Lunch: the middle child of meals. Neglected. Eaten at desks. Taking the form of sad tuna smashed between two slices of Wonder Bread. But it doesn’t have to be this way -- at least, not if you head to one of the 25 lunch spots that's guaranteed to be close to you, wherever you are in Austin. RIP, Chicken of the Sea.
The Best Lunch Spot in 25 Austin Neighborhoods
Republic of Sandwich (address and info)
What you’re getting: The Big Bad Wolf
Voted “Best New Local Business,” this establishment is the best thing since sliced bread... mostly just in the sense that it does really, really good things with sliced bread. Think scarfable sandwiches stuffed with things like roast pork, ham, bacon, celery seed coleslaw, and provolone -- preferably paired with an artisanal side like the kimchi sprouts, which have both your sweet and spicy taste bases covered.
Z’Tejas Grill (address and info)
What you’re getting: Free cornbread, at least
While not Austin exclusive, Z’Tejas is an Austin original, and has been churning out Southwestern cuisine in this city since 1989. In terms of variety, the massive menu has enough items to appease essentially everyone, but given the whole unlimited free cornbread thing, you probably won’t even have room for an entree. What we’re saying is this is the Olive Garden of Southwestern grills, y’all.
Tacodeli (address and info)
What you’re getting: Tacos, obviously
We’re not going to give you explicit ordering instructions, because we’re believers in taco autonomy --and predominantly because there’s no wrong choice to be made at Tacodeli. Opt for a tortilla stuffed with beans, brisket, sirloin, chicken, portobellos, pork or -- if you can squeeze in a lunch break before it stops serving breakfast at 11am -- scrambled eggs. Early bird gets the breakfast taco.
Bouldin Creek Cafe (address and info)
What you’re getting: Wanna-BLT
While it may be a vegetarian restaurant, when it comes to brunch and lunch, Bouldin Creek is a mealtime mecca for everyone in the neighborhood. Opt for tacos, the award-winning veggie burger (the Veggie Royale, naturally), a loaded salad, or the meatless take on a BLT, which features tempeh bacon on grilled sourdough. Oh, and Bouldin serves breakfast all day, making it the perfect enabler for your migas addiction.
The Mediterranean Chef (address and info)
What you’re getting: Mediterranean goods to go
You’ve probably seen Med Chef products -- particularly the beloved Grandma’s Humus -- in stores like Whole Foods, but what you probably don’t know is that you can swing by the headquarters and get the Mediterranean dips, salads, and dolmas to go -- and even watch the hummus-making in action. We hear hummus-making is quite the spectator sport.
Haymaker (address and info)
What you’re getting: Poutine
Some might say French fries, gravy, and cheese curds do not a real meal make. Some should be ignored. Stop by this spot -- the sister bar of South Lamar’s Black Sheep Lodge -- midday and fuel your afternoon with menu items like this magical, melty medley of carbs and cheese. (Note: in all actuality, this is only fuel for a food coma.)
Cipollina Bistro (address and info)
What you’re getting: House-made pasta
Started by the people behind Jeffrey’s and Shoreline Grill, Cipollina is a bistro combining high-quality food, moderate prices, and a low-key atmosphere. In terms of things you want to put in your mouth, come lunchtime, it's got soups, salads, wood-fired-to-perfection pizzas, and made-in-house pasta that takes the form of chicken ravioli, spinach gnocchi, and linguini & clams. Maybe some other mouth-worthy things, too.
Black Star Co-op (address and info)
What you’re getting: A giant, cheesy sandwich
We’re not going to use a cliché descriptive term like melt-in-your-mouth, but... um... yeah, you’ll want these melts in your mouth. This co-op serves so-called Texas pub fare made with locally sourced ingredients, and no matter what menu item you go with, the fat potato wedges make for a solid side dish. *Cough* Don’t tell your boss it’s also a brewery. *Cough*
The Park at the Domain (address and info)
What you’re getting: Craft pizza of some kind
While The Park is predominantly viewed as a brunch spot by many ($1 mimosas will do that), the other menu options -- from craft pizzas, to “bold burgers,” to classic apps and entrees -- make the eatery a weekday win as well. Plus, there are a whole lot of TVs, which come in handy if you need a break from the whole talking-to-people thing.
Royal Blue Grocery (address and info)
What you’re getting: Good food to go
Given the five locations around Downtown, you’re never far from a Royal Blue -- and, by proxy, a solid lunch. Get your hands on fresh sandwiches and pre-made tacos and salads, grab gourmet snacks on the go, or swing by on Thai Wednesday for a bánh mì of the chicken or veggie variety. Or of both varieties. We don’t judge.
East Cesar Chavez
Shhmaltz (address and info)
What you’re getting: Falafel (Helen Frankenthaler)
When it comes to sandwiches, Jewish delis do ‘em best , and Shhmaltz -- a 100% vegetarian and vegan backyard trailer -- ups the ante Austin-style with a meat-free twist on a Reuben, tuna salad, and more. Plus potato salad... because delis.
The Silo on 7th (address and info)
What you’re getting: One of the “Silo Seven” (basically, a burger)
Whether you prefer your patty in chicken, pork, beef, bison, or black bean form, this East Side restaurant has it available on a bun, and the beast-sized burgers are best enjoyed when paired with a snackable side like fries or sweet potato tots. Silo’s also got fresh air and an awesome view on lock via the rooftop, so if you wanna play hooky for the afternoon and stick around for happy hour (3-7pm), your secret’s safe with us.
The Parlor (address and info)
What you’re getting: Build-your-own pizza
Squeeze in a game of pool or pinball along with your lunch at this dive bar and specialty pizza joint that boasts toppings ranging from the typical (uh, pepperoni) to the more unusual (made-in-house vegan meats), allowing you to customize to your heart’s content. Bonus points if you take your pie on the porch and enjoy it in front of the people working out at the gym across the street. Pizza > pushups.
Titaya’s (address and info)
What you’re getting: Pork garlic mixed peppercorn & other top-notch Thai
Unless you have circa two hours to blow, you’re advised to opt for takeout at Titaya’s as there’s never not a crowd at this popular Thai restaurant. The eatery offers killer variations of everything from classic curries and pad Thai to interesting apps like garlic chip-topped spinach dumplings, and if you do have time to spare, you’re advised to dine in and take advantage of the lunch specials.
The Vegan Nom (address and info)
What you’re getting: The Three Amigos taco
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so you should probably have it for lunch, too -- particularly in the form of breakfast tacos, which are served all day at this vegan food trailer. While meat-free, each tortilla-wrapped masterpiece is overflowing with awesome, filling alternatives (veggies, beans, migas tempeh, and faux meats) that are sure to satisfy even the biggest appetites. Just like America intended.
North Shoal Creek
Fork and Vine (address and info)
What you’re getting: Chicken-fried steak (um, on Friday)
From the culinary minds behind Bess Bistro (that Sandra Bullock-owned place) and the (now-closed) Hickory Street comes this slightly upscale kitchen and wine bar whipping up and pushing out “Austin-inspired” dishes like barbecue pork ribs, chicken liver pate, Gouda mac and cheese, scallop tacos, and --on Fridays -- that aforementioned chicken-fried steak. Of the Austin-inspired variety, obviously.
Curra’s Grill (address and info)
What you’re getting: Avocado margaritas
Sometimes a liquid lunch is in order, and the avocado margarita is Curra’s creamy, dreamy claim to fame. If you’re a traditionalist set on the whole "eating" aspect of lunch, Curra’s also has specials starting at $6.99 and is known to make a mean chili relleno. Which, yeah, goes great with one of those avocado margaritas.
Banger’s Sausage House & Beer Garden (address and info)
What you’re getting: So. Much. Sausage.
Banger’s specializes in sausage and beer, and the menu is simply an enormous selection of each. Head to the backyard, park yourself at a picnic table, and choose from duck, venison, beef, chicken, a classic bratwurst, or even a veg-friendly sausage crafted from tempura eggplant and red bell pepper. We’re totally not going to make the obvious” sausage fest” joke. Nope.
Round Rock Donuts (address and info)
What you’re getting: Donuts
Things you can do when you’re an adult: enjoy donuts for a meal other than breakfast... in this particular case, lunch. This famed Round Rock shop has been slingin’ pastries since the 1920s, and along with donuts (of which there is a colossal “Texas-sized” option), it's got kolaches, which -- due to the bread-and-carb combo -- totally constitute a balanced meal. Ridiculous? A little. But where else are you going to eat in Round Rock -- IKEA?
Hopdoddy Burger Bar (address and info)
What you’re getting: A big-ass burger (note: not the technical term)
Good news: during the work week, you might just be able to avoid the line that typically snakes around the corner of this SoCo burger joint. (Keyword: might.) Beef up with the interesting takes on a classic burger, change it up via bison, or keep it lean and mean with a salad like the Hail Caesar. Either way, be sure to accompany your entree of choice with a milkshake and fries. We’re sure you earned it... somehow.
Red’s Porch (address and info)
What you’re getting: Fish & chips
With a spacious rooftop and pretty sweet lunch specials of the predominantly fried variety, Red’s is a solid destination for a midday meal that’ll leave you feeling just the right amount of guilty. For food, you’re set, and for fun, we suggest you raise the lunch-break stakes and challenge your coworkers to a game of darts, shuffleboard, or cornhole, which Red’s also offers on site. Yelling, “IN YOUR FACE!” at your coworkers is sure to be great for office morale.
Whip In (address and info)
What you’re getting: A chalkboard special
A brewery, market, and “dhabapub” (that’s a thing), Whip In offers both typical Indian fare -- samosas and naan, for instance -- and interesting fusion food like the South Asian Frito pie, which features black beans, beef chili, cheese, sour cream, a cilantro chutney, and, of course, Fritos. As for the current specials? Well, that’s where the chalkboard comes in.
Ramen Fukuya (address and info)
What you’re getting: Really, really good ramen
This spot on Guad boasts authentic, slurp-worthy Japanese ramen that, during lunch, is available in pork, chicken, and veggie variations. Pick your poison (metaphorically speaking) and step up your soup game with toppings like bean sprouts, egg, rice, and extra noodles. Because you can never have enough noodles.
Blue Dahlia Bistro (address and info)
What you’re getting: Fresh-to-death salads and tartines
This European bistro boasts two locations around town, and they each feature the same fancy-ish items, which, when possible, incorporate local and organic ingredients. For lunch, try one of the sandwiches served on fresh-baked bread with butter (try ham with Gruyere cheese, Dijon mustard, and cornichons --très French) or go green with a light option like the black bean salad, which could best be described as healthy fare with Southwestern flare.
Uncle Billy’s Smokehouse & Brewery (address and info)
What you’re getting: Fried oyster po-boy
Uncle Billy’s has two specialties, brew and ‘que, which are both heavily represented via the on-tap and out-of-the-smokehouse menu items. That said, it's also got mad skills in the seafood department, which you can test out yourself come 11am in the form of fish & chips, shrimp scampi, and that fried oyster po-boy. Or stick with the ‘que -- that’s cool, too.
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1. Republic of Sandwich2320 Hancock Dr, Austin
2. Z'Tejas Grill9400 A. Arboretum Blvd , Asutin
3. Tacodeli1500B Spyglass Dr, Austin
4. Bouldin Creek Cafe1900 S 1st St, Austin
5. The Mediterranean Chef5908 Aurora Dr, Austin
6. Haymaker2310 E Manor Rd, Austin
7. Cipollina1213 W Lynn St, Austin
8. Black Star Co-Op7020 Easy Wind Dr, Austin
9. The Park at the Domain11601 Domain Dr, Ste 200, Austin
10. Royal Blue Grocery609 Congress Ave, Austin
11. Shhmaltz913 E Cesar Chavez St, Austin
12. The Silo on 7th1300 E 7th St, Austin
13. The Parlor4301 Guadalupe St, Austin
14. Titaya's5501 N Lamar Blvd C101, Austin
15. The Vegan Nom120 N Loop Blvd E, Austin
16. Fork and Vine3010 W Anderson Ln, Austin
17. Curra's Grill614 E Oltorf St, Austin
18. Banger's Sausage House and Beer Garden79 Rainey St, Austin
19. Round Rock Donuts106 W Liberty St, Round Rock
20. Hopdoddy Burger Bar1400 S Congress Ave, Austin
21. Red's Porch3508 S Lamar Blvd, Austin
22. Whip In1950 S Interstate 35, Austin
23. Ramen Fukuya1914 Guadalupe Street #A, Austin
24. Blue Dahlia Bistro3663 Bee Caves Rd, West Lake Hills
25. Uncle Billy's Brew & Que1530 Barton Springs Rd, Austin
Eat great sandwiches, live a great life. Okay, that's not a real expression but after tasting these Philly-style subs, you'll think you've found the secret to success and happiness, too.
A Tex Mex food force to be reckoned with, this Austin-born chain is guaranteed to satiate your Southwestern cravings.
Many Mexican joints have tackled the breakfast burrito, but few have committed themselves wholeheartedly to the endeavor, so much so that they close at 3p. Tacodeli makes that commitment. And the results are glorious.
The iconic hippie haven is an homage to he owner's love of Austin's creative nature. They offer reasonably priced vegetarian food and are committed to helping the community grow.
Classic seaside dishes and laid back vibe, this blue front cafe is the source of that hummus you keep buying from Whole Foods.
This sports bar serves up gourmet bar bites -- pimento cheese sandos, poutine w/ Wisconsin cheese curds -- and their cocktail menu includes a SLIM JIM-TOPPED BLOODY.
The neighborhood pizza and paninis you know and love, paired with the care and quality ingredients you deserve.
Black Star is a not-for-profit neighborhood brew-pub and eatery entirely owned and run by its members, with power-to-the-people policies like one-member/one-vote on all decisions, end-of-year profit redistribution, and a living wage for all.
Union Park has shuttered its West 6th watering hole and moved into a massive, still-sporting Aloft space outfitted with two patios, tasteful Longhorn memorabilia, and a gloriously gratuitous flatscreen armada (15+) including a custom 360-degree projection ring-screen to, you know, rule them all.
Gourmet grocer that runs the gamut from breakfast burritos to banh mis. Perfect pit stop for picnic supplies.
Deli is as deli does, except when it's on wheels. Get your Reuben and pickle fix while truly on the go.
The Silo has super affordable burgers and brews (like Deep Ellum) that you can enjoy on their rooftop.
Here's where you end up when you die and go to dive bar heaven. Know why? Build-your-own-pizza, that's why.
This Thai spot is always in high demand, so prepare for a wait whether you plan on dining in or eating out. It errs on the fusion side so get ambitious with your ordering for a good time.
This tiny blue taco truck serves some of the best vegan tacos in Austin with animal-free ingredients like tofu, tempeh, and vegan chorizo. Don’t be fooled though: The Vegan Nom’s tacos taste almost exactly like the real thing. Breakfast tacos, filled with tempeh bacon, tofu scramble, and refried black beans, are served all day. Lines can get pretty long during lunch and dinner, but you can call ahead to avoid the wait.
Located in North Austin, Fork & Vine offers New American cuisine with a playful Austin twist. Be sure to try the fried free-range chicken, which comes with Gouda mac 'n' cheese, watermelon salad, and a jalapeño cheddar biscuit. They also have lots of craft beer.
Curra's Grill slings Mexican fare like burritos and ceviche across Travis Heights alonside the most sought-after tamales around. Avocado lovers can put down the tortilla chips shoveled into their guac and shift their attention to the mother of all margs, the avocado margarita, the art of which this place not only created, but perfected, as well. Although they take the cake as the most popular menu item, the impressive offering of specialty margs leave no tequila or mezcal to be desired.
Banger's Sausage House and Beer Garden not only provides over a 100 beers on tap, but it's also home to one of the district's largest biergartens. Enjoy live music and all the sausage that you can eat.
Using a "world famous" recipe from the 1940s, Round Rock donuts continues to keep fans of the yellow donuts coming back for more. The distinct yellow color comes from fresh eggs -- and unlike donuts made in the typical manner, these cannot be machine-made. Each one is hand-rolled, cut, fried, and iced. On busy days, you’ll see a long line of people who can’t wait to get the freshly made, still warm, glazed original donuts.
This Austin-based burger chain serves up hormone- and antibiotic-free beef ground in-house daily, hand-cut fries, and scratch-made buns. The varied burger options range from a classic lettuce, onion, tomato version to amped up ones, like the habanero-topped El Diablo. As for beverages, there are plenty of craft beers, unique cocktails, and solid milkshakes.
With a mix of Southern, Tex-Mex, and Cajun influences, Red's Porch brings flavors like the South Austin Po-Boy and Coffee Rubbed Brisket Tacos together under one roof (or onto one porch).
Whip In has a lot going for it: 72 beers on tap, growlers for you to take your brews home, live music every night of the week, and Indian cuisine with a Texas flare.
You wanted ramen, you went to Ramen Fukuya, you ate ramen, you were very, very happy. That's called using your noodle.
This lesser known location of Blue Dahlia has the same French tartines — goat cheese and olive tapenade or ham with gruyère cheese — and wine list with the added benefit of a scenic, 10 minute drive straight through the dreamy hill country, making it a perfect date spot.
What's better than a microbrewery or a BBQ joint? A microbrewery AND a BBQ joint! This place offers everything from pints to kegs, depending on your needs, and the beer available's award-winning. What more do you need?