Down The Street Eats (S 1st St Edition) – Sway

Those of you who live in Austin already know this (and those of you who don’t can probably attest to this fact in some sense), but Austin has so many things that make this city truly stand out. One that I love in particular is the incredible amount of diversity that you can find in a relatively small area.

I’m pretty open about my love of the fact that Austin contains the best of the big cities in its food, culture, and music, AND also embodies all that I love in small towns – its nature and down-home attitude to name a few. But, what I really love is that even within Austin, there are these small bubbles of activity, often centered around a particular street. I’ve been especially interested in the changes I’ve seen happening on S. First, the street I have called home for the last two years, and it made me think, “If I’m going to explore all my beloved S. 1st St. has to offer anyway, why not do it on the blog?”

So with that I am introducing you to “Down The Street” – a new mini-series here on the blog that explores the food, coffee shops, treats, and activities that make up one of the most well-known streets in central Austin. Let’s dive in, shall we? 

It’s almost impossible to narrow this street – which spans nearly 2.5 miles and is filled with some of the greatest businesses – down to a single restaurant, coffee shop, dessert spot and activity. Food-wise, I had my choices narrowed down to a handful, and in the end, went with Sway, one of the most highly-regarded restaurants on South First.  Even before Sway opened in 2013, it was getting quite a bit of coverage, so much so that I wanted to try it even before I had more than a vague idea of what it was. But month after month went by, and I walked past the unassuming building without venturing through the hidden yellow door – the only sign that you have arrived at your destination.

Sway thai Austin

After almost a year of being opened (and me singing the praises of a place I had never even stepped foot in), I decided that it was time to finally give Sway a try. So Brandon and I went for my 25th birthday last December.

You know when you build something up in your  mind so much that you end up disappointed once you actually get to experience that thing? That is not what happened when I finally tried Sway. If was just as good, if not better, than my mind had imagined.

The restaurant is set up to imitate communal eating, so we sat at a large table with several other couples, though the seats are far enough apart that you can still keep to your group if you want (in our case, we did). The food, a varying array of traditional and non-traditional thai options, is also meant to be eaten by multiple people so Brandon and I ordered three different menu items to share: Pad Thai, Tiger Cry, and The Blue Crab Fried Rice.

Pad Thai || rice noodle, blue prawn, egg, tofu, toasted cashew, bean sprout, thai basil

Sway Thai, pad thai

Tiger Cry || char-grilled hanger steak, red chili nahm jim, thai basil, fresno chile, toasted rice, nahm prik pao

Sway Thai's Tiger Cry

Blue Crab Fried Rice || egg, lemongrass, ginger, snow peas, scallion, thai basil

Sway's blue crab fried rice

If you were to ask me then, and ask me now, I don’t think I could pick one dish that was better than the others (though Brandon might not be so indecisive). For me, each bite was better than the one before it. And each dish had such unique flavor profiles and ingredients that I found myself pretty enamored with each one. Multiple friends had sung the praises of the Blue Crab Fried Rice, so I had pretty high expectations of the dish ahead of time — and I think those expectations carried over into our other two selections, but I didn’t find myself disappointed or wanting for a missing flavor at all, though I did find myself wanting more food despite my incredibly full belly. Having eaten a little bit of Americanized thai food before, I had a vague idea of what the food would taste like — and it not only completely satisfied those ideas, but gave me so much more. The food was rich, flavorful, and full of intense texture and taste. An overall delicious meal.

We left Sway at the end of the night with smiling faces, full stomachs, and only slightly less full wallets. The thai food options in Austin are pretty extensive, but if you’re looking for something a little bit different, a little bit fancy, and a lot of fun, I would definitely recommend paying a visit to Sway. Unfortunately, they don’t take reservations, so go early or plan to wait a little bit (though they have a good bar, so you can keep busy while waiting for your table).



  1. Mr. Awesome says:

    Mmmm Pad Thai!!

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