For those of us living in Austin, we love it here — it’s a laid back city known for its tech & start-up culture, live music, and its Texas Longhorns (#hookem). It’s also one of the best cities in the nation for foodies, is home to renowned chefs, and hosts an abundance of food trucks and new restaurant openings. Of the numerous dining venues in Austin, these unique places stand out for being a little bit more memorable — here’s to keeping the weird and unique spirit of Austin alive.
What makes it unique: legendary long lines that Kanye couldn’t even cut in (and believe me, he tried).
You haven’t had the “true Austin experience” unless you’ve woken up at the crack of dawn and made the pilgrimage to Franklin Barbecue to wait four hours for a chance to try their famed fatty brisket. I say pilgrimage because this is akin to a religious experience. It’s the ultimate test of patience and willpower to see how much you really want that brisket. Bring lawn chairs, friends, and one of those magnetic travel games to help pass the time (and to detract from your grumbling stomach).
2. Casa de Luz
What makes it unique: no-frills macrobiotic dining located within a leafy zen paradise.
You don’t have to be vegan to appreciate Casa de Luz’s simple, plant-based meals. Though #cleaneating is all the rage these days, Casa de Luz isn’t trying to keep up with the trends. The venue is housed within a community center offering yoga and services for wellness and healing, and their philosophy lies in living a great life. A meal usually consists of salad, vegetables, leafy greens, whole grains and beans that will leave you feelin’ like a health god.
What makes it unique: fun, kitschy Tokyo-esque environment and swinging chairs.
Nothing will make you feel more accomplished than scoring a table with one of the yellow swinging porch chairs. Swing your way through a starter of brussels sprouts and some fresh, fresh sushi, served by waiters and waitresses dressed in Japanese school uniforms. If you don’t like raw fish, try the torikatsu, a Japanese version of your favorite fried chicken — panko-crusted chicken breast, wasabi mashed potatoes, and herb salad. For you lucky 21-and-overs, give their sake punch a go.
What makes it unique: English high tea service Austin-style: outdoors and from a food truck.
Dress up and have a spot of fancy afternoon tea with your S/O or your girlfriends. Once you’re done freaking out over the cute Victorian tea sets, succulents and plated pastries (and taking 7853459 pics #fortheinsta), sip your tea, nibble your scone and savor the feeling of being posh — with your pinkies out, of course.
What makes it unique: Lemonade on a hot day — from a literal giant lemon.
Throwback to the good ol’ days of childhood with this lemonade stand — except this is your childhood lemonade stand on steroids. This giant yellow architectural feat (it was constructed from a boat!) offers “cups of happiness” that can be customized with different flavors, like blueberry, mint, and lavender.
What makes it unique: Wacky, over-the-top donuts.
Voodoo Doughnut originally hails from Portland, but Austin has made Voodoo Doughnut their own by being a fun doughnut stop for Sixth Street bar-hoppers, college students, and out-of-towners. While you wait in line, admire the funky decor, chandeliers, and the doughnut tree. When it’s your turn to order, get their famous raspberry jelly-filled Voodoo Doll. If you’re feeling adventurous, add in one of their scandalous Cock-n-Balls in their trademark pink box. If you’re lucky, you might even witness an impromptu Voodoo wedding ceremony.
#SpoonTip: They’re cash-only, so bring lots of dollar bills!
What makes it unique: Complimentary popcorn and comfort food in one of Austin’s oldest historic buildings.
Have a hearty Southern comfort meal like shrimp and grits, chicken-fried steak and mac and cheese in a warm, historic atmosphere (they even have red and white plaid napkins, in true Southern fashion).
What makes it unique: Experience Russia without leaving “The Live Music Capital of the World” in a space that’s reminiscent of someone’s Russian home.
Speaking of live music, Russian House features live performances on select nights of the week. Nesting dolls, infused vodka, Faberge eggs, vintage photos, a giant taxidermy bear, and traditional Russian costumes you can borrow all add to a fun and kitschy Russian dining experience. There’s blintzes, borscht, and whole lot of other Russian goodies, too.
What makes it unique: Liquid nitrogen ice cream. That’s all.
You’ll feel like you’re witnessing a science experiment as you watch your ice cream being made right in front of you. Using liquid nitrogen, fancy machinery, pipes, and the whole setup, watching your ice cream being made is a treat in itself. Other than being a great show, their flash-freezing technique also brings out the purity of the local, organic ingredients they use and gives the ice cream a smoother, more velvety texture.
What makes it unique: Unbelievably delicious doughnut monstrosities that’ll fulfill your weekly sugar intake in one go.
There’s a lot of doughnut action going on in Austin, and Gourdough’s is no exception. Devour their doughnuts with names like Fat Elvis (completely smothered in grilled bananas, peanut butter frosting, honey and bacon) or Son of a Peach — if you’re craving savory, indulge in flat-out gluttony with one of their doughnut burgers.