Barbecue, Breakfast Tacos and Burgers: Where to Eat During SXSW
South by Southwest has returned for 2022 with a lineup of films, concerts and conferences stronger than ever. But if you’ve ever been to the festival before, you know that the programming is only half the fun. Check out Variety‘s top recommendations for where to eat in Austin.
Mornings in Austin are best begun with breakfast tacos. Taco Joint has you covered, well respected for the freshness of their handmade tortillas and for the sheer amount of food they stuff into them. Conveniently, the East Riverside location will keep you central to several film, music and interactive venues. But there’s no shortage of tacos to go around, so also consider other local favorites like Veracruz All Natural, El Chilito or Rosita’s Al Pastor, all with delicious lunch options as well.
Magnolia Cafe is the city’s best diner (with a Tex-Mex twist). Lines are often long, but it’s worth it to support an Austin institution that had to shutter its original location at the start of the pandemic. Plus, the South Congress location gives you lots to do while you wait. Stop into quirky souvenir shop Prima Dora next door, or walk a little further down to marvel at the thousand-dollar wonders at Allen’s Boots. If you’re lucky, you’ll also pass by local artisans selling their wares or poets writing new work on the spot, “Before Sunrise” pay-what-you-wish style. It’ll all make the giant pancake taste better.
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Elizabeth St. Cafe is a Vietnamese cafe and French bakery all in one that’s perfect for weekend brunch. You might also visit Moonshine Grill or Jack Allen’s Kitchen for contemporary Southern comfort food and cocktails to match, which also shine at dinner time. For a more casual breakfast on weekdays, indulge in a Queen Beak at Bird Bird Biscuit.
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Yes, Texas is known for its barbecue. Franklin Barbecue is Austin’s most famous destination — but know that you’ll have to queue for at least a few hours before there’s any meat on your plate. For some more strategic options, consider the highly-rated Micklethwait Craft Meats or the beloved chain Rudy’s Country Store and Bar-B-Q. Both offer solid Texas-style barbecue minus the all-day line, and at decent price points. Whatever you choose, make the brisket your priority.
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When it comes to burgers, try JewBoy or Hopdoddy if you’re looking for a more creative menu and Mighty Fine or P. Terry’s for something quicker. And you can’t go wrong with the Royale with Cheese at the Alamo Drafthouse, where you should also indulge in some chips and queso.
Plant-based eaters will feel welcome all throughout town. But to get specific, the vegetarian Bouldin Creek Cafe is wholesome and comforting, especially at breakfast time, and Arlo’s is popular for its vegan burger.
Sadly, Austin’s famous 24-hour restaurants have had to scale back during the pandemic. But if you do find yourself starving at 3 a.m., any proud Texan will point you to Whataburger.
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