You just haven’t done Austin right unless you hit South Congress Avenue, with its hip shops, hot restaurants, cool bars and boutique hotels.
Pick up a turbo iced coffee at Jo’s Coffee for a maximum caffeine jolt. And don’t miss their Sinner’s Brunch with a live band on Sundays. If you see a line down the street, it’s likely for Hopdoddy’s creative burgers and strong frozen concoctions. Or it might be for Amy’s Ice Creams, known for its huge selection of creative flavors and toppings (Mexican vanilla is a popular pick). Next door is Home Slice, one of the city’s best known pizza spots that has remained a local favorite for 15 years. Perla’s is noted for two things: fresh seafood and a beachy deck that’s perfect for kicking back and sipping on bubbly. Nestled in the gorgeous South Congress Hotel you’ll find Café No Sé , a light-filled, all-day eatery. It’s also home to Otoko, a reservation-only omakase experience that you won’t find anywhere else. At Cuban-flavored Habana SoCo, the empanadas are fresh-fried and pair perfectly with a minty mojito. Joann’s Fine Foods is located next door to the iconic Austin Motel, serving Southwest-inspired comfort food.
INSIDER TIP: Snap the ultimate Austin selfie in front of the cheery I love you so much mural painted on the side of Jo’s Coffee.
Sitting on the patio at Hotel San José with a frosé in hand is the best way to start your evening on SoCo. You can also catch a live show most nights at the nearby Oak Garden at Güero’s Taco Bar. The Continental Club, upstairs Continental Gallery, C-Boy’s Heart & Soul and The Jade Room all have the same owners and the same commitment to killer live music. Their calendars are jam-packed, hosting multiple shows that span all genres, from jazz to blues and honky-tonk to metal. If you happen to be in town during the first Thursday of the month, you’ll want to join in First Thursday, when all of the shops on the avenue stay open late and offer live music and specials. For late-night fun and karaoke, make your way to Ego’s, a basement dive bar with stiff drinks and $2 cheese balls.
There’s no store more Austin than Lucy in Disguise with Diamonds, a wacky costume wonderland that you’ll want to spend hours in. Be the envy of everyone with something sparkly from the gorgeous flagship Kendra Scott jewelry shop. Find boho dresses at Maya Star and Austin-inspired prints, jewelry and tees at Parts & Labour. The smell of leather wafts enticingly from both Allens Boots and Heritage Boots. Stop in and buy yourself a pair. Grab a colorful Mexican-inspired gift at Tesoros Trading Company or something a little cheeky at Monkey See, Monkey Do. It’s right next door to Big Top Candy Shop, with an old-fashioned soda fountain and retro penny candy that kids and grown-ups love.
WHAT’S NEW: South Congress is a true Austin Cinderella story, having blossomed into the city’s undisputed epicenter of cool. The area’s new Music Lane development follows suit, with a blend of trendy places for visitors to eat, shop and stay. Big-name spots like Neighborhood Goods, Aba, Le Labo, Reformation, Nak Armstrong and Soho House make Music Lane an upscale, must-visit destination.