Rosita’s Al Pastor– Fun taco spot with a covered seating area. I actually like the flour tortillas better than the corn, and it’s fun to watch them make it in the window. Gordita’s and tacos!
Tiny Boxwood’s– The Turkey Avocado Club with basil pesto is the reason I now need avocado on every turkey sandwich. Be sure to grab a cookie on your way out!
Snooze – In case you want pancakes or an eggs benedict for lunch, Snooze has locations on South and North Lamar. The wait can be horrendous on the weekend and they close at 2:30 p.m. on weekdays, so might as well jump in here.
Flower Child– While the menu is full of salads, rice bowls, and veggies, don’t think everything is low cal as they still use a lot of oils and sugars in the vegetable plates. With that information set aside, the Indian Cauliflower, Japanese Eggplant, and Red Chili Glazed Sweet Potatoes are my fave!
Hank’s – This airy, large, blogger-feel space is great for breakfast, lunch and dinner. However, at lunch you can snag 1/2 a sandwich with a choice of tomato bisque, arugula salad, or fries for $9.
The Soup Peddler– If you’re feeling sick, too hot to eat anything, or just need a smoothie, I’m down with this joint! I like the Earth Shaker (mango, pomegranate, beet, carrot, spinach, lemon, parsley. Also, grab a to-go kale salad with golden raisins and sunflower seeds.
Loro– Since Uchi and Uchiko are closed for lunch and Franklin’s BBQ is too long of a wait to have it be considered “lunch,” get the hybrid between the two at their new spot Loro. Brisket sandwiches, Malaysian Chicken, Pear + Kale Salad, Coconut Rice Bowls…
Bouldin Creek Cafe– Vegetarians rejoice. While it will most likely be a 15- 2o minute wait, the sweet potato tamales are the best things there. Go for real eggs and skip tofu eggs by the way.
Poké Poké– It’s hard to find good poké here, but I love this easy spot that adds kale and brown rice. Simple and great tuna.
Josephine House – Always seasonal and delicate vegetables rotating on the quaint marble inside, you’ll want both, and the homemade golden raisin bread.
Vinaigrette – Salads, salads, salads. This place is very expensive, but at least you can fit into your desk chair after.
El Borrego– Come solely for big bowl or chicken and rice tortilla soup.
Honest Mary’s– If you’re up by the Arboretum, this is the only place I’m going to allow you to go. Everything is fresh as can be, love the ahi tuna, and the vegetables are oh, so carefully picked and cooked. You can trust your health with them!
Walton’s Fancy and Staple– It’s like Austin’s version of a New York deli (but not). You order at the counter among sandwiches, salads, and they have a dessert case. If you are sick of your Whole Foods runs on 6th, this is just around the corner.
Better Half – It’s a good place to work and have a meeting and it wouldn’t be awkward if one person wanted to order food and the other just wanted to have a coffee. Go for the Gulf Redfish Torta, Summer Salad PLUS Pulled Fried Chicken, and always order a biscuit.
Epicerie – Up north on Hancock, this is a great ladies who lunch spot and very quick. There are to-go options behind the glass counter or sit down for a plate. I really like the basic Mixed Green Salad PLUS grilled shrimp. It’s a very hearty salad, heavy on the bread crumbs and crunch in each bite and paired with a goat cheese crostini. They have cured salmon toast, burger, pastrami, and chicken thighs as well.
Fareground – This is definitely the easiest lunch spot in downtown Austin because of the perfect options from local stellar chefs. Tacos at Dai Due Taqueria, Rotisserie Chicken and Burgers at Contigo, Sushi and Ramen at Ni-Kome, Bowls and Sandwiches at Henbit.
Home Slice Pizza – You might be a pizza person and enjoy a slice here, but I will always choose the turkey sandwich.
Granny’s Tacos (1401 East 7th Street)- Since they are only open from 7 a.m. – 3 p.m., you have to come here for lunch on the east side. Get the chilaquiles taco.
Fresa’son South First – This cute outdoor Mexican joint offers wood-grilled chicken and lots of salads and vegetables unlike most Tex-Mex joints in town. You can sit outside and bring kids here. I love the Jerez Salad with chickpeas, spicy carrots, pepitas; Adobo Shrimp Taco; Green Applet Guacamole; and of course, their under the radar ice cream! Check out my Guide to Best Ice Cream in Austin I wrote for Tribeza that includes them here.
Cava Grill – This was my go-to lunch in NYC and I actually handled all the press at my last job when it opened in Union Square. To say that I’m ecstatic that the DC based Mediterranean chain opened 2 in Austin with a third on the way (and closer to my apt) is an understatement. I get a salad or rice base with chicken, all the veggie toppings like banana peppers, two scoops of eggplant + red pepper dip, CRAZY FETA, cauliflower quinoa tabbouleh, etc.
Koriente– This pan-Asian downtown spot has a lunch special that includes pickles and soup with your entree. Portions are large and everything is centered around vegetables and rice whether it be a curry, bibimbap or saute. I like Obake Bowl with Tuna.
Kinda Tropical – A little far east, but this old converted gas station (with the wall of drink fridges still in tact) offers a great menu of Mexican inspired dishes with tostadas, plantains, yucca fries, and a Chicken Gordita might be the best in town and on a plate. Grab a Rainbow Rice Bowl or Kale Salad with a Fried Egg for something lighter or even a Veggie Pride sandwich and avocado toast. Very chill.
Elizabeth Street Cafe– I can never decide between the Snapper Bún (with added lettuce) or the Chicken and Rice Soup.
Casa de Luz– this Ayurvedic, holistic haven isn’t for everyone, but each friend I’ve brought to this vegetarian, macrobiotic “safe house” is forever changed and intrigued. $12 for soup, salad, entree of the day. I recommend going on Wednesday’s for their guacamole tacos.