The Best Places to Eat and Drink Near SXSW 2023 in Austin

Here’s where to fuel up during South by Southwest this year, from upscale Convention Center digs to honky tonk-style Lone Stars by the Paramount.

SXSW is back! And we know exactly where to find the best restaurants and bars throughout Austin during the whirlwind festival. After a long-awaited post-pandemic celebration in 2022, this year’s South by Southwest—or simply ‘South By’ if you’re cool—will transform Bat City again March 10–19.

Big names taking hold of an SXSW mic this year: Taron Egerton premieres his new film, Tetris; rapper Lil Yachty performs for Billboard Presents; and keynote speakers Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Tilda Swinton take the stage. Celebs aside, a slew of exhibits, events, parties, gigs, screenings, and more will take over Austin for 10 booze-filled days, most of which are centered downtown close to the convention center.

Trust us when we say it can all get a bit exhausting. Thankfully Austin has just the medicine. We’re talking calories, baby… Queso. Margaritas. Sashimi. Sausages. Without further ado, here are the most fun and delicious places to eat and drink amidst all the SXSW action, organized by festival centers of gravity (that is, hotels).

Kinfolk Lounge & Library
Photo courtesy of Kinfolk Lounge & Library

Convention Center, Fairmont Austin, and the Marriotts

This 20-seat bar is stashed in a 150-year-old cellar beneath Moonshine Grill. It’s the perfect spot to escape the hustle and bustle upstairs and dip into an artisan cocktail alongside locally sourced cheese and charcuterie. Tip: Book ahead, as spots will fill up fast during SXSW, and try the Mrs Robbins, made with Mezcal Union El Viejo, Chairman’s Spiced Rum, clarified lime juice, and gum syrup.
How to book: Reserve via Resy.

Live Oak
The bustling bar at Live Oak. | Photo courtesy of Four Seasons Austin

If you’re shelling out big bucks for SXSW Platinum, then chances are you’re staying at the Four Seasons Austin. If not, then at least check out Live Oak’s beautiful patio overlooking Lady Bird Lake. Here you can order a bottle of bubbles while tucking into juicy Texan-inspired shareables like Tuna Nachos, Prime Beef Sliders, and FS Guacamole.
How to book: Call 512-478-4500 to reserve.

With many pass-holders attending the XR experiences at Fairmont Austin, an obvious choice for Italian is Revue down on the ground floor. Luckily, it’s famed for some of the best pizza and pasta in town. Don’t miss the Mushroom Risotto or Fingerling Potatoes at dinner time, then continue the networking at Fulton bar or catch up on emails at Good Things coffee shop, both situated out front. Need something more intimate? Room 725 has a champagne and caviar lounge.
How to book: Reserve via OpenTable.

Banger's Sausage House & Beer Garden
Photo courtesy of Banger's Sausage House & Beer Garden

A long day calls for letting loose, so perhaps an evening on Rainey Street is in the cards. Banger’s is a welcoming, casual spot to let the fun times roll, known for their wide selection of sausages on a bun (from Bratwurst to Chicken and Apple) and big ol’ jugs of beer.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating.

The Paramount Theatre, Cedar Street Courtyard, and Stephen F’s Bar

About a minute’s walk from the Paramount, Caroline’s is a breezy all-day spot to line your stomach before the big screenings. The Salt & Pepper Salmon with cauliflower, toasted almonds, and asparagus is divine, as are the Oven-baked Chicken Wings. If there’s still time to kill, mosey to the rooftop, Upstairs at Caroline, for a few rounds of giant Jenga, foosball, or corn hole, all with a cocktail in hand, of course.
How to book: Reserve via OpenTable.

Photo courtesy of Veracruz Facebook

New to ATX and want to try the best tacos downtown? Let Veracruz impress you. The downtown location can be found at the corner of The LINE hotel, where a number of events are scheduled, and counter service means an easy grab-and-go on your way to the next bash. Our faves are the veggie options, like the Migas Taco and the vegan queso—they’re just as good, if not better, than the meat.
How to book: Stop by for counter service.

If seafood is calling your name, try Trulucks’s. Texas’ original upscale seafood and crab restaurant has an outpost on Colorado Street eager to give South By-ers their fill of Lobster Bisque, Chilean King Crab, and even Petrossian Caviar, if you’re feeling extra splashy. The quality is always fresh, and they’re proudly committed to sustainability. Truluck’s also stocks a comprehensive wine list and excellent happy hour deals worth adding to your datebook.
How to book: Reserve via OpenTable.

The Roosevelt Room
Photo courtesy of The Roosevelt Room

Not only is this one of the best bars in all of downtown with a huge cocktail list, but The Roosevelt Room also puts out incredible cheese and charcuterie boards ideal for nibbling on with new SXSW acquaintances. The Epicure Board is tops, consisting of three artisanal cheeses and four cured meats from Antonelli’s plus Crostini and accompaniments. A lengthy daily happy hour seals the deal.
How to book: Reserve via OpenTable.

Those keen on keeping their Sunday best neat and tidy should consider feasting on sushi and sake at TenTen, a swanky spot to catch up, do business, and refuel just a few minutes away from the main venues. It might be on Sixth Street, but rest assured it’s on the west side and a far cleaner affair than the area’s usual reputation. The modern Japanese emporium chops up fresh cuts of sashimi and the bar houses a huge sake selection, plus inspired cocktails and a carefully curated wine and beer list. Kanpai, indeed.
How to book: Reserve via SevenRooms.

Photo courtesy of TenTen

Palmer Events Center and ZACH Theatre

This 2022 opening is one of the hottest rooftop-bar-slash-restaurants in town. Conveniently, it’s sandwiched between both Palmer and ZACH so you needn’t venture far to get the goodies. You’ll dine on oysters, wagyu, and other fancy seasonal creations and enjoy the downtown skyline views from across Ladybird Lake right here for the most sophisticated of aprés-SXSW evenings.
How to book: Reserve via OpenTable.

All those happy hour mixers and little canapes may have your body screaming for a detox. If that’s the case, let JuiceLand be your savior. The local chain sports a delicious selection of plant-based meals, smoothies, smoothie bowls, raw juices, and shots, and you can even order a bulk juice cleanse ahead of time for pick-up upon arrival.
How to book: Stop by for counter service.

If you’re wandering along SoCo, then meander over into Poke Poke. It’s Austin’s first poke spot, reminiscent of bowls from Oahu made with traditional toppings and fresh fish. There’s no going wrong with the OG (sashimi grade ahi, shoyu, sesame oil, white and green onion, and sesame seeds), which can be customized as you wish. Bonus: The seaweed salad is unbelievably tasty by salad standards.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating.

Fareground at One Eleven
Photo courtesy of Fareground at One Eleven

A few steps away from Palmer sits Fareground, Austin’s first food hall. Here, you and the festie-besties can each go down a different route, but still sit together. There are dumplings from Little Wu, Mexican street food from Taco Pegaso, and juicy French-style chicken from Austin Rotisserie. Two bars are also available on-site, one inside and one out on the patio for sun-drenched sips.
How to book: Stop by for counter service

If there’s time to venture down South Lamar, then take advantage of it. The area is buzzing with new restaurants, bars, and entertainment. For something quick, casual, and scrumptiously Southern, check out TLC. It’s where you’ll find all the comforts like Fried Okra, Candied Bacon Deviled Eggs, and Gumbo. The desserts are Texas-sized too, especially the Texas Pecan Pie and the giant milkshakes.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating.

The Peacock
Photo courtesy of The Peacock

On the ground floor of Austin Proper Hotel lives this breezy, Cali-cool spot. A Mediterranean grill with colorful, healthy, and crowd-pleasing items like a Mezze Plate teeming with falafel, hummus, Israeli salad, babaganoush, and pita. Not a fan of sharing? Try the Chicken Tagine with saffron, salt-cured olives, and preserved lemon, instead.
How to book: Reserve via OpenTable.

Swan Dive, Esther’s Follies, and Hilton Austin

Always a busy destination during conferences, the Hilton Austin regularly sees lines outside its average-Joe chains (*cough* Starbucks), but tucked at the corner by the tram they have a true gem wrapped in tortilla: Austin Taco Project. Come fuel up before the long talks with breakfast tacos, burritos, and bowls, and wash them down with a tequila, mezcal or rum cocktail.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating.

Should the idea of Chinese with a Texan twist turn you on, visit Old Thousand for clever takes on classic Asian dishes. You can’t miss an order of Brisket Fried Rice, which mingles traditional Chinese sausage with house-smoked beef brisket. For dessert, it’s all about the 5 Spice Chinese Churro, which comes with sweet Pandan Cream for all your dipping pleasure.
How to book: Reserve via Resy.

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James Wong is a Libra who spends his time pretending to be a vegan, watching wildlife clips, and booking plane tickets. Born in London, lived in Tokyo, and now residing in Austin, his greatest achievement is giving Posh Spice a hug in 2016.