The restaurant row along Barton Springs Boulevard offers several options for grabbing a bite after swimming at the pool or attending events such as the Austin City Limits Music Festival (ACL) at Zilker.
For a basic Tex-Mex and margaritas meal, it’s hard to beat good ol’ Chuy’s. The bright decor and festive vibe will revive and refresh you for the night ahead. Order the Classic Tex-Mex plate or the green chile burrito.
1728 Barton Springs Road, (512) 474-4452
2. Shady Grove
Boasting a huge, tree-shaded patio, Shady Grove is the place to be when the weather is mild. Try their signature Shady Thing drink and peruse a menu full of comfort food and vegetarian dishes. The hippie sandwich is chock full of mushrooms and zucchini for veggie lovers, and the spicy baby back ribs will satisfy the meat eaters with just enough kick to get your attention. 1624 Barton Springs Road, (512) 474-9991
More widely known as Baby A’s, the eatery appeals to those who are just getting their party started. Excellent happy hour specials and strong drinks can add up to a rowdy but usually good-natured crowd, especially on weekends. The most popular drink is the purple margarita, but they’re strong, so the restaurant enforces a limit of two. The fish tacos are above average, but most of the other dishes are standard Tex-Mex cheese bombs.
1628 Barton Springs Road, (512) 474-8774
4. Austin Java
Though primarily a coffee shop, Austin Java also has excellent sandwiches and burgers. For late risers and hangover sufferers, the restaurant serves breakfast tacos and omelets all day. For a decadent breakfast, try the Farmer’s French Toast. Thick slices of toast are slathered with butter, brown sugar and cinnamon.
1608 Barton Springs Road, (512) 482-9450
5. Uncle Billy’s Brewery and Smokehouse
Serious beer aficionados flock to Billy’s for its extensive selection of handcrafted brews. The barbecue is not as spectacular as the beer, but the slow-smoked brisket and jalapeno sausage are reliable top-notch. 1530 Barton Springs Road, (512) 476-0100
6. Threadgill’s World Headquarters
Located a few blocks east of the Barton Springs restaurant row, Threadgill’s is worth the walk. The longtime Austin institution serves some of the best chicken-fried steak, meatloaf, and chicken and dumplings in town. Stellar side dishes include mac ’n cheese, buttered carrots and scalloped potatoes. Leave room for a piece of pecan pie or, for the adventurous, strawberry rhubarb pie. I really didn’t think I’d like rhubarb in a pie form, but the sweet/tangy concoction is oddly addictive. The restaurant is also a living memorial to Austin music history, with old posters and other memorabilia displayed throughout the cavernous space. 301 West Riverside Drive, (512) 472-9304