It’s been about 10 months now since we moved to Austin and considering that dining out is one of my guilty pleasures in life, we’ve done our fair share of exploring restaurants, coffee shops, brunch spots, and gelaterias. I like being health conscious when I try new places, so here’s my guide to the best feel good places to eat in Austin.
I love food and I also love eating healthy. I like to indulge in the best way possible. So my criteria for checking out a place often includes things like: local ingredients, organic ingredients, seasonal, and farm-to-table. I also love finding places with nice outdoor seating areas. And of course, they would make the list only if the taste is up to par as well.
We only eat out on weekends, and only for brunch, lunch, late lunch, and dessert. (Not all in one day). It’s my break from cooking three meals a day during weekdays. We never go out for dinner because it is too expensive, and we really don’t have the need. During the evening, we prefer to go back home or stay home and relax and catch up on TV shows and maybe have a drink and snacks at home.
At home, we eat mostly vegetarian. But when we go out I like taking advantage of dishes with good quality meat. And get the nutrients I don’t get with our vegetarian diet. Instead of meatless Mondays for us, it’s more like “meat weekends”. And for some reason, since we moved to Texas I’ve crave burgers very often.
So with all these things in mind, here are my best places to eat in Austin, so far! There is plenty more exploring to do. But it does get harder once you start to find your favourite places that you often go back to instead of risk trying out a new place.
Best Feel Good Places to Eat in Austin
Easy Tiger was one of the very first places we tried. It’s both a bakery/cafe and a creekside beer garden offering German inspired food. Think pretzels and sausages, beer, and amazing pastries. The beer selection is outstanding and while the food is great, it’s their pastries that make me keep coming often for a quick stop.
It’s nearby our current favourite brunch spot (which you’ll read about below), so I often request we stop by for the best chocolate chunk cookies in the world. Well, one cookie, ’cause they’re quite big and I abstain from buying more to devour later. I indulge in moderation. The almond croissants and the pain au chocolat are also the best I’ve tried around town. Perfectly flaky, golden and flavourful. Oh man, now I really want some.
Blue Dahlia Bistro
(Pictured: blueberry blintzes, greek yogurt and granola parfait, and the prosciutto mozzarella tartine.)
Blue Dahlia Bistro is our favourite brunch spot and general place to eat in Austin. We have come here a dozen times, and it’s kind of becoming a habit of going once a week. Most of the time, the wait averages about 20min (for a party of two), and worth it. They have a front and back patio. The back patio is my favourite place to sit.
The food is always incredibly satisfying and tasty. With European flair, they serve “simple and sincere food using local and organic ingredients when available”. <- One of the biggest reasons why I love this place. It just feels good to eat here.
The simple two soft boiled eggs, with bread and salad dish is one of my favourite, accompanied by English breakfast tea. When I’m hungrier, I order the frittata. We also normally order a granola yogurt parfait as an “appetizer” to share. The ham and gruyere tartine is pretty great too.
When you’re done, stop by Easy Tiger for a cookie or a croissant.
This was I believe the very first place we tried when we moved to Austin. I was craving a burger, and after a quick google search and my regular critera, we found Hopdoddy.
“Hip, eco-minded burger joint with all-natural meats, housemade buns, shakes & interesting beers.” Sold. The problem with Hopdoddy is it’s always packed. At least the one on Congress Avenue. They have other locations.
More elaborately, this is from their website: “The FRESHEST available, all-natural ingredients. Our beef comes from HUMANELY RAISED COWS, never, ever given growth hormones or antibiotics. We grind everything in-house daily. Our fries are HAND-CUT from select Kennebec potatoes. Our buns are made from scratch & BAKED FRESH all day everyday.”
It’s simply a great burger joint to feel good about. Except when you’ve finished the large fries before your burger comes.
Fresa’s caught my attention because their wood-grilled chicken was pretty highly praised. And then I tried it and I knew why. We kept coming back for more. Fresa’s is the place to go for some feel good, excellent tasting, Mexican food.
From their website: “Our wood-grilled meals, complete with homemade tortillas, authentic salsas and traditional rice and beans, are both healthy and satisfying. Our menu also features a wide variety of grilled vegetables, inventive salads and select guilty pleasures.”
Their dine-in location at South First has the best outdoor area. It’s quite away from traffic and surrounded by the most incredible and inviting trees.
And the food, as mentioned, is excellent. Their wood-grilled meals, that come with your choice of meat, plus rice, beans, grilled onions, and tortillas are our favourite thing to order. Depending on the size your order, they serve 1-4 people. Specifically, the Yucatan Spice Chicken is delicious and the street corn is finger-licking good. The Jerez salad and the tacos are super good too.
And not surprisingly, their made in-house salty cajeta ice cream is some of the best ice cream I’ve had. Basically, everything we’ve ever ordered is tasty, yummy, and delicious. Yes, those words all mean the same thing.
Café No Sé
On busy South Congress Avenue, you’ll find Café No Sé, a chic modern-rustic cafe serving seasonal menus for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The interior decor really caught my attention as did their menu.
I’ve only been here once, and while I thought it was a bit pricey, the food was great and so many things on the menu sounded great. It’s tough when you want to try so many dishes at once.
During our one and only time there so far, we went with the avocado toast.
Mañana Coffee, Juice & Bakeshop
There was a bit of a wait for Café No Sé and because we were already pretty hungry, I googled bakeries and coffee shops walking distance to see if we could get a head start. I came across Mañana Coffee Shop just around the corner and we headed there, landing on a coffee shop gem.
I ordered a small peanut butter cookie and my typical English Breakfast tea with steamed milk. I like my tea strong and latte-y. The cookie was melt-in-your-mouth exquisite. The tea was great. And Josh ordered the vanilla raspberry basque cake which was fluffy and absolutely perfect and delicious.
They really know how to bake here. The Carrot #1 juice with carrot, orange, fennel, turmeric, ginger was super yummy and refreshing too. The interior and the outdoor seating areas were also very nice.
Not the most economical coffee shop, but truly high quality, and a nice place to hang out.
We’ve also only been to Citizen Eatery once, for brunch. But it was good enough to add to the list.
“Bright, health-conscious cafe & full bar serving a 100% meat-free premium quality, locally sourced menu including all-day breakfast.” Again, based on the kinds of places I like, the description made me want to check it out.
I ordered “The English” which is baked beans, poached egg, wilted greens & tomato on wheat toast, which was very satisfying (and I have a thing for anything English). I’d love to come back and try “The Nest”.
The atmosphere was relaxing and contemporary.
Gelato by the outdoor fireplace, heck yes! We’ve tried several gelato and ice cream places around Austin (about 7 different ones!), and Teo Gelato keeps getting my first prize.
Their health-conscious and traditional ways of making gelato, make every bite of it perfect. The owner, Matthew “Teo” Lee, actually studied how to make gelato in Italy bringing his knowledge to Texas. I’m a chocolate gal, but their pistachio gelato has to be my favourite. Their raspberry sorbetto is also amazing.
Now go eat in Austin and feel good!
What other places would you add to the list? I’d love recommendations.