For a disco-themed breakfast: Biscuits + Groovy
The Biscuits + Groovy food truck in Hyde Park has operated for 11 years just outside of Peddler Bike Shop, and there is a second location near Barton Springs. The staple dish is three homemade biscuits with gravy, sausage, pepper and chives. There are five other options that include different combinations of potatoes, cheese, jalapenos and eggs. The shop also sells fresh jams and orange juice made with only oranges bought and squeezed daily.
For cult-favorite bagels: Nervous Charlie’s
When Nervous Charlie’s opened in September 2018, owner Chris Cunningham started with two racks, which each hold 300 bagels, and thought they would never use the second. On their first day, he made between 200-300 bagels and sold out within an hour. For the first month, Cunningham said they could not make enough bagels to keep from selling out.
Now, Nervous Charlie’s has six racks. The menu includes more than a dozen types of bagels and 10 breakfast and lunch sandwich options.
For a European brunch: Blue Dahlia Bistro
Blue Dahlia Bistro serves European-style breakfast and lunch all day, and in June, started serving dinner on Fridays and Saturdays. On Saturdays and Sundays, the bistro has an extended brunch menu from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Wine, beer, mimosas, coffee, espresso drinks and teas are also served.
With a European influence, Blue Dahlia Bistro specializes in tartines, French-inspired open faced sandwiches that owner Amy Ramirez said she has not seen anywhere else in the area. The Parisian breakfast sandwich, featuring a baguette with ham, havarti and butter, is another specialty Ramirez included on the menu from her travels.
For coffee and kung fu: Kick Butt Coffee
Coffee, kung fu and punk music—it's a combination you'll only find at the longtime Austin fixture Kick Butt Coffee. Located in a small strip mall, Kick Butt sits right next door to its namesake, the martial arts studio Master Gohring's Tai Chi & Kung Fu.
The owner, Thomas Gohring, carried the martial arts theme over to the coffee shop in 2008 when he decided on a whim to start a new business on top of his successful studio. Now, the coffee shop and the dojo are so entwined that kung fu students actually head to class through the doors of Kick Butt Coffee, finding the entrance to class at the back of the coffee shop.
For charcuterie lovers: Spread & Co.
Beyond cheese boards, Spread & Co.'s menu has been expanded to include all-day breakfast items. Some of the most popular menu items are the Monger’s Grilled Cheese, which features three cheeses picked by the shop, and two sandwiches that feature pork tartines made from pork shoulder and charcuterie ends—the Frenchie and Spamwich.
For Texas BBQ: Donn’s BBQ
For more than 30 years, Donn’s BBQ has been cooking authentic Texan barbecue of ribs, brisket, sausage, chicken and turkey for its loyal clientele, many of whom started coming weekly when their kids were a few years old and are now grandparents. Aside from the barbecue meats, Donn’s potato salad and Angus beef burgers are popular items on the menu. The restaurant also serves breakfast.
For made-from-scratch pasta: Juliet Italian Kitchen
Juliet’s menu features Italian favorites made fresh every day, including gluten-free pasta and pizza options, Chief Operations Officer Bryan Cromwell said. He said the trick to making each menu item to the highest quality is to make everything from scratch using the best ingredients and solid recipes and to teach employees how to do it right every time. The most popular dishes are the shrimp capellini fresca, fettuccine funghi, chicken piccata, margherita pizza and lasagna—which includes 17 layers of pasta, ricotta and mozzarella cheese, and bolognese.
For an Austin classic: Chuy’s
In 1982, Chuy’s founders Mike Young and John Zapp looked at an old, abandoned barbecue joint near Barton Springs and saw potential for a funky Tex-Mex restaurant that would eventually become an Austin icon with nearly 100 locations nationwide.
The Tex-Mex chain has expanded to 17 states since its inception 40 years ago in April 1982 with five restaurants in the Austin area. The menu features dishes influenced by the cuisine of New Mexico, northern Mexican border towns, Austin and beyond.
For fine dining: Carve American Grille
Dishes at Carve are cooked over a wood-burning flame and served with tableside presentations that often feature handheld torches and smoke billowing from beneath plate covers.
The menu spotlights traditional American dishes with a twist. The restaurant’s take on meatloaf features ground wagyu beef shaped into a cupcake, topped with mashed potato icing and sprinkled with peas and carrots.
Hog Heaven is a platter of smoked bacon-wrapped pork belly with sherry bacon vinaigrette and braised red cabbage mixed with green apple pieces. Carve also offers pizzas, soups and salads, sandwiches and an assortment of flamed desserts.
For vegans and vegetarians: Bouldin Creek Cafe
Inside Bouldin Creek Cafe, almost every inch of the walls is plastered with posters and stickers, and the customers often reflect the same eclectic style with brightly dyed hair or colorful tattoos.
Bouldin Creek serves approachable dishes for those getting into a plant-based diet, such as the award-winning Veggie Royale burger and margarita pasta with blistered balsamic grape tomatoes.
For a sweet tooth: FoliePop’s
The restaurant’s signature FoliePop's is a cake-like base filled with cream, topped with a spherical hard candy shell full of syrup that is supposed to be “popped” over the top before eating. The treat comes made to order with several flavor customization options for every part of the dessert, including the base, the cream inside and the syrup on top.
A favorite among his customers, the Paris-Austin FoliePop has a brownie base with vanilla cream inside and a chocolate hazelnut pop topper. Meanwhile, the Magnifique offers a cookie base with caramel cream filling and a vanilla pop on top. The restaurant has six unique options for each part of the dessert that can be combined to suit a customer’s taste.
For dinner with a view: Sundancer Grill
Situated in Lakeway at the Sail & Ski Yacht Club, Sundancer Grill is a lakeside restaurant aiming to turn the shores of Lake Travis into a culinary destination. The restaurant dishes up American favorites such as hamburgers and steak alongside salads and seafood. The restaurant also serves entree salads with protein options, such as miso-glazed cedar plank salmon and Coca-Cola-marinated sirloin steak. Sandwiches, tacos and Cajun-style dishes are also available.
For wine lovers: Westlake Wine Bar
Pierre Leitgib has brought his knowledge and love of wine to Central Texas in the form of a restaurant and wine bar, Westlake Wine Bar.
He said some wines he enjoyed growing up in Europe came from renowned houses such as Chateau Haut-Brion, Chateau Mouton Rothschild, Chateau Margaux, Chateau Latour and Chateau Lafite, some of which you can find at his restaurant. The restaurant’s chef, Kyle Dahl, comes up with a seasonal menu, featuring favorites such as beef bourguignon, mussels, a cheese board and steak frites.
For fresh Maine lobster: Garbo’s
Garbo’s calamari is freshly caught in Point Judith, Rhode Island, and the clams for the clam chowder are from New England. Garbo’s biggest sellers are the lobster rolls, an Austin twist on the more traditional Texas tacos. Instead of rolling the lobster in a tortilla, Garbo uses a signature soft roll, slicing it halfway down the top length and filling it in with lobster. The Maine rolls are served cold, and the Connecticut and the hatch chili rolls are served warm.
For Thai food lovers: Tuk Tuk Thai
It was 1996 when Nam and Rom Noieam met from more than 3,000 miles apart in a chatroom for Thai Americans. Now longtime Austinites, the couple, along with Rom’s brother and sister-in-law Anuruk Noieam and Rathsamy Sengvixai, in 2013 opened Tuk Tuk Thai Cafe. Rom cooks his family recipes almost exactly as he would at home.
For Turkish cuisine: MezzeMe Turkish Kitchen
MezzeMe used to be a build-your-own-bowl style restaurant, but during the pandemic it moved to an a la carte menu. Chef Joel Zarzamora said the shift made the menu more accessible for diners unfamiliar with Turkish food. Ugur said MezzeMe aims to educate diners on new cuisine, and staff is familiar with each dish so they can answer any questions.
For dim sum downtown: Wu Chow
Sundays at Wu Chow means dim sum—a menu of 35 small plates, including dishes such as handmade soup dumplings and pineapple bao. During the rest of the week, the downtown restaurant offers lunch, happy hour and dinner dishes intended to be shared family style. The menu, from Executive Chef Ji Peng Chen, features eight styles of Chinese food, including Sichuan dishes.
For authentic Pakistani cuisine: Zaviya Grill
Zaviya Grill allows customers to order from the buffet or order from the a la carte menu. All meat is halal, and popular items on the menu include goat payas, a slow-cooked stew made from mutton or beef hoofs. Regular items on the buffet include biryani, a rice and meat dish; a tomato and chicken stew; meat curries; and vegetables. Desserts include rice pudding and gulab jamun, a fried dough covered in sweet syrup.
For family-style Asian food: Red Lotus Asian Grille
With specialty items such as battered, fried frog legs and Vietnamese pho as well as a customer following for its egg drop soup, Red Lotus has developed a repeat clientele, some of whom have standing reservations every week for business meetings and book clubs, making use of a party room that can be reserved for those dining at the restaurant.
For Southern comfort food: Goodfolks
At Goodfolks in Georgetown, the biscuits, brioche buns, croutons, breading, desserts and sauces are made from scratch. Everything fried, including the chicken, can be made gluten free. One standout dish is the chicken-fried New York strip steak served with maple sage gravy, crispy onions and red bliss mashed potatoes.