For some, South by Southwest is the most wonderful time of the year, but for others, there are too many people in the way of dining at Austin top restaurants. Whether you're in the heart of the action and have finally tired of free tacos, looking for something within a quick ride, or want to be miles away from anyone hoping to be discovered by a street style photographer, here are our suggestions to avoiding all kinds of crowds.
Located just down the street from Waterloo Records, Cafe Josie serves truly memorable meals with minimal crowds during the festival. Plus, their new unlimited prix fixe dinner option aptly named "The Experience" is sure to whet your appetite, after a packed day of activities. Pro tip: don't skip their exceptional fried Brussels sprouts with rum-soaked cherries. 1200B W. Sixth St., 512-322-9226
If you’re looking to grab a bite in the middle of all the SXSW madness, Searsucker is the best choice based on sheer capacity. Of course, the food is delicious (duck fat fries with prosciutto dust, anyone?), but with 293 seats in a 7,000-square feet room, you'll definitely have room to spread out and minimize your time spent waiting for a table. Plus, their extended happy hour from 2-6 p.m. (we suggest the beach body, which is blueberry-infused whisky made with pomegranate and lemon) makes Searsucker a great place to regroup and recharge. 415 Colorado St., 512-394-8000
Though this will be their first year in service during South by Southwest, we're hoping Juniper will be too much of a hike for most of the festival attendees so we can avoid long queues. Here, we like to wind down with their divine puffy potatoes before tucking into their spring pasta made with duck egg, pecan chevre, and green garlic, and washing it all down with perfectly crafted cocktails (their self portrait mixed with gin, amaro meletti, cocchi americano, and bitters come to mind). 2400 E. Cesar Chavez Ave. #304, 512-220-9421
Every trip to Winflo Osteria ends with a rave review, especially if you ended your meal with their popular tiramisu for dessert. Just a few blocks from downtown Austin, this Italian eatery won't get busier than usual, though they will be closed to host a showcase at some point in the next few weeks. Here, we can't get enough of their classic napoletana pizzas or their perfectly scrumptious scallop carbonara. 1315 W. Sixth St., 512-582-1027
This under-the-radar Austin establishment is just a quick hop from downtown by driving. Those looking to nosh on farm-to-table bistro fare with a fantastic wine list and an ever-changing menu based on whatever is fresh will have all their expecations met here. Though menu highlights include wood-grilled Texas quail and whole roasted Dewbery Hills chicken, their juicy steak frites au poivre is a hard-to-beat standby. 2900 Rio Grande St., 512-499-0544
Don't let their buzzing location in South First throw you off—few festival-goers, minus locals and residents, are in-the-know enough to seek out Sway. With award-winning inventive Thai cuisine, family-style dining, and an amazing brunch, this restaurant is a solid solution to all the SXSW problems you might come across. 1417 S. First St., 512-326-1999
Want to be completely out of the danger zone? Trust us when we say that any location of Jack Allen's Kitchen is a safe bet. Their beef short rib quesadilla is what dreams are made of, but honestly, there's not a bad dish on JAK's menu. Sip on one of their specialty margaritas—the mango-habanero made with reposado, Paula’s Texas Orange habanero syrup, mango puree, fresh lime, finished with a salt rim is a good choice—and toast to a stress- and crowd-free dining experience. Multiple locations