ATXGuide

Where To Eat & Drink With Out-Of-Towners

And find out why everybody wants to move to Austin.
Where To Eat & Drink With Out-Of-Towners  image

photo credit: Casey Dunn

For every person living in Austin, there are at least 10 more people who “just can’t wait to visit!” Blame queso, blame SXSW, or blame the million articles written about how Austin is America’s #1 Greatest City To Live In—but whether you like it or not, you now have visitors practically every other weekend.

It can be exhausting playing tour guide, so when you draw a blank as to where to entertain them next, we can help. Here are some ideas that are sure to impress anyone not from here. Just try not to impress them too much—we have enough traffic already, thank you very much.

THE SPOTS

photo credit: Richard Casteel

BBQ

East Austin

$$$$Perfect For:Impressing Out of TownersLunchDining Solo
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Micklethwait Craft Meats is housed in a vintage yellow Comet trailer that’s covered in illustrations of leaves and chestnuts in what looks like the home of a well-to-do squirrel. It’s also home to some of the best barbecue in Austin, without the need to wait in a 4+ hour line like at Franklin Barbecue just a few blocks away. You’ll have access to all the standard meats an out-of-towner might want—including some excellent brisket and beef ribs—plus a few unusual sides, like lemon poppy slaw and a very refreshing citrus beet salad. 

If you can enter Fonda San Miguel’s large foyer with a tall, vaulted glass ceiling without letting out a semi-audible “wow” that would make Owen Wilson proud, we can only imagine you grew up in a luxurious Mexican villa or are unable to process wonder. It’s one of the most beautiful dining rooms in the city and part of what makes Fonda such an Austin institution. Well, that and the fact that they’ve been around since the ‘70s, serving excellent interior Mexican food at a time when “Mexican food” and “Tex-Mex” were practically synonymous. The chile rellenos, mole enchiladas, and ceviches are some of the best in the city, but there aren’t a lot of wrong answers on the menu here. 

Whisler’s has all the makings of an impressing-out-of-towners slam dunk: an always-happening patio scene, a secret upstairs mezcal bar, and the excellent food trailer Golden Tiger parked on the patio. It’s a great kicking-off point for a full night of East Side eating and drinking activities.

Matt’s El Rancho is enormous, with multiple dining rooms, a sprawling patio with a fountain, and seating for 500 people. And even then, there’s almost always a wait for a table. It’s endearingly kitschy in the way that non-Texans think of Texas (think: clay-tiled floors and old wooden rafters) and your guests will probably be talking about the potent margaritas and the legendary Bob Armstrong dip—a mashup of queso, taco meat, and guacamole—for the rest of their trip. 

The misconception that all Texans ride horses to work is safely dead, but you might want to show your friends that you can, in fact, find a good honky tonk. The White Horse is the perfect mix of old school (live country music, lots of dancing) and not old-school (there’s a taco truck parked out back, the crowd skews young and bearded). And its central East Side location means you have no excuse not to pop in for at least one dance while out and about on East 6th.

photo credit: Nitya Jain

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No place is more dedicated to the concept of “local” than Dai Due in East Austin. This place does things the hard, Oregon Trail way. That means chops cooked over a wood-fired grill, wild Hill Country game on the menu, and locally sourced everything, from fruit to wine to flour to Gulf Coast seafood. Take your out-of-town friends here for a true “taste of Texas.” And don’t worry—there’s no concern about dying of dysentery here. 

The Little Darlin’ is right off William Cannon and South Congress, and it’s a great place to unwind or spend a chill Sunday afternoon on the picnic tables in the huge patio out back. There are craft beers and cocktails, outdoor games like horseshoes, a covered patio with darts, pool tables inside, and a stage for live music. Get the burger or the fried chicken sandwich (food is served until 2am), or show up on the weekend when Little Darlin’ busts out the brunch menu and micheladas made with Bloody Mary ice pops. 

Consistent but never boring, Perla’s is always on our shortlist for brunches with out-of-towners. Your visitors will be impressed by the front patio but even more impressed by the massive menu of East Coast oysters and fresh seafood available right here in Texas. The giant indoor fish tank probably helps, too. 

Set on 165 acres of farmland that’s filled with walking trails, free-roaming goats, and an unquantifiable number of picnic tables, Jester King feels more like a park than a brewery. All the beers here are made with open-air fermentation that collects wild yeast from the sprawling property, and many of the beers border on the edge of sour. No two batches are ever the same, making these some of the most uniquely Texan beers in the state. There’s also a kitchen making pizzas, breads, and desserts using locally foraged ingredients.

When you want an indoor space with live music, solid barbecue, and ambiance, Lambert’s is where you should head. The barbecue here is fancy—think less plastic trays and more ceramic plates—the mac and cheese is some of the best in town, and you can enjoy it all without waiting in a long line or sitting on picnic tables out in the Texas sun. 

photo credit: Richard Casteel

$$$$Perfect For:BirthdaysDate Night

If you’re looking to take your visitors a little off the beaten path while in town, we’d steer you to Olive & June. Coming through with some excellent modern Italian food, this spot’s a good way to show your guests that we’re not all brisket and Tex-Mex. The treehouse-like atmosphere alone is worth the trip—pick a good night for eating outside under the twinkling lights.

We take nice weather and patios for granted here in Austin—just ask your friends in Chicago or Minnesota. And the patio at Justine’s is one of the best in town. Bring your out-of-town friends here to catch up over wine cocktails, moules frites, and maybe even some escargot. 

Visitors love hidden things. Particularly hidden bars where they can feel like they’re in on a secret. This cocktail spot is located inside a parking garage at the corner of 6th and Colorado and has a round, white granite bar with concrete pillars jutting out that will further convince your friend that you’ve taken them to a cool spot. If you and/or your friends hate lines, make a reservation online or get here on the early side—they keep the crowds very much in check.

photo credit: Nick Simonite

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Hotel San Jose Courtyard Lounge

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All your college roommates are in town this weekend, and the last time you were together you were drinking Franzia. From the bag. You’re all adults now—and now you drink real rosé. But you need something a little more exciting than just a bottle of wine. You need frosé. Bring your crew to the courtyard at Hotel San Jose, the boutique hotel they’ve probably already seen all over Instagram, which is actually just as attractive in person. Even more so after a few rounds.

There are many spots in Austin where you can take your friends to see live music, but none are more legendary than The Continental Club. Impress your friends with this dive bar/music venue relic (in business since the ’50s), where on most nights you’ll find up-and-coming acts and an excellent crowd of people who are happy to be there. Just don’t expect anything fancy at the bar. This is more of a Lone Star type of place anyway. 

Walking onto the patio at Yellow Jacket in East Austin feels like entering some haunted forest with scraggly barren trees jutting out from the earth every few feet. Except instead of being somewhere you want to escape, you’ll want to grab a drink and post up on the patio. Yellow Jacket is a dive bar, through and through. But their kitchen seems to have missed the memo, which means that in addition to cheap drinks, you’ll also be able to order things like mezze boards, roasted sweet potatoes with curry masala mayo, and a ham and gruyere sandwich that will probably creep into your dreams. Show up on the weekends to order off a special brunch menu. 

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