With a population of over 885,000 people, there is plenty happening all across Austin. That’s especially true of the city’s rich culinary arts scene, where new restaurant openings, food festivals and gatherings and other food-centric events occur almost daily. Students of Austin culinary arts courses are sure to already appreciate the broad range of options they have when they choose to dine out. The food in their city seems to have attracted a bit more fanfare than usual, and given the sheer amount of news, it’s not unheard of that even the most devout food devotees and well-connected of chefs might miss a few stories here and there. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.
Here are some newsworthy restaurants to give a try this year:
Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives
Guy Fieri’s Food Network show “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” has made its way to Austin on several occasions. We’ve rounded up Fieri’s favorite Austin hangouts so Austin culinary arts school attendees can check them out and taste the delicious food for themselves.
Luke’s Inside Out
1109 S. Lamar Blvd.
Head to this food truck next to Gibson Bar on South Lamar for French-inspired sandwiches and appetizers. There’s even a brunch buffet on Sunday mornings. Fieri particularly enjoyed the Korean Rabbit (rabbit, tater tots, Sriracha, kimchi and secret sauce) and the shrimp (a shrimp patty with apples, baby spinach and blue cheese). Every day you can find the regular menu as well as three special items to choose from. Check the chalkboard outside of the truck or the Luke’s Inside Out Facebook page to learn about the daily specials.
The Green Mesquite BBQ and More
1400 Barton Springs Road
This restaurant chain’s motto is “Smoking the good stuff since 1988.” The menu features BBQ plates, sandwiches and more. They also cater and custom-smoke meats. Fieri called the ribs here “awesome.” They’re made with paprika, cayenne, garlic, onion and brown sugar. He also enjoyed the chicken fried steak, brisket and pulled pork. Visit this spot, one of three in the restaurant chain, for live music and Texas barbecue fun.
626 N. Lamar Blvd.
This restaurant has only 26 seats. When the famous television host visited, he called the Curry Chicken Burgers “juicy as can be” and also enjoyed the quail and egg combo. This is the perfect place for classic diner food, from waffles to fries, burgers, eggs and pancakes.
Casino El Camino
517 E. 6th St.
The 12-ounce burger at this late-night spot is topped with thick-cut bacon, cheese, Texas-hot buffalo sauce and roasted serrano peppers. Fieri dubbed it “the best burger in town” when he enjoyed it on “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.” He paired the juicy burger with the spicy verde chili fries. If you visit this 6th Street restaurant, be sure to put some quarters in the jukebox – it’s won the “Best Jukebox” award from the Austin Chronicle several years in a row. When you order, you do so at the counter. You’ll hear your name called when your food is ready, and you can pick it up and head back to your table. Reviews for this restaurant talk about one thing: the meat. The burgers are huge and lean and receive rave reviews in Fodor’s, The Austin Chronicle and more.
Man vs Food
One of the most popular food centered shows is without a doubt “Man v. Food.” This program followed host Adam Richman (before passing the baton to Casey Webb) as he ate his way across America, taking on challenges and indulging in some of the nation’s most delectable dishes. Richman made sure to travel to Austin during filming, where he took on a few bold food challenges and highlighted some of the best cuisine this city has to offer. If you find yourself in Austin, make sure to stop in to any of these eateries – and if you dare, you may even choose to take part in some of the challenges Richman attempted.
Round Rock Donuts
Believe it or not, visitors and residents alike start lining up at this breakfast joint at 4 a.m. Round Rock Donuts is home to some of the most delicious doughnuts Austin has to offer. The establishment opened in 1926 and has been serving customers ever since. You’re sure to satisfy your sweet tooth with any of the tasty items they have on their menu. If you’re in the mood for some light and fluffy breakfast treats, try the lemon pound cake, cinnamon rolls, fruit-filled danishes or an enticing apple cinnamon muffin.
Round Rock Donuts is also the perfect place to stop if you’re looking for dessert. They serve a bevy of cakes and cupcakes. Go with an original, like the chocolate cupcakes, or step out of your comfort zone to taste the Italian cream variety.
You can’t forget about the doughnuts. Choose from eclairs, apple fritters and their world-famous glazed Round Rock Donut. And if you’re extra hungry, dig into the Texas-sized Round Rock Donut, which can fit a regular sized pastry in its middle.
Juan in a Million
If you’re searching for authentic Mexican cuisine in Austin, look no further than Juan in a Million. Richman visited this establishment, where he attempted to take on the famous Don Juan taco. In order to win the challenge, he had to eat eight Don Juan tacos. Each is covered in potato, egg, bacon and cheese – all wrapped up in a tortilla. Unfortunately, Richman came up short, being able to finish only four of the tacos. Many people split one of the Don Juan tacos, so finishing eight would certainly have been quite the feat.
The Don Juan taco isn’t all that Juan in a Million is known for, however. Choose from plenty of fresh salads, appetizers, soups and, of course, all of the authentic Mexican dishes you would expect, such as enchiladas, flautas, fajitas and chalupas. Don’t miss out on dessert, either. Choose from the flan or the tres leches cake.
The Salt Lick BBQ
The Salt Lick has been around ever since 1967 and was started by current owner Scott Robert’s father, Thurman. This restaurant is said to have the best brisket, ribs and sausage in the Lone Star State. Richman made a stop here, and he was just as impressed by the ambiance as he was by the food. The Salt Lick has an open pit where they slow cook the meats for juicy, tender meat. Texas culinary arts school can help you whip up this type of authentic Austin cuisine. The “Man vs. Food” host also sat down to enjoy the restaurant’s family-style sample plate, which offers a little bit of everything from the menu.
Best New Restaurant
Restaurant Jezebel, Barlata Tapas Bar and Swift’s Attic all went up against competition scattered across three other American cities for distinction from Bravo and Bon Appetit Magazine. Restaurants from the four cities were grouped into competition brackets based on their given motif, according to CultureMap Austin. These groupings ranged from shared plates and Italian cuisine to fast casual dining and seasonal menus, with each category warranting its own set of judgment criteria.
The program was produced by several esteemed celebrity chefs: Tom Colicchio, Jeffrey Zurofsky and Maggie Nemser. While Colicchio has appeared on (and is perhaps best known for) the popular show Top Chef, this was slightly different in its execution. The show gathered four restaurants from four cities: Austin, Los Angeles, Miami and New York City, all of which competed with other eateries that specialize in the same style of cuisine.