The Absolute Best Lunch Spots in Austin

Where to grab a daytime bite in ATX.

Austin’s not a cheap place to live, so while we’re busy hustling for that green it only makes sense to outsource the cooking each working day. This city’s growing diversity means that whatever your tastes, they will be catered to. Perhaps you need to fuel up in order to get through the afternoon? Healthy spots like Picnik and Local Foods provide the energy boost to help you power on. Craving tacos or a pizza this Friday? Check out Fareground or 40 North. And of course, there are a bunch of delicious restaurants all over town, guaranteed to impress any lunchtime business date (or regular date!). No matter what you need to satisfy midday hunger, the best lunch spots in Austin should more than do the trick.

Picnik

Multiple locations

Picnik started off as a food trailer and has now expanded all over ATX, including a slick new South First location that has its own bar and coffee shop. The health-conscious restaurant focuses on real food, 100% made from scratch and using only the most wholesome ingredients. Every item is gluten-free, peanut-free and refined sugar-free. We love the Himalayan Red Rice Bowl, packed with nutritious English peas, avocado, pickled onion, radish asparagus, carrot, cucumber, and cashew sauce. End with the sweet coconut matcha latte, or a cheeky cocktail from their better-for-you-signatures, such as the Picnik Mule (vodka, ginger, turmeric, raw honey and lemon sparkling water).

Available for Reservations

Capital A

Downtown

Got an important business proposal and need a quiet spot to hear yourself think and/or speak? The Omni Austin Hotel Downtown is a hidden gem tucked on San Jacinto at 8th Street. It’s close to all the action, but without the chaos. Capital A offers a bright and airy space, excellent WiFi, and best of all, top-notch food in a sophisticated yet casual setting. The Seared Loch Duart Salmon with chipotle corn broth and cauliflower succotash is an absolute standout. On the same floor, there’s also a full bar and a Scandi-chic coffee house if you want somewhere to keep conversations going post-dessert.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating, or call (512) 476-3700 to reserve a table.

Snap Kitchen

Multiple locations

No time to wait for someone to prepare lunch? Snap Kitchen brings you speed. The Austin-based connoisseurs of ready-to-eat grub can now be found all over town, and for just $5.99 you can have the whole week’s worth delivered. Portion-controlled dishes are centered around health and being free of artificial nasties. The Cacio e Pepe, for example, is made with gluten-free brown rice pasta, mixed with extra virgin olive oil and topped with house-marinated rosemary chicken. Who would have thought something so healthy could taste so good? Snap also offers bakery items, juices and breakfast goodies.
How to book: Stop by for counter service, or order takeout and delivery online or via their app.

Local Foods

2nd Street

For big overstuffed sandwiches, walk on over to 2nd Street. Houston’s beloved Local Food’s first Austin location is fully up and running, best known for juicy meats in Slow Dough bread. The Crunchy Chicken Sandwich is a long-time favorite, made with roast chicken breast, nut-seed crumble, salad, pickles, and buttermilk ranch, and the new Borracho Beef Sandwich is also worth a try, made with Mexican-style red wine braised beef, cilantro and cabbage slaw, tomato, red onion, pepper, Provolone, aioli, and beef jus. Soups, salads, and sweets are available too.
How to book: Stop for first come, first served seating, or order takeout and delivery via Toast.

Rosen’s Bagel Co.

Multiple locations
$$$$

Now with two brick-and-mortar locations (one by the Austin FC stadium and one downtown), you can also get Rosen’s rings of love everywhere from Royal Blue Grocery to Thunderbird Coffee. Tom Rosen’s bagels have a devoted Austin following—famed for their exhaustively researched recipe, traditional boil and bake approach, and perfect texture, taste, and density every time. The sesame bagel with nova lox salmon is incredible. Blueberry bagel with almond pancake schmear for dessert? Oh, why not.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating or order takeout and delivery via Toast.

Everyone’s fave casual 6th Street café will stuff you the perfect sandwich at their build-your-own counter—offering your choice of meat, cheese, and spread on multigrain, rye, croissant, or sourdough for a cool $11. There are also lunchtime soups and salads available, as well as the house burger which comes with tasty tender belly bacon and fries. Don’t forget to grab a coffee and a cake to-go for the stroll home.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating or order takeout and delivery via ChowNow.

40 North

West End
$$$$

Flip-flop over to this neighborhood pizza joint housed in a cute bungalow for some of the best slices in town. Faves err on the funkier side like Funghi (mozzarella, raclette, pecorino romano, mushrooms, black truffle, fresh herbs, parsley) and the Hot Honey (tomato, ricotta, grana padano, salumeria biellese coppa, fresno, Mike’s Hot Honey). They’re only open for lunch from Thursday to Sunday, but it's just as well—otherwise you’d be eating all the carbs all week.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating or order takeout and delivery online.

Available for Delivery/Takeout
Poke Poke
Poke-Poke | Photo courtesy of Hayden Walker Photography

Poke Poke

Multiple locations
$$$$

For traditional-style poke that’s fish-focused and uber-fresh, hit up Poke Poke. Husband-and-wife team Jason McVearry and Trisha Fortuna started the business as a walk-up window on the Venice Boardwalk way back in 2010, and since relocating to the South, now boasts four Austin locations. To pack on the protein, try salmon with an edamame base topped with nuts. Things are a tad on the small side here, so you’ll definitely want to opt for the biggest size available.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating.

Available for Delivery/Takeout

Fareground

Downtown
$$$$

Yes, the term “food hall” might be a fancy upgrade on the mall food courts of our youth, but the basic premise remains the same—multiple restaurants at reasonable price points with options for all diners and a common area to sit, snack, and share. Fareground faves include Taco Pegaso, serving Mexican street food delights; Little Wu, serving Chinese dumplings and lamian noodle bowls; and Austin Rôtisserie, serving the juiciest chicken around. Plan an early or late lunch to avoid the masses.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating.

The Grove Wine Bar and Kitchen

Multiple locations
$$$$

The Grove is an easy choice for a group lunch. There’s plenty of seating, the menu is hugely customizable and includes an impressive gluten-free selection, and it’s affordable. Plus, it’s really pretty. The lineup touches on a wide variety of flavors—Asian, Italian, American, seafood—and there’s also a lunch combo special that includes pizza and a salad or cup of soup for $15.
How to book: Order takeout and delivery via Toast.

Available for Reservations

Jack Allen's Kitchen

Multiple locations
$$$$

Famous for its decadent brunch, Jack Allen’s hearty Southwestern fare is consistently delicious during lunch. With five locations scattered about the city, you’re never too far from a heaping plate of chicken fried anything, South Texas tacos, a killer green chile cheeseburger, or the Twisted Cobb Salad. Might as well throw in a frozen house margarita while you’re at it, to make your return to the office a bit more tolerable.
How to book: Reserve online, order takeout online, or get delivery via Favor.

Ike's Love & Sandwiches

Multiple locations
$$$$

Ike’s is like the Thunderbird of San Francisco. Everyone knows ‘em, everyone loves ‘em. The sauce-y sandwiches are cleverly named—like the Reading Rainbow (avocado, pesto, cheddar) and Paul Reubens (pastrami, slaw, french dressing, swiss), and they have an extensive number of meat and veggie options, as well as the always-welcome ability to build your own custom sandwich.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating or order takeout and delivery online.

Fire Bowl Cafe

Multiple locations
$$$$

Yes, you can opt for one of the preset noodle and rice bowls on the menu, but the superior move at this strip mall spot is the Stir Fry Your Way. Pick a protein like beef, tofu, shrimp, or chicken breast, and then follow it up with your choice of sauce, veggie mix, and rice or noodles, and you’ll have a lunch that’ll fill your stomach and even leave you with some leftovers for the next day.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating.

Available for Delivery/Takeout

Numero 28

Downtown
$$$$

Home to the best vegetarian lasagna in the city, this Italian bistro has been quietly holding its own amid the build-up of Second Street. The cozy Southern Italian eatery serves classic pasta dishes, paninis, crisp salads, and creative pizzas like their namesake Numero28 with speck, mushrooms, mozzarella, and truffle cream. If you have a sweet tooth, make sure to get a scoop of their authentic gelato. A huge wine and cocktail list is also available.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating.

Available for Delivery/Takeout

Le Bleu

North Austin
$$$$

This strip mall surprise on Burnet Road is the brick-and-mortar location of Saigon Le Vendeur, a hugely popular Vietnamese food truck. The vibe is fast-casual, but the food tastes like tender loving care was put into it (because, well, it was). Now, hungry patrons can enjoy air-conditioned comfort alongside their mango salad, shaken steak banh mi, bone marrow broth pho bo, or steamed clams with lemongrass and chili.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating, order takeout online, or get delivery via Postmates.

Fast-casual Chinese isn’t just for your shame dates with Netflix. The added bonus is that Shu Shu is actually great. The meat is high quality, the flavors are fresh and made-to-order, and they’ve got a stellar variety of American Chinese favorites. The lunch special at Shu Shu’s is definitely the clincher—choose an entree, a protein, a style of rice, and a side for under $12.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating or order takeout and delivery via ChowNow.

Habanero Cafe

Travis Heights
$$$$

One of south Austin’s go-tos for Tex-Mex fun, Habanero Cafe is only open for breakfast and lunch (7 am to 3 pm). That makes it much desired among lunchers who need to get their fix before closing time. Their quesadillas, borracho beans, and enchiladas are pretty unbeatable, but if you’re slimming down, try the grilled shrimp ranchero. Breakfast items are also served all day.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating or call 512-416-0443 for takeout.

Available for Delivery/Takeout

Komé

North Loop
$$$$

For something that won’t leave you feeling like you need an immediate nap, pop into Kome and grab a light Japanese lunch. The range of specials is impressive, from fresh to freshly fried. When the weather is hot, try a cold noodle salad or a couple of sushi rolls, and once we finally hit cooler temps, opt for ramen or one of the katsu bento boxes.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating; order takeout via Toast; or get delivery via Favor.

Bao’d up

Multiple locations
$$$$

There’s something strangely satisfying about biting into a soft, steamy bao (or three). Bao’d Up has made it simple to enjoy a fast and filling lunch that isn’t your typical same ol’ same ol’. Pick your bao from a wide range of flavors like teriyaki chicken, juicy pork, spicy brisket, and tofu, or skip the little buns and head straight for a soup bowl filled with steamed veg and red-braised beef or fried chicken.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating.

Available for Delivery/Takeout

Vazquez Restaurant

Multiple locations
$$$$

Some people go to Torchy’s for Mexican food, and other people (who really know what's up) seek out gems like Vazquez. With three locations, you’re not here to see and be seen—you’re here because they start your meal off with a complimentary basket of chips and fresh, spicy salsa, and your lunch total for two people plus drinks will hover around $20. They set the Tex-Mex standard with their enchiladas, fajitas, and their special pork adobada.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating or order delivery via Uber Eats.

James Wong is a contributor for Thrillist.