Austin is known for its fair share of signature dishes. Breakfast tacos, barbecue, ice cream, Tex-Mex, burgers, and an array of other famed dishes permeate our well-rounded dining landscape, enlivening Austin's culinary identity. But when it comes to Austin's quintessential dishes, which come out on top? We went on a quest to find the most Austin-centric dishes throughout the city and narrowed down our top picks.
Did your favorites make the cut? Read further to find out.
Fried chicken at Lucy's Fried Chicken
Fried chicken isn't hard to find down South, especially here in the Texas capital. But James Holmes, chef and owner of Lucy's Fried Chicken, has mastered this classic Southern staple. Warm crunchy skin, just the right amount of grease, and locally sourced birds make up this divine meal. Pair this poultry with a side of sweet potatoes or fried green tomatoes.
Jar Jar Duck at Uchiko
You can't talk about Austin cuisine without honoring Uchi and Uchiko, local and international hotspots. Patrons select between an enticing menu of adventurous Japanese dishes and sushi, but it always comes back to the beloved classics like the crispy Brussels sprouts and our signature favorite: the Jar Jar Duck — mulard duck with citrus endive housed in a little mason jar.
Chocolate cake at 1886 Café & Bakery
There is no shortage of decadent desserts in Austin. Cakes, cookies, cupcakes, and an assortment of other breads and pastries are within our local reach, but none hold a candle to the famous chocolate cake at the 1886 Café & Bakery inside the Driskill Hotel. This layered, rich treat has garnered fame through the course of its beloved existence.
Margherita pizza at Home Slice
An oldie but a goodie, South Congress' Home Slice needs no introduction. Patrons line up around the crowded block to get a slice — or two — of these cheesy pies. While we're in love with nearly everything on the menu, including the white clam pizza and the eggplant pie, nothing attracts more fanfare and favor than the bubbly margherita pizza.
Seafood gumbo at Evangeline Cafe
Unassuming, quiet, and casual, this New Orleans-inspired eatery is one of the city's best-kept secrets. Po'boys, stuffed redfish, and jambalaya are some of Evangeline's best dishes, but the star of the show is undoubtedly the seafood gumbo. Thick and hearty, this dish features a heaping of Gulf oysters, shrimp, and crab mixed with the shop's signature roux and white rice.
Don Juan El Taco Grande at Juan in a Million
We live in a town that honors the extraordinary breakfast taco. But if we're talking about the ultimate must-have egg plate in town, it comes down to the legendary Don Juan at Juan in a Million. The opposite of fancy fare, this mountain of cakey, savory eggs paired with fresh tortillas will keep you full all day long — maybe even longer.
Counter Burger at Counter Cafe
You can find your fair share of bovine establishments including Hopdoddy, Hut's, P. Terry's, and more, but there's something about Counter Cafe's Counter Burger that tugs at the heartstrings. Frills-free, this hefty 6-ounce Niman beef patty is served on a sweet sourdough bun alongside an assortment of toppings. Pair this trademark feast with a side of crispy sweet potato fries.
Tipsy Texan at Franklin Barbecue
There's no way we could leave off Franklin's Tipsy Texan. This mile-high meal is meshed together with a heaping of juicy sausage, chopped beef, creamy coleslaw, and crunchy onions. You'll have to practice patience to get your hands on this meaty splurge, but it's well worth the wait.
Chocolate milkshake at Nau's Enfield Drug
Patrons come to Nau's Enfield Drug for the burgers, but orders often include a worthy purchase: the frothy hand-spun milkshakes. These drinkable desserts are everything a milkshake should be — thick, guilt-inducing, and memory-evoking.