Best fast food restaurants
Austin is a city where tacos reign supreme, making Tacodeli royalty in the fast food realm. They have a menu of over 35 tacos, all made from scratch with fresh ingredients—many of which are organic and locally sourced. While you’re bound to find your go-to favorites, the Jess Special (migas, jack cheese and avocado) and the Frontera Fundido Sirloin (grilled sirloin, jack cheese glaze and sautéed poblano-onion rajas) are two popular options. With five locations open daily, Tacodeli only serves breakfast and lunch, so make sure you head over before they close at 3pm.
Chi’lantro BBQ started as a food truck and has since expanded to four brick-and-mortar locations around Austin. Their menu is a fusion of Korean and Mexican flavors, resulting in delicious creations like their famous original kimchi fries as well as tacos and burritos filled with protein such as spicy pork and soy-glazed chicken. While Chi’lantro may use some traditional family recipes, you can bet on enjoying a unique meal that’ll change the way you think about Korean BBQ. For even speedier service, order online ahead of time.
Hopdoddy Burger Bar is known for having a line out the door at their original South Congress location—and for good reason. Their mouthwatering burgers are made with freshly baked bread, daily ground meats free of antibiotics and hormones, fresh veggies and scratch-made sauces. And their menu has a wide range of options, from the Terlingua with chili con carne to the Primetime with Brie and truffle aioli. Whatever burger you order, consider pairing it with some hand-cut fries and a tasty signature shake.
Fast food doesn’t have to mean greasy bites that leave you feeling sluggish. At one of Blenders & Bowls’ three locations, you can cop yourself a delicious smoothie or an almost-too-pretty-to-eat açaí bowl. These bowls seem like they were made for Instagram, but they’re not just stunning to look at. The açaí is a superfruit from Brazil that’s jam-packed with antioxidants and tastes good to boot. We’re partial to the Beach Bowl, a blend of acai, mangos and coconut water topped with hemp granola, strawberries, blueberries, coconut shreds and local honey.
You can’t talk tacos in Austin without mentioning Torchy’s. This fast food favorite is generous when it comes to their taco fillings, and we dare you to try and eat one without using a napkin. It’s hard to choose just one favorite from their menu, especially since they always have a special taco of the month available, too. But the Trailer Park with hand-battered fried chicken, green chilies, pico de gallo, cheddar jack cheese and poblano sauce is a noteworthy choice. Also, don’t miss out on their green chile queso served with guacamole and their addictive diablo sauce.
Sometimes a hefty burrito is the only thing that hits the spot, and Cabo Bob’s Burritos is a trusted choice when that craving strikes. Their burritos are made on fresh-pressed tortillas, which come in buttermilk flour, ancho chili, cilantro tomatillo and smokey cheddar. In particular, the Best Steak Burrito, packed with steak fajita, rice, beans, sautéed onions, queso and pico de gallo, is the stuff dreams are made of. If you’re looking for something a little lighter, go with the Deluxe Fish Tacos. It may seem an unusual choice for a fast food joint, but this Pacific-Coast inspired restaurant knows how to do them right.
Californians love their In-N-Out, and Austinites love their P. Terry’s. You’ll find 14 P. Terry’s Burger Stands throughout the city, all but one of which offer drive-thru service. With hamburger, chicken burger and veggie burger options that can be served on a bun, bunless or in a lettuce wrap, there’s something for everyone to sink their teeth into. Two big pluses about P. Terry's: They’re all about fresh ingredients, from their beef to their fries to their lemonade; and their menu is easy on the wallet, with burgers ranging from just $2.50 to $3.95.
East Side Pies specializes in thin-crust pizzas, which they top with whole milk mozzarella cheese, a dash of romano and no more than eight toppings (to ensure a quality cooking process and product). What about the sauce? Well, that’s where things get fun. They have a selection ranging from standard red sauce to black bean to chimichurri. Following the spirit of our city, which loves supporting local businesses, East Side Pies builds their pizzas using fresh, quality produce from local farms.
The name of the game at Fresa’s is modern Mexican chicken al carbón. You can choose to order a quarter, half or whole chicken in either their achiote and citrus or Yucatan spice flavor. Fresa’s wood-grilled meals are served with charro beans, Mexican rice, grilled onion, marinated jalapeno, lime, salsas and homemade corn tortillas, making them great for sharing, and their menu is full of an assortment of other favorites like tacos, quesadillas and guacamoles. Depending on which location you go to, you can drive through, pick up to-go orders, walk up to the window or dine in.
Branded by a logo with an adorable chicken in a cowboy hat, El Pollo Rico is another popular fast food spot delivering Mexican grilled chicken. While their specialty is Monterrey-style charcoal-grilled chicken (which you can order as two pieces, a half chicken or a whole chicken), they also have a number of other classics on their menu like tacos, carne asada and flautas. Swing by one of their six locations in the Austin area, some of which conveniently offer drive-thru service.
Dan’s doesn’t just convey the appearance of a classic burger joint; their history goes all the way back to 1973 when they opened their first location. This family-run fast food restaurant serves fresh, made-to-order burgers using Certified Angus Ground Chuck. They also open as early as 6am, so you can grab a quick bite in the morning from their sizeable breakfast menu. Count on friendly service when you visit one of their three locations.
The chicken sandwich is the star of the show at Flyrite Chicken—from the Standard, with crispy chicken breast and homemade pickles on a whole-wheat bun; to the Cowboy, with spicy chicken, bacon, cheddar cheese and fresh jalapenos. Other items on the menu include chicken strips, wraps and salads. Flyrite prides itself on serving fast food made from thoughtfully sourced ingredients you can trust, so you won’t find any MSG, antibiotics, hormones or artificial ingredients. Dine in or head through the drive thru to get some of their self-proclaimed feel good fast food.
Unsurprisingly for a joint named The Soup Peddler, it all began with owner David Ansel delivering soups around South Austin on his bike. Today, there are five brick-and-mortar locations serving not just soups but also juices, smoothies, salads and sandwiches. The selection of soup changes daily, but mainstays include tomato basil, chicken with rice and green goddess, and they all make for a great pairing with grilled sandwiches, which are made with local sourdough and Tillamook cheeses. You can conveniently place a takeout order online to swing by and start chowing down in no time.
Have you ever been held back from creating the pizza of your dreams because of all those extra topping charges? Then MOD Pizza will seem like heaven on earth: One set price grants you the power to tack on an unlimited number of their 30+ toppings. With such a wide selection of meats, veggies, cheeses and sauces, there’s endless pizza-making fun to be had. Their standard pizza is 11 inches, but if you’re feeling healthy or simply not as hungry, go for their mini 6-inch pizza or their salad instead. Whatever you choose, the unlimited toppings rule still applies and your order will be ready in minutes.
When you want a fresh meal fast, stop on by MAD Greens. Their offerings include salads, grain bowls, wraps, soups and juices—and prove that eating healthy doesn’t have to mean cutting down on flavor. MAD Greens preps their high-quality ingredients in house and provides nutritional information for everything on their menu. You’re welcome to choose from their combinations like the Don Quixote—which comes with baby greens, mango, avocado, roasted corn, jack cheese and grilled chicken—or make your own creation.
ThunderCloud Subs started back in 1975 with the mission of selling great, affordable subs—a mission they uphold today at their numerous locations scattered all around the city. Each sub is made to order using freshly baked bread from a local bakery along with deli meats, cheese and produce that are sliced in-house every day. Choose from their signature and classic subs like the California Club and N.Y. Italian, and expect fast service and a reasonable price.
Looking for something more healthy?
Long live the vegetable.