10 Austin Spots for Rib-Sticking Comfort Food

By Megan Giller  |  November 25, 2013

Colder weather (we’re talking relatively, folks) makes us want to cozy up to a big plate of our childhood favorites, whether that’s chicken-fried steak, mac 'n' cheese, Tex-Mex, barbecue or, in some newfangled cases, vegan Frito pie. Here are 10 places where you can dig in to your most comforting meals yet.

  • Moonshine

    The Sunday brunch at this downtown hot spot is the stuff of legends, with an all-you-can-eat buffet full of treats like green chili mac 'n' cheese, King Ranch casserole, buttermilk biscuits with chipotle cream and gravy, and white-chocolate bread pudding. The wait is worth it.

    303 Red River St.; 512-236-9599

  • La Barbecue

    Speaking of waits, pitmaster John Lewis’ barbecue trailer is also worth the time investment. Lewis trained at Franklin Barbecue, and the peppery brisket here will make you want to cry or laugh or sing or do all of those things at the same time. The trailer is in the process of moving from its South First Street spot to East Sixth Street, where it will be competing with John Mueller Meat Co. (whose pitmaster, John Mueller, used to be in Lewis’ position at La Barbecue, in that very same trailer).

    1502 S. First St.; 512-605-9696

  • Evangeline Cafe

    For authentic Cajun cuisine, there's no better choice than this South Austin locale. The menu boasts seafood gumbo, alligator sauce piquante, crawfish Evangeline, po' boys and more, and there's live music almost every night of the week.

    8106 Brodie Ln.; 512-282-2586

  • Lucy’s Fried Chicken

    Whether you want grilled oysters, calf fries, fried chicken, chili, deep-fried deviled eggs or sweet tea pie, head to this South Austin spot. And now chef James Holmes can feed you his famous fried chicken at not just one location but two; the Burnet Road branch opened a few months ago, with the same sexy pin-up-girl sign up front and same hearty food inside.

    Multiple locations

  • Royers Pie Haven

    Royers Round Top Café has long been known for its heart-stoppingly good Texas favorites, especially their pies. And just a few weeks ago, they opened their first Austin location, on 29th Street and Guadalupe, where you can eat pie to your heart's delight. Indulge in junkberry, pecan, strawberry-rhubarb and much more, plus pie shakes, muffins and granola.

    2900 B Guadalupe; 512-474-2800

  • Jack Allen’s Kitchen

    Comfort food meets sustainable cooking at chef Jack Gilmore’s restaurant. Gilmore’s son Bryce Gilmore (who you may recognize as the chef-owner of Barley Swine and the Odd Duck) inspired his father to focus on local produce and protein while still cooking the same Southern-comfort-inspired dishes he does so well. The Sunday brunch here is also pretty impressive, with silver dollar pancakes and biscuits served at the table and items like tomato-basil pie, migas and Mama’s Sunday chicken offered in the buffet.

    7720 W. Highway 71; 512-852-8558

  • Matt’s Famous El Rancho

    In Texas, comfort food means Tex-Mex, and there’s no more old-school place than this South Austin locale, which has been open since 1952. Go for classics like the cheese enchiladas with chili con carne and the chicken flautas, covered with queso and guacamole. Don’t miss the famous Bob Armstrong dip (queso, guacamole, ground beef) and the strong margaritas either.

    2613 S. Lamar Blvd.; 512-462-9333

  • Texas Chili Parlor

    A bowl of red is often in order, and in Austin, it comes with a side of roller girl, since this dive is one of the skating mavens’ favorite spots to hang out. Also find die-hard UT fans, which makes for an interesting mix. The killer nachos, chili dogs and seven varieties of chili (plus Frito pie!) keep us coming back for more.

    1409 Lavaca St.; 512-473-2829

  • Vegan Yacht

    Did someone say Frito pie? You don’t have to eat meat to enjoy this delicacy, or at least not at this East Austin vegan food trailer. They’re also famous for their vegan "Freeto" burrito, with tempeh chili, corn chips and vegan cheese in a grilled tortilla wrap.

    1700 E. Sixth St., 512-619-7989

  • Burro Cheese Kitchen

    The ingredients make the sandwich here, with Easy Tiger bread and fine cheeses like fontina, brie, lavender cheddar and Bosque blue as well as spreads like balsamic-apricot-fig, almond-pesto aïoli and jalapeño-cream-cilantro. If that doesn’t sound decadent enough for you, Burro partners with other locales to bring you versions like the La Barbecue grilled cheese and CroBrio grilled cheese (thanks to local bakery La Patisserie).

    1221 S. Congress Ave., 512-865-7730