Food by VICE

Austin's 14 Best Cheap Eats Are Right Here for You to Explore

Our list of honest, no-B.S. restaurants where locals of every tax bracket enjoy delicious food.

by Munchies Staff
Dec 20 2016, 7:00pm

Sure, Austin's got plenty by way of fancy food, but let's face it: if you're in the Texan capital, you've probably got your eye on cheap eats that will complement your cheap drinks needs and music festival budget. And if you want to save some money, Austin has way more to offer than just barbecue and dive bars.

From Texas toast burgers to tacos to ramen to shawarma and, of course, a hippie food co-op, there's at least 12 different ways to satiate your hunger on a budget, and they're all here in our MUNCHIES Guide to Austin.


Dirty Martin's Place: Dirty Martin's Place (or "Dirty's," as it's affectionately referred to by locals) has been on the Drag near the University of Texas since 1926, and it still boasts a rugged charm left over from when the floor was actual dirt. The DH Special—a hamburger patty with grilled onions, double cheese, tomato, and pickle on Texas toast—is a proper gut-buster when paired with onion rings and a homemade limeade. The daily beer specials only sweeten the deal.


FoodHeads: Housed in a converted Craftsman cottage, Foodheads is a great go-to lunch spot for fresh salads, hearty sandwiches, and soups. This is the ideal place to catch up with some friends on the front porch while drinking their hibiscus-mint tea. Their homemade cookies are also not to be missed.


Julio's: Located in one of Austin's more charming neighborhoods, Julio's has been around since 1983 and is known for its roasted chicken, which you can order in various dishes: tostadas, green enchiladas, tacos, quesadillas, or soups. You can also pick up an entire roast chicken for just $12, and if you happen to stop by during happy hour (between 2 and 6 PM), house margaritas are just $4.50 a pop, making this one of the more wallet-friendly joints in town. Eat and drink everything out on the patio for the best experience.


Ramen Tatsu-Ya: For some of the best ramen this side of the Mississippi, don't miss out on Ramen Tatsu-ya. The people here are creating some of the most satisfying bowls of tonkotsu, miso and shoyu ramens, and they're consistently fulfilling their mission statement to "educate people on what ramen truly is...the soul food of Japan." Lines can extend out the door but the service is quick, and you'll be downing some tsukemen (dipping ramen) and a Sapporos in no time. Try a "Munchies Katsu Slider," immortalized in their Chef's Night Out.


Phoenicia Bakery & Deli: Falafel, shawarma, and award-winning roasted chicken sandwiches wrapped in freshly-baked pita will top you out at $3.99 a piece at this Middle Eastern deli. You can also pick up some of their fresh hummus, olives, or other Middle Eastern snacks. Be sure to take home some house-made baklava, as well. There's another location on S Lamar St.


Wheatsville Food Co-op: The hippie dream is alive and well at Wheatsville Food Co-op. The deli is a cornucopia of healthy, affordable eats ranging from organic rice and bean bowls to the buffalo popcorn hero, a vegetarian sandwich made with their signature "popcorn tofu" doused in buffalo sauce. Their hot bar and grab-and-go case carry a variety of cheap eats, while their bakery provides some of the best munchies in town. Come here if you like to buy your kombucha by the gallon.


Top Notch: This spot was famously immortalized in Dazed and Confused. The Pro Move: Drive up curbside and order a Top Pick Burger or a basket of fried chicken with a whole jalapeño on the side. Then, sit in your car (hotboxing optional) and bask in the glory of knowing that this was the first place that Matthew McConaughey uttered "alright, alright, alright."

To see the rest of the cheap eats that Austin has to offer, check out the MUNCHIES Guide to Austin.