So you’re coming to SXSW Conference & Festivals in Austin, filled with some of the best sessions, activations, parties, and more – but the real question is: WHERE ARE YOU GOING TO EAT? Having lived downtown for a couple years now, I have my tried-and-true, favorite spots in the area. I am attending SXSW this year on behalf of Austin Food Magazine, so I thought it was only fitting to do a roundup of my favorite restaurants near all of the SXSW action!
Impress your Instagram followers with a swoon-worthy, colorful and delicious spread courtesy of Forthright Cafe. Forthright Cafe is located just a block from the Austin Convention Center and all of the SXSW action, and is the perfect place to fuel up with an iced cashew milk latte and nutritious breakfast or lunch. Check out their weekday happy hour from 4-6pm for your discounted bites and cocktails!
My Faves: Superfood Bowl, Pumpkin & Butternut Toast (seasonal), Avocado Toast, Veggie Burger, Liege Waffle, Brussels Sprouts (available during happy hour), Iced Cashew Milk Latte
98 San Jacinto Blvd, Austin, TX 78701
My go-to spot for a margarita and 2nd Street District people watching, La Condesa is a great spot for close-that-deal lunch meetings or happy hours catching up with friends. Show up early for happy hour (weekdays from 5-7pm) as there is limited seated.
My Faves: Guacamole Tasting, Mixta Con Pollo Rostizado, Acelgas Tacos, Alma Blanca Cocktail, Margarita La Condesa
400 W 2nd St, Austin, TX 78701
This popular restaurant on the corner of 2nd Street and Congress not only has a bright interior and the ideal location for SXSW people watching, but the food is also fresh and offers something for everyone. Their happy hour is enticing with cocktails starting at only $5 and light bites to start your evening off right, or try their weekend brunch!
My Faves: Bennett Cocktail, Sidewinder’s Fang Cocktail, Blistered Shishito Peppers, Raw Kale Salad, Congress Burger, Black + Bleu Pizza
200 Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78701
Craving Italian? Then Taverna is your place! While they are known mostly for their brunch ($2 mimosas/bellinis & amazing truffle dishes anyone?), I discovered their happy hour last year which quickly became a new fave. Their pizzas are a meal in itself, and the prices are beyond reasonable.
My Faves: $2 Mimosas & Bellinis (Brunch), Beet Pizza (HH), Truffle Wings (HH)
258 W 2nd St, Austin, TX 78701
What might just look like an airstream, My Name is Joe offers tasteful, innovative dishes in a fast, casual environment. Their turmeric latte is not to be missed!
My Faves: Turmeric Latte, Avocado Tartine, Almond Butter Toast, Texas-Rancher Oats
503 Colorado St, Austin, TX 78701
True life: I have an actual obsession with Irene’s. Nearly every single time I am home I come here. Their avocado toast is among the best I’ve had, their Bloody Mary’s are SO good (bacon salt rim, yep) and strong, and it’s just a fun, casual place to hang out on the patio. Although I often come here for brunch, I have recently been coming here for happy hour and loving it just as much! It is located near West 6th but worth the little bit longer walk.
My Faves: Harvest Mix, Avocado Toast, Nutella Toast, Local Salad, Frosé, Bloody Mary
506 West Ave, Austin, TX 78701
ATX Cocina is somewhat of a newcomer to Austin’s scene and has instantly become a hotspot. Their modern Mexican cuisine and craft cocktails are delicious, and they offer daily happy hour to make it even friendlier on your wallet.
My Faves: Piqueno Lorenzo Cocktail, Penelope Cruz Cocktail, Guacamole, Chili Roasted Chicken, Verduras
110 San Antonio St Suite 170, Austin, TX 78701
TRACE‘s weekend brunch is one of my not-so-hidden secrets… I mean there’s $1 mimosas and $5 mimosa carafes! (Make sure they are still doing this deal during SXSW before ordering). I love sitting out on the patio and people watching. Happy hour is a great deal here too offering a selection of cocktails and bites.
My Faves: $1 Mimosas, Outlaw Heart Cocktail, Lobster Hushpuppies, Trace Migas, “El Gordo”
200 Lavaca St, Austin, TX 78701
Being a San Diego girl, Searsucker is a household name and the downtown Austin location is perfect for SXSW. Check out their happy hour after your sessions or in between shows, or schedule a weekday lunch meeting, or relax and enjoy weekend brunch!
My Faves: Snake In The Grass Cocktail, Fish Tacos, Grains & Greens Salad, Fried Brussels
415 Colorado St, Austin, TX 78701
Lambert’s is a great option to get your BBQ fix in with upscale BBQ in a fun setting. Plus, their happy hour is daily and an incredible deal with half off all bar food items! Like its neighbor across the street La Condesa, be sure to get there early to snag a spot at either the upstairs or downstairs bar as they fill up fast.
My Faves: Tiger’s Tail Cocktail, Bou-Rye-Levardier Cocktail, Achiote Chickpeas & Grilled Flatbread, Gulf Shrimp & Crab Campechana, Oak Grilled Natural Hangar Steak
401 W 2nd St, Austin, TX 78701
Modern Market is just a couple blocks from my office and has therefore become a routine spot for me to grab a quick, healthy bite. I love the big, fresh salads and the vegan options available. You can order on the app to make it even faster as well!
My Faves: Sweet Potato Curry Soup, Thai Coconut Salad, Curry Salmon Bowl, Heirloom Rice Bowl
401 Congress Ave Suite 100A, Austin, TX 78701
If you’re craving a healthy, sit-down meal with a nice patio, True Food Kitchen is your spot. This has always been my go-to for a fresh, healthy, flavorful brunch or lunch date. There is something for everyone with menu items ranging from juices to salads to pizzas to bowls.
My Faves: Kale Guacamole, Seasonal Ingredient Salad, Ancient Grains Bowl, Grilled Fish Tacos, Kale-Aid Drink
222 West Ave, Austin, TX 78701
When Flower Child opened a location downtown, I knew I was in trouble. A member of Fox Restaurant Concepts, Flower Child has similar menu items as True Food Kitchen but in a fast, casual setting.
My Faves: Vegan Ingredient Salad, Mother Earth Bowl, Spicy Japanese Eggplant, Roasted Butternut Squash, Yuzu Brussel Sprouts, Organic Non-GMO Tofu, Seasonal Lemonades
500 W 2nd St Suite 160, Austin, TX 78701
This Austin staple located on West 6th is a classic choice that never fails. Snag a patio seat on a weekend to check out the bustling West 6th scene, and don’t forget to order dessert!
My Faves: Avocado Toast, Biscuit Sandwich, Mussels
609 W 6th St, Austin, TX 78701
Safe travels y’all!
Chelsea Rose Martin