From some of the country’s best BBQ to tacos and margaritas, Austin, Texas has a serious restaurant scene that’s an added treat for South by Southwest attendees. The festival also makes Austin’s top places nearly impossible to get into, with people waiting hours to get into locations like Franklin’s BBQ and Torchy’s Tacos.
To find the best places to grab a meal in Austin, Adweek polled a handful of marketers on their favorite places. Some are old standby’s located in downtown Austin and some are a bit off the grid.
Good old Tex-Mex
According to Kirk Drummond, co-founder and CEO of Austin-based agency Drumroll, anyone looking for good Mexican food should try Chuy’s, a chain with a handful of locations in Austin.
“Anyone who knows me is painfully aware of my obsession with Chuy’s,” he said. “No joke—I ate there yesterday, will probably eat there tomorrow and have made the pilgrimage a weekly family affair.”
Drummond goes for the carne guisada burrito and complimentary nacho bar and recommends the restaurant’s jalapeno ranch dip, which is “not from this world.”
Biscuits and tacos
As co-founder and chief revenue officer of The Infatuation, Andrew Steinthal knows a thing or two about picking the best restaurants.
For Austin’s best Southern food, he said, go to Olamaie, which is located slightly off the grid and north of downtown.
“This is the restaurant you should go out of your way to go to,” he said. “If you go to SXSW and you don’t eat an Olamaie biscuit, you are doing it all wrong.”
And when it comes to tacos, he loves Rosita’s Al Pastor, a taco trailer on East Riverside Drive. “Their breakfast tacos are absurdly good but it’s that Al Pastor that keeps us coming back religiously—they may change your life,” he said.
Getting away from the crowds
RPA’s svp and group account director Eric Davis is a University of Texas graduate and recommends Gueros on South Congress for Mexican food. The restaurant is also a favorite of former President Bill Clinton. Davis also recommended La Condesa, a Mexican restaurant located in the old Austin power plant.
And in terms of the best dive bar “to get away from badges” that isn’t too far away, Davis picked Deep Eddy Cabaret, which serves “ice-cold Shiner Bock” and has a jukebox.
Fried chicken and a dirt floor
Devon MacDonald, chief strategy officer at Mindshare Canada, likes Lucy’s Friday Chicken on South Congress. “Fried chicken with jalapenos and a beer, served under a tin roof on picnic tables with a dirt floor,” MacDonald said of his favorite Austin meal.
Digital agency 360i collectively voted for these places as their favorite places in Austin: Stubb’s BBQ for gospel Sunday morning brunch, Franklin’s “over-hyped BBQ,” Lamberts and Emmer and Rye.
Also on the list? “Pre-purchased protein bars at the bottom of my bag.”
Getting out of town
Andrew Howlett, co-founder and chief digital officer at Rain, is a fan of Salt Lick, a BBQ joint in Driftwood, about a 15-minute drive from downtown Austin.
“Worth the trek,” he said. Specifically, he likes the “all meat meal—basically, it’s all their meats, as much as you’d like. They just keep bringing meats as long as you’re still eating. And for dessert, their fruit cobblers with ice cream are amazing.”
Editor’s note: Do yourself a favor and drive 45 minutes out to Lockhart for a killer BBQ row: Kreuz Market, Smitty’s Market and Black’s BBQ. Your taste buds and stomach will love you; your waistline probably won’t.