The 22 Absolute Best Lunch Spots in Austin

From top-notch tacos to overstuffed subs and ocean-fresh sushi, here’s where to get your midday fix.

Working from home definitely has its perks. You can roll out of bed without changing out of your PJs just seconds before you’re on the clock, you save a ton of money on commuting, coffee, and dry-cleaning, and you get to spend way more time with pooch. It’s basically living the dream.

But on the flip side, those sweatpants are probably pretty stinky, and the most exciting thing you’ve done all week is watch your dog mark his territory around Seaholm Plaza while others are off adulting inside Trader Joe’s. And then there’s the dreaded midday meal—so many options, so little motivation to make that hunger pang-quelling decision. Tacos? Burgers? Maybe some sushi or a poke bowl? Perhaps an entire large pizza to yourself? Oh, brother.

Thankfully, Austin’s pretty compact, and lunchtime funtime can be easily activated with a little assistance. Scan over this list, holler at a (human) pal to see if they’re free for lunch, and most importantly, dig in. Here are the best lunches in Austin.

Rosen’s Bagel Co.

Multiple locations
$$$$

Though there’s just one brick-and-mortar location by the Austin FC stadium, y’all can get their 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.

The casual 6th Street café and restaurant will stuff you the perfect sub 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 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 Texas-sized all week.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating or order takeout and delivery online.

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 boast three Austin locations. To pack up 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 or get takeout and delivery via DoorDash.

Fareground

Downtown
$$$$

Yes, the term “food hall” might be a fancy upgrade on the mall food courts of our youth, but the basic premise still proves out: multiple restaurants with options for all diners and price ranges, and a common area to sit, snack, and share. Fareground darlings include TLV Israeli Street Food, serving incredible hummus and sabiches with Israeli salad, fried eggplant, and other delights; Little Wu, serving Chinese dumplings and lamain 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 $14.
How to book: Reserve via OpenTable or order takeout and delivery via Toast.

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, 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 or order takeout and delivery online.

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.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating, order takeout online, or get delivery via Grubhub.

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

Travis Heights
$$$$

One of south Austin’s go-tos for Tex-Mex fun, Habanero 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, call 512-416-0443 for takeout, or get delivery via Grubhub.

Arpeggio Grill

Highland
$$$$

Arpeggio Grill was one of the only good spots around when Highland Mall was still a thing. It’s certainly one of the most atmospheric—with walls covered in murals, heavy tapestry, and warm lighting provided by pendants. They’ve continued to draw a crowd with their extensive lunch menu of traditional Greek and Mediterranean offerings plus giant pizzas, burgers, and salads.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating, order takeout via Slice, or get delivery via DoorDash.

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 sushi rolls, and once we finally hit cooler temps, opt for a 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

Mueller & Sunset Valley
$$$$

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 or order takeout and delivery online.

In the evenings, this expansive sporty hangout is busy with the after-work crowd ripping off their proverbial (or actual) ties. Lunch, however, is usually a bit more restrained, and the location is central enough that you’ll probably bump into friends and cubicle-mates digging into hot wings or butternut lasagne. Here’s a pro-tip: Always, always, get the soft pretzel fondue.
How to book: Reserve via OpenTable, order takeout online, or get delivery via DoorDash.

NG Cafe

North Austin
$$$$

First there was NG BMT, a tiny to-go only bahn mi counter inside the Hong Kong Market. And now, after various iterations, NG Cafe is finally a full-fledged restaurant. The bread for those incredible Vietnamese sandwiches is made inhouse, and you can also get larger plates like Tiger’s Cry, Orange Chicken, curries, soups, salads, and noodle dishes.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating or order takeout and delivery online.

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’re setting the Tex-Mex standard with their enchiladas, fajitas, and their pork adobada.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating or order delivery via Grubhub.

Hoody’s Sub Shop

Round Rock
$$$$

Hoody’s epitomizes an old-school sub shop. Close your eyes, and you’d almost feel like you’re somewhere in Philly surrounded by sports pennants and lunchtime regulars. There’s a daily deal where you can grab a sub with chips and a drink for less than $8, leaving you with lunch money leftover for a Tastey-Kakes dessert. Everything on the menu is mouth-watering, but fan favorites are the meatball sub and the Philly Cheesesteak (Hoody’s specialty).
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating, call 512-244-7166 for takeout, or get delivery via Favor.

Fat Dragon

Barrington Oaks
$$$$

It’s worth coming here for the name alone, but Fat Dragon also happens to be a fantastic restaurant. The husband-and-wife team behind this unassuming spot bring their knowledge of LA-caliber pan-Asian food to a little strip mall, with the widest variety of soup dumplings in the city (try the mala spicy) and an extensive selection of soups, ramen, stir-fry, noodles, and rice dishes.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating, order takeout online, or get delivery via Grubhub.

Sometimes you just need a good home-cooked Southern meal (one that you don’t actually have to cook, that is), and Hoover’s delivers exactly that, with enormous platters of fried, blackened, charbroiled, smothered, and sauced soul food. Between the ham steak, meatloaf, pork ribs, and barbecue chicken, and sides like black-eyed peas, jalapeno creamed spinach, and mac and cheese, a lunch here will have you loosening your belt and swearing to stick to kale salads from now on (in the best way possible).
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating, order takeout online, or get delivery via Grubhub.

James Wong is a contributor for Thrillist.