Where to Eat in Austin
At the best fast food restaurants in Austin, expect everything from delicious burgers to hearty tacos and dope dumplings
When it comes to quick meals in Texas, the best fast food restaurants in Austin take a front seat. But we’re not just talking about just any drive-thru staple. Austin is where the first Hopdoddy patty was flipped, and where the first Torchy’s Taco was stuffed—this is where fast food legends are made.
Some of Austin’s best fast food joints specialize in anything from Korean BBQ to vegan smoothies and, most surprisingly, sensational soups. And is it really all that surprising in a town that takes its restaurants as seriously as Austin? With options that range from fancy fine dining to no-frills food trucks, it makes sense that Austin has plenty of quick, affordable, and unapologetically delicious eats to go around.
These are the places that are there for you in a pinch, when you need good grub on the go. So let’s skip the small talk and get going—here are the 16 best fast food restaurants in Austin.
Best fast food restaurants in Austin, ranked
You can’t talk tacos in Austin without mentioning Torchy’s. This fast food favorite is generous when it comes to their taco fillings, and we dare you to try and eat one without using a napkin. It’s hard to choose just one favorite from their menu, especially since they always have a special taco of the month available, too. But the Trailer Park with hand-battered fried chicken, green chilies, pico de gallo, cheddar jack cheese, and poblano sauce is a noteworthy choice. Are veggies more your thing? Order the Fried Avocado with refried pinto beans and you won’t regret it. Oh, and don’t miss out on green chile queso served with guacamole, or a Shakedown Margarita from the bar, either.
2. Little Wu
Love Wu Chow but don’t have the time for the fancy, full dim sum experience? Fill up at Little Wu instead, a speedier joint by the same team. Little Wu is housed within downtown’s trendy Fareground food hall (a perfect stop for quick bites in general) that specializes in authentic Lamain Chinese noodle bowls that are rich, brothy, and packed with a range of meat and veggies. Don’t miss their handmade dumplings, potstickers, or shumai for extra meaty goodness.
Chi’lantro BBQ started as a food truck and has since expanded to five brick-and-mortar locations around Austin. Their menu is a fusion of Korean and Mexican flavors, resulting in delicious creations like their famous original kimchi fries as well as tacos and burritos filled with protein such as spicy pork and soy-glazed chicken. While Chi’lantro may use some traditional family recipes, you can bet on enjoying a unique meal that’ll change the way you think about Korean BBQ. For even speedier service, order online ahead of time.
The king of burgers in Texas, Hopdoddy Burger Bar is an attraction in and of itself for out of towners—there’s often a line out the door at their original South Congress location filled with locals who’ve dropped by for Hopdoddy’s burger of the month. Mouthwatering creations are made with freshly baked bread, daily ground meats (free of antibiotics and hormones), fresh veggies, and scratch-made sauces. Consider pairing your burger with hand-cut parmesan truffle fries and a signature shake to make it a whole damn meal.
This vegan chain in Austin is best known for creative smoothies and juices like its Chocolate Hemp Mylk and Peachy Green concoctions. But its freshly prepared meals—think crisp salads and hearty wraps like its popular Frijole Roller Burrito with potato and mushroom picadillo—are equally great on the go. Their popularity hasn’t gone unnoticed, considering that Austin now has 26 locations in town. Whether you only have time for the drive-thru, or if you have a moment to sit down at its stand-alone locations (our fave might be the kiosk at Whole Foods on Lamar, an excellent excuse to stock up on road trip snacks), JuiceLand has every health-nut covered.
The chicken sandwich is the star of the show at Flyrite Chicken. From the joint’s signature Standard (made with a crispy chicken breast and homemade pickles on a whole-wheat bun) to the Cowboy (made with spicy chicken, bacon, cheddar cheese, and fresh jalapenos), these sandwiches aren’t messing around (although they can be on the messier side). Other items on the menu include chicken strips, wraps, and salads. Flyrite prides itself on serving fast food made from thoughtfully sourced ingredients you can trust, so you won’t find any MSG, antibiotics, hormones, or artificial ingredients here. Dine-in or head through the drive-thru to get some of their self-proclaimed feel-good fast food.
Alongside the capital’s beloved Torchy’s, Tacodeli is yet another tortilla-based institution with cult status. Since 1999, the chain has grown to include six locations in Austin, each with a massive menu of over 30 tacos (not to mention the build-your-own breakfast tacos). Every taco is made from scratch with fresh ingredients, many of which are organic and locally sourced. While you’re bound to find go-to favorites, Tacodeli has plenty of playful creations like its Shrimposito (texas gulf shrimp, chipotle-sesame adobo, queso fresco, and avocado) and its Frontera Fundido Sirloin (grilled sirloin, jack cheese glaze, and sautéed poblano-onion rajas) to keep things interesting—and downright irresistible.
Fast food doesn’t have to mean greasy bites that leave you feeling sluggish. At one of Blenders & Bowls’ three locations, you can cop yourself a delicious smoothie or an almost-too-pretty-to-eat açaí bowl. These bowls seem like they were made for Instagram, but they’re not just stunning to look at—the açaí is a superfruit from Brazil that’s jam-packed with antioxidants and tastes as good as it looks. We’re partial to the Beach Bowl, a blend of açaí, mangos, and coconut water topped with hemp granola, strawberries, blueberries, coconut shreds, and local honey.
Sometimes a hefty burrito is the only thing that hits the spot, and Cabo Bob’s Burritos is a trusted choice when that craving strikes. Their burritos are made with fresh-pressed tortillas, which come in buttermilk flour, ancho chili, cilantro tomatillo, and smokey cheddar. In particular, the Best Steak Burrito (packed with steak fajita, rice, beans, sautéed onions, queso, and pico de gallo) is the stuff dreams are made of. If you’re looking for something a little lighter, go with the Deluxe Fish Tacos—it may seem an unusual choice for a fast food joint, but this Pacific Coast-inspired restaurant knows how to do them right.
Californians love their In-N-Out, and Austinites love their P. Terry’s. You’ll find 16 different P. Terry’s Burger Stands throughout the city, all offering drive-thru service. With hamburger, chicken burger, and veggie burger options that can be served on a bun, bunless, or in a lettuce wrap, there’s something for everyone to sink their teeth into. Two big pluses about P. Terry's: they’re all about fresh ingredients, from their beef to their fries to their lemonade; and their menu is easy on the wallet, with burgers ranging from just $2.50 to $3.95 (more burger for your buck).
11. East Side Pies
East Side Pies specializes in thin-crust pizzas topped with whole milk mozzarella cheese, a dash of romano, and no more than eight toppings (to ensure a quality cooking process and product). What about the sauce? Well, that’s where things get fun. They have a selection ranging from standard red sauce to black bean and even chimichurri. Following the spirit of our city, which loves supporting local businesses, East Side Pies builds their pizzas using fresh, quality produce from local farms.
The name of the game at Fresa’s is modern Mexican chicken al carbón. You can choose to order a quarter, half, or whole chicken in either their achiote and citrus or Yucatan spice flavor. Fresa’s wood-grilled meals are served with charro beans, Mexican rice, grilled onion, marinated jalapeno, lime, salsas, and homemade corn tortillas, making them great for sharing, and their menu is full of other favorites like tacos, quesadillas, and guacamoles. Depending on which location you visit, you can opt for the drive-thru, order to-go, or dine in.
13. El Pollo Rico
Branded by a logo with an adorable chicken in a cowboy hat, El Pollo Rico is another popular fast food spot delivering Mexican grilled chicken. While their specialty is Monterrey-style charcoal-grilled chicken (which you can order as two pieces, a half chicken, or a whole chicken), they also have a number of other classics on their menu like tacos, carne asada, and flautas. Swing by one of their many locations in the Austin area, some of which conveniently offer drive-thru service.
14. The Soup Peddler
Unsurprising for a joint named The Soup Peddler, it all began with owner David Ansel delivering soups around South Austin on his bike. Today, there are six brick-and-mortar locations serving not just soups but also juices, smoothies, salads, and sandwiches. The selection of soup changes daily, but mainstays include tomato basil, chicken with rice, and green goddess—they all make for a great pairing with grilled sandwiches that are made with local sourdough and Tillamook cheeses. You can conveniently place a takeout order online to swing by and start chowing down in no time.
15. Dan's Hamburgers
Dan’s doesn’t just convey the appearance of a classic burger joint; their history goes all the way back to 1973 when they opened their first location. This family-run fast food restaurant serves fresh, made-to-order burgers using Certified Angus Ground Chuck. They also open as early as 6am, so you can grab a quick bite in the morning from their sizeable breakfast menu. Count on friendly service when you visit one of their four locations—this place is a local’s favorite through and through.
16. MOD Pizza
Have you ever been held back from creating the pizza of your dreams because of all those extra topping charges? Then MOD Pizza will seem like heaven on earth: one set price grants you the power to tack on an unlimited number of their 30+ toppings. With such a wide selection of meats, veggies, cheeses, and sauces, there’s endless pizza-making fun to be had. Their standard pizza is 11 inches, but if you’re feeling healthy or simply not as hungry, go for their mini 6-inch pizza or their salad instead. Whatever you choose, the unlimited toppings rule still applies and your order will be ready in minutes.