As evidenced by all of the amazing eateries, bars and shops, East Austin continues to be one of the hottest neighborhoods in the city.
Get yourself some soul food at Hoover’s Cooking. The chicken-fried steak alone can feed three people, but leave some room for the yummy banana pudding. There are newer barbecue joints in town, but none are more real than old-school Sam’s Bar-B-Que. Located on East Cesar Chavez, Juan in a Million serves up a famously large taco. On Saturday mornings, don’t be surprised to see a line of people down the street. On the other end of the spectrum, Grizzelda’s leans heavily on the Mexican coastal aesthetic, with a more extensive Tex-Mex menu. Try Gabriela’s for downtown views and hand-squeezed margaritas. The Tatsu-ya empire has a few East side locations. Stop in at Ramen Tatsu-ya for the hearty soup, try Kemuri Tatsu-ya for Izakaya-style Japanese and go to Domo Alley Gato for curry and frozen beer caps. Bufalina’s wood-fired pizza is worth the wait. If you’re lucky enough to snag a chair at Contigo, don’t sleep on the fried chicken sandwich. Both Hank’s and Sour Duck Market boast picturesque patio setups, fantastic happy hours and cocktails on tap. Omnivores should lunch at Salt & Time, a full-service butcher shop and salumeria. Vegans and vegetarians will find their fill at Rebel Cheese, a cheese shop and deli that’s all-vegan. Sassy’s Vegetarian Soul Food truck makes Southern soul dishes with plant-based proteins. Get your taco and craft beer fix at Lazarus Brewing Company. Hit the high-energy and hilarious drag brunch at The Cavalier. Justine’s mixes old-school vinyl with French classics, while Buenos Aires Cafe is Argentine to the core. Launderette is a fan favorite and hard to define, other than as delicious. Italian darling L’Oca d’Oro keeps winning Austin favorite awards.
Two-step with your boots on at The White Horse or sit around the pool looking pretty at Kitty Cohen’s. Eat chicken wings and play yard games at Lustre Pearl East, or sing along to some soul at Skylark Lounge. Tear up the dance floor to live bands at Stay Gold or plop down on a picnic bench at The Grackle. The 12th and Chicon Streets area has a small cluster of bars, anchored by King Bee and Full Circle, that are walkable and often have live music. The Butterfly Bar at The Vortex has killer sangria and lots of outdoor seating, a dog-friendly patio and on-site Italian food truck Patrizi’sSahara Lounge hosts eclectic theme nights, including Africa Night with a free buffet. For a throwback East Austin experience, try an AR Modelo at La Perla Bar. And kill two birds with one stone at Friends & Allies Brewing and Austin Eastciders. They’re in the same development, so you can try a cold beer and craft cider in one fell swoop.
Find Latinx-centric books, music, posters and jewelry at Red Salmon Arts/Casa de Resistencia Books and amazing colorful art at Corocoro. Take Heart boutique has handmade home goods and accessories from artists from all over the world. Charm School Vintage takes the best and fanciest of the vintage items in the city and curates them all in one spot. Altatudes features women’s apparel and accessories from high-end designers.
Bring your kiddos to Thinkery, where they can play with science-based experiments and exhibits (and you can, too!). The Blue Starlite Mini Urban Drive-In shows cult classics and recently run movies, and is always a fun family or date activity.
INSIDER TIP: Opening in 2021, HOPE Outdoor Gallery will bring artists together at its new arts park, right across from Austin- Bergstrom International Airport.
SOUL OF AUSTIN
Take some time to walk around Six Square, Austin’s Black cultural district that plays an important role in the city’s history. The George Washington Carver Museum, Cultural and Genealogy Center collects, preserves and interprets the African-American experience in Austin, and hosts a number of community events throughout the year. Kenny Dorham’s Backyard is one of the last original East end venues. Stop in for a show or a bite from a food truck. Go to visitaustin.org/soul for more ideas.