Go Messy or Go Hungry

Guide to Eating Low FODMAP in Downtown Austin

Nov 4, 2018 | Austin, Featured travel, Travel, US

Guide to Eating Low FODMAP in Austin: Downtown | Go Messy or Go Hungry

Keeping on the topic of long-overdue posts, I figured it was time to actually write a guide to the city I have lived in for going on 4.5 years ?


In fact, as Marc so kindly reminded me last week, I’ve been talking about writing a travel guide to Austin since at least May of last year, and I’ve made not one, not two, but THREE copycat recipes from some of our favorite restaurants. Needless to say, long overdue.


In the interest of actually getting this post written and published, and because I have 4.5 years worth of Austin restaurant recommendations, I’m going to split this guide into several posts by geographic region. First up, the area we live in and do most of our eating in: downtown! Downtown Austin, like in most cities, is full of a lot of fancier and higher end restaurants, but we’ve made it our quest to find some chill spots that are easier on the wallet too. I’m sharing most of our favorites here (gotta keep some places secret ya know!) ?

Happy eating!

View all my Austin travel guides: Downtown AustinEast Austin, and South Austin

Whole Foods

Vibe: Full of the most fit people in Austin

Good for: quick bites, especially lunch on the weekends or when we’re too tired to cook dinner.



I feel silly for including this, but y’all should know now that I spend about half of my life at Whole Foods. And for good reason – not only do we do most of our grocery shopping there, but it’s a great place to grab a quick bite for lunch (or any other meal too ?). Especially for anyone with a sensitive digestive system — you’re guaranteed that the ingredients are going to be fresh and not covered in mysterious, pain-inducing sauces.

My standard order: Chicken tacos on corn tortillas, salad with plenty of protein, or custom sandwich on sourdough bread + small salad


Pro tip: The salad bar is awesome, but priced by weight! Go for the lighter or grated veggies like zucchini and carrots versus heavier things like tomatoes or fruit. Your wallet will thank me. ?


Vibe: Your midwest grandmother’s restaurant combined with a neighborhood bar

Good for: Happy hour, casual dinner

This place sold itself as a non-pretentious neighborhood bar, but Marc and I were skeptical as that’s a thing that seems to be hard to come by in Austin. But I’m happy to report Irene’s lives up to the hype. We may or may not be on a first name basis with the bartenders here ?

My standard order: Avocado toast on sourdough (typically comes on another type of bread but their sourdough has never given me problems!) with an egg. If I’m feeling hungry I’ll get it as a platter which comes with two eggs & bacon (their bacon is awesome). The bacon toast is delicious too, as are their teriyaki glaze wings. I’ll also usually get a small local salad because – veggies.

Tiniest Bar & Super Burrito

Vibe: Chill patio and food truck court

Good for: A quick bite when you’re sick of Whole Foods ?

Officially the “Tiniest Bar in Texas,” this bar is indeed tiny — basically just a bar + bathrooms enclosed in a small shack. Don’t let that fool you though — the cocktails are strong and they have craft beer on tap. Plus there’s giant covered & uncovered patios with several food trucks. Specifically, we frequent the Super Burrito truck. It’s not anything fancy but they have decent and cheap tacos.

My standard order: Two chicken street tacos on corn tortillas, no pico. Always.

Hut’s Hamburgers

Vibe: Classic diner, complete with walls plastered with old photos and college banners. And a giant stuffed longhorn because why not.

Good for: Chill dinner

This place has been an Austin classic since 1939 (yes just looked that up), and you’ll believe it when you step inside. Lucky for you though, they’ve been serving local grass-fed beef & bison since before it was cool, and they also have gluten-free buns!

My standard order: Hut’s favorite burger, no mayo (personal preference), on a gluten-free bun. We alternate between longhorn and bison meat and both are delicious. Plus a side of fries because, obviously.

Looking for more? Read my tips for traveling and my tips for eating out on the low FODMAP diet!

Counter Cafe

Vibe: Small-town diner slash cafe

Good for: breakfast

As a general rule of thumb, I like to eat food and drink coffee before I head out into the world in the morning, as a service to the rest of humanity. So I don’t really go out for breakfast. This restaurant is my one exception. It’s super chill and close enough to walk to from our apartment without too much effort. Plus, their coffee is delicious (and I’m really picky about my drip coffee #snobprobs)

My standard order: Counter porridge with almond milk (it comes with an assortment of berries, just avoid high FODMAP things like apples, pears, or blackberries) and coffee! I’ve also gotten the breakfast tacos (on corn) and the egg sandwich on gluten free bread with no onions.

Via 313 Pizza

Vibe: The delicious smell of crispy cheddar cheese and baking bread.

Good for: Dinner in, late night munchies, moving day sustenance, and group meals. (So basically anytime ?)

This should sound familiar, as I’ve attempted to make my own version of this pizza. People, meet the best gluten-free pizza ever. Seriously. Yes, my heart still lies with classic Italian pizza and no, this is not that. This Detroit-style pizza is different but oh so delicious, and you won’t even notice you’re eating a gluten-free crust. Via — like several other successful Austin restaurants (cough, Torchy’s) — has opened a few brick & mortar restaurants, but the food truck is still the best.

My standard order: Continental on gluten free crust, no sauce. Marc also likes the Detroiter so sometimes we get that too. (We split a pizza)

Pro tip: Via also now has several brick and mortar locations, including one on the east side, which we also frequent now that we live closer to it ?

Austin Java

Vibe: Cafe with tex-mex food options

Good for: weekend lunch

This place is a solid lunchtime option in downtown. Not too expensive, decent food, and plenty of options.

My standard order: Bacon, egg, & cheese breakfast tacos on corn tortillas. Plus a side salad with no onions and their house vinaigrette. Their coffee is also good – get the fog cutter roast.


Vibe: Fancy barbecue

Good for: celebratory meals or if you’re just feeling special, happy hour

I wasn’t a huge barbecue fan before I came to Texas, but this place quickly converted me. Disagree if you want, but I think their brisket is some of the best in Austin. I haven’t had Franklin’s (I know) so I can’t say THE BEST for sure, but it’s at least at the top. Plus, you don’t have to wait in line for hours, they have awesome cocktails, and also some bomb queso!

My standard order: Always, always, the brisket. It’s rich enough that Marc and I will split the dinner plate if we’re not too hungry. As mentioned the queso is also delicious and the cocktails are all great.

Pro tip: Reservations highly recommended if you’re coming for dinner. They do have a great happy hour, so sometimes we come in then and eat at the bar.

Second Bar + Kitchen

Vibe: Prime downtown people-watching

Good for: Nice dinner or date night

I’ve also written about this restaurant before, and it’s one of our favorites. Just solid food, cocktails, and service, with a little bit of a weird Austin vibe (bonus points if you identify the soundtrack playing in the bathroom ?). If you need a good date night spot you can’t go wrong with Second!

My standard order: Pommes frites, seared faroe island salmon. We’ve also gotten the meatballs and the avocado fundido as appetizers – I wouldn’t advise eating all the meatballs as they definitely have onion and probably flour in them, but one or two has never done me harm.

Bonus points if you can identify what’s playing in the bathrooms!


Vibe: The most stylish food court you ever did see

Good for: Group meals, when you can’t decide what you want to eat

Fareground is a fairly new addition to the Austin eating scene, in the bottom of one of the older buildings on Congress. It’s got a bunch of local restaurants from other locations in Austin, some of which opened new concepts to fit with the food court vibe here.

My standard order: I think every time we’ve eaten here I’ve gotten tacos from the Dai Due station. Like, I feel like I should branch out and try other places but the tacos are. so. good. You should realize by now that I eat a lot of corn tortillas, and theirs are some of the best. Homemade from blue corn flour? Count me in. I don’t remember exactly which tacos I’ve tried (probably wild boar carnitas?) but they’ve all been great. Remember to order without onions (if you’re low FODMAP).

It’s also worth mentioning that, while I haven’t eaten from their location at Fareground, Easy Tiger has great sausages (which you can order without the bun), and they supply the sourdough bread that I eat to Whole Foods, Irene’s and lots of other locations around town!


Vibe: Classic Tex-Mex

Good for: Breakfast, lunch

Technically not in Downtown, but had to make the list. (They also have a few other locations but this is the closest to us.) Marc loves coming here for breakfast, and while I’m more of a sweet things for breakfast kind of person, I do love me a good breakfast taco for lunch. If you’re looking for an Austin spot to experience a solid breakfast taco, Maudie’s is your spot. This is also one of the three places I’ll actually drink the coffee in Austin (others are the aforementioned Counter Cafe and Austin Java), so it’s good.

My standard order: Bacon, egg, & cheese breakfast tacos (on corn), and a dinner salad (side note, as far as “dinner salads” go this one is pretty solid). And obviously chips & salsa, but watch out for the salsa — it’s got a kick, and a decent amount of onion. Too good to pass up but just beware ??

Coffee shops

I’ve talked about the drip coffee I actually like above ^ but really I’m an espresso kinda girl. We have an espresso machine at home so most days I’ll just make my own coffee, but there are some solid coffee shops downtown worth mentioning!

My usual order: Cappuccino, or macchiato if I need to limit the milk intake. 90% of the time I just get it with regular milk because it tastes the best to me, but I’ll get almond milk or whatever if I’m really feeling miserable and need coffee.

Houndstooth: for the uber-trendy coffee aficionado

The baristas here know their coffee, which unsurprisingly means they make some of the best drinks in town. Probably coffee-wise, my favorite place in Austin.

Caffe Medici: for when you need caffeine and a place to work

Personally I prefer the coffee at Houndstooth, but the upstairs at Caffe Medici is an awesome place to work and I don’t usually have a problem finding a spot, so I’ll come here if I’m working from home.

Merit Coffee: for when you ran out of milk and are too lazy to buy more

Ok that’s just for me specifically, as this place is literally across the street from our apartment. But the coffee is solid and the decor is pretty cute.

There are tons of other shops in Austin and really you can’t go wrong, these are just some of the ones I frequent the most!

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