The Best Restaurants Near The UT Austin Campus

Our favorite spots to eat in West Campus, North Campus, and everything in between.
The Best Restaurants Near The UT Austin Campus image

photo credit: Taylor Hannan

The area around the University of Texas campus is one of the most culinary diverse neighborhoods in Austin, and it’s probably the only square mile in the known universe with world-class barbecue brisket, Uyghur-style Xinjiang kabobs, and smoky jerk chicken—all in Lime scooter range. But if you’re not careful, you might end up at what feels like the world’s last TCBY, or eating roller dogs at 7-Eleven. College students in their third and fourth year probably already have some favorite budget-friendly spots on “The Drag”—the strip of Guadalupe Street running along UT’s western edge—but if you’re just visiting, or new to the area, it can be a lot to figure out. Here's our list of the very best places to eat near UT. 


photo credit: Nicolai McCrary



$$$$Perfect For:Casual Weeknight Dinner
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You’ll probably catch the savory smell of grilled meats wafting from the charcoal grills before you even see them at Camino Alamo BBQ, a small food trailer operation on The Drag. The specialty here is Uyghur-style Xinjiang kabobs. There are three options for grilled skewers—lamb, beef, and chicken wings—that all get marinated in a mixture of cumin, salt, pepper, and Sichuan peppercorn, then dusted with chili powder as they sizzle and smoke over hot coals to a charred, but tender finish. Whatever route you decide to go, you’ll have to battle a line of hungry UT students to do it.

If you’ve driven up Dean Keeton at any point in the past 15-20 years, you’ve probably noticed a small, bright blue building off the side of the road. That’s Aster’s, an Ethiopian restaurant that’s become almost as much of the campus-area landscape as the LBJ library down the street. At dinner, choose from a variety of meat dishes as a base, then load up with some side orders of stewed vegetables. Or show up at lunch to access the full menu plus a buffet, usually accompanied by a roomful of students packing in as many calories as they can between classes. 

There’s something special about sitting in a historic old building from the 1920s, eating burgers that have remained largely unchanged for a century. We like to think the grill has spent that whole time building up flavors and seasoning—in the greasy burger equivalent of Pujol’s multi-year mole—but we haven’t taken a look into the kitchen to see if the illusion holds up. Inside, there’s an old-school diner-style bar that just feels like the type of place you’ll want to slide up to, shout out “I’ll have the usual,” and sit back with an ice-cold schooner of Lone Star to kick things off. The menu at Dirty Martin’s is simple—burgers, patty melts, onion rings, and milkshakes. Sometimes, simple is better.

Just a few short blocks north of UT, Sip Pho takes the prize for the prettiest dining room in the area (there’s also a patio). But it takes more than a beautiful, minimalist space to draw the crowds that Sip Pho does. Don’t be surprised to find a line out the door on weekends—they’re all just in line for the massive bánh mìs, fiery bún bò Huế, and the best pho in the area. There’s even a bowl that comes with a full beef short rib if you’re especially hungry. 

There was a time when getting good barbecue required a 45-minute drive to Lockhart to make the pilgrimage to Black’s Barbecue—one of a few spots in the area generally considered to be among the best. Now, that same experience requires a 12-minute walk from the north end of campus. All of the meat is still smoked in the same pits over in Lockhart, then driven in each morning. The smoked meats travel and hold up surprisingly well (plus, most of it was cooked overnight, anyway). The lines don’t get nearly as bad here as some other spots in town, plus it’s one of the few barbecue spots in town that’s open for dinner. 

Head just a few blocks north of campus and the smell of jerk chicken will probably hit before you even make it to the front door of Bikkle, a Jamaican restaurant with a bare-bones interior. The menu features lots of Jamaican classics, like curry goat, jerk chicken, and oxtails, plus a few dishes that we don’t see as much of in Austin, like ackee and saltfish or escovitch fish. The jerk chicken can be a bit on the dry side here, but it also packs more spice and charred flavor than other Jamaican spots in town—a compromise we’re willing to accept.

Parked in a tiny alleyway in West Campus, Chef Hong is a food trailer dishing out excellent renditions of Xi’an Chinese regional specialties, from chow mein and wonton soup to liangpi and roujiamo. As soon as the temps drop below 85°, we find ourselves craving the beef noodle soup, packed full of thick-cut, handmade noodles and a rich, savory broth that we usually can’t help but drink straight from the take-out container. Just know that this is entirely a to-go situation, so plan to bring this home, or grab a seat on a nearby bench under the shade of tall student apartments, and try not to burn yourself with delicious, hot soup like we have in the past. 

Every day the North Campus bar Crown & Anchor puts a different brewery (or region) from their tap list on sale, and knocks the price down to less than $5 a pint. It’s one of the cheapest places in town to sample some great craft beers, all while catching a game on one of the many TVs, or over a few rounds of pool inside.  Crown is one of the closest bars to campus outside of the West Campus area, and tends to be a little more relaxed as a result—expect to find some combination of grad students that have graduated from Bud Light and professors unwinding after class. Try the burger—it’s a classic done just right—with fries that stay perpetually crispy.

You can’t mention Crown & Anchor in Austin without Posse East’s name coming into the conversation—there’s a friendly rivalry between the two, and everyone has a favorite. This sports bar has been around even longer than its rival up the road, and in that time has developed a dedicated fan base by turning out solid, admirable bar food and Tex-Mex classics (especially the queso). The crowd is a mix of Texas sports fans, grizzled UT alums that never left town, grad students grading papers, and UT football coaches. And because Posse is right by campus, when there’s a home game at DKR, you can even hear the crowd when the Longhorns score.

There are very few foods that say “quick and easy lunch” like kimbap, and the best place to grab a roll near campus is at K-Bop, the small Korean restaurant on The Drag. Ordering takes place at a digital kiosk—equally great for a quick weekday lunch, or if you haven’t had a chance to shower because of an all-nighter. Just choose between proteins like beef bulgogi, panko-crusted pork, and shrimp tempura, then sit back and enjoy a thick-stuffed roll packed full of pickled vegetables, eggs, rice, and meat. And while kimbap is the name of the game here, there’s also a full menu of rice bowls, stews, and milk tea.

Just a few blocks north of UT, Ceviche7 is a small Peruvian food trailer that’s only open in the evenings. The ceviche here is some of the best in town, but if you need something a little heartier to wrap up a long day of classes (or work), there’s also a full menu of things like lomo saltado and arroz chaufa. The wait times can get a bit long, so definitely think about calling ahead if you don’t want to spend too much time at one of the two tables out front. Or just place an order and kill some time with a margarita or two at Salsa Limon next door.

photo credit: Zach Van Camp



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When UT students need a good date night spot that’s close to campus but not in the heart of it all, they head to Hopfields, a rustic neighborhood gastropub with something for everyone. There’s a French-inspired menu—with dishes like steak frites, ratatouille, and French onion soup—but it’s the space that makes Hopfield’s worth coming back to. Grab a small table in one of the many side rooms branching off the main hallway for something more intimate, or snag a spot at the bar and chat with the bartender about the 35+ beers on draft. 

The al pastor tacos on handmade corn tortillas and the quesadillas are what put Vaquero Taquero on the map. But it’s the very well-executed breakfast tacos—especially the bacon, egg, and cheese (with the cheese crisped up on the griddle first)—that make us consider going back to school. Or at least, heading a few blocks north of campus to Vaquero Taquero’s campus-area outpost. There’s also a separate coffee trailer out front, so you can get all your breakfast needs without making multiple stops. 

With four locations in the Austin area, there’s a good chance you’re not too far from a Madam Mam’s now. And if you’re standing in the middle of West Campus, scrolling through this guide and trying to figure out where to eat, just head to 26th street. The campus-area address has changed over the years, but the food has stayed the same. It’s good, consistent, and—when we want it to be—spicy enough to clear our sinuses in the heart of Austin’s allergy season. The menu here is also massive. With almost 100 different items, you could spend most of a semester (that’s about 15 weeks, to any non-students out there) eating at Madam Mam’s without a repeat dish. 

While it may not have the same tightly packed intimacy of the (now closed) original location, the campus-area outpost of Counter Cafe serves up the same great menu of classic diner fare, in a bigger, more modern dining room. It's only open for breakfast and lunch, so plan to start your morning here with a plate of crab cake benedict or an order of hot cakes bigger than your face. There’s also a patio out front where you can grab a seat on one of the pickle-green picnic tables when the weather is nice.

Whether it’s post-party or post-study, late-night food cravings are real. There aren’t a lot of foods that satisfy a late-night palate quite as well as a falafel wrap or a chicken shawarma, and no place around campus does a better job than USA Halal—a trailer with a couple of small tables in the TCBY parking lot on MLK. The menu looks almost identical to other halal spots around town—expect to find all the usual classics—but the well-seasoned meats, perfectly fluffy pitas, and friendly service all make USA Halal our favorite option in the area. 

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