QUICK GUIDE: Austinlandia of FOOOOD

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Austin: capital of Texas, home to the University of Texas, the “Silicon Valley of Texas”, and currently one of the fastest growing cities in the US.

Upon arrival, our Uber driver jokingly told us that he refers to Austin as “Austin, California” now because of the large influx of Californians moving there in recent years. And in terms of food, it looks like his description was pretty spot on. The types of food and cuisine that Austin offers are as variable and unique as those found in California. Much like Greater Los Angeles and the Bay Area in California – regions which sport both authentic (or as close to authentic) and fusion food brought over from all around the world through their large immigrant communities – Austin’s cuisine also emulates the multifarious communities and cultures that live there.

We went all over town trying out the different food that Austin had to offer (seriously, 80% of our trip in Austin was just FOOD). Check them out!

1. Crawfish Boil 

Definitely a must when visiting Texas. Originating from Louisiana, this delicacy (hmm can this be called a delicacy…?) is a local favorite. There is nothing like sitting down with a large plate of spicy-smelling boiled crawfish and having a bottle of fresh locally brewed beer in your hand as you chat with large groups of family and friends under Texas’ warm spring time. Plus crawfish are healthy – they have an excellent source of high-quality protein, are low in calories, fat and saturated fat, and have a good source of vitamins.

Also known as crayfish, crawdads or mudbugs, “crawfish” is what they are generally referred to in Texas. Crawfish season usually starts around the beginning of March and ends some time in June. Restaurants and bars all over Austin will be selling these live freshwater crustaceans, hosting their own crawfish boils, or putting boiled crawfish on the menu. Take a walk down the popular Sixth Street and you will have people from the various pubs there yelling for you to come in for some free crawfish.

We went to the Austin “Crawfish and Brews” event at Zilker Brewing Co.

  • Website: 
  • 2016 FB event page: 
  • Location: 1701 E 6th St, Austin, TX 78702
  • Price: $15 for one box of crawfish

2. Texan BBQ

No trip to Texas is complete without trying out their famous Texan BBQ. The three most popular Texan BBQs in Austin are:

  • Salt Lick About a 20 minutes drive from city center and usually around a 20 minutes wait
    • Website:
    • Location: 18300 Farm to Market Rd 1826, Driftwood, TX 78619
  • Franklin Barbeque Very popular. Heard from the locals that the wait is INSANE (~4-5 hours wait). Some people go as early as 7am just to get in line. They give you a lottery ticket so if you get it then you’re guaranteed in.
    • Website: 
    • Location: 900 E 11th St, Austin, TX 78702
  • Stubb’s Bar-B-Q Claimed by some of my friends to be their favorite out of the 3. Has live concert (the day we went Tyler, The Creator was there performing for a private event).
    • Website: 
    • Locations: 3 locations as of 2016
      • Stubb’s Downtown: 801 Red River, Austin, TX 78701
      • Stubb’s @ Mean Eyed Cat: 1621 W 5th St, Austin, TX 78703
      • Stubb’s @ Graceland Grocery: 8600 W Hwy 290, Austin, TX 78736

3. Local Fusions

  • Chilantro Korean and Mexican fusion. I like to think of this one as “cilantro but with a H”. They invented the original kimchi fries!! Yummmm. Started out as a food truck but became so popular that they now have four established facilities (and more coming!). They recently switched to Cashless, so don’t forget to bring your cards (or you can also use Apple pay) when visiting!
    • Website:
    • Restaurant Locations (check website for updated truck and restaurant locations):
      • South Lamar: 1509 South Lamar Blvd., Austin, TX 78704
      • Burnet: 5222 Burnet Road, Austin, TX 78756
      • Domain: 11005 Burnet Road, Austin, TX 78758
      • Downtown: 823 Congress, Austin, TX 78701
  • Burger Tex 2 A short walk from the University of Texas campus, this is a popular place for college students and locals alike to get their bulgogi burger fix.
    • Website:
    • Location: 2912 Guadalupe St, Austin, TX 78705
  • VERTS Mediterranean food meets Chipotle (style of serving). Here you can get a healthy and delicious kebab/wrap/bowl of Mediterranean food to your own choosing! Psssst this first started out as a smart car food truck!
    • Website:
    • Location: multiple (check website)
  • Xian Sushi and Noodle Chinese and Japanese fusion. Must try their cold noodles. All the noodles are hand-pulled and made fresh on the spot!
    • Website: 
    • Locations:
      • Xian #1 Mueller Location: 1801 E 51 St, Bldg C370 Austin, TX 78723
      • Xian #2 NorthWest Location: 13201 Ranch Road 620 N, Ste U208 Austin, TX 78717

4. Craft Sodas 

Try a Mexican soda or two while in Texas! Rather than the usual big brand names like Coca-Cola or Pepsi, most places in Texas carry handcrafted beverages. What is so special about these drinks? The main difference is that they are made with cane sugar instead of high-fructose corn syrup. After becoming dehydrated and delirious from the hot weather, I tried one myself and was not only instantly quenched but also felt less guilty about drinking a soda (in my mind it seemed a little healthier hahaha). Here are some of the popular brands:

  • Portland, Maine-born/Austin-based Maine Root
  • Oak Cliff Beverage Works
  • Dublin Bottling Works
  • Saint Arnold

5. Amy’s Ice Creams

Founded and headquartered in Austin, this privately owned ice cream store chain is the favorite amongst locals.

  • Website:
  • Locations: multiple (check website)

6. Japanese Restaurants

As we drove around town, we saw so many Japanese restaurants. Although I didn’t get to try them, my friend who lives there is an avid fan and here are some of her recommendations:

  • Komé Sushi Kitchen Come here for a some authentic home-style Japanese cooking. I am actually quite sad that I didn’t get to come here, just looking at the menu is making me want to try everything on there. It looks very affordable too! From the mouths of the owners themselves, “We want to introduce real family-style Japanese comfort food as well as unique foods that we enjoy at our own family dining table at home – from our mom’s and grandma’s recipes; from where we came from.”
    • Website: 
    • Location: 4917 Airport Blvd Austin, TX 78751
    • Menu: 
  • Michi Ramen Another one that started out as a food truck! They were named best Ramen in Austin (hand-pulled too!)
    • Website: 
    • Locations:
      • North Lamar: 6519 N. Lamar Blvd., Austin, TX 78752
      • South Lamar: Corners Shopping Center, 3005 South Lamar Blvd. D-114B, Austin, TX 78704
  • Ramen Tatsu-Ya Started by two chefs/DJs, this place is known for the dedication they put into making the broth of their ramen. Co-owner Tatsu says, “We want to educate people on what ramen truly is. It’s the soul food of Japan.”
    • Website: 
    • Locations:
      • North: 8557 Research Blvd #126 Austin, TX 78758
      • South: 1234 S. Lamar Blvd Austin, TX 78704
    • Hours: EVERYDAY 11A-10P
  • Uchi This is THE MOST expensive Japanese restaurant in town. And despite its price, it is still so popular that you would have to make a reservation to eat here.
    Asked my friend if she thinks it’s worth it and she replied, “YES, but this is one of those places that you would want to come to splurge $$$$ on only when there is a special occasion to celebrate.” With many notable awards, Uchi serves a wide selection of sushi, sashimi…you name it. They also have a changing omasake based on seasonal items.
  • Website: 
  • Location: 801 South Lamar Austin, Texas 78704
  • Hours: Sunday-Thursday 5P-10P, Friday-Saturday 5P-11P


7. Voodoo Donut 

Originally from Portland, Oregon, this famous donut shop opened a branch in Austin too. These creatively-shaped donuts come in many unique flavors and are so popular that it’s rare not to see a line in front of the store.

  • Website: 
  • Location: 212 E 6th St, Austin, TX 78701

8. Others

There are still many, many more places to go and here are just a few more recommendations from my friend:

  • Halal Bros. Middle Eastern fare, from kebabs to stuffed pitas.
    • Website: 
    • Locations:
      • West campus Restaurant: 2712 Guadalupe Street, Austin, Texas 78705
      • Downtown Food Truck: 419 E 7th Street,  Austin Texas 78701]
  • P. Terry’s Burger Stand Basically the In-N-Out of Texas.
    • Website: 
    • Location: multiple (check website)
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