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City Guide: Austin, TX

One of my all time favorite cities is Austin, TX. I  mean, what’s not to love? Food trucks everywhere, lots of outdoor activities, so many funky local businesses, food trucks, good coffee, Matthew Mcconaughey lives there… Did I mention the food trucks? Since ATX is only 3 hours away from me, I go whenever I get a chance. And while there are SO many incredible spots all over the city (and I’m sure there are so many I haven’t tried yet) I’ve narrowed down my list of favorite places to eat, drink and play. 

Breakfast/ Brunch: 

Hillside Farmacy 

Hillside Farmacy is the cutest little restaurant just east of downtown. They’ve got the perfect mix of light bites and rich comfort food, plus the coziest interiors, with vintage shelving lining the walls that make you feel like you’re in a saloon, and the cutest bar that is reminiscent of an old soda fountain shop. Their patio is incredibly cute as well – it’s hard to miss the big yellow umbrellas! While I’ve only visited for brunch, I’ve heard their dinner options are insanely popular too. My favorite brunch options have to be the Fried Egg sandwich, cheesy grits and the Brûlée grapefruit 

Swedish Hill

Swedish Hill is located on west 6th street. Admittedly I’ve only stopped here for coffee and a pastry, but that alone was enough to put it on my list. The’ve got so many options for food that you should make this a stop day or night. (They do pizza nights on Tuesdays.. how fun is that?!) 

Joann’s Fine Foods

Joann’s is attached to the infamous Austin Motel on South Congress. Walking in feels like you’re being transported straight into the 70’s, with wood paneled walls and colorful booths. Even though it’s a got a classic diner vibe (which is perfect for a quick, cute breakfast, they have some funky food and cocktail options on the menu. My favorite? The avocado tacos + bacon 

PaperBoy

Paperboy sits next door to Hillside Farmacy. It started as a brunch food truck that was well known for their breakfast sandwiches, but now they are a full fledge brick and mortar restaurant with an expansive menu. Of course the sandwiches are still my top pick, but their toast is also incredible (the cinnamon toast with marscapone..omg) and their coffee is bomb too. They have a walk-up window built into their front entrance so you can still get that food-truck feel when ordering for take away. 

Le Politique

Authentic French food in Texas? Sign me up! Le Politique is super cute French cafe located in downtown, only a couple of blocks from the river. They have quite possibly the best Croque Monsieur I’ve ever tasted and a full raw bar (if you’re into that sort of thing) 

Coffee:

Mañana Coffee

I  swear Mañana Coffee is my happy place. There is something so peaceful about their courtyard – located right next to the South Congress Hotel. The coffee is incredible and it’s the perfect spot to sit and chill after walking up and down South Congress… or the perfect place to begin your south congress adventures. 

Flitch Coffee

I stumbled on this cute little airstream set up after leaving brunch at Grizzelda. Flitch stands alone in a little parking lot with some extra seating, so it would be a perfect stop during or after a bike ride. Maybe it’s because you’re on a quiet street and ordering out of a camper, but their cappuccinos hit different

Flat Track

Great coffee, very cool vibe. I wish Flat Track was my local neighborhood stop. They also just opened a sister shop called “palomino” it’s not close to downtown but their aesthetics are everything. 

 I  have 2 other absolute favorite coffee stops in Austin (although they really shouldn’t make the list because they aren’t locally owned) Cartel Coffee, located inside the Arrive Hotel and Alfred Coffee, located inside the Line Hotel. If you’ve been to LA, you know about Alfred. It’s one of my favorite places to go when I’m in California so the fact that I can get it in Texas is a fun perk! Cartel coffee is another third wave chain out of Phoenix. Truth be told, I try to connect all my flights through Phoenix just so I can get a latte from Cartel Coffee inside the airport. I freaked when I found out they had a shop in Texas.

Bites:

Easy Tiger Bake Shop and Beer Garden

a fun vibey spot with the best Italian sandwich I’ve ever had. Easy Tiger is a good pick because they’ve got so many different kinds of food on their menu, plus coffee, plus cocktails, and of course beer. It’s super casual without feeling like you’re in a dive bar. And I  was super impressed with the way they’ve handled safety measures during Covid. 

Grizzelda’s

Grizzelda’s is my go-to happy hour spot in town. Mainly because they have it HH on weekends (which is rare) and c’mon… pink margaritas. Their chips and guacamole are some of the best I’ve had and their queso is top notch. Their brunch is killer too! 10/10 would recommend making this a stop on your next trip to ATX 

Peached Tortilla

If you like Asian food, Peached Tortilla should be on your list. Their lunch menu is catered to “street food” where you can find tacos and bowls, but their dinner menu is classified as “asian comfort food”. Either way you can’t go wrong. I would recommend the pork belly bowl to share with the table! 

Mattie’s

if you want something fun and unique with your girls, or need a good date night destination, Mattie’s is your spot. You drive onto this gorgeous property with a long drive and large trees. The restaurant itself is an old white mansion with a wrap around porch. It’s so dreamy – think string lights and bistro tables all around, but the best part? peacocks. Lots of them. They live on the grounds and will gladly show up during your dinner. The food is delicious, with super creative take on classic menu items. The most memorable thing for me was the Brussel sprouts! 

Hank’s

Hank’s is all around a good stop, with options for literally any time of day. My local friends love to go for coffee in the morning, but they are also well known for their burger! Plus their aesthetics are *chefs kiss* 

Gordough’s 

If you like doughnuts, you have to go to Gordough’s. It’s a food truck located on 1st street with the biggest fluffiest doughnuts ever. They have some wild flavor combinations (think strawberries and jalapeño jelly or an Elvis doughnut with grilled bananas and peanut butter) but my favorite is a simple cinnamon sugar, served with honey butter. Without fail, I make sure to stop by that airstream trailer every visit. 

Franklin BBQ

In all honesty, I haven’t been here. I  don’t like bbq so it is never on my list of places to visit. HOWEVER. I drive by it every time I’m in town and the line is miles long. Franklins has been highlighted on multiple food shows and has a reputation for being some of the best barbecue Texas has to offer. So while I  can’t give a personal recommendation, the lines speak for themselves

Fareground

Fareground is a local food hall located below ground in the heart of downtown. There are so many food options that it’s hard to decide, especially because they are all local vendors with incredible menus. When we visited, I  opted for the ramen shop and it was insanely good ramen. Fareground also has a bar in the middle so you can get food from whichever vendor, grab a drink at the bar, and sit wherever you’d like! This is the perfect option for food if you’re with a group who can’t decide what sounds good. 

Chivata Goat Cheese Lovers

Just down the street from Gordough’s is a food truck park with tons of awesome vendors. One truck though is killing it. It’s called Chivata – and they do everything with goat cheese. It sounds kind of ehh… but if you like caprese even a little bit, you have to stop by. I  get the G.O.A.T sandwich, with arugula, goat cheese balls, tomatoes and prosciutto and it is out of this world. I  would recommend hitting this food truck park for lunch, and then walking to Gordoughs afterwards for dessert.. there is also a good coffee shop across the street called seventh flag to finish out your afternoon perfectly! (they don’t have. a website but a simple Google search will pull up their address)

Sawyer & Co.

Sawyer & Co. is a hidden gem in east Austin. When you walk in, you feel like you are thrown straight into a retro time machine. With old fashion TV sets and tiki glasses, plus patio furniture straight from the 60’s, it’s a super fun experience. Their menu is heavily influenced by New Orleans, with lots of cajun options (think jambalaya and boudin) They do breakfast all day to encompass their “diner” vibe and have some traditional options on the menu as well! 

Drinks:

Bar Peached

Not to be confused with the Peached Tortilla (same owners, different locations) Bar Peached is a cutesy little bar on west 6th street! They have a similar vibe going as their sister restaurant when it comes to their menu, mixing Asian and Mexican flavors. Their cocktails are all incredibly light and refreshing as well. Their patio is an incredibly chill hide out just below street level so you could really hang out there all evening. 

Perla’s

Perla’s is one of the most popular stops on South Congress. They are known for their raw bar and have lots of seafood options on their menu. Even though I don’t eat seafood, I do like taking advantage of their amazing patio for a cocktail. It’s a great place to sit and stay a while and enjoy the city.

P6

located on the 6th floor of The Line Hotel, this is one of the most picture perfect spots in all of Austin. P6 looks out onto the river and every corner is incredibly aesthetic. The drink menu is full of interesting flavor combos (which makes it hard to order just one) and they’ve got a broad variety of food too! This is a must on your trip, even if only for the photos. 

Better Half

Better Half is a vibe. They’ve got coffee and cocktails plus a distinct morning and evening menu. It screams hipster which is great because it’s incredibly chill. I  didn’t get to spend much time here but it is at the top of my list for my next trip. Plus the owner has a reputation for other cool businesses, like “little brother coffee”which is super popular around town too.

Rainey Street

While I  avoid 6th street like the plague, Rainey street is a fun place to “go out” in Austin. It’s a block of bungalows turned bars and each one has a completely different vibe. I would recommend starting at Lustre Pearl and work your way down. Be sure to pop into Geraldine’s too! Conveniently, they have a food truck park smack dab in the middle of the bar scene with some bomb tacos so you can plan your evening accordingly.  

All the Fun Things:

Austin has so many things to see and things to do, it’s hard to put them all on a list. I’ve named a handful of my favorite places to shop and some activities I  always try to factor into my weekend itineraries, but I  really can’t do the city justice with all that it holds. I’m only going to go into detail about a couple of these because they deserve some extra time to shine, but this just scratches the surface of what is available to do.

Go shopping on South Congress 

Limbo (and Little Limbo) 

Maufrais

this place is magic. It’s a hat shop but it feels as cozy as a boutique hotel. If you have an appreciation for hats at all, you have to visit. Their showroom floor is so homey and their hats are as much decoration as they are inventory. Dead center of the store is an accessories bar where you can deck out your hat with bands, pins, feathers etc. While I  haven’t bought a hat at Maufrais, I  have taken the ones I  do own into the store and let the employees work their magic… because of course everyone is very cool that works there. They are also in the process of setting up a “ Little Brother coffee”  in the front, complete with a walk-up window for grab and go! It just doesn’t get any better! 

Feathers

Triple Z Threads

Maya Star

Prototype Vintage

Kayak or Paddleboard on The Colorado River

Get a stick and poke tattoo

Obviously this is a unique activity that won’t tickle everyone’s fancy, but it had to be included for one simple reason. Austin has recently become home to not one, but two stick-and-poke tattoo shops that house some incredible artists that I’ve followed for a long time. In fact, the girl that tattooed me in Marfa is now tattooing in Austin (so much closer) and her work is incredible. (she’s @moonstonetombstone on Instagram) Where I live, no one does stick and poke, so it’s a fun option when visiting the city

See the Peacocks at Mayfield Park 

The Domain shopping center 

East Austin Succulents 

Again, this might not tickle everyone’s fancy, but East Austin Succulents is one of my favorite places to get plants. They are so much cheaper than any plant shops in my area and they have the biggest selection! If you are a plant lover (and if you drove on your trip to Austin) make sure you put this on your list! 

To Stay:

The Line Hotel

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve seen my obsession with The Line Hotel. Their interiors are everything, the pool is pretty big with tons of chairs and they have an Alfred in the lobby. What’s not to love. Their rooms are simplistic, but still designed to feel like you’re not just in a Marriot. Plus, because of where they are located, your room will either have a gorgeous view of the river, or the capitol building! 

Arrive Hotel

The Arrive is another boutique hotel that is located downtown. Their rooms are cute and super affordable. You can upgrade your room for really cheap as well! Their lobby area is fairly small but the room aesthetics are where it’s at!  

Carpenter Hotel

The Carpenter is a vibe. Honestly it reminds me of an old school building with cinder block walls and concrete floors. It is an old union hall that sits off the road in a grove of pecan trees at the edge of Zilker Park. The restaurant located inside of the hotel is supposed to feel like a fine dining experience even though it’s incredibly laid back.  Unfortunately it was closed due to Covid when I  popped in, but it is on my to-do list during my next trip! They also have a coffee shop attached called Hot Coffee! It’s a great coffee stop whether you stay at the hotel or not! I  would suggest getting the mint lemonade too!  I  will say, their basic rooms are pretty small and dark  but they are super affordable, so it’s a great local option instead of staying at a major hotel chain. 

Austin Proper Hotel

The Proper is a boutique hotel chain known for it’s stunning interior architecture. (The one in LA is *heart eyes*)  It’s not as affordable as the other options mentioned above, but it’s definitely a gorgeous option when visiting Austin.

Hotel San Jose

Hotel San Jose has my heart. It sits right in the middle of South Congress street, yet somehow feels completely private and secluded. The rooms are all stand alone bungalows so you feel more like you’re staying on a rental property versus a hotel. Their pool area is so dreamy, serving major Marfa vibes and their cocktails are delicious. It’s owned by the people who operate El Cosmico so it has that same down to earth, minimalist feel while still being full of personality. It’s definitely on the pricier side so keep that in mind, but it’s at the top of my list regardless. (obviously not physically.. but emotionally lol) 

It’s hard to narrow down just a handful of places to recommend because every corner of Austin makes me fall in love with that city more and more during every visit. ATX is one of those places where you kind of let it take you along for the ride instead of planning out every second of every day. Personally it’s a breath of fresh air for me, since Dallas is so much more polished and pretentious. You can be whoever you want to be and dress however you want to dress. Whether you are more active, or a major foodie, there is definitely something for you! 

*please note that this list was started pre-Covid. While many of these places are open and following safe, sanitary protocols, please check to see if businesses are still temporarily closed and research their safety measures before showing up*

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9/03/2020

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City Guide: Austin, TX