Where to Eat in Austin During SXSW 2017
Every Austinite’s three least favorite words are “South by Southwest.” Well, that or “we’re sold out,” which appears on the front door of Franklin Barbecue on a daily basis. The yearly festival, which runs from March 10th to 19th this year, continues to expand, both in its duration and in its takeover of Austin itself. One of the many reasons for the festival’s expansion and for patrons wanting to extend their stays is, of course, Austin’s bar and restaurant scene.
Sure, getting anywhere during SXSW can be a bit of a pain. However, by heading away from the madness of downtown and into any of Austin’s nearby neighborhoods, there are endless options for excellent food and bars that’ll have you planning your next trip to Austin before you even leave the festival. Grab your appetite and a large container of Advil, because here are some of our favorite places to eat and drink at during SXSW.—Max Bonem
Coffee: Wright Bros. Brew & Brew
Half-coffee shop and half-beer bar, Wright Bros. Brew & Brew is simply the perfect spot to start your day during SXSW. With a good sized patio, which is a staple of any fine Austin establishment, and a dedication to serving only the best of both buzz-inducing substances, Brew & Brew is the best spot to recharge from the night before or spend the day hiding out from the festival.
Located inside the swanky South Congress Hotel, Mañana is a great option for those looking for a bit of peace and quiet to start the day, regardless of if you’re staying at the hotel or not. Bright and tranquil, but just barely out of the reach of the festival madness, Mañana is an excellent spot to center yourself before a long day of boozing networking.
Coffee: Figure 8 Coffee Purveyors
For those looking to really remove themselves from SXSW’s reach, Figure 8 Coffee Purveyors in Rosewood is a great escape. With premium coffee, outdoor seating and a location far enough from downtown that those not in the know are unlikely to stumble upon it, Figure 8 is the coffee shop you’ll wish was part of your morning ritual back home.
Tacos: Veracruz All Natural
Everyone in Austin has their favorite breakfast taco, but those who don’t choose Veracruz All Natural are simply misinformed. Their migas taco has developed a cult following, but the entire menu, from their wide range of agua frescas to their stellar al pastor, has turned the family-run business into a mini empire with multiple locations scattered across Austin.
Tacos: Bouldin Creek Café
Any trip to SXSW usually results in treating your body with less respect than normal. As such, a trip to Bouldin Creek Café, one of Austin’s best vegetarian options, is a must. Even without bacon and chorizo, their wide range of tacos, especially those filled with their house-made tofu scramble, will please even the most devoted carnivore.
Once a pizza desert, Austin has become home to a ton of pizzerias in recent years. The best, without a doubt, is Bufalina on Cesar Chavez. Fresh out of the oven in under 90 seconds, Bufalina is incredibly popular and for very good reason. They focus on keeping their pies simple and on using only the freshest, seasonal ingredients. Even after opening a second location, a trip to Bufalina will require a wait. However, with a top notch wine list and the best staff in town, being forced to take a break from SXSW never felt, or tasted, so good.
Detroit-style pizza has becoming increasingly popular across the country in recent years, but the Hunt Brothers’ Via 313 is unrivaled in its perfection. With two locations close to downtown on Rainey St. and East 6th St., you’ll never be too far from one of their trucks. Take advantage of this convenience as often as possible.
BBQ: Franklin Barbecue
There isn’t much to say about Franklin Barbecue that hasn’t already been said hundreds of times. The line is insane, but the brisket is unparalleled. You can make an entire day out of simply tailgating in anticipation of their 11:00 a.m. opening. Beware though, even when SXSW isn’t happening, patrons start lining up as early as 7:00 a.m.
BBQ: Micklethwait Craft Meats
Just down the road from Franklin Barbecue is Micklethwait Craft Meats, a local favorite that has lost its “secret alternative to Franklin” persona as they’ve taken on their own devoted fan base. The Micklethwait team makes everything from scratch, from the bread to the meat to the pickles, and you can truly taste the difference. A pro tip: Their barbacoa might be the unsung hero of their menu, so definitely grab some if it’s available when you visit.
BBQ: Kemuri Tatsu-Ya
Evening Eats: Odd Duck
There may be no Austin chef who truly represents the city more than Bryce Gilmore of Barley Swine and Odd Duck. However, while Barley Swine is seen as Gilmore’s flagship, Odd Duck has a devoted following that comes to simply see what the team has created next. Known for hyper-local sourcing and fermenting, baking and cooking everything possible onsite, Odd Duck is the best place in Austin to see how the city’s cooking has evolved from Tex-Mex and steakhouse fare to what it is today.
Evening Eats: Dai Due
Evening Eats: L'Oca D'Oro
Attending SXSW can feel like an endless series of surface level interactions, so if you’re looking for the comfort of home, visit Chef Fiore Tedesco’s L’Oca D’Oro in Mueller. From the second you walk in, the staff at L’Oca D’Oro aims to treat you like family and with the huge portions of Tedesco’s take on familial Italian, you might need to make some new friends to help you finish.
Late Night: Thai-Kun at Whisler's
After a long day at the conference, enjoying a few cocktails at Whisler’s on East 6th St. is the perfect way to unwind. After a while though, the intoxicating aroma of neighboring Thai-Kun will be too much and you’ll need a snack. The waterfall pork and fried chicken are two highlights of the excellent menu showcasing options from across Thailand. Make sure you have another drink at your disposal though—Thai-Kun doesn’t mess around when it comes to heat.
Late Night: Magnolia Café
Every city has a crossroads for post-2:00 a.m. eaters and Magnolia Café is most certainly Austin’s. With multiple locations just outside of downtown and a menu too large to categorize, whatever it is you’re craving before bed, more likely than not Magnolia Café can provide.
Late Night: Justine's Brasserie
The best way to describe Justine’s Brasserie is that melancholy is left at the door. You will not accidentally stumble upon this legendary late night haunt and major magnet for folks in Austin's service industry. One must go with purpose and, as Justine’s proudly preaches to its visitors, “when you think you’ve gone too far, keep going.” Order the steak frites and a glass of wine and marvel at the fact that you’re enjoying excellent brasserie food under the stars at 2:00 a.m. in central Texas. Forget SXSW, Justine’s is reason enough to make a trip.