I just got back on campus from a Texas Longhorns game for the weekend in Austin. Since I’ve grown up in Texas, I’m very familiar with Austin’s reputation as an oddball haven and Southern culinary destination. I love Texas for many reasons, but mainly for its two signature cuisines: Tex-Mex and barbeque. So, here are some can’t-miss Austin hot spots that you won’t regret making part of your weekend.

Taco Joint

Starting off on the edge of campus by UT Law, Taco Joint is an absolute must. Their menu hits all the highlights, and you can’t go wrong, so I recommend you order your favorite Tex-Mex dish for a delicious iteration of it, or try something new and exciting to you.

I ordered a bean and cheese taco (my favorite breakfast taco) and a steak and Gruyère taco for a little adventure. The first thing I noticed when I tried the bean and cheese taco was how perfect the tortilla was. Honestly, it might have been the best one I've ever had. It was so warm and soft and had such a homemade taste. You can even see them make the tortillas fresh next door.

The beans and cheese were warm and filling and reminded me of home. I also thoroughly enjoyed the sharp Gruyère and the deliciously seasoned steak in the second taco I tried. I will be sure to hit this spot the next time I’m spending my weekend in Austin. 

Lin Asian Bar

Another place I am always sure to visit when in town is Lin Asian Bar. Located right by UT’s West Campus, Lin has such a joyful vibe and a spectacular menu. I’ve been there a few times, and the plates I would highly recommend are their Szechuan spicy cucumber, garlic pea shoots, chicken curry, and matcha creme brûlée. Their dumplings are also phenomenal, so don’t forget to try your favorite filling cooked however you like. This is such a cute restaurant with so many wonderful dishes that you really can’t go wrong.


For a little change of pace, I hit a more upscale spot called Sammie’s. If you’re looking for an old-school, fine Italian experience, Sammie’s is absolutely the place. We started off with some of the best fried mozzarella I have ever had, alongside deliciously hearty meatballs and a refreshingly vinegary Caesar salad. All the appetizers looked outstanding, and as much as I’d like to try more, I’d order everything again in a heartbeat.

The main course was all about the chicken. Out came a fabulous chicken parm, exactly like how you’d expect a place like Sammie’s to do it. The chicken breast was crispy, the sauce was extremely flavorful, and the mozzarella on top was simply to die for. We also ordered chicken marsala and cacio e pepe. Both were very good, but I’d probably swap them out for a different dish next time to try something new.

Dessert at Sammie’s was arguably the best part. We got the layered chocolate cake, and even though the cake was outstanding, the coffee cream it came with was the star of the show. This place was incredible—though you may want to see if you have a friend or relative in town who wants to take you out to a nice meal.

The Salt Lick

There’s still one major box left to check on this Austin trip: barbeque. If you’re looking to make a little day trip, head over to The Salt Lick in Dripping Springs, TX. One of the most famous barbeque spots in the state, Salt Lick is known for its deep Texas roots and its central pit where all the meat is smoked.

Some of the must-tries here are melt-in-your-mouth brisket, ribs with a smoky bark, and sausage with an incredible bite. This place speaks to Texas tradition like no other and is an absolute must-stop if you’re looking for a little gastronomic adventure.

If you’re spending a weekend in Austin, know that this list barely scratches the surface. Other iconic spots like Chuy’s, El Arroyo, Homeslice, and Franklin Barbecue earn an honorable mention. Hook ‘em horns!