Well, I done did it. When I moved here from NYC six years ago, if you told me I’d end up having a kid and living in an Austin suburb, I would’ve called you insane. Yet two months ago, my wife, three-year-old, and I moved into an adorable home in Cedar Park. It’s even on a cul-de-sac for Pete’s sake. We’re officially ‘burbing.
While the cool kids in Austin proper consider Cedar Park a cultural wasteland, I’m here to set the record straight. Sure, it may not be a bastion of foodie goodness like the city’s hipper neighborhoods, but Williamson County dwellers have more than chain restaurants and fast causal to keep the taste buds tantalized.
Here’s an insider’s guide about where to eat in this fine town of friends and families, including a couple spots just outside the city limits.
1/ Barbecue: Alzer’s
Starting with the most important of the Texas Trinity, Alzer’s is a killer food truck knocking out stellar barbecue. My litmus test for smoked meat is brisket, and Alzer’s passes the test without breaking a sweat. Moist and tender with a zesty bark and warm smoke aromas, this brisket checks all my boxes.
Sources say both the turkey and beef ribs are standout. And while I’m Team Dry Rub when it comes to barbecue, those who do indulge in the occasional saucing will find Alzer’s offering sweet with a cloying smokiness. I’m super psyched that standout barbecue exists in my new home town.
1405 W. Whitestone Blvd. – Website
2/ Breakfast Tacos: Taco Shack
Put down your pitchforks for a second and hear me out. When I crave a breakfast taco, the second member of the Texas Trinity, I gravitate towards basic. Bacon, sausage, potato, and maybe some brisket if I’m feeling sassy.
Taco Shack does the mainstays beautifully. The eggs are always fluffy and slightly underdone (how I like them), the meat well-prepared (crispy bacon for the win), and the tortillas strike the right balance of firm and tender. Sure, it’s no Veracruz. But for a classic taco served fresh, it’s hard to find one better in the CP.
1400 E. Whitestone Blvd. Ste. 100 – Website
3/ Brunch: Mouton’s Bistro & Bar
Nothing’s better than waking up late, sauntering to a restaurant, and pounding mimosas the second the clock reads noon. With a standout menu of Creole-inspired Southern comfort favorites, this brunch spot wows the locals every time.
While it would kill me (sad face for my shellfish allergy), the Eggs Rachel is a stunner. Two poached eggs atop crab cakes, asparagus, and tomato topped with hollandaise makes my heart go flutter. To those who brunch, I salute you and wholeheartedly recommend this exceptional spot.
1821 S. Lakeline Blvd. #104 – Website
4/ Burgers: Moonie’s Burger House
If you’re craving beef, cheese, and toppings sandwiched between two pieces of bread, then Moonie’s is the truth. While a simple bacon and cheese usually satisfies my cravings, the burger of the month is always fascinating.
And each location offers menu items you won’t find anywhere else. In Cedar Park, you can snag a Munay Thai (teriyaki pineapple, jalapeños, peanut sauce, sriracha, cilantro) or Bunh Me (teriyaki, cucumber, pickled carrots, cilantro, honey-sriracha mayo, jalapeños). Delicious options for every palette.
200 S. Bell Blvd. – Website
5/ Coffee Shop: Redhorn Coffee House and Brewing Company
The other incredible brewery in Cedar Park contains an equally impressive coffee selection. All of Red Horn’s coffees are home-roasted, and prepared with the utmost care and attention.
The coffee selection changes daily. But if you’re feeling frisky, try one of the blends as an affogato. Double espresso with a scoop of vanilla or chocolate gelato equals heaven.
And yes, the brewery side is top notch, as well. Doing one thing well is hard enough. Doing two means you’re something special.
13010 W. Parmer Lane #800 – Website
➡️ Keep reading: Red Horn Coffee House and Brewing Co. Opens in Cedar Park
6/ Brewery: Whitestone Brewery
A steadily climbing force in the Austin beer scene, Whitestone Brewery is a great place to sit back, relax, and enjoy quality craft beer. While mainstays like the citrusy Lovely Day IPA and caramel kissed Velvet Nunchucks brown ale are winners, I go ga-ga for the one-offs.
Earlier this year, an unbelievable English Rye IPA was on Whitestone’s special release taps, and the Keyboard Gangsta hazy IPA bursts from the glass with equal parts soft citrus up front and a West Coast-style resin finish. Great spot to visit for a few local brews.
601 E. Whitestone Blvd. #500 – Website
➡️ Keep reading: Whitestone Brewery Crafts Quality Beer in Cedar Park, TX
7/ Craft Beer Bar: The Dig Pub
Even those high falootin’ Austinite’s have to admit it. If you’re a fan of the local craft beer scene, then you’ve traveled northward to The Dig Pub. With a tap list that ranges from mainstays like the Pinthouse Pizza Electric Jellyfish and 512’s legendary Pecan Porter, to impossible to find one-offs, there’s a brew for every taste.
And the food is super solid. My wife and I order the nachos every time and they’ve never disappointed us. Excellent beer in a friendly environment equals a bar that could easily become my local.
401 Cypress Creek Road #600 – Facebook
8/ Date Night: The Rotten Bunch
Update September 2020: We are sad to learn that The Rotten Bunch has closed permanently due to the pandemic.
Many of the spots on this list could qualify for the all-important date night. But since I had to choose one, The Rotten Bunch gets my vote. It’s a lovely blend of upscale cuisine, approachable flavors, and fair prices.
The truffled burrata is a triumph. And according to my inside sources, the Hoppin’ John risotto (ham, arborio rice, black-eyed peas, ham hock broth, kale, Tabasco) is worth dancing over.
Add to the mix a well-curated wine list, and all the requirements are met for a special evening out.
9/ Interior Mexican: Cielito Lindo
Before moving to Texas, I thought Mexican food was enchiladas, tacos, and chimichangas. Little did I know the true length and breadth of interior Mexican cuisine.
Cielito Lindo is lauded throughout Cedar Park as the spot for real deal Mexican. Standout menu items include rock star chiles rellenos and cochinita pibil, which is rich pork marinated in Achiote sauce, wrapped and roasted in a banana leaf.
Authentic, tasty, and full of the warm cozies you expect from a local Mexican place.
1540 Cypress Creek Road #106 – Facebook
Santa Catarina also deserves mention. They serve delicious interior mexican food and are highly recommended by our readers.
10/ Tex Mex: Jardin Corona
Whenever I meet somebody who used to live in Cedar Park and mention Tex Mex, nearly all of them will yell, “Have you gone to Jardin Corona yet?” Yes, friends, I have. Multiple times.
Standard Tex Mex fare made with care, quality, and robust flavor, this little-known spot made my wife an enchilada believer. Not only is the food great, but the margarita game is on point. Try your hand at the Jardin Swirl made with sangria and you won’t go back to mere alcoholic slushies.
A fantastic spot for the final member of the Texas Trinity.
600 S. Bell Blvd. – Website
11/ Family-friendly: Blue Corn Harvest
When I polled my social media clan, this Southwest-inspired spot popped up the most. While most would assume family-friendly means giant playscapes and video games, my idea of the term is a restaurant everyone can enjoy.
Adults will relish the menu ranging from sensational sandwiches to salads to steaks, while the little ones will dive into a menu of mac & cheese, beef burritos, and chicken strips. Cats in the know recommend the three chili skillet chicken tacos and heirloom ruby trout.
But in all honesty, the menu will satisfy any mood for any age range at an extremely fair price. My idea of a family-friendly spot.
700 E. Whitestone Blvd. Suite 204 – Website
12/ Southern Comfort: Moonshine
The downtown Moonshine was always a favorite of mine for its legendary brunch and exceptional upscale Southern comfort menu. Imagine my elation when I learned there’s a new location in my backyard.
While my go-to is usually a porkchop so good that I want to thank the pig, the blackened catfish entree and red chile chicken pasta are excellent, as well.
Add to the mix an extraordinary whiskey list, world-class cocktails, and a hip yet classic interior, and you get feel good food with a downtown vibe.
10525 W. Parmer Lane – Website
13/ Sushi: Sushi Fever and Soto Restaurant
For one reason or another, the food stuff my wife and I craved the most after moving to Cedar Park was sushi. Savvy friends and neighbors pointed us to Sushi Fever and it did not disappoint.
Specialty rolls like the hamachi with jalepeño (yellowtail sashimi with yuzu panzu, jalepeño, garlic) and the oddly name Screaming Orgasm (seared tuna with a spicy sauce on thin sliced daikon) are the real deal.
905 E. Whitestone Blvd. – Facebook
14/ Wine Bar: The Grove Wine Bar & Kitchen
Of all the controversy and drama I surely churned up with this list, my final pick should be universally accepted. If you want a great glass of wine in Cedar Park, then The Grove is where you go to get it. With a by-the-glass menu of over 50 varieties and a bottle list that reads like a phone book, there’s a world of choices at your fingertips.
And if you need some help deciding, The Grove offers ten flights that range from sparkly whites to deep, delicious reds. Easily the spot for a glass or three with friends.
1310 E. Whitestone Blvd., #500 – Website
@BillTuckerTSP wants to know:
Remember, I’m a Cedar Park newbie. Hit me with your recommendations!
The original version of this article was published August 5, 2019.