As the city of Austin grows, so does the restaurant scene. No visit here is complete without sampling some Tex-Mex food; enjoy chips and homemade salsa before tucking into the likes of enchiladas and shrimp brochette, in a typically laidback restaurant. If you are new to Austin or just traveling through, here’s our guide to some top-notch Tex-Mex.
Located in South Austin on Brodie Lane, Valentina’s Tex-Mex BBQ is a food truck which serves delicious BBQ food with a Tex-Mex flare. Valentina’s provides a sit-down experience with wooden tables, potted cacti, and a gravel parking lot while a white tent provides shelter from the Texan weather. This place is popular so expect to wait to sample the delicious menu, which serves options like the brisket taco, made with lime and guacamole.
Pappasito's Cantina, Austin | Courtesy of Kerbey Lane Cafe
Pappasito’s is a large, beautiful restaurant with authentic atmosphere, serving the best fajitas in the city. The fajita platters are colossal and can be shared with up to four people. Try the Del Mar Platter complete with perfectly charred fajitas, veggies, and brochette shrimp. You even get your choice of beans, Mexican rice, and tortillas. Try Pappasito’s crazy, strong strawberry margarita for the perfect way to round off your meal.
Kerbey Lane is a great place to pick if you are really trying to experience the local feel. Try the pancake of the day (gluten-free option available) or the Paris Texas Platter with chipotle as your sauce. Locals have been savoring the famed Kerbey Queso for years, but the new favorite is the Cowboy Queso complete with guacamole, black beans, and pico de gallo. If you want to save yourself some calories, the restaurant also offers lighter options which are just as delicious.
El Mercado offers great specials, a daily happy hour, and a patio dining option. The staff is friendly, the prices are low and there are even live music shows. If you don’t mind dining out on the patio, you’re also welcome to bring your dogs along too! El Mercado can get crowded during dinner hours so arrive early and enjoy the happy hour and the never-ending salsa.
Trudy’s is a recommended spot for late-night drinking, as the bar stays open until the early hours. Try dishes such as crispy, fried chicken flaquities and bean and cheese nachos. The large Mexican Martini is a popular drink choice and a great accompaniment to the food.
Torchy’s is a great spot for lunch if you want to try something different. Arrive early to avoid the lunch rush and bring a good appetite. Popular dishes include the Democrat taco featuring delicious barbacoa beef and cotija cheese.
Tacodeli serves deliciously flavorful tacos with some amazing original sides. Try the Mexican Papas, which are essentially mashed potatoes with Mexican seasoning. These papas even taste great inside your breakfast taco with some fluffy eggs. Don’t forget to add one of their specialty sauces.
Guero’s has fantastic fajitas, enchiladas, and tacos. Their beautiful outdoor oak garden is a great place to enjoy your food, and has even featured in a film! Guero’s is ideally located for a browse around the vintage shops after your meal.
Habanero serves some highly authentic Mexican food at great prices. Try dishes such as Carne Asada with charro beans and rice as side dishes, and the barbacoa plate. There are also multiple sauce options for enchiladas. No meal at this restaurant is complete without a Mexican coke (sweeter than regular coke) and a candy from behind the glass.