• Micklethwait Craft Meats

Since opening his trailer in 2013, Tom Micklethwait has climbed to the top tier of Austin's much-debated barbecue scene, with his brisket earning rave reviews from our local expert and beef ribs taking home the alt weekly's first inaugural beef-rib smackdown trophy. Those accolades aside, you might argue that mainstays like Meyer's Smokehouse in Elgin or Kreuz in Lockhart make the best smoked sausage in the state. You can't argue with the historical legacy of those joints, but we gave Micklethwait the nod because his daily cased offerings transcend the typical BBQ sausage with unusual meats like duck with cherries or pork belly andouille, which are worth the trip alone.

  • Via 313

It must make every pizza place in Austin go crazy when they realize their best pizza comes out of a truck in front of the Violet Crown Social Club. And it must make everyone in Detroit crazy to think that some of the best iterations of their pizza are coming from a food truck in Austin (though, to be fair, it was started by Detroit expats). And it does make me crazy thinking about how fantastic the Detroiter (smoked pepperoni under the cheese, more on top) is, and how I want to order another right now and ship it to Cali. Bonus: don’t sleep on its “bar-style” pizzas, which are in the traditional tavern style. Especially the one with ham and maple syrup.

  • DK Sushi

What you're getting: Seared escolar (and a sake bomb with DK) If you’re looking for top-notch sushi in a house party-type atmosphere, DK Sushi is your spot. Go on a Thursday night and enjoy the owner himself (DK) performing crass stand-up, karaoke, and encouraging everyone in the restaurant to enjoy sake bombs with him. This is Austin-does-sushi.

  • Piranha Killer Sushi

What you're getting: Latino roll Piranha is by far the best bang for your buck in Austin. Located in the center of Downtown, it has a happy hour from 4-7pm where you can fill up on sushi for the cost of rolls at other places (cough... Uchi). Great cocktail and beer pairings make Piranha your new go-to for Downtown lunch.

  • Kyōten

What you're getting: Masu-zushi No matter the category, the best type of food in East Austin comes out of a trailer and is BYOB. Kyōten is no exception. The food truck is surrounded by a zen garden, plenty of picnic tables, and fairy lights to complete the atmosphere.

  • Lucky Robot

What you're getting: Mechazilla roll Whatever your reason for being on South Congress (mom's in town or you’re on a date), Lucky Robot is your next stop. Enjoy one of the many sake cocktails while entertaining yourself in the swinging chair seating arrangements. Add some of the Robot’s famous Brussels sprouts, and everyone will be applauding your great dining choice.

  • Uchi

What you're getting: Machi Cure The unconqured king of Austin sushi spots -- if you’re looking to class it up for a night in an otherwise casual city, Uchi is your spot. The quality matches the price (high), and any sushi snob would agree the restaurant has some of the finest sushi available, anywhere on the planet. Plan ahead, as reservations are typically booked weeks in advance.

  • Fukumoto

What you're getting: Hama toro While Fukumoto the restaurant is a relative newcomer to the scene, Chef Kazu Fukumoto is no stranger in Austin food circles. The former chef at Musashino recently opened this location as one of the most anticipated openings of 2015, and he did not disappoint. Try to get in as many trips now as you can, before the line is wrapped around the block.

  • Kome Sushi Kitchen

What you're getting: Spooky roll One of the smallest (in physical size) sushi spots in Austin, Kome fills up fast, but is always worth the wait. Starting with the warm towels given to you on arrival, this place is pure class and somewhere you’d be remiss to miss if you’re ever in North Austin. Tip: ask for extra “go-go sauce” and put it on everything you can.

  • Sushi Junai

What you're getting: All you can eat When your sushi cravings outmatch your bank account, there is always an option. Sushi Junai is that option in Austin and is a place to get down and dirty with a $20 all-you-can-eat sushi feast. It makes its rolls to order however, so make sure you put in 10 or 20 when you first arrive, as downtime is the enemy in your race to fill up on as much sushi as possible.

  • Noble Sandwich Co.

Sandwiches take a backseat to breakfast tacos in Austin, so it's fitting that the city's finest sandwich slingers would take a cue from their neighbors to the south. Chorizo is the star of the show here; a hearty layer of cuminy pork that's chunkier and less greasy than most of its counterparts. The spices pair excellently with a fried egg and thick, devilishly congealed slab of cheddar. Bacon bread is optional, but might as well be mandatory. Unfortunately, this sandwich is only available on weekends, but luckily absence only makes the mouth grow fonder. And allows the heart to heal a little.

  • Gourdough's

Gourdough's takes the concept of savory donuts to dizzying levels. Of course there's this bacon-topped business (the Flying Pig), but for something truly different, try one of the "donut entrees" like the Mother Clucker, an outrageous combination of fried chicken, honey butter, and freshly fried dough.

  • Rainey Street

Ten years ago, the best Austin locale for drinking was clearly the stumble-friendly 6th Street, and five years ago the Eastside burned bright and hot with fresh Edison bulb gentrification, but these days, the best place to drink in Austin is undoubtedly Rainey Street. What once was a sleeping street of bungaloos a short pedicab ride from Downtown has now been saturated with enough bars to rival its Downtown college counterpart, except instead of $2 you-call-its, you're getting classic cocktails and microbrews. The demographics are heavy on husband hunters and work-hard, play-harders, but no amount of questionable patrons can spoil such a wealth of wonderful watering holes. Two of the city's best beer bars, Banger's and Craft Pride, combine for an unbelievable 150 taps, while neighboring Half Step imported one of LA's best bartenders to create an old-fashioned cocktail experience that's refined but without pretense. The whiskey selection at The Blackheart is world-class, plus its stage is one of Austin's most underrated. If that doesn't do it for you, there are at least 10 other totally respectable bars like Clive Bar, Lucille, and Bar 96 to stop at along the way.

  • Hamachi pipettes

VOX Table

VOX Table is not only home to the best cocktail program in Austin, the menu is equally playful and the hamachi pipettes are no exception. Tiny plastic pipettes are filled with a coconut vinaigrette, then the smoked hamachi and tomato are skewered onto the stem. As you eat the bite, you simultaneously SQUEEEEEZE the liquid into your mouth, and it basically becomes a flavor party. Also entertaining: watching your date/parents/co-workers try to figure out how to eat it.

  • Smoked brisket tacos

Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ

It’s a known fact that James Beard Award winner, Aaron Franklin, loves Valentina’s moist brisket and homemade tortillas. And so will you. The smoky brisket is cooked over mesquite, and the tortillas are freshly-made, thick, soft, and buttery. The tacos are topped with sea salt, lime, guacamole, tomato, and serrano salsa.

  • Dewberry Hills Farm chicken

Olamaie

B&B potato salad, chips, Olamaie BBQ Olamaie serves a modern interpretation of traditional Southern classics. Our cuisine respects the ideas of seasonality and locality inherent in the vintage cookbooks used for inspiration. In honor of the past, we serve produce from growers no farther than 200 miles away. Texas beef and pork, sustainable seafood, as well as the finest artisan products grace these tables.

  • Camembert tempura

Komé

It’s known throughout the land that Komé has badass fresh sushi and authentic Japanese fare but what is not common knowledge is that they also have tempura-fried Camembert cheese! The French cheese is battered, fried, and served with a honey dipping sauce. Now, how does THAT sound?

  • Odd Duck

Odd Duck’s pastry chef, Susana Querejazu’s off-the-menu apple pie can be shared amongst three-four people. The apple pie is served in a small cast iron and topped with chamomile ice cream. The pie is made with Eagle Mountain Apache blue cheese -- a cheddar-style blue cheese -- crumbled on the bottom as well as in the pie dough, and some fresh blue cheese is sprinkled on top of the pie. The pies are baked to order with only ten pies made per night. Treat yo’ self!

  • Beef panang curry

Thai-Kun

Chef Thai Changthong refuses to Americanize his food. His beef panang curry is a homage to the cuisine he grew up eating. The beef is simmered for hours in super-spicy curry and served over jasmine rice and topped with kaffir lime leaf and holy basil. We’ll refrain from any “fire-in-the-hole” jokes here, but know that you will need lots and lots of water.

  • Brisket

Franklin BBQ

Do we really need to explain? Forget the hype, forget the line drama, Aaron Franklin is a BBQ genius. His brisket is juicy and tender and, well... kind of sexy to be honest. Need a plan? Wake up early, email your boss and tell him/her know that you have strep throat, get in your car, get in line, and then eat all the brisket. The next day show up bright and early to work, smile, and blame it on allergies.

  • Plancha burger

Launderette

It’s fun-sized. It doesn’t come with lettuce, or tomatoes, or fancy cheese. And, guess what? We could care less. It’s a perfect beef patty (with a bit of bacon mixed in) on a challah bun with American cheese, special sauce, and a side of pickles.

  • Chicken fried beef ribs

Jack Allen’s Kitchen

Nothing says “‘MURICA!” quite like a menu section dedicated to “Chicken Fried Anything.” Patrons of Jack Allen’s kitchen love the chicken fried beef ribs served with green chile gravy, chunky red smashers, and Chef’s veggies.

  • “The Perfect Ten” steak

Vince Young Steakhouse

This is not just any steak: this is a Texas-raised, Akaushi beef cooked to juicy perfection. It will be the best thing you have ever put in your mouth. It will bring you to tears. Nothing will be the same. Don’t even get us started on the bacon mac and cheese.

  • Triple fried duck fat fries

Salty Sow

A huge portion of house-made fries triple fried in duck fat served with an egg that has been cooked for 110 minutes at a low temperature and cold béarnaise sauce for dipping. During happy hour (4:30pm-6:30pm everyday), the fries are only $5.50. Holla!

  • Korean flank steak

Swift’s Attic

Sometimes, the obvious brunch options become a little dull -- thankfully, Swift’s Attic has this Korean-inspired savory dish. Tender, juicy Korean barbecue flank steak is served on top of crispy, fried rice balls, aka “jumeok bap cakes.”

  • California club

ThunderCloud Subs

Thundercloud is an Austin institution and nobody’s life would be complete without sampling their best sandwich. The California club is turkey, bacon, and a generous swipe of guac -- we like to request swiss, lots of lettuce, tomato, salt, pepper, and of course Thunder Sauce.

  • Deviled Eggs

Lenoir

Your aunt Helen never made deviled eggs like these. Lenoir has elevated the Southern classic by topping them with bowfin caviar and a sprinkle of seaweed. Order them in Lenoir’s new wine garden for only $6!

  • Famous Southern fried chicken and waffles

MAX’s Wine Dive

Max’s is famous for their famous jalapeño-buttermilk fried chicken. Deep-fried, “slow and low,” in order to maintain its savory juiciness and rosy color, their famous Southern fried chicken comes with mashed potatoes, collard greens, and a slide of Texas toast -- and you can even request the gluten-free version!

  • Machi cure

Uchi

From the James Beard Award-Winning Chef Tyson Cole, Uchi, and sister restaurant Uchiko are in a class all their own. Favorite dishes from Uchi include the machi cure, often called the Japanese nachos pairing smoked baby yellowtail, with yucca crisps, marcona almond, Asian pear, and garlic brittle.

  • Chicken fried steak biscuit and gravy

Salt & Time

You know when a chicken fried steak is so large that it curls up? This dish, available on Salt & Time’s Sunday brunch menu, involves a huge, curly, crispy chicken fried steak on a thick biscuit, and topped with gravy, AND a fried egg. It’s life changing.

  • Biscuits

Fixe

Fixe packs the house every night, and in addition to being known for delicious, modern takes on Southern classics and fantastic hospitality, they are also known for their biscuits! They sell more than 360 of the “three fat biscuits” every night. The Southern starter is served with house-made spicy 'nduja sausage spread and house-made seasonal preserves.

  • Pork belly yakitori

Fukumoto

When visiting new spot, Fukumoto, be sure to order the pork belly yakitori -- it comes three pieces per skewer. The marinated pork belly is charred so that the fat becomes slightly crispy yet very juicy. Scratch that, order several.

  • Bánh mì

Ng BMT

Ng BMT is a total hidden gem, quietly tucked in the back of the Hong Kong Supermarket. They bake their own baguettes daily and make their own tofu. The bread is crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, the meat is flavorful, and the pickles veggies are crisp and fresh. And, they are only $5, including tax. You’re welcome.

  • El Sancho Loco

La Barbecue

Everything they smoke is juicy and just as good as Franklin, but we’ve got a soft spot for the hilariously-named, “El Sancho Loco”. A sandwich piled high with sausage, pulled pork, chopped beef, and pickled red onions, because YOLO.

  • The Detroiter

Via 313

Via 313 makes pizza like pizza is probably made in heaven. The Detroiter is the be-all and end-all of pizzas; thick pan crust with crispy cheese edge, double layer of cheese, and double layer of pepperoni.

  • The “All The Way Burger”

TRACE

The restaurant also offers an off-menu, mega burger called the "All The Way Burger. It is an 8oz Niman ranch burger, comes with Tillamook cheddar, butter lettuce, beefsteak tomatoes, and house pickles on a brioche roll. You also have the option to add house-cured maple pork belly, fried organic egg, lump crab cake, avocado, Gonzales mushrooms, and crisp bacon.

  • Beet fries

East Side King

East Side King has managed to make beets more addictive as French fries. The beets are fire-roasted then fried, which gives them a thin crispy skin, and served with Kewpie mayo. They’ll make a believer out of anyone who has ever had an aversion to the red root.

  • Holy Mary

Freedman’s

Here’s drink that qualifies as an entire meal. The Holy Mary is a liter of Forty Creek Barrel Select whisky, smoked cherry tomato Bloody mix, house-made two-day BBQ sauce, lime juice, and Fire and Damnation bitters that's topped with, wait for it… a half pound of brisket, sausage, and spare ribs! It’s available during brunch on Sundays.

  • Black and Bleu pizza

Second Bar + Kitchen

Pizza isn’t necessarily what Second Bar + Kitchen is known for, but this pizza is a total hit. The flavor profile is complex and indulgent: black truffle, bleu cheese, pork belly, medjool dates, and red onion on a perfect crust.

  • Tonkotsu Original

Ramen Tatsu-Ya

The gang at Ramen Tatsu-ya have managed to create a cult classic with their ramen. Their signature bowl of ramen is a rich, complex, pork bone broth filled with thin noodles, tender chashu pork (soy braised pork belly), a marinated soft boiled egg, wood ear mushrooms, scallions, and your choice of add-ins. There is often a line but service moves lightning fast!

  • Kaffir lime fried chicken bun bowl

Elizabeth Street Cafe

This Vietnamese cafe and French bakery is not only visually stunning in all of it’s attention to details, but they have a killer bun bowl. It combines rice vermicelli with lettuces, herbs, cucumber, carrot, roasted peanuts, nuoc cham, and is topped with kaffir lime fried chicken. Definitely one of their most popular dishes.

  • Brisket frito pie

Micklethwait Craft Meats

Sometimes you want a little something different in your BBQ repertoire, and this is the answer! Micklethwait’s briket frito pie combines Fritos topped with brisket, chili, cheddar, cilantro, escabecha, red onion, and crema.

  • Popcorn tofu po’boy

Wheatsville

Whether you’re a vegetarian or not, Wheatsville has really got something special in their popcorn tofu po’boy. The French roll is filled with firm fried tofu, sprouts, veggies, and cashew-tamari dressing that makes this sandwich a perfect lunch option for only $7.

  • Pascal burger

Hopfields

The French bistro meets craft beer bar makes one stand-out burger. The Pascal burger is a thick beef patty with Camembert cheese, cornichon aka tiny pickles, whole grain mustard, caramelized onions, and their ridiculously good pomme frites.

  • Mozzarella

Due Forni

From their three options of mozzarella for the mozzarella bar, try the stracciatella with red peppers. It’s served with freshly-baked flatbread that is the same as their pizza dough. Cheese and bread FTW!

  • Son In Law

Sway

This Thai dish brings together all the elements you want in comfort food. Braised pork shoulder, thick soy, nahm prik pla (spicy Thai sauce), and a crispy farm egg on top of rice that soaks up all the sauces.

  • Margherita pizza

40 North

This little trailer in a South First food park is quietly selling out of dough everyday, and for good reason. Their wood-fired Neapolitan pizzas combine perfect, chewy-yet-crispy crust and unique toppings. Get any pie on the menu, just go now.

  • Brioche Doughnut Holes

laV

Warm, pillow-y, and so good! Guests of laV love the brioche donut holes as either a dessert or a starter at brunch. Feeling brave? Try spreading laV’s creamy pate on them!

  • Pastrami sandwich

Pieous

This sandwich is hailed as the best Pastrami in Austin. Joshua Kaner starts with whole, untrimmed briskets that are then cured in a wet brine with spices. The brisket is then dried and rubbed, smoked with live oak for about 14 hours, then steamed. The result: thick, juicy, flavorful pastrami that brings all the boys (and girls) to the yard.

  • The Burger

Luke’s Inside Out

Luke Bibby, the quirky owner of Luke’s Inside Out makes one of the best tasting burgers we've ever had. It’s an 8oz sirloin patty with bacon, cheddar, and according to his menu, “love”. Amen, Luke, amen.

  • Ceviche

Isla

Austin’s only dedicated Tiki bar also has a very island-y menu. We love their shrimp and scallop ceviche served with citrus, cucumber, and crispy corn tostadas. It doesn’t hurt that you can have a couple of classic Tiki cocktails with dinner, either!

  • Mac and cheese

Clark’s Oyster Bar

So creamy, so cheesy, and baked to perfection. Clark’s Shells & Cheese is otherworldly AND topped with fresh lump crab. Sign us up!

  • Strawberry cake

Jacoby’s Restaurant & Mercantile

Jacoby’s makes a Strawberry Cake you have to try. It’s a family recipe passed down from owner Adam Jacoby’s Grandmother. The flavors and simplicity of the cake evoke a warm sense of a nostalgia.

  • Gelato

Gelateria Gemelli

In their stylish storefront, the owners of Gelateria Gemelli are taking great care to create authentic Italian gelato and sorbet in uniquely classic flavors. Get a load of these: olive oil, Vietnamese coffee, sesame vanilla, lemon thyme sorbetto. Also, you can have a Negroni or an Italian amaro with your dessert!

  • Dinuguan

Qui

This is a case of “sounds funky, tastes amazing” -- dinuguan is pork blood stew, Paul Qui makes a version of his grandmother’s recipe with crispy gnocchi and black trumpet mushrooms. The flavor is decidedly rich and authentic.

  • Shellfish risotto

Jeffrey’s

The elegant eatery that set the standard for fine dining in Austin is also home to the fanciest risotto. It’s creamy, perfectly executed, sprinkled with peas and topped with wood roasted lobster, king crab, bay scallop & gulf prawns with butternut squash, lemon & uni butter -- and the portion is perfect for sharing.

  • Tom kha shrimp and grits

Kin + Comfort

This dish is an unexpected mash-up of cultures and flavors that just works together so magically. The classic coconut lime flavors of thai tom kha soup combine with Southern-style shrimp and grits.

  • Lemon ricotta pancakes

Josephine House

Josephine House whips up a perfect stack of fluffy lemon ricotta pancakes served with strawberries, blueberries, maple syrup, and house-made cultured butter. Who can say no to pancakes? Not us.

  • Verde chili fries

Casino El Camino

Although they are known for their burgers and Halloween-ish decor, Casino is also home to a fantastic basket of fries. The verde chili fries are fries topped with garlic-y tomatillo sauce and melted white cheese. And by “garlic-y” we mean, don’t even think about taking a first date -- better yet, go alone so you won’t have to share.

  • A gyro

Santorini Cafe

Do you have a hankerin’ for a gyro made with soft, warm pita, perfectly seasoned meat, veggies, giant dollop of tzatziki, and a side of fries? Yeah, us too. Head over to Santorini’s for just what we described. Their prices are super cheap, and the owners are great folks.

  • Breakfast tacos

Joe’s Bakery & Coffee Shop

Joe’s has been around for a long time and has a distinct family feel to it. If you love legit Tex-Mex, you’ll love their breakfast tacos, specifically anything with bacon! They fry the bacon, dredge the bacon in flour, and fry it again, so it’s super crispy, and the flour tortillas are soft, powdery, and the perfect vessel for your b-fast taco creation.

  • Enchiladas

Dart Bowl

This ooey-gooey, food-coma inducer has long been an Austin classic. So next time you’re in the mood for bowling, load up on this iconic meal.

  • Cuvée Coffee

The bean: Classic Spicewood 71 (sweet melon, toffee, caramel, orange citrus, malt chocolate) With as big an attitude as its home state, Cuvée's lately been so embattled with the Texas Alcohol and Beverage Commission that you'd think the roaster doesn't sell anything except Crowlers (canned growlers) of cold brew and local beer spiked with demonic rites. These days most of the commotion is about the nitrogenated and canned cold brew, but Cuvée made its name based on a masterful roasting operation that eschews trendy Nordic blondes for full-bodied roasts that are more coffee-like than tea-like. It's kept coffees like the Meritage on bars across Austin for years, but be sure to jump at a chance to try any of the limited seasonal releases. The most recent standout is the winter Cuberow, a natural Ethiopian heirloom varietal bursting with peach, grapefruit acidity, jasmine, and rosemary, grown by an 85-year-old woman who lives and breathes coffee beans.

  • 24 Diner

People can argue all day about the perfect grilled cheese ratio, but at 24 Diner it's two parts freshly baked sourdough (from its sister restaurant Easy Tiger), two parts cheese (cheddar and havarti), and one part butter to turn that bread into a crispy, golden diet-destroyer. On top of the basics, it adds roasted tomatoes for a big burst of umami, and when the server asks if you'd like to add bacon and avocado, the answer should always be a resounding "yes." -- Dan Gentile, staff writer

  • The Lounge, Hotel San José

In hip, hipper, and hippest Austin, where do you even begin? Question and answer: at the lounge at Hotel San José, a zen-like garden courtyard with mellow DJs and Sunday jazz brunches. It's hip without being too hip(ster) -- a bit artsy, a bit fartsy, and tucked away enough to draw in the locals and the tourists. Order a michelada (made with Shiner Bock, OBVIOUSLY) with some Jimmies jerk chicken wings and hang out the Austin way.

  • The Comal Cabin

East Austin Rate: $160/night What you get: Entire home (accommodates four): one bedroom; two bathrooms No, it’s not just a kitschy title. This rental home is actually a veritable decked-out cabin and sure to give any lumberjack wood (penis puns!) The cabin is complete with an old-timey claw-foot bathtub, piano, and back patio decorated with enough twinkly lights for you to make your very own Mumford & Sons music video. Plus, you're in walking distance of East 6th and East 7th Sts, as well as Manor Rd. Should you be in town for SXSW or Formula 1, you will also find the location of this cabin convenient.

  • Craft Pride

Few states (OK, zero states) have as much local pride as Texas, so it's fitting that the pick here devotes all of its 50-plus taps (plus a couple of casks) to Lone Star brews (no, not like, 50-plus taps of literally just Lone Star -- that would be crazy). The Texas beer scene is booming, which made this a tough decision, given other excellent options like Hay Merchant in Houston, Craft & Growler in Dallas, and Banger's right there in Craft Pride's backyard, but something about going all in on Texas for this just felt right. Of course it doesn't hurt that Craft Pride also happens to be a reliably welcoming and wonderful bar steady with release parties and other special events. If you're in from out of town (or in town) and looking for something to take home, it also runs a fantastic bottle shop (ahem... shoppe) in the back.

  • Aloft Austin at the Domain

The Aloft is a beautiful, stylish hotel just minutes from downtown. Though it’s not part of the main downtown strip, the hotel is both well designed and luxurious (at a budget price point!). The hotel is home to a restaurant and lounge so food options are never too far away. Just a quick ride to the downtown area means you can save a bit while still feeling like part of the action. Rooms start at $150 per night.

  • Firehouse Hostel

If you’re traveling to Austin on the cheap, Firehouse Hostel is a good bet. In the center of all the action, the hostel offers private rooms as well as shared dorms—great if you’re traveling with a larger group or if you don’t mind sharing space in order to save on expenses. The hostel has a lively cocktail lounge attache and offers free breakfast. Private rooms start at $90 per night and dorms start at just $30 a night.

  • Star of Texas Inn

If a cozy bed and breakfast filled with Texas charm sounds up your alley, the Star of Texas is a great option for you. Some rooms have balcony access, some rooms have claw-foot tubs but all come with a homemade breakfast and Texas hospitality. The inn is a quick cab ride to the main downtown area. Rooms start at $120 per night and include daily breakfast.

  • Live Music

With over 250 different music venues in a city that has built it’s entire reputation on live music, it really is hard to choose the single best venue to visit. However, seeing a live performance while in Austin is a must. Both local and national acts play in the city every night so finding a concert to see is easy (regardless of your music vibe—indie, soul, country, folk, etc). Continental Club, Emo’s, Stubbs and ACL Live are just some of our favorite venues; it's hard to go wrong with the music offerings in Austin.

  • Alamo Drafthouse

The Alamo Drafthouse is a unique experience. Though we wouldn't normally recommend spending time at the movies while on vacation, Alamo Drafthouse is the exception. The theater feels like a throwback to an old school movie theater but with a modern twist—food and drinks are served during your movie! No more stale popcorn and XXL sodas, thank goodness. In addition, the theater regularly shows special screenings of cult classics in addition to newer releases. When you've had one too many late nights at the many bars and venues of Austin, it's a nice low-key option.

  • Paramount Theatre

Austin is certainly art-centric and Paramount Theatre is a testament to that feel. Throughout the year, the theatre is host to a countless number of plays, performances, comedy acts, and concerts. The theatre has a long history and has become a cultural icon in Austin throughout the years. The inside is breathtaking and a visit (despite who you're going to see) is truly an experience. To view a calendar of upcoming shows and events at the theatre, visit their website.

  • Texas State Capitol

The State Capitol is located in downtown Austin, and is a fun and easy way to learn more about the history and politics of Texas. It is Texas’s oldest state office building, and the beautiful complex and expansive grounds are a must whether or not you’re a history buff. Free guided tours are available for visitors each day; however you’re always welcome to tour the grounds on your own as well. It’s free to visit, which makes it a nice option for budget-conscious travelers.

  • Austin Farmers Market

There are a few fantastic farmers market around Austin but the downtown Sustainable Food Center (SFC) is one of our favorites. A great way to get to know the flavors of a city is by spending a morning visiting a farmers market. The SFC market features dozens of local farmers and artisans, and is a great representation of the local scene in Austin. Grab a baguette, some cheese, and a few jams at the market and set up for a picnic lunch nearby. The market is open on Saturdays from 9 AM to 1 PM year round.

  • UMLAUF Sculpture Garden

For a relaxed afternoon in a shady garden, head to UMLAUF Sculpture Garden and Museum to enjoy some of the most beautiful art Austin has to offer. Though the sculpture garden is small, it covers a number of sculpture styles and eras. Though the sculptures are the main draw, the well-kept gardens invite you to take a moment and enjoy a serene reprieve from the city.

  • Congress Avenue Bridge Bats

We know what you’re thinking: bats? It sounds a little out there, but seeing the bats fly out from under Congress Bridge is a quintessential Austin experience! Each evening at dusk, spectators gather to see the world’s largest urban bat colony take flight. Gather along the bridge or if you’re feeling really adventurous, rent a kayak or take a boat tour to get the best view. Capital Cruises offer bat tours nightly from March through mid-November.

  • Barton Springs Pool

Barton Springs is a manmade pool located on Barton Creek. A series of dams create a unique swimming locale with depths of up to 18 feet. If swimming isn’t your thing, you can still spend your time sunbathing on the grassy areas around the pool area. The pool is an interesting blend of the outdoors and a luxurious swimming pool. Bring a good mix of music, a few snacks, and your best friends for a day of fun and relaxation.

  • Barton Creek Greenbelt Hike

The Barton Creek Greenbelt is one of Austin’s best and most scenic hiking trails. You can enjoy the area whether you’re a casual walker or a rock climber. Regardless of how you choose to hike the trail, the fact is that you won’t feel like you’re in Austin. The rock trails and streams will make you feel much farther from the city than you actually are.

  • Hamilton Pool

Hamilton Pool was created thousands of years ago and feels like an otherworldly destination. 50-foot waterfalls, limestone walls, and stalactites make you feel like you are leaps away from modern day Austin. The waters there are a jade green hue, and during the summertime swimmers and sunbathers flock to the area. If you’re planning to head over on the weekend, be sure to get there early to beat the crowds.

  • Lady Bird Lake Trail

The Lady Bird Lake trail consist of a 10-mile trail along Town Lake downtown. You can go for a morning run or even just an easy afternoon walk for a bit of exercise during your trip to the city. If you’re visiting during one of Austin’s large festivals, you’ll especially appreciate taking a break and getting in touch with nature for a moment. Because it’s easily accessible from downtown, just about anyone can take advantage.

  • Mount Bonnell

You’ll work up a bit of a sweat on the way up, but it’s all worth it to make it to the top of Mount Bonnell to see the best views of Austin. The site is 700 feet above sea level and though the climb up is strenuous, making the effort is worth it to see Austin in all of its grandeur. On your way back down, stop in at the peacock preserve in Mayfield Park to see some of Austin's peacock population.

  • Becker Vineyards

What says indulgence more than visiting a vineyard in beautiful Texas hill country? The vineyard consists of over 60 vineyards and offers tours of their scenic grounds (Tip: call ahead to arrange a tour for a group). Pack a picnic lunch, enjoy a few wine tastings, and have lunch al fresco amongst some of the most beautiful landscapes in the Austin area. Just outside of Austin, the scenic views, tastings, and relaxed atmosphere make Becker Vineyards an obvious pick.

  • Lake Austin Spa

Relax, put your feet up and take in all the Lake Austin Spa has to offer. A retreat in Texas hill country, the spa focuses on the health and wellbeing of its patrons. For a full day of pampering, you can opt for a day spa package, but treating yourself to a one-off facial or manicure while you’re in the city aren’t bad picks either. Those who are really serious about their wellness can opt for an all-inclusive spa package, which includes accommodations, healthy meals, and fitness activities. Though its not cheap, it’s the perfect plan for those looking for a restart.

  • Skyline Spa Austin

If you’re nestled downtown, but still want the luxury of a far-away spa retreat, look no further than Skyline Spa Austin. Located on the 8th floor of the Hilton downtown, the spa features a variety of treatments as well as a steam room, sauna, and pool deck. Had a rough night out? Sneak over for a quick massage and a dip in the pool.

  • Charm School Vintage

Affordable, stylish, and wearable vintage goods? It sounds too good to be true, but it’s a reality at Charm School Vintage. Austin is a city known for its quirky, vintage goods and Charm School Vintage is one of our favorite places in town to search for forgotten gems. Though vintage shops can often have high price tags, Charm School Vintage prides itself on affordable prices and an eclectic yet wearable selection.

  • Uncommon Objects

Sometime the name really does say it all. Uncommon Objects is an antiques and vintage shop in the Austin with ample character. If you don’t mind searching through piles of old photographs and the occasional vintage ukulele, you can find a real gem. Though you have to be dedicated to the search to really find treasures, its certainly worth it to come home with the perfect Austin souvenir.

  • Strut

Accessories, clothing, shoes… there is a lot to be found at Strut. Located in south Austin, the store is a beautiful collection of clothes and accessories for women. The staff is friendly, prices are reasonable and if you’re lucky enough to visit on the first Thursday of the month, you can take advantage of their famed 40% off sale. Regardless of what time of the month you’re here, you’ll love their trendy digs and fun atmosphere. Having withdraws after your trip? You can still shop the boutique online!

  • JM Dry Goods

Looking for a one of a kind piece while you’re in Austin? JM Drygoods is the place. The store contains clothing, accessories and home goods straight from talented Mexican artisans. The items in the shop are well curated and it is clear that a lot of work went into each piece. Though some items are on the pricier side because they are handmade, the quality and uniqueness makes the steep price tag well worth it.

  • Parts and Labor

Parts and Labor houses a unique mix of local and handmade goods that make perfect gifts for your friends back home. They have a little bit of everything with a selection of greeting cards, t-shirts, artwork, and various little tchotchkes thrown into the mix. The store has been around for over ten years now and is a favorite for locals and visitors alike. Their motto? “All Texas. All the time.”

  • Jo’s Coffee

Coffee aficionados, look no further. Jo’s is home to some of the best coffee that Austin has to offer! In true Austin fashion, they even house live musicians occasionally. Though it’s popularity means there is usually a line to order, things move quickly and the coffee is more than worth it. Be sure to take note of their seasonal drinks when you head in. Grab a coffee and a share a wrap with a friend before heading out into the city for the perfect start to your day.

  • Torchy’s Tacos

Residents of Austin have strong feelings about tacos, as they should. For most, Torchy’s is unanimously one of the most beloved taco joints around the city. Whether you’re there for a breakfast taco or a quick dinner before hitting the down, it rarely disappoints. Choose your meat and your spice level to help you assemble your perfect meal. Tacos are around $4 each making it an affordable option for all. Just don’t forget to order a side of queso!

  • Home Slice Pizza

The best pizza slice in Austin and it’s under $4. Can it really get better? Though there are a lot of pizza options in Austin, Home Slice Pizza is consistently the top pick. It’s hard to believe you can get real NY style pizza in Texas, but Home Slice proves the naysayers wrong. The restaurant boasts a fun atmosphere, and is a great stop before heading out to a concert or music festival.

  • Josephine House

From the moment you walk up to Josephine House, it’s clear that you are in for an elegant and memorable dining experience. The restaurant is open all day, but if you can swing it, we highly recommend their brunch. Grab your best girlfriends, order a stack of pancakes and a mimosa, and enjoy all that Josephine House has to offer. Try to get reservations if you can, as the restaurant does tend to fill up.

  • Elizabeth Street Cafe

Elizabeth Street Cafe exudes charm from the moment you walk in. The French-Vietnamese cuisine and light-filled interior make the restaurant really stand out. The cafe is open for brunch, breakfast, lunch, and dinner so it’s a easy place to work into your Austin visit. While there, be sure to order the Bánh Mì and finish off your meal with a French pastry (or two).

  • Uchi

Though it’s not the most affordable place in town, sushi lovers can’t possible turn down a dinner at Uchi. The restaurant stands out by combining local ingredients with some of the best seafood around the world to create a unique Japanese dining experience. They pride themselves on serving fresh and sustainable food. If you’re dying to visit but are still on a budget, head over during happy hour to get the same great service, food, and drinks at a fraction of the cost.

  • Perla’s Seafood

Seafood isn’t always easy to come by in Austin making Perla’s a unique and worthwhile experience. Though Austin isn’t directly on the coast, Perla’s manages fresh seafood caught from the Gulf of Mexico. Forgoing fancy recipes, the restaurant allows for the seafood to be the real star here. The food is cooked simply but well. On nice evenings, be sure to take advantage of the outdoor seating area.

  • Hillside Farmacy

From pharmaceutically themed salt and pepper shakers to original antique wooden display cases, it’s hard not to feel like you are visiting decades past at Hillside Farmacy. The menu offers a healthy dose of deli classics like the grinder (an Italian classic of meat and cheese) as well as favorites like fresh raw oysters and homemade mac and cheese. Chef Sonya Cote makes sure the majority of her menu is sourced from local farms so you will be sure to have a true taste of the best of Austin.

  • Hotel San Jose

Hotel San Jose is a modern, stylish property on South Congress Avenue. The hotel has just 40 rooms but the good news is, you can still drop in for drinks whether you’re staying there or not. Wind down with a few friends in their lounge and enjoy a few cocktails after a long day in Austin. Take in a DJ set in the lounge every third Sunday night or a jazz brunch complete with $3 mimosas on Saturdays in the springtime.

  • Whislers

If you’re looking for a fun watering hole with a side of live music, Whislers is the place for you. Happy hour? Dinner? After-dinner drinks? They have you covered. The rustic bar is a fun place to gather your ladies and enjoy a well-made cocktail. Located in East Austin, it’s close to all the action and a good stop to make on a night out.

  • Êpicerie

Fancy a low-key evening with a bit of wine and cheese with the girls? Êpicerie is your spot! The café is open all day but we love heading over in the evening to enjoy their cheese plates and selection of wines. The best part? You can pick up a bottle of your favorite sips in their curated grocery section.

  • Rainey Street

Rainey Street is not your regular run of the mill bar. Believe it or not, it is actually a row of houses converted into bars to create some of the most fun nightlife in Austin. Each house on Rainey is a little bit different from the last and offers something for just about anyone. Though it’s not considered to be the main bar scene in Austin, it’s quickly become the most loved due to its relaxed, low-key atmosphere. Just remember to bring cash!

  • Lady Bird Lake

Lady Bird Lake is Austin’s playground. It’s surrounded by a 10-mile hike and bike trail that boarders Zilker Park, home to the Austin City Limits festival, and is dotted with several places to rent stand-up-paddleboards and canoes. The best views of the city skyline are from the boardwalk on the east side of the lake and from the Pfluger Pedestrian Bridge.

  • I Love You So Much Mural

This mural covers the green wall on the side of Jo’s Coffee on a popular corner of South Congress Avenue. The mural appeared in 2010 as a spray-paint love letter from local musician Amy Cook to her partner Liz Lambert, majority owner at Jo’s. There’s usually a small line of people waiting to get their photo taken in the iconic spot.

  • Mount Bonnell

Mount Bonnell is the prime sunset spot in Austin. Take the picnic essentials and hike up the steep steps to the top of the 775-foot limestone outcrop overlooking the Colorado River. For the best chance of a colorful sunset, visit after a storm when the sky has the potential to be the most dramatic. Arrive early as the best seats get taken quickly.

  • Texas State Capital

The Texas State Capital is the icon of the Austin skyline. It’s the sixth tallest capital building in the nation and taller than the U.S. state capital. It’s open daily to the public and offers free guided tours. Photo highlights include the interior of the large central dome and the skylights on the North side of the building, which are stunning at night.

  • Congress Avenue Bat Bridge

The most spectacular sight in Austin is the mass exodus of bats from under the Congress Avenue Bridge. The bridge is home to the world’s largest urban colony from mid-March to November. Watch the spectacle from the Statesman Bat Observation Center alongside the bridge for the best photo opportunities.

  • Torchy’s Tacos

Tacos are essential to life in Austin. Torchy’s is a local favorite and serves breakfast tacos all day. Their most scenic location is the retro-style building off South Congress Avenue. Be sure to order a brisket taco like The Wrangler or Crossroads.

  • Barton Springs Pool

The best place to escape the never-ending Texas heat is Barton Springs Pool. The three-acre pool is fed from an underground spring and remains 68-70 degrees year-round. It’s also one of the best spots for people-watching in town and is open year-round.

  • Banger’s Sausage House

They call it the Manmosa — a gigantic mimosa that consists of a liter of champagne and fresh squeezed orange juice. Their scenic open-air patio makes for a great photo backdrop. If that’s not Instagrammable enough, order one of their house-made sausages for another great photo op.

  • Barton Creek Greenbelt

One of the top hiking trails in Texas lies in south/central Austin. The Barton Creek Greenbelt covers 12.85 miles including some photogenic swimming holes like Twin Falls and Sculpture Falls. The trail also features hiking, mountain biking and rock climbing opportunities.

  • Scholz Garten

Enjoy shady outdoor seating and frosty beer at this bustling Austin spot. Scholz is a Texas landmark and opened all the way back in 1866! Not only is the beer here good, the food is worth your time as well. You can snack on American items like chicken wings and fried pickles or keep it traditional with currywurst and spätzle. Choose from an impressive roster of German and local drafts — sold by the pitcher too.

  • Barabarella

In a city where bad decision bars have their own dedicated street, Barbarella stands apart as a monument to wringing the absolute last drops of fun from your night. This sprawling Downtown spot connects with Swan Dive next door via the giant patio out back, so you're technically getting into two bars at once, and while the drinks are always cheap (in both price and flavor), the music and vibe at Barbs depends largely on what themed night you visit -- Jimmy Eat Wednesday differs from TuezGayz, which differs from Grits 'n Gravy, and so on. Yes, the bar technically closes at 2am (this is Texas after all), but the dance party usually keeps going for another hour afterward, giving revelers ample time to sweat off their buzz and make the kind of lasting social connections they came for in the first place.

  • Garage

Austin is no stranger to speakeasies, and this hidden bar is at the top of its game. Set inside a downtown parking garage, the aptly named Garage is likely to be spinning vinyl and shaking some incredible-tasting cocktail when you find your way inside. It’s secretive. It’s low-key. And it’s hard to find. What more could you want from a hidden gem?

  • Justine’s Secret House

An Austin manse tucked away on East 7th Street, Justine’s Secret House is known for its under-the-radar buzz. With a New Orleans-style courtyard and plenty of amazing hideaways inside, this spot is a gorgeous destination for intimate cocktail parties.

  • Scholz Garten

It’s not just the oldest bar in Texas, it’s also the oldest operating biergarten in all of America. Scholz keeps its tradition alive with German food while also serving as a modern place to watch all things Longhorn-sports related.

  • Picnik
  • La Barbecue
nov 17 2015 ∞
mar 23 2019 +