The West Campus neighborhood is located to the west of the University of Texas at Austin’s main campus north of downtown. It’s a bustling area filled with student housing, historic homes, restaurants, bars, bookshops, and music venues. Here are just a few of our choices for the Best of West Campus.
Bordered to the east by The Drag and to the west by North Lamar, this densely populated little community is more than just dive bars. You can find almost any kind of cuisine here, from Thai to pizza to Japanese to Brazilian BBQ and more.
Serving tasty traditional Thai dishes in West Campus since 2000, Madam Mam’s is practically a rite-of-passage for UT students. Their new location is around the corner from the original. It’s bright and clean, and the portions are large — big enough for leftovers the next day. The Pad See Ew is a common favorite!
Where: 510 W. 26th St.
Phone: (512) 305-3955
Fricano’s arguably serves the best sandwiches in West Campus. They have all the classics, like the Reuben or Pastrami on Rye. But they also have some unique belly-busters, like the Tenacious Deli. It’s one slice of every meat they have topped with provolone cheese and rocket sauce on rye bread.
If you have a lot of mouths to feed, they cater too!
Where: 2405 Nueces St.
Part coffee shop and part bar, this little cafe in an old house spills out onto a lovely garden patio. Covered in shade trees and adorned with charmingly mismatched furniture, it has long been a haven for students, daytime workers and nighttime drinkers.
Crown & Anchor has been a West Campus institution for over 30 years. Stop by to sip a pint, play some pool, watch the game, and enjoy life in our fair city. 32 taps and 100 bottled beers spoil you for choice. They also have cider and wine, if hops and malt aren’t your thing.
Bonus — it’s super affordable. They have pint and pitcher specials daily. And where else in this town can you get a pub-style burger and fries for $6.50??
Since 1926, Dirty Martin’s (aka Martin’s Kum-Bak) has been serving excellent burgers, sandwiches, and milkshakes in the same location on the Drag. It’s still family-owned, and it’s one of the oldest restaurants in Austin (and definitely the oldest on The Drag!).
So what’s changed in the past ~100 years? To start with, the eponymous dirt floor has been replaced with concrete. And they brought in liquor, so you can get a beer or add a shot to that milkshake.
Plus, they now host plenty of events. From NBA, NFL, and college football watch parties to live music to Classic Car Nights, there’s enough to do here that you’ll want to kum-bak.
Serving the UT and Austin communities since the late ‘70s, the Cactus Cafe is a mainstay. In fact, when a shutdown was announced in 2010, tens of thousands of people protested. Saved by grassroots efforts and the intervention of KUT, the Cactus is now better than ever.
Live music and open mic nights are the main entertainment at this all-ages venue. Plus, KUT hosts Views & Brews twice a month. Have a drink and listen to talks on topics from jazz to artificial intelligence to cowboy poetry. It’s all part of the vibe here on The Drag in Austin.
Pizza on Point
What is a pizza cone? Take pizza dough, roll it up into a cone, stuff it full of cheese and toppings, and voila! A pizza you can hold in one hand.
Pizza on Point’s food truck brought this unique shape to a classic food in 2018. You can usually find them in West Campus, but they do sometimes take the show on the road for farmer’s markets and catering events.
Where: 411 W 23rd St.
Phone: (510) 697-9050
Opened by a pair of Brooklyn-born brothers back in 2012, Halal Bros.’ mission is to bring halal food to the Austin culinary world. (“Halal” refers to food that is permissible under Islam, which prohibits certain animals and cuts of meat.)
You’ll find tender marinated beef, lamb, and chicken served as kebabs, shawarma, and gyros. Plus, plenty of falafel and hummus for your vegetarian friends!
Cain & Abel’s has been described as “the heart of West Campus”. Since 1991, they’ve been enticing both students and non-students with daily food and drink specials — including dollar beers on Tuesdays.
Their huge patio is a great place to watch the game or enjoy their Southwestern-style pub food. Try their crawfish tacos, pulled pork sandwiches, green chile burgers, or chicken fried steak.
Where: 2313 Rio Grande
Phone: (512) 476-3201
Web: Cain & Abel’s
Hole in The Wall
The Hole in the Wall has been home both pro and amateur musicians on The Drag since 1974. (This author’s high school pop-punk band even graced their stage in 2002.) They’ve had to fight to survive in the rapidly changing Austin climate. But this Austin icon is still kicking and playing live music most nights.
Where: 2538 Guadalupe St
Kerbey Lane Cafe
Since opening in 1980, Kerbey Lane has expanded to 8 locations and become an Austin icon. Their location on The Drag is the domain of all-day study sessions and late night unwinding. While they serve sandwiches, burgers, and tacos, the highlight is 24-hour breakfast.
How about the Eggs Francisco? It’s an English muffin topped with scrambled eggs, bacon, and avocado, then smothered in delicious queso.
Where: 2606 Guadalupe St
Phone: (512) 477-5717