Like most of Austin, Rainey Street has undergone rapid change over the past 15 years. From quiet residential neighborhood to local bar district to bona fide entertainment and condo hotspot, this formerly sleepy street is practically unrecognizable. Some of the best food in town can be found on this small strip just west of I-35. So if you’re in the area, here are the best Rainey Street restaurants.
In all the hustle and bustle of Rainey Street, charming L’Estelle House is often overlooked. This French-inspired bistro counter is set in a small nook between two buildings, creating a sheltered patio illuminated by twinkle lights. L’Estelle is unique on Rainey Street for its understated European elegance. Their menu is currently being updated, but past dishes have included sweet and sour Brussels sprouts and smoked African brisket tacos.
Address: 88 ½ Rainey St.
In stark contrast to L’Estelle House’s intimacy, Banger’s Sausage House & Beer Garden across the street is brash, boisterous, and bringing the party.
Everything is bigger at Banger’s. Their menu features over 20 house-made sausages and over 200 beers on tap. Their property sprawls through four buildings all oriented around a central beer garden.
Banger’s recently added a smokehouse dedicated to whole hog bbq where you can try their Eastern North Carolina-style chopped hog on the weekends. And on Sunday, they have one of the best brunches in town. Dine on steak and eggs accompanied by a big brass band, and drink a mimosa that’s literally bigger than your head. Sunday Funday, indeed.
After humble beginnings as a funky food truck, the Indian cuisine at G’raj Mahal grew so popular that their portable kitchen couldn’t keep up. Before Rainey Street’s explosion, they secured one of the old bungalows and built out this charming restaurant. Dark and cozy inside, but bright and cheerful on their two big patios, G’raj Mahal is an Austin/Indian original that shouldn’t be missed.
The menu features well-known treats like samosas and chicken tikka masala. But there are regional Goan dishes as well that the casual Indian food fan may not know. Rechaad masala is an aromatic red chili seafood dish, and Goan vindaloo is spiced with cinnamon and perked up with vinegar.
Make sure to try one of their eight different types of naan!
This self-styled “Tex-Asian pub”, combines Texan heartiness with bright, fresh Asian flavors. Rangoons are stuffed with brisket before being deep-fried. Crawfish hushpuppies are spiced up with yellow curry. Classic guacamole is given an Asian twist with fresh ginger and yuzu. It all comes together in a space that feels like an upscale Polynesian diner. Sip tiki drinks in luxe green booths beneath grass mat walls and banana leaf prints. Very Instagrammable. Another reason to visit? Anthem was the winner of USA Today’s 10best award for the best new restaurant in 2018!
Address: 91 Rainey St
Of all the great food trucks on Rainey Street, this is one of the all-time favorites. Via 313 specializes in Detroit-style pizza known for its rectangular shape and thick crust — doughy on the top and crispy on the bottom. For a classic meaty pizza, try the Carnivore, topped with two kinds of pepperoni, ham, sausage, and bacon. Or for something a little different, order the Cadillac — topped with gorgonzola, sweet fig preserves, salty prosciutto, and a balsamic glaze.
Via 313 has two food trucks and three brick and mortar locations throughout Austin. The Rainey Street truck is located behind Craft Pride, a beer bar that only serves Texas craft beers. So you know you’ll have something tasty to sip while you wait for your pie.
Address: 61 Rainey St.
Emmer & Rye
Not only one of the best restaurants on Rainey Street, but arguably one of the best restaurants in Austin, Emmer & Rye has been a foodie darling since it first opened in 2015. James Beard Award finalist Kevin Fink creates small plates with a focus on grains like blue emmer and White Sonora wheat in perfect little bites. Their Cacio e Pepe is legendary.
The menu is supplemented by regular visits from the dim sum cart, which brings tasty morsels right to your table. They also serve brunch, with themed menus rotating every three months. Past menus have included American Diner and Caribbean, with French Bistro on deck.
Address: 51 Rainey St