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When we think of drive-through food, we think of a fast food chain. Instead of getting your ordinary burger and fries, we recommend keeping it local. Austin-based drive-thru joints range from burgers to tacos and everything in between. Whether you want to pamper yourself late into the night or don’t want to get the kids out of the car, we have a list of our favorite local drive-throughs.
1508 West Anderson Lane, open Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
When you think of transit, you usually think of unhealthy food. However, Baby Greens offers the convenience of staying in your car coupled with made-to-order salads and wraps. When the restaurant took over a hamburger transit in 2004, founder Sharon Mays wanted to be the destination for fresh and healthy fast food.
Our favorites: Watermelon Aqua Fresca, Asian wrap with grilled tofu and every soup of the day.
9001 Cameron Road, Suite 101, open daily from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Buddy’s offers options for both indoor and outdoor seating. However, the main role of the concept is to deliver a high-end burger via a drive-through setup. The menu is short and simple, using all natural ingredients and premium 100% Angus beef patties, which are hand-made daily. They serve french fries, of course, as well as a variety of hand-spun milkshakes – oh, and draft beer! And here’s a fun fact: the fresh hand-squeezed lemonade is a recipe you may already know and love – it’s the same blend that was used at the concession booth in Zilker Park for decades!
Our favorites: the original lemonade and a mango-flavored option paired with a double classic with cheese and Buddy’s Smack sauce!
Several locations, open daily from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. and on Fridays and Saturdays until 11 p.m.
Dan’s Hamburgers has been a tradition in Austin since 1973. This family run joint serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. We love this classic fast food place because of the different roasting options – choose between regular or curly or upgrade to the crispy onion rings.
Our favorites: Keep it classic with a cheeseburger and vanilla shake, huevos rancheros for breakfast.
The rich chicken
Several locations, open daily from 10 a.m. to 9:50 p.m.
If you are looking for authentic charcoal grill chicken to feed lots of people, El Pollo Rico is the place for you. For a drive through, the menu is extensive and serves dishes such as enchiladas, gorditas and their incredibly delicious asada dishes with chicken and carne. With 10 locations in the Austin area, you don’t have to travel far to get great food.
Our favorites: Chicken bowl, whole chicken meal and flutes.
Several locations, open daily from 7 a.m. to 12 p.m.
We love El Tacorrido because you can get an authentic, delicious taco without leaving your car. The owner grew up in a small town in Mexico and brought his cooking skills to Austin to make fresh, high quality tacos. With multiple locations around the Austin area, you can get your repair anywhere, and one of their locations is open for those nightly repairs until 3 a.m.
Our favorites: the carintas, barbacoa and tortas.
Several locations, open daily from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
The Flyrite folks believe that fast food should be real food. Not only do they use natural chicken, but they also use environmentally friendly packaging that is compostable or recyclable. All of the chicken sandwiches on the menu are well thought out. Flyrite offers chicken sandwiches and wraps with toppings like avocado salsa, kale coleslaw, and homemade pickles. Or dip your chicken tenders in creative sauces such as Thai chili or cucumber yogurt.
Our favorites: The green belt, the cowboy and the little ones.
Fresas 9th and Lamar
915 North Lamar, open daily from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Make a stop in North Lamar and enjoy some fantastic and creative Mexican food. Fresa’s offers family style meals where you put your tacos together as soon as you get home. Choose from a whole, half, or quarter chicken with all sides. They also offer individual tacos, side dishes, salads, and more.
Our favorites: El Rey Taco, side of Brussels sprouts, classic queso.
Photo via Fresa on Instagram.
Hat Creek Burger Company
Several locations, open daily from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Hat Creek Burger started out as a food truck in Austin and after attracting attention, they opened their first store on Burnet Road. Hat Creek founder Drew Gressett started the casual restaurant with the aim of becoming the best quick-casual, family-friendly restaurant in the country. They do just that with playgrounds at most locations and Tuesday Night Family Night with discounted meals and kids’ options.
Our favorites: Grilled chicken sandwich, sweet potato fries, and one of their unique dipping sauces.
Multiple locations, hours vary between locations
Juiceland is probably one of the most popular places in Austin to get a fresh juice or smoothie. The folks at this local juice bar are passionate about health and wellness. In 2001, founder Matt Shook took a break from swimming in the Barton Springs Pool to grab some juice at a spot in Barton Springs. He filled out an application and found his calling. In 2011, Shook launched Juiceland and has grown the menu from 4 smoothies to an award winning menu of juices, takeaway, bowls, shots and cleans. While there are tons of Juiceland locations, only a few have a drive through!
Our favorites: Soul Boulder, Strawberry Mylkshake, Peach Green
Multiple locations, open daily, opening times vary between locations
Of course, Fr. Terry is on our list! Austin couple Patrick and Kathy Terry opened this American fast food restaurant in 2005 and have had a strong following ever since. The restaurant prides itself on being high quality fast food – no additives, fillers, preservatives, hormones, and the food definitely never gets frozen. The basic menu consists of a burger, a chicken burger or a vegetable burger, accompanied by fries and shakes. They also serve breakfast until 11am
Our favorites: Veggie burger, oatmeal chocolate chip cookie, and french fries.
Plaza Colombian Coffee
3842 South Congress Avenue, Monday through Thursday from 7:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 7:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., and Sunday from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
This restaurant / cafe / bar / more is new to Austin with a drive through menu of Colombian cuisine and bakery. We particularly recommend the coffee – it is robust, aromatic and strong. If you prefer to get out of your car after driving through, enjoy the picturesque and colorful terrace.
Our favorites: Sweet bee latte, vegetarian empanadas and shredded chicken empanadas.
603 Barton Springs Road, open daily from 10 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.
Since Sandy is right next to another burger joint (rhymes with Putaburger) on Barton Springs, it can be difficult to decide which one to drive through. We recommend checking into Sandy’s, a drive-thru and walk-up burger joint in Austin that has been open since 1946. While there is no indoor seating, there are a handful of picnic tables behind the restaurant. Perfect stop for lunch or dinner after taking a dip in the Barton Springs pool.
Our favorites: old fashioned burger, root beer float and corn dogs.
First class, top notch hamburger
7525 Burnet Road, open daily from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Would you like to eat at a local drive-in theater that was also shown in a movie? Then go to Top Notch. This old-school American drive-in was featured in the 1993 film Dazed and Confused, but it also has a large menu for a fast-food spot. The legendary Austin restaurant opened in 1971 and has seen few menu changes. They’ve kept their charcoal-grilled hamburgers and classic drive-thru theme with friendly service and delicious milkshakes.
Our favorites: classic burger, onion rings and fried okra.
Photo: Flickr user Gino, Creative Commons licensed.
Featured photo via Baby Greens on Instagram.
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