Best Budget Restaurants in Austin

Austin is home to a number of budget restaurants
Austin is home to a number of budget restaurants | © Matthew Johnson
Jessica Devenyns

Whether you live in Austin or you’re just visiting for a couple of days, you don’t always want to spend the big bucks when looking for a bite to eat. However, you also don’t want to sacrifice taste – especially in a city known for its varied cuisines. Fortunately, there are a number of budget restaurants, so you can indulge and still have some spare change to go out and enjoy the nightlife.

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Enjoy coffee with a South American twist at Café Nena’i

Café Nena’i offers South American pastries

What better way to start the day than with coffee and pastries? Whether you’re enjoying them for brunch or lunch, don’t expect any traditional offerings at Café Nena’i. Instead, choose from a plethora of South American drinks and pastries that pack a powerful punch of flavor. Plus, pretty much everything on the menu is under $4.

Grab a breakfast taco at Juan in a Million

Juan in a Million is famous around Austin for its breakfast entrées, which are served all day long. It has been open since 1980 and has become an iconic breakfast stop in the area due to its generous portions and cheap prices. Come with a hearty appetite and an empty wallet, and you will find yourself in breakfast taco heaven at Juan in a Million.

Discover family traditions at Tamale House East

The dishes at Tamale House East combine Cajun, Peruvian and Mexican cuisines

Family-run Tamale House has been Austin for years, with the first incarnation opening in 1959. The restaurant’s east-side eatery launched in 2012, and endeavours to cater to the spirit and culture of the area. Expect hints of Cajun melded together with the citrus of Peruvian cuisine, all delivered in the guise of Mexican food.

Fill up on vegan cuisine at Citizen Eatery

Citizen Eatery’s portions are substantial

For those with dietary restrictions, Citizen Eatery is the place to go. This vegan spot serves up some delicious alternate foods that everyone can enjoy, regardless of whether you eat meat and dairy. Plus, the portions are substantial and there are even gluten-free options.

Enjoy spicy dishes with a side of politics at Texas Chili Parlor

Texas Chili Parlor serves Southern fare

This longtime Downtown staple is a favorite haunt for politicos of all stripes, so whether you’re interested in what is going on in the state legislature or you’re just stopping by for a bowl of traditional Texas chili, you’re not going to be disappointed. Choose from tiny portions to Texas-size bowls and get things as spicy as you can handle them.

Tuck into a slice of sweet tea pie at Lucy’s Fried Chicken

The food at Lucy’s Fried Chicken is fresh and home-made

Since 2012, Lucy’s Fried Chicken has expanded to include three more locations in the city. The made-from-scratch sweet tea pie might have something to do with this. Sweet tea pie is a classic Southern dessert, and Lucy’s is doing its part to keep the tradition alive and well. Enjoy your slice with a dollop of home-made whipped cream for the perfect light addition to the thick custard filling.

Share antipasti at Culinary Dropout

All items at Culinary Dropout are under $5

While admittedly not the cheapest place to go on a date, if you’re looking for a happy hour, this is one of those places that needs to be on your list. Gourmet cheese plates, antipasti, nachos and bruschetta complement a great beer and wine selection, and all for under $5. If you’re really hungry, come at five for sandwiches and salads that are under $20.

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