SXSW will descend upon our city soon, bringing non-stop panels, parties, performances, activations and film screenings to seemingly every inch of central Austin. We've put together a list of places to eat and drink during the fest, but those who aren't participating will want to entirely avoid downtown Austin—and even those who are active for the festival will inevitably need an escape from the masses. Take a breather and recharge with food, drink and sweet silence at the following spots.
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Where to eat at SXSW to avoid crowds
Though it’s located on the periphery of the action, Boiler Nine is just far enough away to remain an oasis of calm during South by Southwest. Plus, the multi-level restaurant features plenty of space and three different options for dining and drinking: escape to the cool, dark lower level bar for music-inspired cocktails and snacks, dine with a view of the grill in the airy main restaurant, or head to the Deck Nine Observatory Bar for frozen cocktails and small plates with an excellent view of the city.
Kick off your weekend with brunch at the recently opened Bonhomie, a French-brasserie- meets-American-diner on Burnet Road. Indulgent dishes like rum baba French toast, foie gras gravy pommes rosti and banana split profiteroles will keep you sustained and smiling throughout the day. Alternatively, flee the crowds during the week for happy hour, when a bottle of bubbly and a bowl of crisp fries are just $30.
Just because life seems to stop in Austin for SXSW doesn't mean the rest of the world follows suit. If you find yourself with an inbox full of emails to catch up on, grab your laptop and head to one of Austin's newest coffee shops. Located just south of downtown, Cosmic Coffee + Beer Garden offers a zen garden atmosphere and plenty of food truck options (LeRoy & Lewis, Quality Seafood, Pueblo Viejo, Tommy Want Wingy). And best of all, you can choose coffee, cocktails or the best of both worlds: coffee cocktails.
Austin has plenty of delicious pizza these days, but the certified Neapolitan pies from Pieous are always worth the trek to the edge of town in Oak Hill—and so is the housemade sourdough,
pastrami and scratch made desserts and breakfast pastries. Note: just because it’s located outside of downtown doesn’t mean there won’t be a line. But trust us: it's worth that wait too.
SXSW veterans probably remember chowing down on More Pacific's comforting fare after late night shows at Hotel Vegas. But now the modern Filipino eatery features an expanded menu, plenty of seating and a full bar in north Austin. Make sure to visit during the fest for lunch, dinner, or happy hour (Tuesday through Friday from 4-6:30pm or all day Wednesday) and enjoy dishes like longganisa tots, brisket kare kare and sweet garlic fried rice.
Find yourself wanting something fast, healthy and close to the action? Make a break for Fresa’s full service location on South 1st Street, where a group of friends can go in on a shareable feast of wood-grilled steak, chicken or fish plus charro beans, Mexican rice, homemade tortillas, lime, salsa and jalapeño. There’s also individual tacos sandwiches and salads, plus a walk up window for those on the go.
Take a break from the non-stop energy of downtown and head to the woods for a soothing dinner experience at Mattie’s. The 19th century home—and it’s porch strung with twinkle lights—will beckon you inside with offerings of brandy milk punch, and the farm-focused Southern fare will be a welcome change from tacos and BBQ inhaled on the street. You’ll thank us later.
In addition to offering daily breakfast and lunch (plus sandwiches for take away), Texas French Bread offers a cozy bistro dinner Wednesday through Sunday. You’ll want to settle in and stay a while at this neighborhood gem—and with a wine and beer list this good, you’ll have no problem doing just that. Plus, on Wednesday through Sunday from 5 to 6pm, all wine, beer and cider is half off.
Just when you’re feeling like you need some vegetables and nature in your life, Vinaigrette is here for you, and located just off South Congress. Take a breather under the massive live oak covering their patio and choose from a variety of healthy veggie-focused dishes—plus tonics, kombucha and healthy cocktails, of course!
Starting to think you should have rented out your house and taken a European vacation in lieu of Southby like your neighbors? Head south to El Chipirón and pretend you did. Austin’s newest Spanish concept features creative pintxos served in a modern space and a lengthy gin and tonic menu that will give you just the liquid encouragement you need to get back out there in the world.