What does an ideal night in Austin look like? Start out by taking down a couple of shots while admiring the city skyline at the best Austin rooftop bars, proceed to a fancy dinner at one of the best Thai restaurants in Austin, head to the best dance clubs in Austin and boogie to great music all night long and finish off your evening eating comfort food at the best diners in Austin, from greasy spoons to luncheonettes.
Best diners in Austin
Chef Andrew Curren (the genius behind Irene’s and Italic) and his team consistently deliver elevated comfort food using top-notch ingredients at this local diner. Open around the clock (with the exception of a middle-of-the-night cleaning session midweek), the diner serves breakfast all day. Order the biscuits and gravy (house-made buttermilk biscuit, two eggs, sausage gravy, side of fruit) and the chicken and waffle (marinated, boneless, skinless fried chicken breast and thigh, brown sugar butter, Grade A Michigan maple syrup).
While there are no fussy plates to be found at Cafe Java, you will be surprised by the staff’s creative twists on traditional diner items. You got your basic omelette selection but you can also spice it up with green chile chicken sausage or a black bean Benedict. Be warned: unlimited refills on coffee will make this North Austin strip mall eatery your favorite.
Sawyer & Co. is one of the few “new” diners able to capture that old times feel. Everything is retro—from the building’s facade to the formica tables. The menu boasts a decidedly Louisiana feel to it, with items like muffalettas, grilled oysters and boudin balls offered alongside classic dishes like sticky buns and scrambles. Cocktails, craft beer and wine are also on offer—enjoy them during killer happy hour on the patio.
Tucked into a South Austin strip mall, Phoebe's Diner has quickly become a neighborhood staple for early risers and brunch addicts, drawing long (but quickly moving) lines on the weekend. You'd be wise to try their house-made chorizo, which comes in a number of dishes—the chorizo hash, the shrimp and grits—and their migas, featuring crispy masa cakes, scrambled eggs with onion, tomato, hatch chile hollandaise and fingerling potatoes. Sake Bloody Marys and carafes of mimosas will help get things started.
Counter Cafe has been a go-to spot in Austin since 2006. Known for the delicious burgers and crab cake Benedict, the original location on Lamar only offers counter and outdoor seating. The new location in East Austin is much larger but serves the same (excellent) menu. Come here for breakfast, brunch or lunch and watch the chef work on your meal while you wait.
This family-owned eatery opened back in 1978 on Burnet Road and recently moved to a bigger and newer space on Airport boulevard. It’s affordable, it’s family-friendly and it churns out incredibly good chocolate chip pancakes. Great for groups, The Omelettry also offers a ton of parking space.
Soda fountain pharmacies are a thing of the past… but not in Austin. Nau Enfield Drug is still slinging burgers and floats behind a retro-looking façade that boasts a memorable Coca Cola float. Don’t expect anything fancy: just breakfasts, griddled burgers, BLTs, milkshakes and a heaping dose of nostalgia.
What started as a small diner on Kerbey Lane in 1980 has expanded to a proverbial diner empire. Renowned for their queso and specialty pancakes, this open-24-hours-a-day establishment is perfect for families and college students looking for a place to cram late into the night. The menu has something for everyone: Greek salads, crispy chicken Benedict and quesadillas.
When daily specials include meatloaf, dumplings and king ranch chicken casserole, you know the spot is legit. You’ll find Austin Diner in a strip mall on Burnet Road, where you can expect the traditional checkered floor and bright blue vinyl booths. Get here early for breakfast specials that will help you kick off the day right.
Large portions and low prices define this little campus cafe. Diners usually order omelettes, sandwiches, burgers and brunch items on the weekends—to be washed down with a beer (or three).