Austin Restaurants: Austin Classics

Color is bright and bold at the Chuy’s on Barton Springs Road, a longtime Austin favorite that is growing nationally.
Color is bright and bold at the Chuy’s on Barton Springs Road, a longtime Austin favorite that is growing nationally.

Restaurant listings

Each week in Austin360, we’re offering a rotating list of places to eat right now. This week: Whether they’ve been around 10 years or 50, these restaurants have helped establish Austin’s culinary identity. More restaurants broken down by category here.

Austin Land & Cattle. 1205 N. Lamar Blvd. 512-472-1813, No pretense, just good steaks, a fun mood and a bar that serves strong drinks and excellent happy hour specials, such as a filling steak sandwich.

Bouldin Creek Cafe. 1900 S. First St. 512-416-1601, One of Austin’s true temples to vegetarian and vegan fare, even the most avid meat-eater will be impressed with dishes like portobello fajitas or the zucchini migas.

Casino El Camino. 517 E. Sixth St. 512-469-9330, CasinoElCamino.Net. All reds and blacks, this Sixth Street classic has a devilish attitude and serves up fat, peppery burgers off a grill, like a garden party along the River Styx.

Chuy’s. Multiple locations (the original is at 1728 Barton Springs Road). 512-474-4452, Fajitas served on fluffy tortillas and specials such as the Elvis Presley Memorial Combo (beef Tex-Mex enchilada, cheese ranchero enchilada, chicken tomatillo enchilada, a seasoned ground sirloin crispy taco and homemade tostada chips dipped in chile con queso) have made this place a local and now nationwide sensation.

County Line. 6500 W. Bee Cave Road, 5204 FM 2222. 512-327-1742, This local barbecue behemoth has been cranking the ‘cue for 38 years at its original location, and has since expanded to another Austin location by the lake and several more around Texas.

Crown & Anchor Pub. 2911 San Jacinto Blvd. 512-322-9168, The Crown and Anchor opened in 1987, and the gristle-edged burgers have a flavor that makes it possible the same flat-top has been in service for all 26 of the years. That’s a good thing. Get the double with bacon and cheese.

Eastside Café. 2113 Manor Road. 512-476-5858, Comforting dishes that take a light approach, relying on seasonal vegetables at this quaint house in East Austin.

Hill’s Café. 4700 S. Congress Ave. 512-851-9300, Time has not left much of a mark on this classic place where you can always rely on the chicken fried steak.

Hoover’s Cooking. 2002 Manor Road. 512-479-5006, Get the chicken fried steak, mustard greens and Caribbean rice at this place that serves up comforting, rib-sticking classics with soul.

Hudson’s on the Bend. 3509 RM 620 N. 512-266-1369, Enjoy exotic game, excellent steaks and attentive service in this unique and lovely setting.

Hyde Park Bar & Grill. 4206 Duval St. 512-458-3168, There’s something of a “Cheers” vibe at this old neighborhood haunt known for their fries. (Also 4521 West Gate Blvd.)

Juan in a Million. 2300 E. Cesar Chavez St. 512-472-3872, This East Austin restaurant has been putting out Tex-Mex classics such as huevos rancheros and breakfast tacos for more than 30 years.

Kerbey Lane. Multiple locations. 512-447-3767, An Austin original that has been interested in conscientious sourcing since before it was popular.

Magnolia Cafe. 1920 S. Congress Ave., 2304 Lake Austin Blvd. 512-445-0000, Funky and fun, this place is a testament to the fact that pancakes and omelets tastes good any time of the day or night. So do quesadillas.

Matt’s El Rancho. 2613 S. Lamar Blvd. 512-462-9333, A 61-year-old Austin institution offering Mexican food in a sprawling but welcoming space.

Maudie’s. Multiple locations. If you haven’t had Maudie’s Diablo Sol Food queso, you can’t really call yourself an Austinite. These Tex-Mex purveyors have recently moved to serving all-natural beef and pork and organic eggs.

Shady Grove. 1624 Barton Springs Road. 512-474-9991, The family-friendly restaurant located amid the grove of pecan trees keeps the crowds coming in with green chile hamburgers, chicken fried steak and queso catfish.

Shoal Creek Saloon. 909 N. Lamar Blvd. 512-474-0805, Who dat gonna serve you some Gulf oysters and a roast beef po’ boy? You know who.

South Congress Cafe. 1600 S. Congress Ave. 512-447-3905, This bright and airy spot on South Congress consistently executes solid Southwestern flavors with dishes like fettuccine salsa fresca and coriander-rubbed grilled lamb.

Threadgill’s. 6416 N. Lamar Blvd., 301 W. Riverside Drive. 512-451-5440, It doesn’t get much more Austin than this house of home-cooking. Meat eaters run for the chicken fried steak, while vegetarians get more than lip-service with the heaping helping of side dishes.

Top Notch Hamburgers. 7525 Burnet Road. 512-452-2181, New ownership was wise not to change the aesthetics at this classic car-hop spot that was featured in “Dazed and Confused.” The charcoal-grilled burgers have a unique flavor, and the fried chicken is always crispy.

Vespaio. 1610 S. Congress Ave. 512-441-6100, A classy spin on red-sauce Italian, Vespaio has been a long-standing staple on South Congress thanks to dishes like their lasagna and veal scaloppine.

Z’Tejas. Multiple locations. 512-478-5355, original treehouse on West Sixth Street opened almost 25 years ago and has expanded across the city and states west with Southwestern favorites like green chile pork nachos, red chile and mango steak salad and pepita-crusted chicken.

Austin Restaurants: Hidden Gems

The Bonneville is worth finding downtown.
The Bonneville is worth finding downtown.

Restaurant listings

Each week in Austin360, we’re offering a rotating list of places to eat right now. This week: Sometimes we overlook these places that seemingly hide in plain sight. More restaurants broken down by category here.

Asia Café. 8650 Spicewood Springs Road. 512-331-5788, This restaurant was too good to be contained to the back of the Asia Market, so it took over the neighboring space, serving dishes such as whole spicy fish and jade chicken.

The Bonneville. 202 W. Cesar Chavez St. 512-428-4643, Despite being located downtown, this spot can be hard to find. Attentive service and dishes like chicken under a brick make the discovery worth the search.

Café Josie. 1200 W. Sixth St. 512-322-9226, You can still find plenty of fish at this West Austin staple that once boasted more of a Caribbean menu, but you can also enjoy items such as balsamic-glazed goat ribs.

Café Malta. 3421 W. William Cannon Drive. 512-853-9584, A nice surprise in South Austin, this neighborhood restaurant does brisk happy hour business with wine specials at its bar and serves Mediterranean-inspired dishes such as fettuccine with porcini mushrooms and lamb kabobs.

Chen’s Noodle House. 8650 Spicewood Springs Road. 512-336-8889. Hand-cut noodles from Mr. Chen at this tiny spot that serves a delicious noodle soup overflowing with pork, tofu, egg and a host of vegetables.

Evangeline Café. 8106 Brodie Lane. 512-282-2586, Take a trip to the bayou at this Cajun restaurant in South Austin for gumbo, po’ boys and music by the likes of Charles Thibodeaux and the Austin Cajun Aces.

Fino. 2905 San Gabriel St. 512-474-2905, Mediterranean flavors dominate the menu at this handsome restaurant that features a relaxing wrap-around patio, perfect for enjoying one of the restaurant’s solid cocktails.

Fricano’s Deli. 2405 Nueces St. 512-482-3322, Huge sandwiches loaded with flavor led this deli to move from its small north campus location to a much more comfortable space just west of campus. Don’t worry about what Rocket Sauce is, just order a Paul’s Spicy Reuben and find out.

Hudson’s on the Bend. 3509 RM 620 N. 512-266-1369, Enjoy exotic game, excellent steaks and attentive service in this unique and lovely setting. We all know about it, but sometimes we tend to forget.

Josephine House. 1601 Waterston Ave. 512-477-5584, An adorable little Clarksville spot adjacent to Jeffrey’s where lunch may include a grilled manchego cheese sandwich or a curried snapper. Feels like tea at the country club.

Mulberry. 360 Nueces St. 512-320-0297, Beef, fish and bar snacks make up most of the menu at this small wine bar at the bottom of a downtown condo tower.

Pieous. 12005 U.S. 290 W. 512-394-7041, Family-owned and family-friendly pie place at the edge of Dripping Springs serves chewy Neapolitan pies and massive slices of pie, along with quality homemade pastrami.

Russian House. 307 E. Fifth St. 512-428-5442, Part cultural anthropological study, part vodka-party, this friendly and festive restaurant will introduce you to the flavors and customs of Russia. Try the borscht.

Salvation Pizza. 624 W. 34th St. 512-535-0076, Thin, crunchy Connecticut-style pizzas at this restaurant that features a large deck.

Taco More. 9414 Parkfield Drive, 2015 E Riverside Drive. 512-821-1561. Not much in terms of ambiance, but this place serves great tacos and traditional Mexican dishes such as cabrito consommé.