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Aug 6, 2013 12:44 PM

Great quick lunch spots in central Austin

I have to go downtown occasionally and have gotten into a rut of eating at the same places. Any recommendations on good places to try in or around downtown? I am usually by myself and prefer something quick, such as food trailers, taco places, food that's still tastes good to go, etc. Any suggestions are appreciated!

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  1. Pachamama's Peruvian food trailer on East Caesar Chavez isn't too far from downtown and they are great! Just like American food has different styles, so does Peruvian and Pachamama's specializes in Peruvian Creole.

    You should also take advantage of the brief period now before the students return and get a wrap from Teji's on the drag (currently under discussion in another thread).

    1 Reply
    1. re: Alan Sudo

      Yes, agreed on Pachamama's--been twice since reopened and it is great as ever. Causa Limeña is restaurant quality plating. Location is pleasant (many trees for shade), owners are delightful. This is the trailer I most wish does well and goes Brick and Mortar.

      DFG Noodles in Rainey St. has also impressed. They've changes their hours so only weekday lunches seems to be Thursday and Friday. They have an afternoon ramen special I've wanted to try.

    2. These are just west of downtown. You didn't say which places you are tired of, so I hope none these are them.

      I love Zocalo at West Lynn and 12th for modern-ish interior influenced Mexican food. The stacked enchiladas, tostada salad with fajita meat, and crispy turkey tacos are among my favorites. If you are offended at paying for chips & salsa, be warned! The chips are great, though, big and thick and fried in-house and come with both red and tomatillo salsas.

      Nau's Drugstore is across the street. It's an old school charmer with a soda fountain and one of the best burgers in town (but no fries! Chips.).

      In the shopping center on the other corner is Fresh Plus grocery which has pretty good deli offerings, especially the chicken salad.

      House Park BBQ is another relic of old Austin down the street at 12th and Lamar. Good Q, meh sides. Cash only. I miss the pork loin that they don't make anymore, it was my favorite thing on the menu. The sign says, "Need no teef to eat my beef." I'm not sayin it's true or false, but the sign has said the same thing for at least 13 years.

      There is a Thundercloud across the street. I find it an acceptable occasional option, ymmv.

      A little way south on Lamar is Fresa's, a fancied up, expensive take on El Pollo Rico. Walk-up or drive thru only with virtually (maybe literally) no parking and just a little outdoor seating. The chicken torta is very good (grilled onions, avocado, queso fresca) and at $9 is a tad pricy but pretty big and comes with a little side of chips and salsa (get the green). They have a killer green sauce.

      The Jalopy is a sandwich trailer at 15th and San Antonio. I have only eaten there once and it was good, I'm not sure why I haven't been back except I am just not a devotee of trailers.

      El Mercado at 1702 Lavaca is average Tex Mex and has weekday lunch specials that are quick.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Ashforth

        I'm taking back my recommendation for Fresa's chicken torta. I had one today and the chicken was both skimpy and had too much gristle and a big piece of bone. Very disappointing.

        Their chips are good and the green salsa will set you on fire in the good way. The fruit cup is good.

      2. Koriente on 7th across from the jail is my favorite downtown lunch spot. Fresh, interesting and pretty healthy, I could eat the noodle garden every day.

        1 Reply
        1. My current favorite is Surf & Turf Po-Boy, which has moved into the kitchen of Lavaca Street Bar at 4th and Lavaca. I almost always get to-go, and it's tasty and filling (if a bit messy). My go-to is blacked shrimp tacos, or blackened shrimp salad if I'm feeling like eating (a bit) healtier.

          Other places I hit up on a fairly regular basis are Thai Passion for the curry of the day on Monday (red) and Thursday (panang), although usually more often in the cooler months. I still get to-go at Athenian grill on occasion, although I burned out on it and/or it's going downhill as I don't seem to enjoy it as much as I did a few years ago. I'll also throw Jo's, Austin Java, and Annies in the mix on occasion for a salad or sandwich.