South Austin includes many of Austin’s most popular neighborhoods. The area is often referred to as 04, SoCo, SoLa, Bouldin Creek, Travis Heights or just South of the River.
The areas just over the Lamar Street, 1st Street and Congress Ave bridges are some of the most expensive neighborhoods because they offer a lot of what makes Austin the great city it is. This eclectic area is within walking distance to Zilker Park, Barton Springs and many of the coolest retail and restaurants in Austin.
SoLa: South Lamar
Maria’s Taco Xpress is a funky, Austin institution and perfect for any budget; Casa De Luz is a tucked away little village featuring a cooking school, community-style vegan restaurant, and yoga studios. How Austin is that? Austin Art Garage supports Austin artists and they are a great place to get unique, handmade gifts.
If you’ve always wanted to learn to country dance, head over to Broken Spoke Wednesday – Saturday where Terri White has been teaching classes for years.
SoCo: South Congress
Home Slice has some of the best pizza and vibe in the city but I always end up ordering the same thing: a side of meatballs with garlic knots and house salad. You can also request honey for dipping your crust ends; Jo’s Coffee has casual, walk-up window service and is great for people watching; Vespaio is one of the best Italian restaurants in the nation, no kidding. HopDoddy is the place for the town’s best burgers, but expect a wait.
Yard Dog Art Gallery is my favorite outsider art gallery. I’ve been taking my son to Avenue Barbershop since he was four. The retro music is fantastic and I’ve yet to find anyone who gives a better cut than Jeremy. Afterward, we go next door to The Big Top for some serious sugar. The candy selection is deep, with many items you haven’t seen since you were a kid. Try Ten Thousand Villages for handmade items from around the world that support our global neighbors; Prototype has vintage furniture, clothing and all kinds of retro accessories and Friends of Sound is a favorite among record collectors and traders.
On the first Thursday night of every month, South Congress merchants stay open late and the sidewalks fill with music, dancing and Austin artisans selling their creations.
According to Money Magazine, South First ranks 8th in the Nation’s 10 hippest neighborhoods. It is a little less trendy than South Congress but equally full of locally-owned, restaurants and retail.
Austin’s Roadhouse Relics is an inspirational studio and gallery where neon artist Todd Sanders crafts his vintage-style designs. His art can also be seen all over Austin at various locally owned businesses.
Cathedral of Junk was started in 1988 by Vince Hannemann at his home in South Austin. When my son was younger he’d spend hours exploring well over 60 tons of junk piled several stories high. There’s really nothing quite like it. It may be by appointment now so call first, 512-299-7413.
David Ansel used to deliver his gourmet soups by bicycle. Soup Peddler was such a success he opened a brick and mortar where you can pick up a nice variety of hearty, healthy, homemade soups, smoothies, and sandwiches with vegan options.
I used to order my son’s birthday cakes from Sugar Mama’s until I realized I couldn’t go that long in between visits. They have the best cupcakes on earth.