The Austin Convention Center is the epicenter of SXSW which means it is also the coolest place to be in the world right now. Even though you can bring your car downtown to the Convention Center, you probably shouldn’t. There are ample alternative forms of transportation to get you where you want to be.
If you’re near the Convention Center and you’re hungry, here are some great lunch and dinner options you can get to using just your two feet. All these restaurants are within three blocks of the Convention Center. There are even more options than the ones listed below, but these are a little special for your Austin vacation. Enjoy!
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303 Red River Street
Moonshine is across Red River Street from the Convention Center in a building that dates back to before the Civil War when Austin was known as Waterloo. Everything on the menu is great, but you have to try the macaroni and cheese on the side of whichever entree you choose. Moonshine doesn’t take reservations, so your best bet for eating here is to go before or after the lunch rush.
100 Red River Street
Iron Works is an Austin institution. They’re known for their beef ribs. Not only do regular folks stop by, former President George W. Bush has been known to pick up some barbecue here when he comes to town. We bet the Secret Service agents don’t mind as long as W buys enough for the whole gang.
301 East 5th Street
Eddie V’s serves up top notch steaks and seafood in a cool atmosphere. The steaks are aged, and the seafood is fresh. Grab a cocktail and enjoy some live jazz music in the V Lounge. If you want to get out of downtown, Eddie V’s also has a location in the Arboretum in North Austin.
301 San Jacinto Boulevard
Vince Young Steakhouse gets its name from former NFL and Texas Longhorn quarterback Vince Young. It features USDA Prime steaks and an extensive wine list. You might recognize the building. Before it was home to Vince Young Steakhouse, the building housed people who stopped being nice and started getting real on the original reality television show MTV’s Real World.
200 San Jacinto Boulevard
Crêpes, crêpes and more crêpes! This little French cafe has all sorts of crêpes for you to enjoy. Try their breakfast, sweet and savory varieties. Owned by a French brother and sister team, this place will satisfy your crêpe craving. And you can have wine and beer to match with your crêpe of choice.
504 East 5th Street
Carmelo’s is an authentic Italian restaurant owned by an actual Sicilian. Carmelo Mauro opened his first restaurant in Houston, but his second location in Austin has been around since 1985. It is located in the Old Depot Hotel, the oldest train depot in Texas still standing. The original structure was build in the early 1870’s.
207 San Jacinto Boulevard
This isn’t your run-of-the-mill sushi bar. Piranha combines the traditional Japanese sushi flavors with other flavor palates of the Pacific Rim. In addition to serving up great rolls, this restaurant gives back to the community around each of its six Texas locations. If you’re trying to spot it from the street, look for the sign that looks like Pac-Man with sharp teeth.
902 East Cesar Chavez Street
In recent years, La Barbecue has been a rising star in Texas barbecue rankings. It came out of nowhere to go toe-to-toe with the likes of Franklin Barbecue and The Salt Lick. Walk east on Cesar Chavez a block east of I-35 and try it for yourself. Then, see where it ranks on your list.
Feature photo: Flickr user Lotus Carroll, creative commons licensed.