Most Popular Restaurants in Austin

September 8, 2014
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by Zagat Staff

Zagat users’ favorite restaurants in Austin based on our most recent survey 

Chuy's
Mexican · $$
Food 4.3 · Decor 4.2 · Service 4.2

One of “Austin’s Tex-Mex superstars” , this longtime “high-energy” chain maintains its loyal fan base thanks to “substantial portions” of hearty eats (and unlimited chips and salsa) plus “drinks that will make you tipsy” served up in a “funky” setting with Elvis-themed decor; though some say the food is only “average” and that it’s generally “too crowded” no matter which location, it remains a “go-to” because it’s “always a good time.”
Salt Lick Cellars
Southeast Austin · $$
Food 4.4 · Decor 4.3 · Service 4.3

This airport spin-of off the “landmark” bastion of beef provides a “quintessential Texas BBQ experience” thanks to “moist” brisket, “terrific” ribs, “first-rate” sausage and its famous “tangy” sauce. The restaurant features a large wrap-around wooden bar, Texas wines and beer along with retail rubs, sauces and whole briskets to go.
Salt Lick
Barbecue
Food 4.4 · Decor 4.3 · Service 4.3

These “landmark” bastions of beef provide a “quintessential Texas BBQ experience” to loyal locals and “out-of-towners” thanks to “moist” brisket, “terrific” ribs, “first-rate” sausage and its famous “tangy” sauce; it’s cash only and “usually crowded” , and though it’s BYO beer, you can pick up a bottle of wine from their on-site tasting room, and on weekends “enjoy some music from local bands while you wait.”
Torchy's Tacos
Mexican · Brentwood · $
Food 4.6 · Decor 3.9 · Service 4.2

What started as a trailer in South Austin is now “a bona fide institution” with locations across town serving up “addictive” , “inventive” tacos (fillings include fried avocado, jerk chicken and smoked beef brisket) alongside “to-die-for” queso; the no-frills outposts have a “laid-back feel” and “patio seating” ; P.S. the “breakfast tacos are also delicious.”
Kerbey Lane Cafe
Cafe · Oakmont Heights · $$
Food 4.2 · Decor 3.8 · Service 4.1

These Austin-area “staples” sling a “solid” Eclectic menu encompassing everything from “awesome” pancakes and “to-die-for” queso to burgers and “seasonal” specialties; though service can be “hit-or-miss” , the crowds keep coming because it’s “always dependable” any time of day.
Hopdoddy Burger Bar
Burger · SoCo (South Congress) · $$
Food 4.7 · Decor 4.2 · Service 4.2

“Break your diet” for these burger bars where they turn out “amazing” , “inventive” locally sourced patties on house-baked buns, plus fries, “tasty” brews and milkshakes (with spiked versions for adults); it’s “always packed” at peak hours, and while some find the line “just overwhelming” , most maintain it’s “totally worth it.”
Jack Allen's Kitchen Oak Hill
American · Oak Hill · $$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.4 · Service 4.5

It’s “worth the trip” to these Americans that “emphasize local” ingredients in “inventive” yet “without-pretense” “comfort food” , offering “amazing” cocktails (and, oh yeah, “did somebody say brunch?” ); the “beautiful setting” and “standout” service are two other reasons it “gets crowded” , “so go early.”
24 Diner
Diner · Clarksville · $$
Food 4.4 · Decor 4.1 · Service 4.1

This Clarksville American, a "staple of late-night" , is "always packed" thanks to “locally sourced” “traditional diner fare with an exciting, upscale twist” , including "killer milkshakes" and "pièce de résistance" chicken & waffles, plus craft beers; the space is "modern" with "vintage flair" and the atmosphere is “fun, if a tad loud” , perhaps offsetting what some feel are "long waits” and “high prices.”
Franklin Barbecue
Barbecue · East Austin · $$
Food 4.8 · Decor 4.0 · Service 4.3

“Believe the hype” that’s built up around this East Austin “experience” , in which “melt-in-your-mouth” brisket, “unbelievable” ribs and pulled pork are doled out in modest digs from 11 AM till the eats run out (usually early) at what many claim is “hands-down” the “best” BBQ joint in town and "possibly the world" ; fans agree the “hours” -long waits are “well worth it."
Banger's Sausage House & Beer Garden
Asian · Rainey Street · $$

This Rainey Street area favorite draws crowds (and "long waits" ) with its "truly unique" selection of sausages – think currywurst, bulgogi and beet and goat cheese – and a "bigger-than-Texas" list of craft brews; the "very special vibe" also owes to the “awesome” outdoor beer garden featuring “long wooden tables” for “community seating” , a stage for live music and a playpen for patrons' dogs.
Uchi
Japanese · Bouldin Creek · $$$
Food 4.9 · Decor 4.7 · Service 4.7

“Every bite is a revelation” at Tyson Cole’s Zilker jewel box where “extraordinary” sushi made from “the freshest fish” and other “Japanese food at its finest” is paired with a selection of sake, wine and cocktails; the sophisticated setting in a “lovely” remodeled cottage, the chic crowd and “impeccable” service are all part the “experience” , which is “a splurge, but well worth it.”
Mighty Fine Burgers
Burger · North Austin · $
Food 4.3 · Decor 3.8 · Service 4.2

“The name says it all” about these Austin burger joints beloved for their “flavorful” all-natural burgers, crinkle fries and “wonderful” hand-dipped milkshakes made with Blue Bell ice cream; the “unique setting” has throwback touches like blue checkered tablecloths and picnic-style seating.
County Line
Barbecue · $$
Food 4.3 · Decor 4.1 · Service 4.2

“The smell of the BBQ is intoxicating” at these “old Austin originals” featuring “huge portions” of “fantastic meats” , including “dino-size” beef ribs, “legit” sides and “to-die-for” homemade bread; diners dig the “family-friendly vibe” and praise the “beautiful” views at each location.
County Line
Barbecue · Northwest Hills · $$
Food 4.3 · Decor 4.1 · Service 4.2

“The smell of the BBQ is intoxicating” at these “old Austin originals” featuring “huge portions” of “fantastic meats” , including “dino-size” beef ribs, “legit” sides and “to-die-for” homemade bread; diners dig the “family-friendly vibe” and praise the “beautiful” views at each location.
Z'Tejas Mexican Restaurant and Grill
Mexican · Great Hills · $$
Food 4.3 · Decor 4.2 · Service 4.2

These “family-friendly” Southwesterners turn out a “unique” menu with “a little something for everyone” , including “yummy” drinks (marked down during daily happy hours) and “brunch on the weekends” ; all branches boast a “welcoming” vibe and outdoor patios.
Z'Tejas
American · Clarksville
Food 4.3 · Decor 4.2 · Service 4.2

These “family-friendly” Southwesterners turn out a “unique” menu with “a little something for everyone” , including “yummy” drinks (marked down during daily happy hours) and “brunch on the weekends” ; all branches boast a “welcoming” vibe and outdoor patios.
Hyde Park Bar & Grill
American · South Austin · $$
Food 4.2 · Decor 3.9 · Service 4.1

Since 1982, fans have flocked to this “delightful” “neighborhood” “staple” , turning out “classic” American “comfort food” (the peppery buttermilk fries are “a must” ), wine and cocktails; the original Hyde Park location, in a converted house, is “warm” and “homey” and designated by a giant fork sculpture out front, while the South Austin locale has a patio and regular live music.
The ABGB
Brewpub · South Austin

This South Austin brewpub is a favorite among locals thanks to its “awesome craft” beers (brewed on-site) and locally sourced gastropub bites, including salads, sandwiches and “amazing” pizzas; “long communal tables” and a “dog-friendly patio” promote a “super-laid-back” vibe, plus there’s frequent “live music, to boot.”