If there’s two things that Texans love, it’s eating delicious food and traveling the wide open roads. With that in mind, we’ve developed a road trip that any Texas foodie will love. While it is possible to hit every part of Texas on a road trip, that’s a hell of a commitment, so we painstakingly whittled it down to only nine cities.
This map will take you to the most buzzed-about food locations you’ve probably read about but may not have had the pleasure to visit yet, and explores all the decadent food cultures that make Texas so very unique. Texas is known for barbecue, but also Mexican food, German food, Czech food and Southern comfort food as well. So as we head into summer, take a few days to visit these cities and get a real taste of Texas.
Day 1 – Dallas
We begin our Texas food road trip in the Big D. Dallas has been on the radar for foodies nationwide in recent years for the host of unique and daring restauranteurs who have expanded the palates of Texans and non-Texans alike.
Breakfast: Hypnotic Donuts or Coffee House Cafe
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so it’s okay if you can’t choose and maybe need a second breakfast. At Hypnotic Donuts, the availability of menu items change according to season. Thankfully, you can pretty much always get an Evil Elvis there, which is a yeast raised donut topped with peanut butter, bacon, banana and honey. To satisfy your savory cravings, grab a chicken biscuit, and wash it down with a cold milk from Promise Land Dairy.
If you’re looking for someplace with gourmet coffee and food to match, try the Coffee House Cafe. It’s a locally owned coffee shop and eatery that serves all forms of java. Try their freshly made beignets, lemon ricotta pancakes, or the chicken apple sausage hash Benedict. Yes, it’s a mouthful. In more ways than one.
The highly buzzed about Rapscallion on Greenville Avenue is the perfect spot to find some incredible bites. Rapscallion serves Southern favorites with some new and interesting twists. The “Long Walk to Nashville” chicken is a house favorite, and is brined, rotisserized and hot fried in a Szechuan mala sauce.
Dinner: Bob’s Steak and Chop House
You don’t want to leave Dallas without having a steak. Check out local favorite Bob’s Steak and Chop House for a cut of meat you won’t soon forget.
Day 2 – West and Waco
The next stop on our Texas foodie tour takes us through the kolache mecca of West, Texas and into the homegrown and well-loved fare found in the birthplace of Dr Pepper – Waco.
Breakfast: Czech Stop (West)
I’m pretty sure it’s a Texas law that if you’re traveling on 35 between Waco and Dallas, you have to stop in West for a kolache or a klobasnek (klobasneks are the bread-wrapped sausage and cheese concoctions Texans all called kolaches before internet memes proved us wrong). Czech Stop is an obvious choice, and not just because they’re right on the highway. The little czech bakery has been featured in Southern Living, on the Travel Channel and even on Oprah.
Lunch: George’s Restaurant and Bar (Waco)
Once your belly is full of some Texan-Czech heritage, ease on down the road to Waco and head into the famous George’s for a bite. Try the famous chicken fried steak platter. It may be heavy for lunch, but this is a foodie tour, so loosen your belt and eat up.
Dinner: Cafe Homestead (Waco)
Waco’s beloved eatery Cafe Homestead is a locally-sourced all-organic farm-to-table operation that has been satiating the hungry citizens of Waco since 1990. Try whatever you like on the diverse menu, but make sure you finish it off with a slice of coconut pie. You deserve it.
Day 3 – Austin
No Texas food road trip would be complete without a stop in the most-buzzed about foodie town in Texas. The capital city that is also known as “the live music capital of the world” is not only known for music but for its incredible eats.
Breakfast: Kerbey Lane Cafe
Kerbey Lane has got to be among the most popular Austin breakfast destinations. The gingerbread pancakes are divine, and the steak fries are not something you should pass up. There are six locations around Austin, but don’t mistake Kerbey Lane for an IHOP-like chain. It’s an Austin original, and is only found inside the city limits (except that one that is technically in Round Rock if you’re going to be a stickler on geography).
Lunch: Franklin Barbecue or Second Bar
So if you want to go to the famous Franklin Barbecue and you’re not the President of the United States, chances are you’ll have to stand in line for quite some time. Seriously. They didn’t even let Kanye cut. Franklin’s lines are so long that they often sell out while there’s still quite a queue, so your best bet is to be as close to the front of the line as possible. Good thing Kerbey Lane opens at 6:30, because you’ll want to head to Franklin pretty much as soon as you’re done with your pancakes.
If you miss out on Franklin or just don’t have the patience for the line, check out Second Bar on Congress at 2nd Street. The lunch menu is stellar, full of flavorful options like the black truffle pommes frites (that’s truffle fries to those of us who don’t parles Francais), which pairs perfectly with the black and bleu pizza.
Dinner: Uchi or Dai Due
Before you leave Austin you’ve got to check out Uchi. A sushi lover’s paradise, Uchi has been an Austin staple for going on 13 years. Dinner will be pricy, but you get what you pay for in terms of a food experience here, and you can find things that just don’t exist on other sushi menus around town.
If sushi isn’t your thing, check out Dai Due butcher shop and supper club. Dinner at Dai Due is not your average meal. The “supper club” aspect means they serve a specific, multi-course menu that differs depending on the day, so give them a call and find out what’s on the table for the night you’re planning to come. All foods are locally sourced, even the beer is all Texan. Be sure to buy a jar of pickled carrots, and try to not eat them all in the car.
Day 4 – Lockhart
Obviously, if you’re traveling around Texas to sample the incredible food, you’re going to stop in Lockhart for some barbecue. LOTS of barbecue. In Lockhart, barbecue is on the menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Breakfast: Smitty’s Market
Smitty’s should be your first stop in Lockhart for both its legendary status and the fact that it opens up at 7 am. Just because breakfast is the first meal of the day doesn’t mean you just have to have eggs. Go for some of Smitty’s legendary sausage or mouthwatering brisket. They take “finger lickin’ good” way more seriously than KFC, because at Smitty’s, they do not have forks. You eat with your hands and love every bite of it.
Lunch: Kreuz Market
Part of the same family but distinctly and deliciously different, Kreuz Market on 183 should definitely be your second stop in Lockhart. Kreuz and Smitty’s made national headlines in 2010 on an episode of Food Wars for their 1999 family disagreement that resulted in Kreuz Market moving locations. The family has buried the proverbial hatchet however, and are focused on what they do best: barbecue. Try the brisket at Kreuz, the smoked turkey, or the jalapeño cheese smoked sausage for an intense flavor experience.
Dinner: Black’s BBQ
To complete your short but eventful Texas barbecue tour, head to Black’s for your evening meal. Try the pork spare ribs or the barbecue chicken if you’ve already had too much brisket today. But then again, this is Texas and there’s pretty much no such thing as too much brisket.
Day 5 – New Braunfels
On this gastric tour of Texas, you shouldn’t just fly right through New Braunfels in your rush to get to San Antonio. New Braunfels was originally a German settlement and has embraced that heritage. In addition to the Germanic influences, you’ll also find excellent southern cuisine and absolutely stunning views.
Breakfast: Buttermilk Cafe
A fantastic place to stop for breakfast in New Braunfels is the Buttermilk Cafe. The comfort food restaurant may not be German, but its definitely Texan, and isn’t a place you want to pass up. The Coastal Breakfast is an original crowdpleaser and the Grilled Banana Bread, Buttermilk Cafe’s take on french toast, is also a local favorite.
Lunch: Gruene River Grill
Head to the Gruene historic district for lunch and check out the Gruene River Grill. Located near the historic Gruene Hall, Gruene River Grill has ample outdoor seating that allows guests to gaze at the Guadalupe River as it flows lazily past. There’s something for everyone on the menu, but the balsamic ribeye is a huge hit.
Dinner: Alpine Haus
The famed Oma’s Haus that served hungry Texans for over 40 years closed its doors in 2015, but you can still get great German food at Alpine Haus on Seguin Avenue. The little restaurant is nestled inside a cottage where you will feel right at home. Try any one of their schnitzels on the menu, and polish it off with a healthy slice of Black Forest Cake.
Day 6 – San Antonio
Ah yes, San Antonio, a food lover’s heaven. While in San Antonio, you definitely want to visit the Market Square for some aguas frescas, and be sure to sample some of Texas’s delicious Mexican food in what is one of the state’s oldest Mexican settlements.
Breakfast: Mi Tierra Cafe & Bakery
San Antonio has so many awesome eateries it’s nearly impossible to choose, but to narrow it down, you’ve absolutely got to try Mi Tierra. Located just steps from the historic Market Square, Mi Tierra is a local favorite for its various flavors of pan de juevos, the in-house made chorizo, and the classic juevos rancheros that make for a delicious breakfast.
Lunch: Chris Madrid’s
A local haunt in San Antonio since 1977, Chris Madrid’s is the place to go to get a good old fashioned burger like the Cheddar Cheezy. If you’re feeling adventurous, try the house specialty, the Tostada Burger, which is like if a burger and a taco had a delicious baby.
Dinner: Rosario’s Mexican Cafe
Being repeatedly voted best Mexican restaurant in San Antonio is no small feat, yet Rosario’s has accomplished it. Opened in 1992, Rosario’s features classic Tex-Mex fare along with more traditional dishes. Locals suggest the ceviche and the tortilla soup or the chile relleno.
Day 7 – Houston and Galveston
Houston and Galveston are separated by about 45 minutes of saltwater marsh on I-45 and the island is connected to the mainland by the Galveston Causeway. The cultures of the cities are similar enough that they can be categorized together, and you can end your Texas food tour where the land ends at the water’s edge.
Restaurants are to Houstonians what weirdness is to Austinites. Houston has more unbelievable restaurants than you could shake a stick at. The city’s proximity to the gulf means you can always find fresh seafood, but barbecue is in no short supply. Houston’s diversity of cultures also means you can find food from all over the world inside Texas’s largest city.
Breakfast: Breakfast Klub (Houston)
Houston has a ton of amazing breakfast places to nosh, but the Breakfast Klub is one in a million. Try the “Wings and Waffle” or the “Katfish and Grits” (they really commit to the whole substituting the “c” with a “k” at this place). Grammar sticklers might find it to get past the improperly spelled menu items, but you don’t spell it, son, you eat it (since we’re sticking with the John Hughes theme).
Lunch: Goode Company Seafood (Houston)
The Goode Company restaurants are famous in Houston, and while their barbecue is amazing, you’ve got to take advantage of the seafood while you’re this close to the gulf. There are two locations in Houston (one at Westpark and one at the Katy Freeway) so choose one and dig in. You’ve got to try the crab, but also make sure you get the oysters when they’re in season.
Dinner: Gaido’s (Galveston)
Founded in 1911, Gaido’s is a Galveston benchmark. The seafood literally comes from Galveston Bay straight to the kitchen at Gaido’s, and the tradition created from over a century in business shows in the delightful dishes available. The scallops are very popular, but check to see what’s new and fresh when you come.