First Bites: Bat City’s Best Tacos, BBQ and Pasta

by | May 19, 2018

Austin makes a strong impression on the newcomer. It’s sunny and warm, the people are warm and friendly, and there are seemingly a million places of interest for the food and beverage lover to consider and discover.

Both Zagat and WalletHub rank Austin high on their lists of best cities for foodies. And Easter Austin does a great job keeping close tabs on the daily developments here. We’ve also picked up several recommendations from new friends in the city.

I’d like to list some of our early favorites.


Amazing Restaurants in Austin, Texas

Suerte: This new Mexican fine dining restaurant on E. Ceasar Chavez features three different ceviches on the menu. They also ground their own masa from locally sourced heirloom corn. Need I say more?

Fresa’s: This restaurant’s “Pollo al la Carbon” or chicken on charcoal is simply the best. In fact, there’s no better preparation of chicken on the planet. Mix in the frozen avocado margaritas and the sun porch full of happy people, and a new favorite is born.

The Salt Lick: Drive to Driftwood, TX and enter BBQ Holy Land. Do it today. It’s B.Y.O.B. at The Salt Lick, so bring a sixer and mosy up to some bison ribs, turkey, sausage, and more. To top it all off, the blackberry cobbler is divine.

Andiamo Ristorante: Tucked into a midtown strip mall, this classic Italian restaurant is built to please. The dishes here are carefully constructed by a master chef who transports diners to a romantic village in Italy.

Excellent Restaurants in Austin, Texas

Evangeline Cafe: Real New Orleans-inspired food in SW Austin! I’ve had the catfish po’boy and the fried shrimp po’boy so far. The roast beef po’boy is next in line.

Stile’s Switch BBQ: It’s hard to rank high in a city devoted to smoked meats, but I can’t wait to return to this spot for turkey, brisket, beans, slaw and more. It’s all super tasty.

Via 313: This “Detriot-style pizza” is a standout pie that Austinites will stand in long lines for. Order it extra crispy and wait your turn!

Juniper: This stylish Italian spot on E. Ceasar Chavez served us a great brunch on their shaded patio. Our server was slightly off-putting, but the food made it easy to overlook.

Hummus Among Us: This Israeli street food comes from a cart in East Austin. If you want the perfect falafel, and I do mean perfect, this is your place.

The Funkadelic: This cozy breakfast and lunch spot on S. Lamar provides innovative treatments on Americana classics like waffles, pancakes, and the burger.

Outstanding Coffee Shops in Austin, Texas

A friend in Portland suggested that I might not miss much about the Rose City, other than the quality of the coffee. I smiled at the suggestion but had to inform her that Austinites are nearly as fanatical about their coffee.

Patika: This funky and friendly place on S. Lamar serves a lovely avocado toast along with some of the city’s most delicious caffeinated brews.

Stouthaus: Great coffee shop with a dozen craft beers on tap. This coffee-before-beer combo is a lot more common in Austin that other cities, and it makes perfect sense.

Flightpath: Classic coffeehouse vibe thanks to the tables full of UT students and local hipsters. Great service and coffee too!

It’s important to note that Austin is not a pretentious place, and the restaurants and coffee shops in the city support and reflect this reality. On the rare occasion that there is a touch of pretense in the air it stinks like cheap perfume, and the place gets nixed from the list.


In the personal trivia category, Darby and I went our first date together in Austin during South By Southwest, March 2003. We dined at Carmelo’s on Second Street downtown. We recently learned that the restaurant closed in 2017. Later that first night met friends for drinks at Lala’s. The bar where it is Christmas every day of the year remains open for business.