As thousands of visitors swarm in to Austin to indulge in the nine day marathon of SXSW, festival goers will arrive with enthusiasm and a huge appetites, fully prepared to devour some of the most delicious fare from some of Austin’s best restaurants, food trucks and bars.
This year, SXSW runs from March 8th to 16th featuring an vast lineup of events, films, panels, parties and performances. If you’re a SXSW veteran, you’re already aware of the 100+ parties and events handing out free tacos, snacks and drinks. Free snacks are great and most of us would be perfectly satisfied with shoveling dozens of tacos in to our mouths every day of the week, but many of us aren’t afraid to invest a few of our hard earned dollars for something more scrumptious.
Austin is loaded with some of the most exciting eateries in the country. Beyond the armada of food trucks, taco carts and BBQ spots you happen-by during SXSW, one shouldn’t skip out on some of the most delicious and inventive restaurants serving an array of inventive cuisine and creative cocktails, many of which are nationally recognized, award winning hot spots that will satiate your penchant for good food.
Breakfast & Lunch
401 Congress Ave #100c | Since opening their first cafe in 2010, they have fueled the growth of community in Texas. The downtown cafe located at 4th and Congress in the Frost Bank tower will also be bringing back its patio cafe, an outdoor, full service coffee and espresso cart catering to folks walking to and from their next activation, during Interactive from March 8-12.
Suite 100, 301 W 2nd St. | Open since 1995, Austin Java has been an Austin staple for over 20 years. The coffee cafe’s City Hall location is conveniently set in the heart of downtown. Serving house-roasted coffee, wine & beer and a full food menu, it’s the perfect place for a pick-me-up. Austin Java also has locations in South Austin and the Met Center.
800 Brazos St., Suite 215 | This Jewish-inspired deli is the go-to downtown breakfast and lunch destination. The cozy hangout serves up amazing bagels, schmear and lox, matzo ball soup, and classic deli sandwiches like pastrami, corned beef and chopped liver. Biderman’s Deli also offers catering and online ordering. Hours are Mon-Fri 7 am – 3 pm, weekends 8 am to 3 pm.
1625 E 6th St | Power up with healthy servings of fruits and veggies at this local favorite. The açaí cafe has a location on east 6th serving up fresh, fun açaí bowl combinations and smoothies on the run, as well as a toast menu (hello, avocado toast). Hours: Mon-Fri 7 am to 6 pm, weekends 9 am to 4 pm
603 Brazos St. | Just a few steps off 6th Street at 603 Brazos, Jugo’s handpicked seasonal ingredients translate to juice options such as beet, carrot, ginger and lemon, offering a nutritious festival refuel. Choose from fresh-pressed juices, smoothies, Cuvée Cold Brew, and a rotating selection of cold brew green teas on tap; add-ons include everything from coconut oil and maca to collagen and hemp protein; or opt for the chef-prepared to-go snacks like the avocado deviled egg and spring roll; or the beef bone broth.
Various Locations Downtown | Those running from one panel to the next can fuel up at Royal Blue Grocery. This modern urban grocery store has just what you need. The 2SD location offers a little bit of everything, from freshly prepared grab-and-go offerings, to conventional grocery and convenience items, and always tons of locally sourced products from a long list of unique brands and producers. Perfect for the traveler on the go.
609 W 6th St. | Walton’s Fancy and Staple is one of the most charming little diners in Austin, where deli-meets flower shop, while servin’ up a robust breakfast from Biscuits and Gravy to Challah French Toast, everyday until 2pm, alongside Cuvée Coffee, and decadent sweets like the Parisian Macarons or the gluten-free Dark Chocolate Hearts. Walton’s not only offers a wide array of delicious pastries and cafe essentials, but our favorite lunches, too.
211 Walter Seaholm Dr LR 115 | SXSW Festival goers traveling by foot might like to make their way to Austin’s bustling Seaholm District, complete with retail, coffee and eateries like the newly opened Malibu Poke. Guests can enjoy “classic” poke bowls or build their own and explore over 63,000 combinations. In addition to traditional raw seafood, Malibu offers cooked seafood and gluten-free and vegan options, including a completely Whole30 compliant bowl. Place your orders ahead of time on their website.
1814 E Martin Luther King Jr Blvd | Opened last summer and named a 2018 Bon Appetit Top 50 Nominee for America’s Best New Restaurant, Sour Duck Market is the newest concept by Bryce Gilmore, a six-time James Beard Foundation Award finalist and owner/chef of award-winning Barley Swine and Odd Duck. The little sister offers high quality, farm-fresh dishes you can expect from Gilmore however in a fast-casual setting. Picture a beer and cocktail garden, walk up all-day bakery and counter, as well as an indoor/outdoor bar. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
111 Congress Avenue | Fareground hosts an eclectic collection of local cuisine from six premier vendors, all with open seating to inspire culinary innovation and community building. Fareground is a place for Austin to gather, eat, relax, and enjoy, all within walking distance of the heart of the city. Vendors include Henbit, Italic, Contigo, Dai Due, TLV and Ni-Kome. Fareground food hall is open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on the weekend.
Happy Hour & Dinner
301 E 6th St. | Parkside is the quintessential SXSW gastropub since 2008. This hotspot is smack dab in the middle of Austin’s notorious 6th Street. What’s our favorite SXSW meal here? A dozen raw oysters; marrow bones; and the Parkside burger…make sure and get it with a side of the garlic shallot fries. They’re also known for their raw bar, farm-to-table philosophy and half-off-the-whole-menu happy hour.
507 San Jacinto Blvd | Located literally in the backspace behind its sister restaurant, iconic Parkside, is Austin’s first Neapolitan pizzeria, The Backspace. Steal away for a classic Neapolitan pie, the most amazing meatballs in town or keto-friendly antipasti. Share a bottle of wine or two in this cozy, secluded slice of SXSW heaven. Make your reservations here (highly recommended) or call 512-474-9899.
440 W 2nd St. | Sip on a tropical cocktail and enjoy the infamous Crab Butter Temaki from Pacific Asian eatery, She’s Not Here. The dynamic restaurant features fun, bright, tropical-influenced libations and a delectable menu composed of small bites, seasonally focused sushi, cold tastings, and main dishes.
400 W 2nd St A | Enjoy a signature cocktail and fresh Mexican food from the patio at La Condesa. You never know who you might spot while sipping on a ‘Margarita La Condesa’ during SXSW. Located in the heart of downtown, this modern Mexican kitchen makes its dishes with fresh, locally sourced ingredients and had the largest collection of 100% blue agave tequila and mezcal in the city.
2401 E Cesar Chavez St | The city’s best known fish monger resides in east Austin, serving up the seasonal Texas Gulf white shrimp, brown shrimp, red snapper, grouper and more. Open for lunch and dinner, Chef Stark’s menu highlights an array of seafood delicacies both raw and fully cooked. Come for half-price oysters and bubbles on Mondays; $15 fish and chips every Wednesday.
201 Brazos St Bldg B | The downtown newcomer ensures a swanky respite with select $7 cocktails and wine, $5 drafts and small plates for happy hour, Tuesday through Friday, 5pm-630pm. Of course, come for dinner, too. Chef Will Eason blends traditional Italian with ultra-fresh ingredients and Southern flavors. La Volpe will be roped off for a private event from March 6 – 12, reopening on Wednesday, March 13 to finish off the festival.
1315 W 6th St. | Newly opened in January, Bar Peached is the latest addition to The Peached Tortilla family tree of concepts. Located in the Clarksville neighborhood, this bar-focused restaurant features a clever fusion of Asian street food and Tex-Mex, an extensive cocktail program and Korean Bingsu.
85 Rainey St. | Located in the heart of Austin’s trendy Rainey Street, El Naranjo is known for its authentic Mexican cuisine. Chef Iliana de la Vega and her team create bold, flavorful dishes that bring the traditions of Oaxacan cooking to Central Texas. The bar program, curated by Ernesto Torrealba, features a wide selection of premium cocktails, wine and beer, and is best known for its extensive tequila and mezcal menu. Dubbed “the only real Mexican restaurant in Texas” by Texas Monthly.
1201 S Lamar Blvd. | Chef Bryce Gilmore and team have created an ever-changing à la carte menu of playful dishes and cocktails representative of modern Texas cuisine, inspired by the best of Austin’s local farmers and ranchers. Dishes have bold flavors and are presented with a rustic style, with small, shareable plates changing frequently with the seasons.
Where To Drink
307 W 5th St. | Award-winning bartenders Dennis Gobis and Justin Lavenue’s craft cocktail bar, The Roosevelt Room, features a new 80-drink menu that features all new House Creations and a full revamp of The Roosevelt Room’s historic chalkboard menu of classics cocktails. The Roosevelt Room has put Austin on the map as a craft cocktail hotspot and amongst numerous accolades and was one of two local bars to receive a prestigious Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Awards nomination in 2018.
1412 S Congress Ave. | Open now for over 30 years, Güero’s Taco Bar has become an Austin institution for their food, atmosphere and live music scene. The Oak Garden, which is adjacent to the restaurant, transforms into an “unofficial” SXSW music haven for locals and tourists to find shade under the oak trees, enjoy a margarita and be a part of an authentic Texas music experience.
1816 E 6th S| Revered for its atmosphere and vibe by locals and tourists, Whisler’s brings back its SXSW cocktails menu featuring the all-time favorites, including their signature Old Fashioned. They’ll cap off the first weekend of SXSW with their annual Sunday Fundaycrawfish boil featuring Louisiana Wild crawfish and music from Interrobang Brass Band. The next day, they celebrate travel app Localeur’s 6th birthday with performances from MICK and ulovei. Check out the full music schedule and more on Whisler’s Facebook page.