Tired of the same old Tupperware container crammed with last night’s chicken and broccoli? Not really in the mood for the sandwich you stashed in your lunch bag as you rushed out the door this morning? Or maybe you’ve just had enough of those mediocre microwave meals at your desk? We don’t blame you. In fact, we want to help you. After all, there’s no reason you have to loathe your lunchtime break. That’s where this list of the best lunch in Austin comes in.
Where to Dine In, Pick Up, and Chow Down in Austin
While packing a lunch might save you some cash in the long run, it’s not always the most inspired choice. Once in awhile you need to break out of the office (home office and coworking spaces included) to get your grub on.
Fortunately, the capital city of Texas is loaded with tasty (and affordable) lunch options that’ll get you through any midday slump and power you through the rest of your workday. From tacos, BBQ, and ramen to Italian, Asian, American, and beyond, there’s something for every palate.
Here’s where to get the best lunch in Austin whether you want to dine in or take it to go.
1. Walton’s Fancy and Staple
609 W. 6th St., Austin, TX 78701
This Downtown Austin staple has something to offer no matter what you fancy. With its brick walls, communal tables, and bustling scene, Walton’s Fancy and Staple is a small but easy deli and bakery for quick eats like hot and cold sandwiches, soups, salads, breakfast and brunch classics, and homemade cookies. (There’s dinner and happy hour, too.)
Perla’s is one of the most beautiful places in town for lunch. The restaurant features a luxurious outdoor patio and outdoor seating overlooking trendy South Congress Ave. The menu focuses on seafood including a fresh oyster bar, market seafood, as well as sandwiches and salads.
Uchi is consistently ranked as one of the best Austin restaurants. Open for takeout or dine-in during lunch, here you can get your hands on some of the best sushi in the Austin area. The restaurant flies in fresh seafood every day from a market in Japan. Each dish is beautifully plated and it’s the perfect spot for date night or a more formal lunch.
4. Cookbook Bar & Cafe
Inside the Austin Public Library, you’ll find Cookbook — a top restaurant for grabbing lunch while studying or working. Grab-and-go sandwiches, salads, and snacks make it easy to head back to hitting the books while still getting a great meal.
5. Home Slice Pizza
Need a reprieve from spreadsheets and expense reports? Nothing that a slice of New York-style pizza can’t fix. Home Slice Pizza has a few locations (there’s a takeout joint as well as a dine-in outpost on South Congress), but we prefer the North Loop spot for its easy parking and lunchtime options that range from buffalo wings and salads to hearty Italian subs. There’s also pizza by the slice.
6. Franklin Barbecue
Franklin Barbecue, owned by famed pitmaster Aaron Franklin, is one of the best restaurants in Austin, Texas. Here, meat is king. Choose from brisket, ribs, pulled pork, turkey, sausage, and jalapeno cheddar sausage by the pound. There are also several sandwiches and sides including potato salad and slaw.
7. Ramen Tatsu-Ya
Austinites love their tacos, queso, BBQ, and ramen — especially Ramen Tatsu-ya. With locations in North Austin, South Austin, and East Austin, this “Japanese soul food” joint is where you and your coworkers can slurp on piping hot ramen noodles that come with your choice of flavor “bombs” and toppings. Just keep in mind that the lunch rush is a real thing no matter which location you choose, so stop by before or after the noon hour if possible.
8. Buenos Aires Cafe
This Argentinian restaurant is all about the meat. For lunch, you’ll find sandwiches like the Lomito and Milanesa as well as meats fresh off the grill. Try the churrasquito or the bife ancho and pair it with tasty sides like crispy brussel sprouts and polenta.
9. Veracruz All Natural
What would a list on the best lunch in Austin be without a taco truck or two? (Or three or four?) Veracruz All Natural is a true Austinite favorite thanks to the health-focused fare featuring tacos, smoothies, and fruit juices. Chicken mole, grilled tilapia, and vegan veggie are just some of the taco options while quesadillas, tortas, aquas frescas, and smoothies are also on offer.
10. La Condesa
La Condesa is a Mexican restaurant offering cuisine using seasonal produce from local farmers. Their food includes ceviche, quesadillas, and mole. Plus, you’ll find some of the best queso in ATX and fresh tortillas.
11. 24 Diner
Looking for diner fare? Get your fix at 24 Diner at 600 N Lamar Blvd where you’ll find classic items like burgers, sandwiches, and salads. Wrap up lunch with some dessert and indulge in a milkshake or pie topped with ice cream.
2201 College Ave., Austin, TX 78704
When you want a proper sit-down away from your cubicle, Vinaigrette is a winner. Sure, it can be a little pricier than a food truck, but every once in a while it’s nice to splurge on yourself. The big oak tree in the back patio is a prime setting for loading up on giant DIY salads, soups, and sandwiches. (By the way, the wine bar is a good spot to grab a seat and a sip after the workday is done.)
2027 Anchor Ln., Austin, TX 78723
When the office AC has been on full blast and you forgot what fresh air feels like, it’s time to get out and grab lunch at Contigo. This spacious indoor-outdoor ranch-style restaurant in East Austin is all about farm-fresh Texas fare and refreshing cold brews. (Not that we’re encouraging day drinking. Just sayin’.)
14. Super Burrito
817 W. 5th St. Austin, TX 78703
Sometimes you don’t need anything more than a burrito to set you right. And the Super Burrito food truck is just the place where you can get these belly-filling wraps loaded with savory ingredients like carne asada, chicken, veggies and mushrooms, or even french fries. There’s also plenty of other Mexican favorites including flautas, tacos, quesadillas, and chips with queso.
15. Bouldin Creek Cafe
1900 S 1st St., Austin, TX 78704
When you’re plant-based (or just don’t feel like loading up on meat for lunch), Bouldin Creek Cafe is a solid find for vegetarian and vegan-friendly food. But that doesn’t mean you won’t fill up. The weekday lunch entrees include a Frito pie, vegan BBQ plate, and fantasy tacos, among others, and almost any dish can be made gluten-free. Grab a coffee and pastry or linger for a bit on the covered patio and snag the best lunch in Austin right here.
16. P. Terry’s Burger Stand
Like burritos and tacos, burgers are just one of those can’t-miss, works-in-any-situation foods—and lunchtime is no exception. For some of the best burgers in Austin (or anywhere for that matter), stop by P. Terry’s Burger Stand and don’t forget the fresh-cut potatoes, hand-spun milkshakes, and homemade cookies.
17. Vaquero Taquero
104 E. 31st St., Austin, TX, 78705
This former food truck is now a brick and mortar, but Vaquero Taquero is still ground zero for every Austinite’s favorite al pastor and breakfast tacos wrapped in handmade tortillas. You can also choose from a handful of different quesadillas.
18. Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ
11500 Manchaca Rd., Austin, TX 78748
This food trailer is where you go when you want a one-stop shop for tacos, Tex-Mex, and barbecue. While you won’t get cheap tacos here, when you consider that Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ uses high-quality ingredients including grass-fed natural Angus beef and Berkridge Berkshire pork, the prices are quite reasonable — especially when it comes to the sammies. Sandwiches like the pulled chicken or sliced brisket range from $9-$12.
For outdoor dining, check out Irene’s where you’ll dine on a gorgeous patio with vintage vibes. Specializing in American comfort food, the menu is packed with treats like sliders, wings, and Tex-Mex tacos. They also offer some of the best brunch in town.
20. Loro Asian Smokehouse
Loro Asian Smokehouse is the brainchild of master chefs Aaron Franklin and Tyson Cole. This restaurant offers Asian and BBQ fusion foods. Among our favorites are the pork belly, smoked beef brisket with Thai herbs and chili gastrique as well as crispy Szechuan tofu rice bowl.
21. Old Thousand
Old Thousand is a neighborhood Chineses restaurant serving up a new spin on classic Chinese dishes. For lunch, dine on hot and sour soup, smoked fire noodle, and brisket fried rice.
22. Flower Child
500 W. 2nd St. #133, Austin, TX 78701
Yes, it’s part of a national chain, but Flower Child is one of those fast-casual spots that makes it a no-brainer for lunchtime. It’s large enough to accommodate groups, you place your order at the counter and your food is brought to your table, and the space is bright, airy, and lively. The health-conscious menu focuses on organic ingredients with gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan options.
23. Rosita’s Al Pastor
1911 E. Riverside Dr., Austin, TX 78741
A no-frills find for affordable Mexican food, Rosita’s Al Pastor is a great lunch spot for tacos and other Mexican classics including gorditas, tortas, chalupas, enchiladas, veggie options, and daily lunch specials.
2115 Holly St., Austin, TX 78702
With its tasty New American food and cool vibe (what other restaurant do you know that used to be a laundromat?), Launderette is a fun lunch spot when you’re feeling like good ol’ American classics. Expect starters like deviled eggs and mains such as pan-seared salmon, fried chicken sammies, and BLTs. Just don’t expect your laundry to be done. Stop in for Friday lunch and dine on a fried chicken sandwich, Pei mussels, or a plancha burger.
25. Qi Austin
Qi is a modern Asian kitchen serving quick lunch meals in an upscale setting. Don’t miss their dim sum appetizers including several styles of dumplings.
26. Josephine of Austin
Josephine’s is one of the cutest dining spaces in town. The Clarksville restaurant is located in an old bungalow, offering a quaint and charming dining experience. From the small marble bar to shady patio nooks, there’s a cozy corner for you to enjoy your lunch in. On the menu, you’ll choose from treats like shrimp and grits, homemade chicken sausage, and citrus cured lox. Don’t miss their affordable happy hour too!
27. Kome Sushi Kitchen
Craving sushi? Head to Kome where you’ll find some of the freshest sushi and nigiri in town along with ramen and Japanese cuisine. The prices are competitive so you can get more bang for your buck at this top Austin lunch spot.
28. True Food Kitchen
True Food Kitchen is an upscale lunch eatery. It’s the perfect spot to take a date to lunch or wine and dine a potential new client. Catering to a crowd that prefers artisan meals made with fresh ingredients the menu features sandwiches, burgers, salads, adn pizzas.
29. Sour Duck Market
1814 E. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Austin, TX 78702
This delightful East Austin fast-casual market is the more approachable (read: less expensive) sister location to the Odd Duck restaurant. While the Odd Duck is more of a fine dining experience (and a regular on “best restaurants” lists), Sour Duck Market offers similar farm-to-table fare ranging from sandwiches and salads (pastrami spiced steak, anyone?) to goat chili and draft cocktails.
30. Elizabeth St. Cafe
1501 S. 1st St., Austin, TX 78704
It’s French, it’s Vietnamese, it’s thoroughly charming, and it’s a must on this list of the best lunch in Austin. Yes, Elizabeth St. Cafe is a lunch spot worth checking out. Take your pick of French baked goods and creative Vietnamese dishes including pho and banh mi sandwiches loaded with options like pork belly, short rib and kimchi, and lemongrass tofu. Sit on the cute little outdoor patio and sip on a Vietnamese iced coffee while you wait. Pair your lunch with a Da Nang Margarita or an Eastern Old Fashioned.
31. Fresa’s Chicken Al Carbon
Whether you feel like tacos (try the beef brisket or adobo shrimp and avocado) or wood-grilled meals featuring meat by the pound, Fresa’s Chicken Al Carbon is a sure thing. Lunch and dinner is served all day everyday with flautas, salads, queso, and veggie sides rounding out the menu. The South First location has a daily to-go window and dine-in option while the 9th and Lamar outpost has a walk-up and drive-thru, both of which are perfect when you want lunch on the go.
32. Whole Foods
525 N. Lamar Blvd., Austin, TX 78703
Adding this Austin-born supermarket to our list might sound like a cop-out, but hear us out. When your lunchtime is only an hour (or less) and you need food fast (but you don’t want fast food), then Whole Foods works like a charm. This Downtown Austin location is a luncher’s paradise with everything from deli eats and a sushi bar to barbecue, salads, soups, and just about anything else you can imagine that you want made-to-order or pre-packaged.
You Deserve the Best Lunch in Austin
Let’s face it. Peeling off that little piece of film from your Lean Cuisine isn’t exactly an electrifying lunch experience. (Although we won’t judge you for having a Hot Pocket every now and again.)
Whether you want Korean, Mediterranean, New American, or something else entirely, there’s an Austin restaurant for you. After all, Austin is famous for its culinary scene, so you don’t have to go very far for a good meal — regardless of if you’re on Rainey St, Burnet, or somewhere farther from the downtown area.
When you want to break out of your workday routine, check out one (or all) of these Austin restaurants. After all, you work hard and you deserve to eat well. Now go get some lunch.