A guide to eating your way through Austin

The culinary scene in Austin, Texas, is diverse and vibrant. Convention attendees won’t want to miss a meal at these 10 restaurants while in town for AVMA Convention 2024, taking place June 21-25 at the Austin Convention Center.

Sure, there’s great barbeque and plenty of it. But from Cajun fare to a traditional steakhouse, there are restaurants to satisfy any craving. Don’t forget to make your reservations early and enjoy all Austin has to offer, including sites for kids and kids at heart.

A spread of shareable Mexican dishes
A shareable spread at La Condesa in Austin, Texas. Chef Rick Lopez works closely with farmers, ranchers, and regional producers to provide fresh, locally sourced dishes. (Courtesy of Andrew Reiner)
  1. Pelons Tex Mex
    Tex-Mex is a must when sampling Austin’s culinary scene. Located in the Red River Cultural District, Pelons (802 Red River St.) is known for its signature cocktails, tasty white queso, and no less than six outdoor patios Other iconic dishes include enchiladas, carne guisada (Angus beef, cilantro, onions, and lime), and migas (scrambled eggs, tortilla strips, pico de gallo, jack cheese, and tortillas). In addition to authentic Tex-Mex dishes, Pelons has its very own coffee shop and a full tequila bar.
  2. J. Carver’s
    For a Texas spin on the classic steakhouse, visit J. Carver’s Oyster Bar, Chop House, and Wine Bar (509 Rio Grande St.) in the heart of Austin. Named after the executive chef and owner, John Carver, this modern steakhouse restaurant has a lively bar and upscale menu featuring specially aged steaks that are served with roasted shallot butter. Also notable are the Fuji apple salad, halibut crudo, and wok-fried jasmine rice with fresh blue crab. Don’t forget to dress nice for the occasion. 
  3. Clay Pit
    Named one of America’s Best Indian Restaurants by Bon Appetit Magazine, Clay Pit (1601 Guadalupe St.) serves fresh, innovative Indian cuisine. Come for the traditional favorites such as chicken tikka masala and stay for signature creations such as kothmir salmon with Goan yellow curry sauce. And be sure to save room for the mango cheesecake.
  4. Kalimotxo
    Named after the Basque drink of Coca-Cola and red wine, this Spanish restaurant and cocktail bar (607 W. Third St.) celebrates Baseque bar culture with delicious snacks, small plates (called pintxos), and unique beverages. Try the kampachi crudo with watermelon gazpacho, olive, and Trinidad perfume pepper.
  5. Las Trancas Taco Stand
    It doesn’t get much better than this when looking for something cheap, quick, and delicious. This taco stand (1210 E. Cesar Chavez St.) has an extensive menu, including tortas and quesadillas. Locals swear by the crispy tripas, lengua, carnitas, and campechano tacos. For those who like some heat, ask for the spicy sauce, which is provided by request only. Plenty of outdoor seating is available or you can take your order to go.
  6. Quattro Gatti Ristorante e Pizzeria
    Quattro Gatti (908 Congress Ave.) is an authentic, family-run Italian restaurant in a historic 1876 landmark building. Just steps from the Texas Capitol, its menu includes delicious pastas, wood-fired pizzas, and fresh seafood. All breads and pizzas are made in-house using naturally leavened dough and a fermentation process that creates a light pizza with significantly less gluten. Did we mention the dog-friendly patio?
  7. Garrison
    Voted by multiple media outlets as one of Austin’s most romantic restaurants, Garrison’s (101 Red River St.) menu features elevated New American Cuisine with farm-to-fork produce, Gulf seafood, and ranch-raised beef. Garrison is a Forbes Four-Star rated restaurant and the ultimate destination for upscale dining and excellent service.
  8. Shoal Creek Saloon
    This Cajun restaurant (909 N. Lamar Blvd.) sits on the banks of the Shoal Creek. Despite flooding from time to time, as recently as 2015, the restaurant has always bounced back. It offers everything from fried seafood po boys to jambalaya to boudin sausage links. The Louisiana cuisine is complimented by its chicken-fried steak, 16-ounce smoked pork chops, and ever-changing burger of the month.
  9. La Condesa
    This James Beard–nominated restaurant (400A W. Second St.) features Mexican dishes made with fresh, locally sourced ingredients and seasonal produce, plus a renowned bar program with one of the largest collections of 100% blue agave tequila and mezcal in the city. Every weekday from 5-6 p.m., enjoy $3 a la carte taco specials offered at the bar and bar patio.
  10. Franklin Barbeque
    Perhaps one of the best-known BBQ joints in Texas, if not the U.S., Franklin Barbeque (900 E. 11th St.) has gained acclaim for its menu of pulled pork, pork ribs, sausages, turkey, and, most notably, Texas-style brisket. There is a station with butcher paper as well as plastic bags so patrons can wrap up their leftovers. Its hours are from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. every day except Mondays. There could be a long wait when you visit, but you can always order advance, which is available from two up to 42 days in advance and requires a 5-pound minimum order.