Savoring Austin: Your Guide to the 10 Best Local Specialty Foods

Welcome to Austin, Texas: A bustling city renowned for its lively music scene, breathtaking landscapes, and of course, its unrivaled food journey. In this guide, we’ll dive into the heart (and belly) of Austin to discover its top 10 local food specialties. As a resident foodie, I can attest that these gastronomic delights are a must-try for everyone who visits The Lone Star State’s Capital.

Tex-Mex: More Than Just a Hybrid Cuisine

When you blend traditional Mexican food with the Lone Star charm, the result is the mouthwatering Tex-Mex cuisine. Trudy’s, a local favorite, is a place that exemplifies this culinary genre.

Here’s what you can explore at Trudy’s:

  • Award-winning Mexican Martinis: This isn’t your regular martini. This delicious mix involving tequila, lime juice, and a splash of olive juice is an Austin favorite.

  • The Stuffed Avocados: For vegetarians and foodies alike, these are a dream. A creamy blend of spice and cheese, encased within perfectly ripe avocados, then deep-fried. Paired with delicious refried beans and rice, this is a meal you won’t forget.

This pioneer in Tex-Mex cuisine keeps patrons coming back for more with its attractive ambiance and mouthwatering dishes.

BBQ: Smoking Hot

Austin and BBQ go hand in hand. Franklin Barbecue, a world-renowned destination, is an embodiment of this tradition.

What makes Franklin Barbecue special?

  • The Queue: On a regular day, you will see BBQ enthusiasts lining up hours before the store opens. This wait is a testament to the unforgettable BBQ experience that Franklin offers.

  • The Brisket: This is their true star. The brisket, with smoky flavor, caramelized bark, and fall-off-the-bone tenderness, is an absolute must-try.

  • Unique Sides: Don’t forget their sides! From coleslaw to potato salad, each side dish is made to complement the BBQ and does so beautifully.

Franklin Barbecue sets the standard for the Austin BBQ experience – smoking hot, tender, and unlike anything else!

The Texan Trinity: Tacos, Tacos, Tacos

Tacos are essential in Austin’s food scene. Where better to experience this than Torchy’s Tacos – a place where Austin’s innovative spirit shines.

Here is what you should not miss at Torchy’s:

  • Unique Taco Varieties: With names like ‘Republican’, ‘Democrat’ and ‘Independent’, these tacos bring the party to your palate. The ‘Democrat’ is an amalgamation of shredded beef barbacoa topped with fresh avocado, cilantro, onions, and a wedge of lime.

  • Trailer Park Hillbilly Style: A marvel of fried chicken, green chillies, chorizo, chopped bacon, and incredibly rich cheese. This taco is an explosion of flavors that should not be missed.

With unique twists to traditional tacos, Torchy’s truly takes the Texan trinity -tacos, tacos, tacos- to another level.

Southern Comfort Food: Satisfy Your Soul

For a heaping helping of down-home, Southern comfort food, you must visit Hoover’s Cooking. Each dish is a nod to the soulful Southern tradition.

At Hoover’s, you can indulge in:

  • Chicken and Dumplings: A heartening mix of tender chicken pieces and soft dumplings soaked in a savory broth. This dish will transport you straight to grandma’s kitchen.

  • Fried catfish: Lightly seasoned and breaded to crispy perfection. Served with tartar sauce and cozy sides, it is a Southern classic you can’t miss.

If you want to taste the soul of the South, believe me, Hoover’s Cooking will satisfy your every craving.

Breakfast Tacos: A Morning Ritual in Austin

Stuffed with eggs, cheese, and bacon, breakfast tacos from Juan in a Million have become a Texan staple and a morning ritual in Austin.

One bite of their specialties will show you why:

  • The Don Juan Taco: A monstrous layer of potatoes, bacon, and eggs topped with cheese and served on a hot tortilla. The Don Juan is not just a breakfast taco, it’s a breakfast feast.

  • The Con Queso Breakfast: A heavenly mix of spicy carne guisada, nopalitos, and cheese, this breakfast taco is an awesome start to any day.

Having been featured on “Man v Food”, Juan in a Million is a breakfast haven you have to try!

The All American: Burgers with a Texan Twist

For your burger fix, swing by Hopdoddy Burger Bar.

Their popular items include:

  • The Primetime Texas Akaushi Beef Burger: A succulent burger made from Texas Akaushi Beef topped with Brie cheese, truffle aioli, arugula, caramelized onions, and steak sauce. This burger is a culinary masterpiece.

  • Handcrafted Shakes: Pair your burger with their decadent shakes. Try flavors like Nutella & Pretzel or Oreo Cookies & Cream.

Their innovative take on the classic American burger makes Hopdoddy a must-visit place for burger aficionados.

Pecan Pie: A Sweet Slice of Texas

Tiny Pies takes Pecan Pie, a Texas dessert classic from frontier times, to a new level.

Their miniature pecan pies:

  • Perfectly portion controlled: These petite pies are just the right size satisfying the sweet tooth without over-indulging.

  • Filled with flavors: Each bite of the pie oozes with sweet, gooey filling, packed with pecans, and encased in a buttery flaky crust.

A sweet slice of Texas, these pies are a delight that you need to savor!

Queso: Liquid Gold of Texas

Few things Texans can agree on more passionately than queso. At Kerbey Lane Cafe, you’ll find the creamy, cheesy delight also known as the liquid gold of Texas.

Try their:

  • Classic Kerbey Queso: This velvety queso, rich with creamy cheese and their signature guacamole, served with tortilla chips is an Austin legend.

  • Cowboy Queso: If you’re in an adventurous mood, try this interesting mix of queso with black beans, ground beef, and pico de gallo, served with a side of sour cream.

Savor a bowl of Kerbey queso, and you’ll understand why Austinites love this cheesy goodness so much!

Kolaches: A Taste From Central Europe

With a nod to Texas’s Czech heritage, Kolaches are a traditional delight. Visit Batch Craft Beer and Kolaches, where the team has given a craft twist to this Central European delicacy.

What’s not to love at Batch?

  • Kolaches: Whether you choose the sweet ones like Cherry & Cream Cheese or the savory Sausage, Cheddar & Jalapeno, you will be delighted.

  • Craft Beer: Batch doubles as a brewery, so it’s the perfect place to wash down your delicious kolache with a well-crafted local beer.

At Batch, the memory of old Central Europe meets the flavor of modern Austin.

Wash It Down With Craft Beers

Austin’s craft beer scene has exploded, and you can’t talk about food in Austin without discussing the drinks. Austin Beerworks is a leading player in the scene, turning heads with its quality and variety.

Let’s talk about why Austin Beerworks stands out:

  • Variety: From Bear Smasher, a rich malty Czech style beer to Bloodwork Orange IPA, a tropical and citrus-laden delight, their variety of craft beers is impressive.

  • Award-Winning Brews: Their infamous Black Thunder German-style Schwarzbier and Peacemaker Anytime Ale have won Austin Beerworks many loyal customers, as well as Gold medals at the Great American Beer Festival.

A visit to Austin Beerworks will make your craft beer dreams come true!


Austin’s food scene is a vibrant blend of cultures, traditions, and boundary-pushing cuisine. So whether you’re a long-time local, new in town, or just visiting, these 10 local specialty foods will give you a mouthwatering glimpse into the diverse culinary landscape of Austin.

Remember, the essence of Austin’s food scene is not entirely about the dishes but the experiences that accompany them.

So get out there and savor Austin one bite (or sip) at a time.

Lauren Critzer

I was born in Charlottesville, Virginia and after college, I moved to San Francisco to explore new opportunities and broaden my horizons. I fell in love with the city's vibrant culture and unique atmosphere, but eventually, I moved again, this time to Austin, Texas.

As much as I loved living in different parts of the country, having a baby boy brought me back to my hometown in Charlottesville, where I now live with my husband, our little one, and two furry friends. I enjoy going to wineries, taking my pups everywhere, and spending quality time with my family.

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