Austin is about diversity. It's a rare world where politicians, academics, hippies and businessmen mix in (almost) perfect harmony. Don't ever try to judge a book by its cover in Austin; you'll find the wealthiest Austinites in sweats at Barton Springs, and you'll see students at the fanciest bars. We've pooled our resources to come up with our recommendations for the "best in Austin" experience.
Best way to experience Austin
Congress Avenue is the heartbeat of Austin, from the Texas State Capital and the high-rise office buildings downtown, to the famous "bat bridge
," Congress will give you the best taste of the diversity that is so Austin and walking down the drag (Guadalupe) will give a glimpse of life at UT.
Best place for a hike
Twin Falls on the Greenbelt
in South Austin, or a walk/jog around Lady Bird Lake.
Best outdoor spots
is an Austin standard, and if you want to go for a swim, we think it's a tie between Barton Springs
and Deep Eddy
Hotel San Jose
. Sure, there are fancier hotels in Austin, but none with more charm and a more beautiful design aesthetic.
Best live music
In Austin, you can't pick just one. We love the Continental Club
on South Congress and the Saxon Pub
on South Lamar. If you’re heading downtown, check out Momo’s
for local acts and Antone’s
for great blues shows. During the summer, there are great free shows hosted by 107.1 KGSR at Shady Grove
and Waterloo Park.
Best music store
No business has done more for the local music scene than Waterloo Records
Go to Book People
– you'll be greeted at the door and get to experience a large book store that has remained independent, and has lots of fun gifts and cards, too.
Our votes go to Home Slice
on South Congress, Roppolo’s
on 6th Street (for a late night snack) and Mandola's
(for a fancier meal).
Best Sunday brunch
gospel brunch for live music and the Bloody Mary bar, Moonshine
for a great buffet and the Four Seasons
for a special occasion (save up for this one).
Best hole in the wall Thai food
is our overall favorite, but the spring rolls at Madam Mam's
can't be beat.
is the quintessential Hill Country experience: bring some beer and enjoy an afternoon in the Texas sun with bbq and live music. In town, we all live for Rudy's
Best Mexican food
There are tons of options in Austin, and we each have a favorite (or two). Check out Fonda San Miguel
for upscale interior Mexican, Santa Rita
for clean Tex Mex flavor or Chuy’s
on Barton Springs for beef fajitas. Switch gears and try El Patio, a favorite hole in the wall near UT, or Habanero Café for greasy San Antonio-style fare.
Best kid-friendly dining
Phil's Ice House
has great food and a great play area, and with Amy’s Ice Cream next door, you can’t go wrong.
New burger joints are popping up all around town and we love that P. Terry’s
take pride in using natural ingredients. Our other favorites are Hillbert's
for a quick bite and Casino El Camino
for a 12oz burger and a beer.
We’re giving this award to Hyde Park
bar and grill (don’t forget the special sauce), and choosing Phil’s Ice House
for the best sweet potato fries.
Best home cooking
have a long Austin history, and Nubian Queen Lola’s
on the East side is a new favorite for real soul food.
Best cafeteria food
Luby’s is a tradition in the Austin office.
, no detail is overlooked, especially the fabulous décor
Best late-night dining
Kerbey Lane Café
. Two items make this place: the Paris Texas platter (migas and French toast on one plate – genius) and Kerbey Queso. Be bold – order both in one visit.
Best ice cream
There's a little controversy in our office over this topic. Amy's Ice Cream
is an Austin institution, while Whole Foods
have the best gelato in town.
Best coffee and dessert
is perfect day or night for great desserts and coffee and Halcyon is a great place to stop when downtown.
South Congress is perfect for exploring boutiques and vintage stores and The Domain
offers high-end outdoor shopping.
, The Oasis
on Lake Travis and the footbridge on 360.
Best place to see a movie
With several locations around town, and an essential Austin feel, Alamo Drafthouse
is our top pick.
Visit the Bob Bullock
for Texas history and then take a stroll through The Blanton Museum of Art
across the street.
The Mexican martini is an Austin staple found all around town – check it out at Trudy’s
. Our new favorite Wright Strategies drink is a michelada from Hotel San Jose
. For a glass of wine and delicious appetizers in a comfortable, neighborhood setting, visit Vino Vino
If you’re downtown, stop by the Mean Eyed Cat
or Key Bar
on West Sixth. Freddie’s Place
on South First is fun for outdoor entertaining, and Black Sheep Lodge
on South Lamar is a new hot spot for beer and bar food.
Have a frozen margarita on the patio at Vivo
Best trailer food
Food trailers are a new trend around town – you’ll find Torchy’s Tacos
in South Austin Trailer Park and Eatery on South First, and just a few blocks away on South Congress are Hey Cupcake
and Mighty Cone
There are many to choose from, but Austin City Limits
is the biggest and most celebrated. We’re also partial to SXSW (especially the Interactive conference!), which takes over the city each March.
Best cultural trait
, like the true Texans
they are, are proud (but not obnoxiously