SXSW: Street vendor smorgasbord

All You Can Eat

Going downtown for SXSW madness? It can be exhausting to stand in line for a day party, get trashed on free drinks, recover, then get trashed again at night on more free drinks. You need street and bar food. Pubs and countries other than the US (the city of New York excluded) know the value of hearty food: fish and chips, burgers, sausage, tacos, pizza, and Kebabs. All these will insulate and fortify your body in order to survive the abuse that is SXSW. Healthy options? Pish posh. Your body will be able to distinguish between that fresh spring roll and the Rock Star and cheap vodka you’ve been gulping. Guess which one it will reject? Slip the booze past your stomach in a gut-bomb Trojan horse.

A whole slew of vendors pop up in town just for SXSW. Give them a try, but don’t ignore the people who stand on 6th Street each weekend. The fact that you can walk down next weekend and spit in their face for the case of worms you got from their food is reassuring. Their accountability means quality. So here are some picks for SX street food:

Torchy’s Tacos

Now with a downtown location, you can grab some of the best tacos in Austin just a stumble away from your cramped showcase. Whatever you do, make sure you get at least one green chili pork taco. Trust me. Don’t eat meat? They have vegetarian options, but you should consider converting here and now with their succulent pork.

511 E 6th St • Austin, TX 78701

Casino El Camino

Soft-ball sized patties. I could leave it at that if Casino didn’t have things like the Buffalo burger with crumbles of blue cheese and their homemade buffalo sauce, or the Amarillo burger with chipotle mayonnaise, pepper jack cheese, and fiery Serrano pepper slices. I can leave it at that.

517 E 6th St. • Austin, TX 78701

Hot Dog King

A New Yorker suggested the Hot Dog King to me with this endorsement: It was the best hot dog he’s ever had. This might be blasphemous, but it’s one hell of an endorsement. And their dogs don’t disappoint. Best buns and choicest sausage. Choicest.

8th St and Red River • Austin, TX 78701

Best Wurst

photo / Chad Hanna Creative Commons licensed: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Best Wurst! 

Sausage. Curry sauce. BBQ sauce. Sauerkraut. If you like these, you need no more convincing. If you don’t, you’re hopeless.

6th St. and San Jacinto• Austin, TX 78701


Europeans know late-night street food. Gyros, Schwarma, falafel, French fries in a sandwich!!! Luckily, you can get all of this downtown when you need it the most. Try everything, but go greasy – it’s the reason you’re there.

E 7th St (about two blocks west of Red River) • Austin, TX 78701

The Onion

For the love of god, don’t waste your money on the crap that some of those other places very nearby peddle. Walk on down to The Onion and treat yourself to an excellent slice served up by one of the friendliest businesses in Austin.

116 W 5th St • Austin, TX 78701

Happy raging, y’all.


El Mundo de Mando's picture

I love Casino burgers. You can’t go wrong there. But Torchy’s? C’mon. Bland food + expensive prices for tacos? Don’t be fooled big spenders! There’s plenty of taquerias close by that surpass Torchy’s prices and flavors!

El Mundo de Mando

Anonymous's picture

Torchys is incredible. Nice “taco journalism” lol….

Anonymous's picture

If you’re downtown for South By and are looking for a place to get tacos without waiting too long or having to tip a waiter, I don’t think there’s a better choice than Torchy’s. Another option might be Wahoo’s, but I think Torchy’s is always a best bet.