Austin City Guide: Where to Eat and Drink Like a Local During SXSW

By: Shelley Seale
Inspired By Maps / Shutterstock

One of the biggest festivals in the world is about to hit Austin, Texas: The South by Southwest Festival (SXSW) starts on March 10 and runs through the 19th. SXSW brings more than 100,00o people from around the globe to its festival showcases of music, film, and interactive — and this year, a new addition of comedy.

If you’re coming to Austin for SXSW, here are some tips on where to get your food and drink around town.


Where to Eat Like a Local:

Boiler Nine Bar + Grill – Seaholm District

Just steps away from downtown, Boiler Nine is located in the historic Seaholm Power Plant and boasts a menu of wood-fired fare and mid-level ABV cocktails for the perfect reprieve. In the basement level of Boiler Nine, enjoy a dark and air-conditioned bar with a “Playlist” of cocktails curated by bar manager Jason Stevens.

Hopdoddy Burger Bar – South Congress, Central Austin, North Austin

Relax and refuel at this Austin hotspot (you may even run into Jimmy Kimmel)! Since opening its doors in 2010, Hopdoddy Burger Bar has been wooing locals and visitors alike with its fresh, all-natural Angus burgers alongside Kennebec hand-cut fries, farm-fresh salads, and handcrafted milkshakes.

Second Bar + Kitchen – Downtown and Domain NORTHSIDE

Whether you are downtown or escaping in North Austin, Second Bar + Kitchen is your go-to for twists on pizza, burgers, and snacks complemented by classic cocktails. Helmed by critically-acclaimed Executive Chef David Bull, the New American menu serves an eclectic mix of cuisines with Texan flavors. Always say yes to the Black Truffle Pommes Frites.


Sophia’s – West Sixth Street

Located in the heart of Austin’s trendy West Sixth Street entertainment district this magnetic Italian supper club is one of the city’s top dinner and entertainment destinations. Arrive early for dinner featuring classic Italian-American dishes from award-winning chef Mark Sparacino, and stay late imbibing and dancing to tunes from Austin’s finest DJs during the restaurant’s supper “club” hours.

Where to Drink Like a Local:

Geraldine’s – Rainey Street

Located on the fourth floor of the Hotel Van Zandt, Geraldine’s is dedicated to showcasing Austin’s top talent by featuring live music 365 days a year. Combine the tunes with the bar’s massive selection of cocktails, local beers, and wines, Geraldine’s has become the hottest spot to grab a drink any night of the week. Be sure to stop by on a breezy day and indulge in a refreshing libation out on the adjoining pool deck and take in the remarkable view. Also, be sure to keep an eye out for some of your favorite celebrities that stop by for a beverage before hitting up Rainey Street like Seth Rogen, Kesha, and more.

The Infinite Monkey Theorem – South Austin

Looking to unWINEd? The Infinite Monkey Theorem is an urban winery focused on making wines in a back-alley winery on South Congress.  Whether you want to enjoy the funky space or take a can of wine to go, IMT gives the winery access to the city and the city access to the winery. IMT has Texas wine on tap, in bottles and cans available at retail or to enjoy as you sit a spell.

Waller Creek Pub House – East Sixth Street

Waller Creek Pub House is known for its everchanging selection of craft draft beer, elevated pub fare, and welcoming atmosphere. Nestled off Sabine and East Sixth in the heart of Austin’s famous entertainment district, Waller Creek Pub House is the perfect place to take a break during SXSW without having to wander too far from the action.


Red Room Lounge – Downtown Second Street District

Situated right in the middle of downtown festivities, Red Room is a hidden sanctuary for festival-goers in search of a speakeasy-style bar to relax and enjoy a glass or two of wine. As Austin’s go-to source for remarkable, sommelier-approved approved wine, Red Room has proven its standing among wine aficionados or happy hour sippers looking for a glass of great wine for a decent price.

Where to Go When You’re in Recovery Mode:

Snooze, an A.M. Eatery – South Lamar + North Lamar

Start your day strong – a pancake flight, a breakfast pot pie, and a Bloody Mary. With two locations in Austin, Snooze delivers creative twists on classic breakfast dishes, as well as a selection of local, craft beers and morning cocktails.

Taverna – Downtown Second Street District + Domain NORTHSIDE

There’s nothing better to wake up to after a night out than a rustic Italian brunch with $2 mimosas and bellinis. Taverna offers two locations with patio seating, one in north Austin at Domain Northside and one in downtown’s Second Street District for ladies to post up and brunch the day away with mimosas and a side of Taverna Hash made with brisket, peppers, onions, roasted potatoes, poached eggs, and hollandaise sauce.

Where to Grab a Quick Bite on the Go:


Café 605 – Rainey Street

Located on the first floor of the Hotel Van Zandt, Café 605 is the ideal eatery for anyone looking to grab a bite that is both quick and fresh – showcasing a variety of delicious, healthy options including everything from parfaits and fresh fruit to gourmet breakfast sandwiches and crisp salads, plus a variety of splendid coffees and teas. Run in and grab a delicious ready-to-go meal and be back to the Convention Center in time for the next, must-see speaking engagement. Café 605 is open daily from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Wheatsville Food Co-op – Guadalupe + S. Lamar

With tacos, BBQ, and cocktails galore at every SXSW event, Wheatsville Food Co-op offers festival-goers a healthy respite with a dose of Austin flair. Wheatsville is a full service, natural foods cooperative grocery store that’s served the Austin community since 1976. Wheatsville offers a 100 percent organic, fair-trade coffee bar; made-to-order deli selections; a salad, soup, and hot bar; grab-and-go meals, and more. The co-op is also known for its vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, and paleo-friendly selections.

Where to Escape the Downtown Madness:

District Kitchen + Cocktails – Circle C

Take a trip to Southwest Austin to enjoy the District’s flavorful menu of worldly fares including Middle Eastern dishes with a “New American” twist. Space offers a rustic, yet refined atmosphere, as well as a casual outdoor patio where guests can enjoy live music and a relaxing dining experience while sipping on the restaurant’s refreshing and creative cocktails.

The Water Trough at Lone Star Court – The Domain

Lone Star Court is located in one of Austin’s hottest districts, The Domain. The boutique hotel is the perfect oasis to relax after a long day downtown. Grab bites from the hotel’s on-site restaurant, The Water Trough where they’re always serving up a delicious selection of Southern-inspired cuisine. Additionally, the full-service bar features refreshing, boozy treats such as their signature cocktail, the Chill Cowboy. Be sure to stop by Wednesday through Saturday evening to see a live music performance by one of Austin’s top artists.


Duchman Family Winery – Hill Country

Experience the beauty of Texas Hill Country with an escape to Duchman Family Winery. During a trip to Duchman, visitors can sample award-winning wines at the estate’s beautiful Italianate villa and even enjoy a glass or two at one of the seated areas across the breathtaking grounds with a picnic lunch! With Duchman’s excellence in producing fine Texas wines, the winery is the perfect destination to experience the region between SXSW festivities.

Oasthouse Kitchen + Bar – Four Points

For those in need of a break and looking for a quality meal – look no further than Oasthouse Kitchen + Bar, featuring the freshest local ingredients. With their large TV’s and outdoor patio, guests can relax and enjoy chef-driven, seasonal entrees with local craft beer and cocktails in an upscale, yet casual atmosphere.