South Austin: Local Experiences

Most locals would agree that the real Austin can be found in South Austin, with its groovy shops, hippie flair and embrace of everything oddball.


DINING

St. Elmo Public Market Rendering.
St. Elmo Public Market Rendering. Courtesy of Giant Noise.

Step back in time with dinner at Mattie’s, famous for their gorgeous white peacocks. Or keep it casual with a bite and a Purple Haze beer at New Orleans-style Evangeline Cafe. Meat eaters will love the Asian-BBQ fare at Loro, while veg-heads should try the all-vegetarian dishes at Bouldin Creek Cafe. The patio at Juliet Italian Kitchen is the place to have an aperol spritz and tasty Italian food. Stop in at Carpenters Hall for the retro stylings, crafty cocktails and late-night burger. Inventive flavors and high-quality ingredients are what set Lick Honest Ice Creams apart. At Plaza Colombian Coffee, catch live Latin music and a caffeine buzz. For a little something for everyone, Radio Coffee & Beer offers craft coffee, cocktails and beer, along with food truck eats from Dee Dee Thai and Veracruz All Natural tacos.

WHAT’S NEW: St. Elmo Public Market is more than just a food hall — it’s a creative hub. You’ll find a huge range of local eateries, bars, shops, artisans and businesses housed in this revamped warehouse that also houses an event space and offices. Hang out on the rooftop and have a drink or dinner with friends.

NIGHTLIFE

Coffee and Cocktail Inside at Cosmic Coffee and Beer Garden.
Coffee and Cocktail Inside at Cosmic Coffee and Beer Garden. Photo credit: Julia Keim.

You can’t go wrong with any of the performances at The Saxon Pub, one of the cornerstones of the city’s music scene. Austin Beer Garden Brewing Company also has fantastic live shows, plus delicious pizza and craft beer. Head to Moontower Saloon for rustic, wide-open spaces, with fire pits and outdoor seating. Cosmic Coffee & Beer Garden is always buzzing with coffee seekers and booze drinkers. For a sports scene, check out Lavaca Street Bar, where you can get cheap drinks and watch every major sporting event. Still Austin Whiskey Co. is a grain-to-glass distiller that uses all local grains in both their whiskey and gin. Neighborhood gems District Kitchen + Cocktails and Little Darlin’ may be totally different in style, but they each have incredible food and a casual, comfortable vibe. 

SHOPPING

Uncommon Objects.
Uncommon Objects. Photo credit: Giant Noise.

Explore the funky shops of South First Street. Browse Bloomers and Frocks for curated high-quality vintage clothes and jewelry. For more excellent vintage finds, prepare to spend hours wandering around Uncommon Objects. Outfit your home Austin-style and support local artists by shopping at Austin Art Garage. Stop at Roadhouse Relics for a quick pic of the Greetings From Austin mural, then walk around the gallery to see handcrafted, retro-style signage. 

ENTERTAINMENT

A Christmas Carol at ZACH Theatre.
A Christmas Carol at ZACH Theatre. Photo credit: Kirk Tuck.

See a show at the Long Center or nearby ZACH Theatre, where the caliber of talent is always top notch. And don’t miss beautiful performances by the critically acclaimed Ballet Austin or the Austin Symphony

OUTDOORS

Family Sculpture at Umlauf Sculpture Garden.
Family Sculpture at Umlauf Sculpture Garden. Studio UMA.

Austin’s sprawling Zilker Park and its Zilker Botanical Garden are where you’ll find Austinites reading, playing with their pups, having a picnic or just cloud gazing. Take a quick dip and do some people watching at nearby Barton Springs Pool. Or stroll around and view the awesome art pieces at UMLAUF Sculpture Garden & Museum

INSIDER TIP: Spread out on the lawn and watch the free Zilker Summer Musical, an annual performance of smash Broadway hits at the Zilker Hillside Theater, July through August. 

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