It is upon us. This weekend marks the first of the ever popular Austin City Limits Festival. Whether you’re in town for the festival and unfamiliar with Austin, or even if you’re a local, it’s good to have a list on hand of all the best late night food joints to satisfy your cravings once the festival ends for the night. (Note: while some of these places are open until 2 am, their kitchen may close a bit earlier around 1:30 am. Check each website for details just to be safe.)
Location: 200 Congress Ave.
Hours: 11 am- Midnight Sun- Thurs
11 am- 2 am Fri- Sat
This downtown destination definitely serves a more upscale late night menu. They offer small plates to share or large plates you can eat all yourself (no one is judging you).
Dish to try: Buffalo Fried Pickles $6 | Gorgonzola and bull’s hot sauce
*I am somewhat of a fried pickle connoisseur, and these make the cut for being some of the best I’ve had.
2. 24 Diner
Location: 600 N. Lamar Blvd.
Hours: 24 hours, 7 days a week *with the exception of Wednesday from 1 am- 6 am
This isn’t your typical cheesy, dingy diner; it’s a more modern interpretation on the classic American concept with mostly local, farm-to-table ingredients and produce (so very Austin).
Dish to try: Chicken & Waffles $14.95 | Waffles made from yeast-risen dough with butter, Madagascar vanilla & raw sugar. Marinated, boneless, skinless fried chicken breast & thigh, brown sugar butter
*It doesn’t get more late night, comfort food-y than this.
Locations: ESK @ The Liberty
1618 1/2 E 6th St
Hours: 5 pm – 1:45 am 7 days a week
ESK @ The Grackle
1700 E 6th St
4 pm – 1:45 am Tues- Sat
ESK @ Hole in the Wall
2538 Guadalupe St
11 am – Midnight Mon- Fri
2 pm – Midnight Sat
Of course there had to be a food truck included on this list. This eatery was created by Paul Qui as a side project when he was working at Uchi and Uchiko (Top Chef winner anyone?).
Dish to try: Beet Home Fries $7 (Vegetarian and gluten-free- can be vegan) | Deep-fried roasted beets, kewpie mayo, schichimi togarashi, green onion
*These are so legit, and that is coming from someone who hates beets and usually won’t touch them. Now I crave these things.
Location: 517 East 6th St.
Hours: 11:30 am- 2 am 7 days a week
Yes, walking into this place is a lot like walking into a Hot Topic, but the food is award-winning (Best Bar Food from Austin Chronicle’s Reader’s Choice Award for one).
Dish to Try: The Chicago Burger $8.75 | Bacon, Romaine lettuce, tomato and cheddar cheese
*You might be thinking $8 for a burger?! But these burgers are HUGE and worth it.
Location: 2400 E. Oltorf Suite 1A
Hours: 11 am- 2 am Mon- Sat
5 pm- 11:30 pm Sun
Although this place looks pretty nondescript (strip malls don’t give the best first impression), do not let that fool you. Pretty much everything on their menu is delicious.
Dish to try: Pad Thai $8.95 | Stir-fried Thai-style rice noodle with shrimp & chicken, bean sprout, green onion, cilantro and ground peanut.
*Possibly some of the best pad Thai I’ve ever encountered, and their portions are easily enough for two people.
Locations: 1920 S. Congress Ave.
2304 Lake Austin Blvd.
Hours: 24 hours, 7 days a week
This unpretentious diner is a bit of an Austin staple which is evident by their tagline, “Everybody knows, everybody goes.”
Dish to Try: Royal Toast $6.75 | four triangles of French toast and two eggs any style. Served with your choice of one: fruit, bacon, sausage, or ham.
*I’m partial to the French toast, but they’ve also got great breakfast tacos, pancakes, omelets, well you get the picture.
Locations: 409 West 30th Street
8820 Burnet Road
901-C Little Texas Lane
Hours: 4 pm-2 am Mon- Thurs
9 am- 2 am Sat- Sun
This is an Austin Tex Mex favorite, and Trudy’s has several late night locations, with West 30th street being the most central.
Dish to try: Queso Especial regular $5.50/ large $7.50 | Guacamole and spicy pico de gallo
*What is better than a big bowl of chips and queso after a long day of jamming to your favorite bands? Nothing that’s what.
Location: 407 Colorado St
Hours: 8 am- Midnight Mon- Tues
8 am- 2 am Wed- Sat
10 am- Midnight Sun
Dish to try: The Notorious P.I.G. $8.50 | Smoked pork, bacon, jalapeno, sage sausage topped with mac n’ cheese, Dr. Doppelgänger Texas BBQ sauce
*Shouldn’t every late night hot dog be topped with mac and cheese?
Do you have a favorite late night joint that’s not on this list? Share in the comments!