Hot Spots

South Congress

What to See
  • Lucy in Disguise - The world's best costume/makeup/wig/accessory shop.
  • Parts and Labour - All items in this store were handmade in Austin. Amazing t-shirts, posters, dresses, and jewelry. Kind of like a real-life Etsy. Good for the men-folk too.
  • Continental Club - A fantastic live music venue. Check the site for upcoming acts.
  • Uncommon Objects - Quirky vintage upmarket thriftstore. You can take home a taxidermied animal as a souvenir!
  • Feathers - For the ladies- the most fantastic vintage clothing shop you will ever see! My prized velvet jumpsuit was purchased here. Fun place to go and try on some crazy stuff. Vintage shoes too.
  • Big Top Candy Shop - A really wonderful candy store/ice cream shop.
Where to Eat
  • A food truck! Some are bad, but these are good: Wurst Tex, Nomad Dosa, Ms. P's Electric Cock, David's Lockhart BBQ, Crepes Mille, Hey!...You Gonna Eat or What? (such a terrible name!). Also, some folks really love Mighty Cone (the Man vs. Food guy, for one). I think it's good too, but I get tired of eating it half-way through :/
  • Magnolia Cafe - Probably the cheapest non-food truck on SoCo, and super Austin-y eclectic. Don't miss the gingerbread pancakes! This is open 24 hours, but it can get pretty crowded during weekend breakfast times.
  • Enoteca Vespaio - Austin's best Italian. Homemade pastas, great panini, a fantastic Sunday brunch.
  • Hopdoddy Burger Bar - Upscale-ish diner with great burgers, fries, and shakes (flavors include Caramel & Sea Salt and Nutella & Chocolate Pretzels!)
  • Perla's - Your spot for happy hour oysters on an adorable patio.
  • Lucy's Fried Chicken - Great fried chicken, cocktails, and pies in a fun setting. The side dishes aren't spectacular. This is the farthest south of the bunch.
  • Home Slice Pizza - Waits for whole pies can be long, but you can probably grab a slice pretty quickly.
  • South Congress Cafe - This place is really popular, but a bit pricey. Something for everyone, though, plus a great brunch.
  • Amy's Ice Cream - Austin's best! Fun flavors, fun employees.
What to Avoid
  • Guero's - This place is an Austin institution- tons of movies have been filmed here- but the Tex Mex is really sub-par.


What to See
  • The Texas Capitol - The capitol building is located in the center of downtown Austin, and is a really fun stop for fans of history, architecture, and/or eclectic sculptures. The grounds are one of the only places you'll find expanses of green grass in July, and there are tons of huge old oak trees to lounge under. The rotunda, portraits, and air conditioning make the inside pretty great too. Admission is free, of course.
  • Alamo Drafthouse Ritz - A must-visit for movie fans or people who like awesome things. It's great to be able to eat good food and drink good drinks during a movie, but there are so many other things that make the Alamo exceptional: hilarious clips related to your movie are shown before the previews instead of the 30 minutes of commercials you see in traditional theatres, quote-alongs, sing-alongs, movies presented in "Hecklevision" where your surly texts appear on the screen, and my favorite- Master Pancake! Accolades include #1 Theater in America (from Entertainment Weekly) and Coolest Movie Theater in the World (from
  • Book People - Austin's biggest and best independent book store. Tons and tons of signed copies of books, really helpful notes from the wonderful staff, and an exciting calendar of visiting authors. Check it out if you can!
  • Bob Bullock State History Museum - Features three floors of dynamic exhibits, a special effects Texas Spirit Theater, museum store and cafe. Austin's only IMAX theater. Mon.-Sat., 9am-6pm; Sun., noon-6pm. $9 for adults; $8 for college students (with valid ID); $7 for seniors/military (with valid ID); $6 for youth ages 4-17, free for ages 3 and under.
  • Austin Museum of Art - The mission of Arthouse is to promote the growth and appreciation of contemporary art and artists in Texas. Through its exhibitions and programs in Austin and statewide, Arthouse helps nurture artists' careers and deepen public understanding of contemporary art. Monday: CLOSED; Tuesday, Wednesday & Friday: 11 am - 7 pm; Thursday: 11 am - 9 pm; Saturday: 10 am - 5 pm; Sunday: 1 - 5 pm. Admission is free.
  • Antone's - Since first opening on Sixth Street in 1975, his club has hosted the likes of B.B. King, Buddy Guy, Eric Clapton, and Stevie Ray Vaughn. Now the legendary club has moved to the corner of Fifth and Lavaca streets, but it remains the home of the blues in Austin offering space for 650 or less.
  • Downtown Farmers' Market - This is Austin's largest farmers' market and features tons of ready-to-eat foods, preserved items, and fresh produce. There's also always live music. Open every Saturday, from 9am-1pm at the park near 4th and Guadalupe.
  • O'Henry Museum - William Sidney Porter, better known as short story writer O. Henry, once made his home in this 1891 Victorian cottage. Open Wed.-Sun., 12-5pm, admission is free.
Where to Eat
  • Franklin Barbecue - Austin's, nay, the nation's best barbecue. You're gonna have to get their early (2 hrs+ before the 11am opening) if you want to sample these perfectly cooked meats. It's worth it.
  • 24 Diner - An upscale (read: more expensive) diner. This place never closes, and everyone will find something they want to eat on the menu. Food is locally sourced and well-prepared.
  • Counter Cafe - This diner is less than a block from 24 diner, and is more old-school Austin. It's also delicious, and a fun space. Tends to get pretty crowded in the mornings, but it's open til 4pm and serves breakfast that whole time.
  • La Condesa - Ok. So this is a Dallas import that Austin foodies have gone gaga over. I've only eaten there once, but thought it to be too douche-y, too expensive, with some lackluster dishes. But it is so beloved by so many Austin food lovers that I thought I should let you know about it. If you try it and like it, let me know so I can give it another chance! Their pastry chef has garnered many many awards, and the drinks are great. I'd try hitting them up at happy hour.
  • Second Bar and Kitchen - This is Congress's (David Bull's award-winning restaurant) less expensive sister. It's still plenty expensive, but the food is great, as are the cocktails.
  • Easy Tiger Bake Shop and Beer Garden - From the owner's of 24 Diner. When you walk in, you'll see the bakeshop, where you can buy a great loaf of bread or an enormous soft pretzel. Head downstairs for the beer garden to sample a housemade sausage or sandwich, which are delicious but overpriced, IMO.
  • Walton's Fancy and Staple - This is the more casual of Sandra Bullock's two Austin restaurants, and is a good option for a simple sandwich or pastry. It's also pretty charming inside.
  • Haddington's - This place has been plagued with a series of staff problems, but the cocktails have received national attention. They're fun and innovative (like the Duck Fat Sazerac). If you catch them on a good night, the food is good too.
  • Texas Chili Parlor - You might remember this place from Tarantino's Death Proof. It's an Austin institution. From the Statesman: "Texas Chili Parlor continues to serve its legendary chili with an adult rating. From 'X'- for beginners- patrons can move on to 'XX' or even 'XXX' (sample at your own risk). It's the traditional Lone Star chili. No trendy flavors. Just beef, tomatoes and chili powder in a bowl. But a bowl isn't the only way to carry it. Freida's chili enchiladas are covered with it, as is the chili cheeseburger. If that's still too intimidating, don't fear. The black bean and sausage chili (made with Elgin hot sausage) is a milder alternative. Forks up. Cheap. Price range: $0-$15."
  • Parkside - The only place worth eating on Dirty Sixth (save Easy Tiger, which is too close to I35 to count as dirty). This place is upscale, but serves up some really fun, innovative stuff. I prefer to skip the entrees and order from the app and raw bar menus.
  • Somewhere on Rainey Street - G'raj Mahal, Bangers (over 100 beers on tap!), El Naranjo, and Tapas Bravas are all good options. Parking is a nightmare- you're much better off walking.
  • Whole Foods - This is one of the biggest WF locations in the world, and is just a block from where the original one once stood. It feels a little lame to list this here, but this location does feature a number of cool things that most others don't (a chocolate fountain! an outrageous cheese selection! a raw food mini-restaurant!), so I'm including it.
What to Avoid
  • Dirty Sixth - If you're looking for a fun bar or nightclub, you would do well to avoid those on sixth street between Congress Ave and I-35. These bars tend to be packed with the un-fun, sloppy kind of drunken revelers and you're more likely to get punched in the face than pick up a hot date. Check out the bars on this map for some tried and true alternatives.
  • Lambert's - Larry McGuire is one of Austin's most prolific restaurateurs, and this spot, his fancy barbecue joint, was much-heralded a few years ago. It's fallen quite a bit since, and the quality of the mains and desserts just doesn't justify the fancy prices.

UT Campus

What to See
  • Blanton Museum - The Blanton Museum of Art at UT is one of the foremost university art museums in the country. The museum's collection is the largest and most comprehensive in Central Texas and comprises more than 18,000 works. It is recognized for its European paintings, modern and contemporary American and Latin American art and an encyclopedic collection of prints and drawings. It's open Tuesday though Friday from 10-5, Saturday from 11-5, and Sunday from 1-5. Thursdays are free admission days and every third Thursday the museum is open until 9 pm. $9 for adults; $7 for seniors; $5 for college students with valid ID; $5 for youth (13-21); free for children (12 & under).
  • UT Tower - The observation deck of the UT Tower offers a spectacular view of the UT Campus and the Austin area in all directions. Thanks to the cooperative effort of students, staff, and the University administration, the observation deck has recently been remodeled and reopened to the public for the first time in nearly three decades. As a part of the renovation process, persons with disabilities now also have access to this monumental view. Observation deck tours are available by reservation only through the Texas Union Information Center. For information on availability and the schedule of tour reservations, please call (512) 475-6633, or toll free at 1-877-475-6633 for calls from outside the Austin area.
  • Harry Ransom Center - One of the world's finest cultural archives houses a rare Gutenberg Bible, 30 million literary manuscripts, the Watergate papers, the world's first photograph and "Gone with the Wind" collection. Tues., Wed., Fri., 10am-5pm; Thurs., 10am-7pm; Sat.-Sun., noon- 5pm. Free admission.
  • LBJ Presidential Library and Museum - Exhibits chronicle the political life and times of LBJ. The First Lady's Gallery highlights the legacy of Lady Bird Johnson. Collections focus is on six decades of American history and how the Johnsons fit into those times. The Library is now open after undergoing recent renovations. General admission is $8 for adults, $5 for Seniors and $3 for college students with a valid I.D. Free admission for children under 12.
  • Elisabet Ney Museum - The Elisabet Ney Museum is the former studio and portrait collection created by 19th century sculptor Elisabet Ney. The museum offers a range of educational programs, exhibits, special events, workshops and lectures throughout the year.
  • Hole in the Wall - This Guadalupe drag live music venue and bar has been keeping University of Texas students sauced for decades. In November, Paul Qui's East Side King concept took over the kitchen, making the Hole a kind of Austin superdive featuring the city's best bar food and musicians in one place.
  • Toy Joy - Austin's greatest toy store. A super fun place to hang out for a bit and pick up a unique toy or game.
Where to Eat
  • Ruby's BBQ - The best chopped beef sandwich Austin has to offer, served in a folksy, old-school Texas setting. Order at the counter, then find a seat at a big wooden table and check out the hundreds of signed headshots lining the walls.
  • Hopfield's - A fantastic French-inspired bistro serving great fries, merguez, crepes, and beer. Wonderfully quaint coffee-shop type atmosphere too.
  • East Side King at Hole in the Wall - Paul Qui's famous food truck fare, served in one of Austin's coolest dive bars. If you're under 21, you're still allowed to eat here, but you'll have to come in through the back entrance. In addition to his standard beet fries and brussels, this location also serves really fun variations on Japanese ramen.
  • Ken's Donuts - These aren't the best donuts in the world, nor does the location have any charm to speak of, but I love it anyway. After a trip to Toy Joy we always come here for a chocolate cake donut. It's open 24 hours, I've been there at many different times of the day, and inexplicably, I have always been served by the same guy. I think he must live there.
  • Dirty Martin's Place - You won't feel good after eating here- the food is heavy, greasy, and if you're in the mood for it, delicious. Whatever you order, get it with a side of ranch for dipping, like the real Texans do.
  • Spider House - During the summer, this is one of Austin's most popular coffee shops. They've got a huge shaded patio and a wide selection of beverages, and that's basically all you should go there for (not the food). You're almost guaranteed to sit next to a couple of guys discussing their new tech start up.
What to Avoid
  • Every other restaurant on Guadalupe between MLK and 30th- Seriously. They are all bad. Don't be lured by a noodle house, or Vietnamese, or the pita place, or anything on the most convenient strip of the drag. If you want noodles/Asian, go to East Side King. If you want a uniquely Austin experience, go to Ruby's. The options above are too good to waste a meal at one of the crappier but more conveniently located eateries.