The best Italian restaurants in Austin, Texas
For the best Italian plates in Texas, look no further than Austin. The city’s culinary scene is fast evolving, and nowadays, it is cooking up Italian and Mediterranian fare that’ll take you back to those piping summers on Mulberry Street or Boston’s north end—melty cheese over your fingertips. Heck, some might even say Bologna (albeit after one too many Aperol Spritz!). The point is that the pizza, spaghetti, meatballs, lasagna, risotto, seafood creations, and all that jazz cooked up in Bat City are far from shabby and totally worthy of big-league status. Throw in some Italian wine and gelato, and you know it’s gonna be a feast. From traditional trattorias serving delectable pies to modern eateries offering all the classic and creative carbs your palate desires, get ready to cheer Mamma Mia… here’s where to eat delicious Italian food in Austin. Recommended: The best restaurants in Austin
The best wine bars in Austin right now
Austin is a great city for booze. That shouldn’t come as a huge surprise, what the city’s penchant for hard rock and harder partying, but the bar scene here really needs to be experienced to be believed. Cocktail bars, dive bars, hotel bars, rooftop bars, they are all here and they are all buzzing. What about wine bars in Austin? You better believe it. Oenophiles are in for a treat in Bat City. The wine bar scene in Austin covers a whole lot of ground, from swanky downtown spots all the way to charming bistros serving up decadent bites with a glass of Burgundy by candlelight. If that scene doesn’t whet your whistle, we’re not entirely sure why you’ve clicked on an article titled ‘Best Wine Bars in Austin’, but that’s for you to work out. For the wine-friendly readers, make a beeline for these places, pronto. RECOMMENDED: the best bars in Austin
The best sandwich shops in Austin
Though tacos and BBQ undoubtedly steal the limelight in the capital of Texas, our city has more than a few options when it comes to quality sandwich shops. When picnic season hits, grab a few friends, some craft beer and a blanket before working your way through this list of restaurants, delis and food trucks offering stellar sandwiches. The creations they serve are the best thing since, well, sliced bread.
The best brunch in Austin for every mood
The best brunch in Austin is more than a meal: It’s an hours-long celebration (and especially necessary after hitting Austin's best bars the night before). But with seemingly every restaurant getting in on the omelette action, it’s hard to choose what’s worth waking up for. Bottomless brunch? French toast on wheels? Whatever you’re craving, we’ve got the spot for basking in the best meal of the week, including the best brunch burgers, live music brunches and even Austin's top BBQ disguised as brunch. See you out there with a mimosa in hand!
The 15 best tacos in Austin
Narrowing down the best tacos in Austin is no small feat. The city is rich with tortillas, folded and filled with tender meats, savory beans, freshly grilled vegetables and melted cheese. There’s truly a taco for every taste and—best of all—they can be consumed any time of day or night, whether accompanied by a caffeinated beverage from one of the best coffee shops in Austin, a stiff drink from one of the best bars in Austin or as a quick snack before heading to the best venues for live music in Austin. With a focus on independent, family-owned trucks and restaurants, we present our guide to the best tacos in Austin right now.
The nine best Austin pubs
It’s no secret that Austinites like to drink—stop by one of the best Austin pubs and you'll find plenty of imbibers nursing a Guinness or local craft beer while watching the big game. While you could hit up the best dive bars in Austin or one of the city's top cocktail bars, there's something familiar about hunkering down in a cozy pub. To find your perfect watering hole, look no further than our list of best Austin pubs.
Eight ways to escape the crowd during SXSW 2018
There’s no festival in the world like SXSW, and we’re lucky to have it right here in Austin. Let this be your mantra for the next ten days as thousands upon thousands of participants descend upon our city for non-stop stimulation. As the locals know, this time of year can be a bit much—in fact, many choose to rent out their living quarters and flee the madness. If you don’t have that option, or find yourself needing a break from the barely controlled chaos, head to one of the following spots (and thank us later). Seek solace at the libraryFor a bit of zen in the middle of the city, escape to the brand new Central Library in the Seaholm district. There are plenty of quiet areas to get in the zone and do work or curl up with a book and pretend you’re somewhere far away. Or just grab a selection from the ‘zine shelf and head to the rooftop to kick your legs up for a bit before returning to the belly of the beast. Take a hike on the GreenbeltIt’s easy to get caught up in Austin’s vibrant nightlife (or love of day drinking, for that matter), but let us not forget about our city's beloved Greenbelt, which features over seven miles of lush trails perfect for hiking, biking, bouldering and exploring. Let the beat of the bass disappear as you slip into the forest—and if you’re lucky, Barton Creek might even be full enough for a dip. Roll around like an adultStrap on some skates and head to the rink like it's the good ol’ days. Millennium Youth Entertainment Complex will host a DJ-fuel
Where to eat during SXSW 2018 to avoid the crowds
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. RECOMMENDED: Our guide to SXSW 2018
The best vegetarian and vegan restaurants in Austin
If the best BBQ in Austin is any indication, Texans love their meat. But, whether calling out health-related or moral reasons, going vegetarian or vegan is considered a healthier, more humane life choice for some. Although you might be able to find plenty of veggie options at the best Italian restaurants in Austin, these strictly vegetarian and vegan restaurants in Austin allow you to order the entire menu without having to browse through every single meal ingredient. Eat at one or all of them and even your staunchest carnivore friends will probably end up considering a departure from their meat-based diets. Fun fact: plenty of the options below are among the best food trucks in Austin. Enjoy!
The 10 best juice bars in Austin
You don’t have to worship fruits and veggies to visit Austin’s best juice bars—but it definitely won’t hurt. Living in this city often seems like a non-stop party; with year-round music and food festivals, nightly live music and plenty of incredible cocktail bars and craft beer bars, there’s always a good excuse to raise a glass. Luckily, getting back on track has never been more delicious. Next time you rage all night at one of Austin’s best dance clubs, just remember that fresh-squeezed redemption is just a juice bar away!
The 25 best burgers in Austin
Whether devouring these cheeseburgers after visiting one of the best bars in Austin or opting for a healthy hamburger before hitting the best Austin attractions, the best burgers in Austin are sure to rock your culinary world. After all, it’s no secret that Texas really knows its beef—check out the best BBQ in Austin if you don’t believe us.
Where to find modern kolaches in Austin
Mention kolaches outside Texas state lines, and you’ll likely receive blank stares. But ask a local to name their favorite spot to grab the sweet or savory pastry, and you’ll stir up a fierce debate on the merits of Hruska’s versus Czech Stop. Originally introduced to central Texas by 19th-century Czech settlers, kolaches were almost exclusively found in highway-facing bakeries, gas stations and doughnut shops. Now they’re making a modern-day comeback, popping up in some of Austin's top fine-dining restaurants and its best food trucks. We tracked down our favorites in Austin—and no, they’re not by Interstate 35.
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Owners Andrew Sabola and local food stylist Meghan Erwin trained at Carpigiani Gelato University before opening Gelateria Gemelli in the bottom of the Corazon building on East Sixth Street. Using traditional methods and local ingredients, they craft 12 flavors of gelato and sorbetto, including Earl Grey and a stracciatella made with Fernet Branca and Valrhona dark chocolate. The classy retro shop also carries a wide selection of amari, best enjoyed neat alongside a scoop of gelato.
After occupying the space inside Juiceland in Hyde Park for more than four years, Austin’s favorite vegan ice cream parlor, Sweet Ritual, relocated to its own brick-and-mortar space on Airport Boulevard. The increased production space means more pints and ice cream sandwiches for sale, room for experimentation with new frozen desserts and ice cream cakes, and more parking! Made with coconut, cashew, almond, peanut and sunflower butter bases (depending on the flavor), their ice creams come in 12 regular flavors plus four rotating specials. They also offer vegan housemade sauces and toppings, gluten-free waffle cones and sundaes made with locally crafted vegan donuts, brownies and chocolate chip cookies.
Via 313 Pizza
When Via 313 opened up in a little trailer outside Violet Crown Social Club, there was undoubtedly some head-scratching over the classification of Detroit-style pizza. But they quickly showed Texas that Motor City-style pies are indeed for real—and delicious. They've moved that trailer to a permanent brick-and-mortar a few blocks down (and opened a few other locations around the city), but the quality of pizza is still the same. Each personal-looking rectangular pie features plenty of fresh melted cheese and a crust so simultaneously crispy, chewy and buttery, it’s easily shareable among two people; do it right and get The Detroiter, which has smoked pepperoni tucked under the cheese and natural casing pepperoni on top. If you're looking for a thinner crust, opt for the bar-style pies (we're a fan of the Jack White clam pie).
The Grove Wine Bar & Kitchen
Each one of the the Grove's locations hopes to spread one message: wine doesn’t need to be pretentious. Knowledgable servers guide guests through a wine menu organized by descriptions like “fresh and herbal” and “velvet glove + iron fist,” while always featuring several eco-friendly wines on tap. Perch in the bar area, slip into one of the booths or pull up a seat on the spacious patio—and if you come hungry, the full menu includes offerings like house-made mozzarella pulled to order, roasted beets za’atar and steel head trout a la meunière.
Specializing in French pub food and craft beer, Hopfields is a unique hi-lo mashup—and both aspects work spectacularly. The cozy gastropub is perfect for both dates and casual get-togethers, but whatever the occasion, you'd be wise to come for the Pascal burger. The medium rare patty, creamy Camembert and caramelized onions are held together by a perfectly firm bun that comes with thin, herb-tossed frites and a tiny jar of aioli—totally worh the trip to campus.
This warm and inviting South Austin wine bar features a smart and well-priced list of reds, whites and bubbles, including some refreshing Texas-grown grapes (an element sorely lacking from many of Austin’s local wine bars). A solid happy hour is available Tuesday through Thursday from 4 to 6pm, and there are half-off select bottles on Sunday and Monday. Keep yourself sated with an affordable menu of tapas like duck bruschetta, patatas bravas and grilled broccolini with burrata.
Vino Vino must be doing something right—they’ve been wining and dining Hyde Park for over ten years now. Tuck away into a cozy lamplit table and select a bottle from the epic wall of wine, which favors the Old World, particularly Italy and France. The menu spans from classic snacks like raclette to full-fledged entrees like bouillabaisse and, every Sunday, paella is served at 7pm, with coordinating wine specials.
After launching as a delivery-based juice company, Juice Society opened its flagship location in the Lamar Union last year. Before stocking up on bottles of grab-and-go blends displayed in the cafe’s refrigerator, try eight different varieties in a juice flight or customize your elixir with upgrades like ashwagandha, lion’s mane and reishi. The shop also offers six different smoothies and a menu of potions like a golden latte (turmeric-infused chai), brain tonic (coffee blended with rhodiola and MCT oil) and an activated latte (made with activated charcoal). Light food offerings include two different types of bowls (an avocado banana mousse and a lemon vanilla cashew parfait) plus three different toast options. And if you don’t live anywhere near South Austin, the company can still ship their fresh squeezed juices anywhere in the Austin area.
This aptly named double decker bus, parked in the Thicket Food Park on South 1st Street, serves fresh-squeezed juices and smoothies starting at a reasonable $5. Juices are categorized as either “refreshing” or “nutrient-rich,” and any blend can be made into a smoothie for just a dollar more. Smoothies are split into three menus: fruity, green and guilt-free (though technically they all come devoid of guilt). Offerings like the Princess Peach (peach, mango, pineapple, coconut water, ginger, mint, lemon, spirulina) and the Extra Life (apple, cucumber, carrot, E3, lime) fit with the retro video game theme, the back of the bus serves as a rotating space for street artists, and they regularly host BYOB, dog-friendly events, like a weekly movie night.
This homegrown juice dispensary focuses on cleanses and offers five different options depending on your experience, goals and flavor preferences. They also offer menus of green juices, fruit juices, root juices and nut mylks (like the Vanilla Sky, made with almond mylk, vanilla, honey, coconut water, cherries, cinnamon, nutmeg and goji berries), which can all be mixed and matched into customized cleanse packages. Visit their shipping container location on South Congress for a fresh, vegan-friendly lunch or snack (in addition to a variety of smoothies and juices, they offer granola bowls and salads), have a cleanse or a juice order delivered, or request their juice truck to cater your next event.
This healthy café off South Congress offers a menu of juices, mocktails and tonics to accompany its veggie-heavy menu— like the Earth Bite, made with golden beet, grapefruit bitters, soda, pineapple and lime. Want something a little more indulgent? Their saladBAR features signature cocktails using their juices, like the Purple Russian (purple cabbage, fennel, pineapple juice with lemon, Tito’s and Cynar) and the Kale Mary (kale celery, Thai bird chile, fresh grape tomato juice, horseradish, soy and Tito’s).
This Brazilian trailer began slinging açaí bowls in The Picnic food park on Barton Springs Road just last year and plans to open its first brick and mortar in the Mueller district this winter. Each bowl starts with a base of açaí and guarana and can be made “light” (topped with sliced fresh fruit and granola), “powerful” (blended with protein powder and avocado), or “naughty” (topped with crushed cookies and condensed milk). Four different types of smoothies are also offered, as well as gluten-free pão de queijo (Brazilian cheese rolls).
Dirty Dark Place brings contemporary art to a corner of the Kyle Flea Market
There's not much that can’t be found at the flea markets located just outside Austin's city limits. After all, flea markets are inherently bastions of the zero waste lifestyle: physical proof that one person’s trash is indeed another’s treasure. This year, a forward-thinking contemporary art space inside the Kyle Flea Market is pushing those boundaries even further. H I X Collective, a project-based art group run by Daedelus Hoffman and Lindsay Starr, took up residence in a back corner booth of the market in January, and dubbed the space Dirty Dark Place (inspired by A Clean, Well-Lighted Place, the Austin gallery that artist Dave Hickey opened in 1967). The duo is renting DDP, formerly a tattoo parlor, for the entire year and featuring a different artist’s work each month. “DDP is an experiment in radical populism and a challenge to the traditional structures and strictures...of contemporary art,” says Hoffman. “We hope to bring new forms to new audiences and expand community through our exhibitions and public programming.” All on the Line Case in point: Unsuspecting weekend shoppers who strolled up to the booth in February were met with a team of salespeople initiating conversation about the perceived value of Robert Jackson Harrington’s artwork. A challenge called Hands on a Harrington (inspired by the documentary Hands on a Hard Body) ensued, rewarding those who could keep contact with any of the pieces for the entire opening of his exhibition, All on the Line. “Th
Get schooled in the world of wine with these spring classes and tastings
Once upon a time, Austin's best wine was reserved for true oenophiles. But our local wine world is now more welcoming than ever, as the city's top wine bars and best restaurants open their cellars for informal public education. Check out these three classes that are taking us back to school: Aviary Wine SchoolAviary Wine & Kitchen recently relaunched with a playful menu, categorizing wine by icons such as Willie Nelson, Biggie Smalls and Robin Williams. "It takes a little bit of pomp out of wine," says owner Marco Fiorilo. He started a wine school, where the team leads guests through several wines, detailing their origins and characteristics along the way. Be sure to buy discounted bottles of your favorites to continue the class at home. Aviary Wine School takes place every second Sunday of the month from 4 to 6pm; $25/class; $250/yearlong pass June's All DayAt June's All Day, master sommelier June Rodil produces wine zines, each one focusing on a different region. June's also hosts blind tasting flights—free to those who can identify each varietal, region and country within five years of the correct vintage (and $10 for everyone else). It's a popular exercise with those studying for the Court of Master Sommeliers tasting grid, but everyone is encouraged to take the challenge. Blind tasting flights take place every Wednesday at 1pm; free-$10 Wine for the PeopleSommelier and winemaker Rae Wilson founded Wine for the People to help foster connections within the wine industry.
All the kolache festivals you need to check out in September
Kolaches are going through a bit of a renaissance right now—a handful of restaurants around Austin are offering their modern take on the traditional pastry, both sweet and savory. For the ultimate kolache immersion, take a road trip outside Austin this September and head to our favorite kolache festivals. Westfest Czech & Polka Festival: Oompah your way through Labor Day weekend with a kolaches baking contest—and balance things out by running the Kolache 5000. September 4 Caldwell Kolache Festival: Sample a sea of sweet and savory kolaches and meet Miss Kolache at the 33rd annual kolache fest in downtown Caldwell. September 9 Czech Heritage Festival: Expect live music, arts and crafts, children's games and Czech heritage exhibts at the 31st annual festival. Oh, and plenty of kolaches, naturally. September 24 Hallettsville Kolache Festival: This annual festival, held in Hallettsville's main square, features kolache demos, a kolache eating contest, arts and crafts, games and plenty of live music—including one band called (wait for it)...Los Kolaches. September 30 Want more? Sign up here to stay in the know.