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Top Local Flavor in Austin

Every city has its own distinct vibe and flavor. If we were going on a road trip to find the best local specialties around the country, these are the Austin spots we'd make sure to check out. For more celebration of hometown cuisine, check out the new movie Chef, starring Jon Favreau, John Leguizamo, Scarlett Johansson and more, in select theaters May 9. And for more stories, check out www.zagat.com/cheffilm.

  • Franklin Barbecue
    • Barbecue
    • East Austin
    Food
    28
    Decor
    20
    Service
    23
    Cost
    $23

    Franklin Barbecue makes a big appearance in Chef (as does its chef-owner, Aaron Franklin). Experience the flavors of the movie by checking out the place yourself – just make sure to get there early, as it opens at 11 AM and closes whenever the food runs out.

  • East Side King
    • Thai
    • East Austin
    Food
    27
    Decor
    18
    Service
    21
    Cost
    $14

    Austin’s food-truck scene is taken up a notch with these popular trailers, serving up late-night eats for tipsy bar-goers behind Liberty Bar, Shangri-La and the Grackle (with a brick-and-mortar location of sorts in the back of the dive bar Hole in the Wall). The adventurous eats on the menu have a Japanese street-food slant, with items like beet home fries, tempura shrimp tacos and steamed buns stuffed with beef tongue and fried avocado.

  • Quality Seafood Market
    • Seafood Market
    • North Loop
    Quality
    27
    Appeal
    22
    Service
    24
    Cost
    M

    Experience Austin’s culinary history at this circa-1938 North Loop market, still selling exceptionally fresh seafood after all these years (and in spite of the long distance from the coast). There’s also a restaurant and raw bar where guests can enjoy everything from fish tacos to fried oyster po’ boys to Gulf oysters on the half-shell.

  • Fonda San Miguel
    • Mexican
    • Allandale
    Food
    26
    Decor
    27
    Service
    25
    Cost
    $44

    Located in a hacienda-style building full of colorful pottery and mosaics, this restaurant is an Austin Mexican favorite, known for its traditional food (no Tex-Mex here!) and long-standing, popular Sunday brunch buffet.

  • Salt Lick
    • Barbecue
    • Southeast Austin
    Food
    24
    Decor
    23
    Service
    23
    Cost
    $24

    Piles of authentic Texas BBQ – including tender brisket, spicy sausage and fall-off-the-bones ribs – are served family-style and enjoyed at outdoor picnic tables at these popular cash-only and BYO-beer spots in Southeast Austin and Driftwood.

  • La Condesa
    • Mexican
    • 2nd Street District
    Food
    24
    Decor
    25
    Service
    22
    Cost
    $37

    Inventive takes on Mexican street food – plus tequila- and mezcal-based cocktails – are served in style at this sophisticated spot in the Second Street District, one of the finest examples of south-of-the-border flavor in the area.

  • Güero's Taco Bar
    • Mexican
    • SoCo (South Congress)
    Food
    19
    Decor
    21
    Service
    21
    Cost
    $22

    A SoCo institution since 1986, this taqueria serves up classic Mexican eats and hand-shaken margaritas made with fresh-squeezed lime juice in a landmark, circa-1800s building that used to be a seed-and-feed store where gamblers played dice games in the back room. The funky, dive-y space is always crowded, but patrons also enjoy the outdoor bar area, where bands set up and play live music when the weather’s nice.

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