The Best Lunch Spots In Austin

Some of our favorite places to grab lunch.
The Best Lunch Spots In Austin image

photo credit: Jordan Haro

Lunches, especially on weekdays, are your one-hour respite from “I have a hard stop at 11am” and “Looping in Jeff.” It’s a chance to break free from your stand-up desk and give yourself and the one coworker you actually like an excuse for an adventure at noon. The tricky part is finding a place that’s far enough from your office that you won’t see everyone from work, but not so far that you’re eating with the people who work at Dell. Here are some of our favorite places to grab lunch while you silently question all the people who are eating out of tupperware right now.


photo credit: Nitya Jain



$$$$Perfect For:Casual Weeknight DinnerDate NightFirst/Early in the Game DatesGluten-Free OptionsQuiet MealsSmall Plates
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This low-key Japanese restaurant in Ridgetop is perhaps best known for its dependable nigiri and action-packed sushi rolls that you can get for lunch and for dinner. But Komé’s lunch menu has dishes that aren’t available at all during dinner, like elaborate combination lunches, filling donburi, and a comically large bento box that often elicits a “whoa.” There’s also a very good ramen menu that’s lunch-only, which just means you need to strategically plan your morning and afternoon meetings if you want to escape for a quick noodle adventure. If you show up on the later side of lunch, say 1pm, you can usually get seated immediately, especially at the long sushi bar.

If you still have stress dreams about the time you circled the block so many times to find parking that you just skipped lunch and went back to work, head to Better Half downtown. They have patio seating, a chicken burger we love, and, importantly, their own dedicated lot. When you’re done, order a coffee and try very hard not to think about how much more productive you’d be if you just posted up here instead of going back to the office.

These days, lunch buffets are about as common as actually seeing something weird in Austin, but the dream lives on at Aster’s, an Ethiopian restaurant near the UT Campus that’s been around for almost 20 years. Don’t be surprised if you’re surrounded by a bunch of students—the buffet is affordable, and close enough to campus for a quick escape between classes. But with plenty of parking, easy access from I-35, and, most importantly, excellent versions of doro wott, keyi siga, and other Ethiopian classics, there’s really no reason not to make Aster’s part of your weekday lunch rotation. 

photo credit: Richard Casteel

If all you see walking in are the big, colorful letters “SUPER” outside of the restaurant, you know everything you need to know. Up front is a takeout operation where phone lines buzz and guests shuffle in and out every few seconds to pick up their orders. And just past that host stand is a cozy dining room and a long bar where you can easily walk in and order from a massive menu of Thai classics and regional specialties. But for our midday meal, we like ordering off the weekday lunch menu—the smaller dishes hit the spot without leaving us needing a post-lunch nap. 

At the coffee shop and cafe Patika on South Lamar,  you can be as healthy as you want to be, whether that means a grilled cheese loaded with bacon, or a quinoa bowl topped with a poached egg, red pepper hummus, and kale. And none of it feels like an afterthought, as is often the case at coffee shops that proudly display a case of lukewarm breakfast tacos. It’s not open for dinner, but there’s still beer and wine—available by the glass or bottle—in case you want to turn that Tuesday lunch into a Tuesday afternoon hang. 

Texas Chili Parlor is probably one of the only spots in town where you can sit back with a Mad Dog margarita (that’s as potent as it sounds) and order a plate of enchiladas covered with a giant scoop of Texas-style chili. This place has been simultaneously functioning as a dive bar and Tex-Mex eatery since the 1970s, and there are usually a handful of people sitting at the bar that look like they haven’t moved since the restaurant’s inception. Hop in for a quick round of enchiladas if you work Downtown, but you might want to hold off on the margaritas if you’re planning on actually getting any work done after lunch.

Some days are for corporate card lunches and others are for spending less than $10 because you “accidentally” ordered an indoor trampoline last night. Truthfully, we’d ruin our budgets for Vaquero Taquero’s al pastor tacos topped with pineapple and their spiciest—but thankfully we don’t have to. All of the tacos and quesadillas are $5 or less—so it’s one of our favorite spots for an inexpensive midday meal. It’s a small space, so come solo or with the one coworker you actually enjoy seeing outside of the office.

95% of the time we find ourselves with a craving for a well-made cheesesteak, we’re heading to the trailer R&B’s in East Austin. R&B’s focuses on one type of sandwich, and one sandwich only—the cheesesteak. Sure, you can fancy it up with lettuce, tomatoes, and pickles (and call it a hoagie), but you should probably just let the steak, cheese, and bread do their thing, uninterrupted. Either way, it’ll be packed full of thinly-sliced Texas ribeye on an Amoroso roll with your choice of Cheez Whiz, provolone, or white american cheese—we’re on Team Whiz, by the way.

Uroko is a casual handroll spot inside of Springdale General in East Austin with a tiny dining room that holds just a few small tables. It’s from the folks behind Kome—a place we like very much—and as a result, it feels like an even more chill version of its older sibling. It’s located inside the coworking/food hall area of Springdale General, meaning you can grab items from all the vendors in the area for a frankensteined lunch consisting of an iced latte from Medici, croissants from Julie Myrtle, and as many handrolls as you can comfortably handle from Uroko.

Most of our time at Home Slice is spent sharing giant pizzas with friends over beers and negronis, and debating which Super Mario character we’d want as a roommate. During the week, though, when you don’t have time for pizza, beer, or Princess Peach, Home Slice’s North Austin location serves quick Italian subs that are big enough to split, as well as buffalo wings and a great Greek salad. They also do pizza by the slice in case it’s against everything you believe to come here and not get pizza.

This location of Jo’s is way more restaurant than coffee shop. The original location on South Congress only has a few food options, but here you can get everything from salads to melts to pretty good burgers. Try to snag a table inside because the Grackles outside are next-level aggressive.

You can’t miss Fresa’s—just look for the giant rotating neon chicken out front. Once you’re actually inside, order stuff like the Power Bol with wood-grilled chicken and enough vegetables to feel better about those two donuts you housed at the office breakfast this morning. And on the days when Austin feels like you’re walking around inside a blow dryer, you don’t even need to get out of your car. The drive-through here will make you excited to be alive. Or at least to be getting your lunch here.

If you’re having the type of day (good or bad) that calls for a lunch steak, Salt & Time is here for you. This butcher shop has an excellent selection of high-quality meats, sandwiches, and salads, and lunch is particularly good. Get a burger and sit at the long bar for a quick meal, or grab a table if you have some time to linger. Don’t worry if you’re bringing a vegetarian—there’s always a daily non-meat special.

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