced Japanese izakaya specializes in smoked meats, yakitori, and ramen, with a special menu of oddball beauties. We're very proud of this one. 2713 E. Second, www.kemuri-tatsuya.com

29) Le Politique

Open since last fall, this bright brasserie, patisserie, and coffee shop marries classic French cuisine with a gorgeous raw seafood bar, and serves croissants that deserve handwritten love letters. 110 San Antonio, www.lepolitiqueaustin.com


Le Politique (Photo by Wynn Merys)

30) Chez Nous

For more than three decades, three friends have been providing Downtown with an oasis filled with authentic French cuisine. 510 Neches, www.cheznousaustin.com

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

burgers, tacos, downtown, French, Italian, cocktails, beer, La Condesa, 1886 Cafe and Bakery, G'raj Mahal Cafe, Papadom, Roaring Fork, Otoko, Manuel's, Cafe Blue Downtown Austin, Swift's Attic, Threadgill's, Emmer & Rye, Lucky Robot, Moonshine Patio Bar and Grill

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