South Austin can refer to any part of Austin, Texas south of Lady Bird Lake and the downtown area, although many people use it to specifically refer to the south-central area directly south of downtown in the 78704 zip code. 78704 is bordered by Lady Bird Lake to the north, I-35 to the east, Ben White Blvd (Hwy 290/71) to the south, and Mopac (Loop 1) to the west. The area is a very popular neighborhood for young people and has historically been the center of Austin's counterculture, although it has been rapidly gentrifying in recent years. The area contains several attractions for visitors.
South Austin is easily accessible. From Downtown, head South either by foot, bike, or car and cross Lady Bird Lake over the Congress, 1st, or Lamar bridges.
You will need motorized transport from the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. Bus or taxi are available. If traveling by car from the airport, take Ben White Blvd (71) West, then turn right on Riverside Dr. Take Riverside to S. Congress.
- Riverside is the first street on the south side, parallel to the Colorado River (not to be mistaken with 1st Avenue that runs north-south on the south side) one block west of Congress. As you travel east past IH 35, you will get into Austin's version of Mexican night life. During the day you can eat in a wide variety of Mexican and Chinese restaurants, some very good and inexpensive, shop in a variety of Latino-oriented stores, visit the Mexican Flea Market one block north of the Riverside and Pleasant Valley intersection (weekends only), or visit the Riverside Austin Community Campus. At night from 11 PM to 2 AM East Riverside becomes the Latin party alternative to the famous 6th street in downtown.
- The Cathedral of Junk is an art installation in Austin resident Vince Hannemann's back yard built over 20 years from scrap metal and other junk, now standing at three stories high. A very interesting sculpture and probably something you probably find in the guidebook. 4422 Lareina Drive, Austin. Free entry but donations are welcomed. Call ahead (512-299-7413) to check if he's open.
- Zilker Park, 2100 Barton Springs Rd (1/2 mi W of South Lamar), ☎ 512-974-6700, . Austin's city park, near downtown, it is the home of Barton Springs Pool, Zilker Botanical Garden, Zilker Hillside Theatre, Umlauf Sculpture Garden and Museum, and soccer fields which, in October, host the annual Austin City Limits (ACL) festival. The park is free, but parking is $3 during peak usage. (30.265517,-97.769995) edit
- Barton Springs Pool, 2101 Barton Springs Road (Enter through the main area of Zilker Park, NW of Barton Creek), ☎ 512-476-9044, . 5AM-10PM; Closed Th 9AM-7PM. Nothing beats the heat on a hot afternoon like a dip in Barton Springs Pool. This natural spring pool is fed from an underground aquifer, keeping the water between 68°F and 72°F (20°C-22°C) year-round. Entrance fee varies from free to $3. (30.2639,-97.77) edit
- Kayak on Lady Bird Lake, 2201 Barton Springs Rd. (In Zilker Park), . Rent a kayak. Zilker Park Boat Rentals is along the Barton Springs Creek. Just paddle down to Lady Bird Lake and see great views of Downtown Austin. Turtles are common in the lake and creek. Paddle over to the southern part of the Congress Ave. Bridge and hear the squeaking noises of the bridges 1.5 million resident bats (don't hang out under the bridge-- bat guano is a problem). edit
- First Thursday, South Congress Ave.. The first Thursday of every month, there is a festival atmosphere on South Congress from Oltorf to Lady Bird Lake with music, street performers and special sales in area shops. edit
- Zilker Park Kite Festival MARCH. 2200 Barton Springs Road. The oldest continuous kite festival in the USA. Hundreds of kites will dance in the sky the first Sunday in March (10AM to 5PM) Admission is FREE. Everyone is welcome whether they fly a kite or just enjoy the spectacle that must be seen to be believed. Kite flying demonstrations will be held all day and delicious food of all kinds will be prepared fresh at the event. See kite ballet, kite battles, kite buggies and giant kites over 50 feet long. Come compete in both youth and adult kite contests with your homemade kite. Trophies are awarded to the winners. Proceeds from vendor sales go to break the cycle of child abuse. Free parking and shuttles. Come on down to Zilker Park and enjoy “Kite Day”. Rain date is the following Sunday.
- Wildflower Center Art and Artisans Festival MARCH. The annual Wildflower Days celebration begins with the Art and Artisans Festival devoted to arts, crafts and nature. This early spring event features the work of local artists and artisans, all working with a nature theme. You will find watercolors, metalwork, pottery, jewelry, photography, woodwork and more, all lovingly made by hand. Highlights include children's activities in the Little House as well as book signings and special discounts at the store. Then, add some leisure to your arts - dine on tasty cuisine at the Wildflower Cafe and enjoy entertainment provided by local musicians.
- Austin Food & Wine Festival APRIL. Butler Park A three day celebration of food, wine and spirits.
- Blues on the Green SUMMER. Every other Wednesday during the summer, Zilker Park will be filled with thousands of people, blankets and lawn chairs, families and music lovers for this popular free concert series. Arrive early and spread a blanket on the lawn to get the best spots for your group. Bring a picnic dinner (no glass bottles) or purchase food from any of the many vendors and enjoy a very casual evening and a staple of the Austin lifestyle. Well behaved dogs on a leash are welcome.
- Austin Bamboo Festival AUGUST. Zilker Botanical Garden. Phone: 512-477-8672. This annual event features tours of the Taniguchi Japanese Garden, traditional dances, bamboo crafts and flute music.
- Lone Star Vegetarian Chili Cook-Off NOVEMBER. The annual vegetarian cook-off began in 1989. Our mission is to show a healthy lifestyle can be as familiar as traditional, homemade chili – and a lot more fun! All of the chili is purely vegan (no animal products). The cook-off is open to all entrants. It is open to the public for tasting and mingling; admission enables you to taste ALL the different chili (and includes Zoo Entrance fee)! There will be lots of chili to taste, lots of interesting people to meet, guest speakers, great door prizes, live music, and many educational booths & exhibits. Half of the proceeds benefit the Austin Zoo, a rescue zoo providing sanctuary to displaced animals.
- South Congress Avenue (SoCo). Main drag in South Austin that features upscale boutiques and condos alongside more traditionally "hippie" places. edit
- Studio2Gallery, 1617 South Lamar, . This gallery features original work by contemporary regional, and national artists. edit
- Cowboy Boots. South Austin is the place to buy your cowboy boots and hats. Choose from the popular Allen's Boots, high end Heritage Boots, or workman's Cavender's Boot City. edit
- Bouldin Creek Coffeehouse, 1501 S 1st St, . Great coffeehouse with an all vegetarian menu. edit
- Casa de Luz, 1701 Toomey Rd, . Austin's only completely vegan restaurant. $12 per person gets you an all-you-can-eat macrobiotic meal. They have several different types of specialty meals each week such as Guatemalan or Caribbean night. Food can be bland but it's definitely a unique experience. The atmosphere is fantastic as it's located right by Barton Creek surrounded by lush vegetation. edit
- Catfish Parlour, 4705 E Ben White Blvd, ☎ +1 512 443-1698, . Daily 11AM-10PM. All-you-can-eat catfish with hushpuppies on the side is a true Southern experience. $15-20. edit
- Curra's Grill, 614 E Oltorf St, ☎ +1 512 444-0012, . Su-Th 7AM-10PM, F Sa 7AM-11PM. An Austin original, this restaurant brings outstanding traditional interior Mexican food. Some of the best pork recipes around and you will not find better Mexican style seafood dishes anywhere in the city. edit
- Dolce Neve, 1713 S 1st St, ☎ 512-804-5568, . TUES-THURS: 11:00AM-10:00PM, FRI-SAT: 11:00AM-12:00AM, SUN: 11:00AM-10:00PM. Three Italians have come together in South Austin to open Dolce Neve, where they make gelato the traditional Italian way. This cozy gelato shop features about 20 different gelato flavors—from the traditional Italian favorites such as hazelnut, pistachio, chocolate, and stracciatella to the creative combinations made from seasonal local products—along with a smattering of gelato sandwiches, granitas, frozen Italian desserts, gelato on a stick treats, and espresso drinks. $3-$10. edit
- El Gallo, 2910 S Congress Ave (across the street from St. Edwards University), . Tu-Th 11AM-10PM, F 11AM-11PM, Sa 8AM-11PM, Su 8AM-9PM, closed Monday. Norteño-influenced Tex-Mex. They still have cabrito as well as all the normal fare. Yummy and relatively inexpensive. Dinners $11-15. edit
- El Rey, 4109 S Capital of Texas Hwy, ☎ +1 512 443-1911, . If you don't think Tex-Mex should resemble the Taco Bell menu, check out El Rey. Sonoran specialities. Good Mexican food right next to Texican Cafe (formerly the Trudy's South Star location) and they hardly ever have a wait. edit
- Green Mesquite BBQ & More, . The original location on Barton Springs is in a funky building with a good biergarten in back with entertainment. BBQ is decent and the sides are good. All-you-can-eat BBQ $14. edit
- 1400 Barton Springs Rd, ☎ +1 512 479-0485.
- 9900 S I-35, ☎ +1 512 282-7100.
- Guero's Taco Bar, 1412 S Congress Ave, ☎ +1 512 447-7688, . M-F 11AM-11PM, Sa Su 8AM-11PM. High-class, sit-down Tex-Mex in the middle of the South Congress maelstrom. Always busy, always Austin. Lots of musicians frequent the place when they're in town. Many famous Austinites, and wanna-be Austinites have visited, including President Clinton, (then-)Governor Bush, and the rest of the Bush clan. Live music. Great atmosphere (You saw it in Quentin Tarantino's Grindhouse flick "Deathproof")! And some pretty tasty tacos too! Dinners $9-14. edit
- Hai Ky. Consistent fresh, high quality Vietnamese food with great bowls of pho, delicious stir fries and noodle dishes, bubble tea and friendly service. At 1931 E. Oltorf about 3/4 mile east of I-35 in a strip shopping center on your right just past the Whataburger. Locals in the know and Asian students yearning for a genuine taste of home frequent this small restaurant. Great electronic music adds to the casual ambience. Best Vietnamese food in Austin. Very affordable and now serves imported beers. Great staff w/ mellow ambiance. Two thumbs up. edit
- Kerbey Lane Cafe. 24 hours. edit
- 2700 S Lamar Blvd, ☎ +1 512 445-4451.
- 4301 W William Cannon Dr, ☎ +1 512 899-1500.
- La Mexicana Bakery, 1924 South 1st. St, Austin, Texas 78704, ☎ +1 512 443-6369, . Open 24 Hours. A family owned bakery providing authentic Mexican pastries and much more. They also have an all day breakfast and lunch menu, cakes for all occasions, pralines, carnitas, barbacoa, homemade flour tortillas, and more. edit
- Lick Ice Creams, 1100 S Lamar Blvd #1135, . Artisanal ice creams in flavors like horchata, goat cheese and thyme, roasted beet, and fig, as well as classics like chocolate and vanilla. edit
- Little Barrell and Brown, 1716 South Congress, Austin,TX 78704, ☎ 512-582-1229, . Sun-Sat: 5:00pm-12:00am, Sat-Sun: 10:30am-3:00pm. A full-service New American restaurant & bar in the heart of SoCo. $3-$28. edit
- Little Mexico Restaurant, 2304 S 1st St, ☎ +1 512-462-2188. This restaurant has some of the finest enchiladas of a Tex-Mex style. Nothing at all bad on the menu either. It's one of those places mostly only the locals go to so keep it quiet. Also a good place to spot hungover Austin luminary musicians easing that Sunday morning pain. Little green and red building on the West side of S 1st, just a bit north of Oltorf. Good margaritas, Negro Modelo and XX are available. Good homestyle interior Mexican dishes as well as Tex-Mex. If you want to be trendy go to Guero's, if you want to eat, check it out and you won't be disappointed. Live music on Thursday nights. edit
- Magnolia Cafe, Two locations: 1920 South Congress and 2304 Lake Austin Blvd, . Always open. Great place to get a short stack for breakfast. The dinner specials are pretty tasty and fairly inexpensive. edit
- Maria's Taco Xpress, 2529 S Lamar Blvd, ☎ +1 512-444-0261, . M 7AM-3PM, Tu-F 7AM-9PM, Sa 8AM-9PM, Su 9AM-2PM. Maria's features some of the best breakfast tacos in town. On weekend mornings there is usually a line from the counter out the door, so if you don't want to wait call in your order. They only take cash, so be prepared. Live musicians featured on Sunday mornings and weekday evenings out on the patio. edit
- Matt's El Rancho, 2613 S Lamar Blvd (1/2 blk N of Manchaca), ☎ +1 512-462-9333 ([email protected]), . 11AM-10PM, Fr-Sa 11AM-11PM; Closed Tuesdays. The quintessential Tex-Mex restaurant in Austin, you won't find anything non-traditional or creative here. It has been around for over 50 years and for good reason. The first thing to order is the first thing on the menu: the "Bob Armstrong Dip." Watch out for the strong margaritas! Complete dinners $12-18. (30.245587,-97.779409) edit
- Sandy's Hamburgers, 603 Barton Springs Rd, at First and Barton Springs. Great burgers, milkshakes. Better than the Whataburger next door. Great people watching. Their soft-serve ice cream is worth the lines. edit
- Shady Grove, 1624 Barton Springs Rd, . Indoor & outdoor dining with a fun and eclectic atmosphere. Home-style foods such as frito pie & chili can be made vegan (even the Worcestershire is vegan). edit
- South Congress Cafe, 1600 South Congress Ave, ☎ +1 (512) 447-3905, . M-F 10AM-4PM and 5-10PM, Sa-Su 9AM-4PM & 5-10PM. In the heart of South Congress Avenue, this cafe serves up spectacular and inventive fare. The tomato soup with stilton cheese is tasty to start, and the blackened tuna tacos are downright phenomenal. Mains $10-25. edit
- Taco More, 2015 E Riverside Dr, . This no frills Mexican place offers less common dishes like goat stew, menudo, tongue tacos, and pozole in addition to the usual fare, plus a salsa bar. edit
- T&N Cafe. Located in the same plaza as the Oak Hill Burger Tex (6705 Hwy. 290 W.) near the Y. Excellent Vietnamese pho and bun dishes and few unusual items like curry. Popular for lunch with the nearby Freescale folks. Friendly family service. You can bring in your own beer. Highly recommended. edit
- Threadgill's, . Southern cooking and great live music edit
- Uchi, 801 S Lamar Blvd (0.2 mi N of Barton Springs Blvd), ☎ 512-916-4808, . 5PM-10PM, F-Sa 5PM-11PM. Creative seafood and Japanese cuisine, including sushi/sashimi. A good place to see and to be seen, dress is nighttime-casual to formal but, like almost anyplace in Austin, jeans are acceptable. Reservations are strongly recommended. Entrees $10-$30. (30.257582,-97.75981) edit
- Vespiao. For a taste of Italy nowhere in Austin is better. Extensive wine list and beyond excellent food. edit
- Bouldin Creek Coffeehouse, 1501 S 1st St, ☎ +1 512-416-1601 ([email protected]), . M-F 7AM-Midnight, Sa-Su 9AM-Midnight. edit
- Summermoon Coffee, 3115 S 1st St, ☎ (512) 804-1665, . Known for their "moon milk", a uniquely sweet creamer for their drinks. Also known for their wood-fired coffee. Lots of power outlets. edit
- Jo's, 1300 S Congress Ave, ☎ +1 512-444-3800, . Hip coffee spot right on South Congress, all outdoors. You can often find bands playing on the patio right off the street. edit
- Ruta Maya, 3601 S Congress Ave (turn off So. Congress at the strip joint and go uphill), ☎ +1 512-707-9637 ([email protected], fax: +1 512-472-9639), . M 7AM-11PM, Tu-Th 7AM-1PM, F 7AM-2AM, Sa 8AM-2AM, Su 8AM-11PM. An Austin tradition. Located at the Penn Field complex in a cavernous space with classes, entertainment, and events. Be aware that the service can be haphazard, but always friendly. edit
- The Continental Club 1315 South Congress, This legendary South Austin venue was opened in 1957 and for nearly four decades has been serving up the best live music Austin has to offer. The venue is small so get there early if you want to get in.
Almost all of the restaurants listed above have a full bar available and are suitable for grabbing a few drinks without having to order food. If you're looking to hop from bar to bar, listen to loud recorded music, and don't care about food, heading into Downtown Austin might be a better option.
- Doc's Motorworks, 1123 S. Congress, ☎ 512-448-9181, . Full bar, and over 30 beers on tap in a laid-back atmosphere. Has a great patio to enjoy the warm weather. Food also served. Tuesdays is a great night at Doc's where all Texas beers are $2.50/pint or $9/pitcher. Tuesdays is also "gringo bingo" night - traditional bingo but with a Tex-Mex twist. edit
- Snack Bar, 1224 S Congress Ave, ☎ 512-445-2626, . 9am-10:30pm Sun-Wed, 9am-12am Thu-Sat. Next to the iconic Austin Motel in SoCo. Organic & local as possible, yet affordable, global cuisine for breakfast, lunch & dinner. Tight wine list & local brews on tap, plus great coffee & tea, with a fabulous patio for people watching. Dogs always welcome! edit
- Omni Austin Hotel at Southpark, 4140 Governors Row, ☎ (512) 448-2222, . (30.2144444444,-97.7505555556) edit
- Austin HI Hostel 2200 South Lakeshore Blvd., Phone: 512-444-2294 Hi-Austin rests on the shores of Lady Bird Lake, providing a peaceful setting only footsteps away from bus lines, the hike & bike trail, and the Colorado River. A short journey could take you to the middle of the Red River music district, to the stylish hub of South Congress, to the cool waters of Barton Springs Pool, or to the natural beauty of the Austin Greenbelt.
- Motel 6 Austin South - Airport 2707 I-35 South, Phone: 512-444-5882
- Austin Motel 1220 S. Congress Ave., Phone: 512-441-1157 The one, the only, located in colorful, wonderful South Austin, in the heart of SoCo & walking distance to downtown
- Hyatt Regency Austin 208 Barton Springs Rd., Phone: 512-477-1234 A beautiful hotel on the south shore of Austin's Lady Bird Lake close to downtown and SoCo.
- Hotel San Jose 1316 S. Congress Ave., Phone: 512-852-2350 Boutique Hotel right in the heart of SoCo. A very trendy place, but more expensive than many other options in the area. It's also a popular spot to hang out for locals to have a drink or two in the evening around the beautifully landscaped pool.
- Hotel Saint Cecilia 112 Academy Dr., Phone: 512-852-2400 Boutique Hotel tucked into a residential area a short walk from SoCo.
Free Wi-Fi is available at many of the local restaurants and coffee shops.