Once again, it’s South by Southwest time.
You’ve come for the tech. The music. The movies. The networking. The brand activations. The weather (hopefully). But while you’re in Austin, don’t forget we’ve got an impressive (and growing) dining scene for you to tackle, as well.
You can’t spend all of your time at talks and screenings and shows. At some point you’re going to have to eat. Don’t be lured by free queso bars, passed appetizers and complimentary energy bars.
Take some time out and eat at one of the many restaurants and food trucks in Austin’s core. Exploring the restaurant scene can be a great way to get a feel for a city and its culture, even if you do only have 30 minutes before you have to go see the presentation of the next world-changing app.
The restaurants listed here are all located relatively close to the main action at SXSW — just a short walk, bike ride or (inset preferred method of automotive transport here) away.
Some of these restaurants may have special events and private parties during SXSW, so it’s wise to call ahead or check their website. And, while I always find SXSW a good time to slip into surprisingly uncrowded restaurants downtown, some of these spots will be impossible to get into. There’s always July.
(Click here for my complete SXSW Dining Guide.)
Capital Taco. 1901 S. Lamar Blvd. 512-457-9992, Facebook.com/capitaltaco. When a trailer menu is this big, you wonder whether it can really deliver. Yep. Start with the brisket and avocado, turkey mole, and migas.
El Chilito. 1623 E. Seventh St. 512-334-9660, elchilito.com. Soups, salads and more than a dozen tacos (vegetarians: try the rajas con hongos) at this East Austin taco stand. Breakfast tacos served all day.
Fresa’s. 915 N. Lamar Blvd. 512-428-5077, fresaschicken.com. The El Presidente (chicken fajita with pickled carrot, jicama, cucumber, jalapeño and tomatillo salsa) is one of the best tacos in the city. Chef Rene Ortiz made it for President Barack Obama, but we common folks can eat it, too.
Joe’s Bakery. 2305 E. Seventh St. 512-472-0017, joesbakery.com. This family-owned restaurant has been drawing crowds for more than 50 years with their perfect crispy beef taco, enchiladas and menudo.
La Mexicana. 1924 S. First St. 512-443-6369, la-mexicana-bakery.com. Barbacoa tacos on fluffy homemade tortillas and Mexican pastries make for a great late-night one-two punch at this all-night spot.
El Primo. 2100 S. First St. Tiny taco stand serves solid al pastor tacos, and the gentleman behind the grill couldn’t be sweeter.
Pueblo Viejo. 910 E. Sixth St. and 1700 E. Sixth St. 512-373-6557, Facebook.com/PuebloViejoATX. Two locations of this truck with different hours, but both featuring the best selection of salsas of any taco truck around. Get the Guaca Taco with steak, with a side of orange habanero salsa and black habanero salsa; vegetarians go for the Mi Madre.
Taco Mex. 2944 E. 12th St. The tile-walled cafe has a welcoming vibe and cranks out excellent tacos, from the burnt-orange citrus and spice of pastor to chocolatey mole draped over pulled chicken.
Taco More. 2015 E Riverside Drive. 512-821-1561. Not much in terms of ambiance, but this place serves great tacos and a restorative cabrito consommé.
Takeria DF. 2617 E. Seventh St. 512-619-0715. The DF tells you all you need to know — Mexico City-style street tacos like al pastor and barbacoa. The green salsa is one of my favorites in town.
Tamale House East. 1707 E. Sixth St. 512-495-9504, Facebook.com/tamalehouse.east. The grandchildren of the original Tamale House founders carry on the family tradition with wet migas and famous breakfast tacos.
Veracruz All-Natural. 1704 E. Cesar Chavez St. 512-981-1760, veracruztacos.com. This growing empire serves the best migas taco in town (and more). Try the quesadillas. And the tortas. Try it all. You may want to call in advance. They make good food, not fast food, as their sign reads.
Violet Taco. 600 W. Sixth St. 512-221-4248, theviolettaco.com. You can get chicken or garlic shrimp fajitas, but it’s hard to pass up the barbecue offered from their sister trailer, Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ. Some of the best brisket in town.