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Afternoon Delight: 18 Spots for the Best Lunch in Austin

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

server with salads - Afternoon Delight: 18 Spots for the Best Lunch 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.

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.)

Home Slice Pizza

Multiple locations

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.

Ramen Tatsu-Ya

Multiple locations

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.

Veracruz All Natural

Multiple locations

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.

Vinaigrette

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.)

Contigo

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’.)

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.

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 specials 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.

P. Terry’s Burger Stand

Multiple locations

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Launderette

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.

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.

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.

Fresa’s Chicken Al Carbon

Multiple locations

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.

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

lunch - Afternoon Delight: 18 Spots for 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.)

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.

Author
Mar Yvette

Mar Yvette is an established writer and editor who covers food, restaurants, travel, arts, entertainment, fashion, beauty, health, and wellness for print, online, and broadcast outlets. She’s obsessed with animals, nature, 80s pop, and vegan donuts.

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