The 8 Toughest Tables in Austin

Plus our tips on how to get in
April 13, 2015
by Megan Giller

Even though it seems like more awesome restaurants are opening in Austin every week, there are still a few that are near impossible to get into. Here are eight of those places, as well as our tips on how to hack your way in. 

Franklin Barbecue 
Why It’s Hot: Chef and pitmaster Aaron Franklin has become famous for his perfect brisket, ribs, sausage and more. It’s practically an institution, and the word is out. People regularly start waiting in line at 8 AM, though the restaurant doesn’t open until 11 AM and quickly runs out of food. 
How to Hack It: If you plan early enough, you can pre-order brisket and everything else as long as the meat adds up to at least five pounds (pre-orders are generally full two months ahead of time, just FYI). Check the site to see when they'll be accepting pre-orders again, get your ticket in and pick up your food between 10 AM and 10:30 AM, skipping the line altogether.
900 E. 11th St.; 512-653-1187


Why It’s Hot: Famed chef Tyson Cole’s fusion sushi restaurant on South Lamar sometimes garners waits of up to two hours on weekends. The social hour (aka happy hour, 5-6:30 PM every day) is particularly popular for its low-priced, delicious offerings.
How to Hack It: Get there early for social hour, even before the restaurant opens at 5 PM. Or make a reservation a few weeks ahead of time and walk straight to your table like a boss.
801 S. Lamar Blvd.; 512-916-4808

Barley Swine
Why It’s Hot: James Beard Award-nominated chef Bryce Gilmore infuses Southern flavors into his molecular-gastronomy-inspired food at his gastropub on South Lamar. Waits are getting ridiculously long, though, sometimes as long as two hours.
How to Hack It: They take limited numbers of reservations, so either plan way ahead or leave your phone number with the host and go grab a round of drinks and a game of shuffleboard at Black Sheep Lodge, just a block or two away.
2024 S. Lamar Blvd.; 512-394-8150

Why It’s Hot: Neapolitan pizza reaches a new height at this East Austin hot spot, where the crusts are perfect and the wine list is eclectic.
How to Hack It: Since they don’t take reservations, come for an early dinner at 5:30 PM. 
1519 E. Cesar Chavez St.; 512-524-2523


Why It’s Hot: Big, juicy burgers, truffle fries and crazy-good milkshakes make this place stand out on South Congress. The line usually snakes down the block.
How to Hack It: Go for a late lunch (around 2:30 PM) and you may not have to wait at all. 
1400 S. Congress Ave.; 512-243-7505

Bouldin Creek Café
Why It’s Hot: Austinites love their brunch, especially when it’s vegetarian and has anything to do with breakfast tacos. This is the place to see, be seen, and drink some coffee anytime before about 4 PM on weekends.
How to Hack It: This place serves their breakfast, brunch and lunch menu all week too, so skip the weekend lines and schedule a weekday brunch date with your besties.
1900 S. First St.; 512-416-1601

Why It’s Hot: Thai food never tasted so good as at this North Loop spot, which recently underwent a makeover that has transformed the interior into something as classy as the food.
How to Hack It: Pad Thai makes for perfect takeout, so call in your order, queue up Netflix and have a fabulous night in.
5501 N. Lamar Blvd.; 512-458-1792

Home Slice

Why It’s Hot: New York-style pizza, South Congress: enough said. 
How to Hack It: This place doesn't take reservations at all. But instead of waiting for a table, grab a slice from More Home Slice, the to-go area next door. 
1415 S. Congress Ave.; 512-444-7437

aaron franklin
bryce gilmore
tyson cole