Where to Eat on Rainey Street

By Megan Giller  |  February 18, 2014

The newest downtown hot spot is known for its outdoor bars in rustic-looking houses (Lustre Pearl) and its craft cocktails (Half Step), but where can a guy or gal go to get a bite? Turns out there are a lot of places with killer food, whether you want to fill up before a big night, wind down afterward or take a break from the bars (but not the drinks) at these eight options.

  • G’raj Mahal

    What it is: An open-air Indian food destination that bridges the gap between trailer and brick-and-mortar with table service

    What to Get: Curries and naan are always the name of the game

    Know Before You Go: The restaurant is still classic quirky Austin at heart, with big tents above each setting and a giant multiperson bicycle outside.

    Insider Tip: The Indian restaurant is soon moving into a real brick-and-mortar, but they’re not leaving the street: it’s located just a block away, further down Rainey.

    91 Red River St.; 512-480-2255

  • Banger’s Sausage House and Beer Garden

    What it is: A hangout with 80 craft beers on tap and enormous housemade sausage sandwiches

    What to Get: The fried-chicken sausage and the duck, bacon and fig are hard to beat. Of course, the late-night bagel bites and Stoner Sausage are a night owl’s dream.

    Know Before You Go: Everything is enormous here, so come hungry.

    Insider Tip: Be sure to bring your dog to the enormous patio and let him play at the fenced-in dog park while you listen to live music.

    79 Rainey St.; 512-386-1656

  • Tapas Bravas

    What it is: Spanish tapas done old-school (forget these newfangled “small plates” everywhere else)

    What to Get: Patatas bravas with garlic aïoli, meatballs with tomato-brandy sauce and goat-cheese-stuffed piquillo peppers with toasted pine nuts and honey

    Know Before You Go: The menu is small and may be better for a snack than a meal

    Insider Tip: They also have another location, way out on 360 at the Midway Food Park

    75 Rainey St.; 512-827-8479

  • Via 313

    What it is: Detroit-style square pizza out of a trailer

    What to Get: The Carnivore (pepperoni, ham, hot Italian sausage, bacon), the Rocket (hot soppressata, baby arugula, Parmesan) or the Cadillac (gorgonzola, fig preserves, prosciutto, Parmesan, balsamic glaze)

    Know Before You Go: The trailer is housed in the backyard of Craft Pride. Get yourself a craft beer from the great state of Texas while you enjoy your pizza.

    Insider Tip: The cheese comes on top of the other ingredients here, and the crust is a thick Sicilian-style.

    61 Rainey St.; 512-609-9405

  • El Naranjo

    What it is: An upscale interior Mexican restaurant from chef Iliana de la Vega

    What to Get: It’s impossible to decide which is more scrumptious: the pork chop with mole poblano or the lamb chops with potatoes Anna.

    Know Before You Go: Don’t expect cheese enchiladas with chile con carne here, or even tortilla chips: you’ll be greeted with house-baked bread and traditional salsas before you dig in to the menu.

    Insider Tip: The array of salsas often include ingredients that are hard to find in the U.S., if not impossible.

    85 Rainey St.; 512-474-2776

  • Celia Jacobs Cheesecake Experience

    What it is: A food trailer with delectable personal-size cheesecakes

    What to Get: Start with the New York-style cake, and then make your way to rotating flavors like the peanut butter and jelly, turtle, mint chocolate and more.

    Know Before You Go: Like many food trailers, this one is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. We recommend calling.

    Insider Tip: Ask about the seasonal varieties, which are often the best on the menu.

    74 Rainey St.; 512-993-7389

  • Credit: Natalie Paramore

    No Va

    What it is: An upscale comfort-food restaurant from chef Brad Sorenson

    What to Get: Try starters like the pear salad with fried pecans, roasted chevre and pear dressing, or go all out with bacon and eggs pasta, braised beef short ribs with spicy acorn squash and Brussels sprouts, or a burger that some have accused of being “too juicy.”

    Know Before You Go: The bar area gets jam-packed here, so call for reservations.

    Insider Tip: The clean, modern architecture doesn’t exactly fit with the dilapidated houses-turned-bars on Rainey. That’s where the restaurant’s name comes from: it’s the Spanish phrase for “it doesn't go.”

    87 Rainey St.; 512-382-5651

  • Javelina

    What it is: A hip hangout that’s mainly a bar but boasts a good food menu

    What to Get: Sometimes you just want some green chile pork fries with queso, decadently sweet-salty sweet potato fries or a big burger with red onion jam with your beer.

    Know Before You Go: The shuffleboard table can get mighty competitive.

    Insider Tip: The back patio is perfect for those sunny Austin days that are upon us

    69 Rainey St.; 512-382-6917