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austin design guide {update}

by Grace Bonney


Today’s city guide update comes from Austin resident, and artist-extraordinaire Alyson Fox.  Alyson knows exactly why Austin is such a phenomenal city and today she shares with us the reasons why.  With an ever-growing art and music scene, and a bounty of new restaurants popping up on the scene (just check the list below), Alyson has given us a great guide to shopping, dining and seeing all that austin has to offer.  Thanks alyson for a great update!–Stephanie

CLICK HERE for the full austin guide after the jump!

Austin Guide

  • Bow and Arrow: A great little clothing store for men and women that shares a joining space with Spartan.
  • Stag:. A well edited menswear clothing store that is perfectly designed and merchandised.
  • Feathers: A fun selection of vintage clothing and accessories. You are sure to find something.
  • Spartan: a well-edited mix of gift/paper/travel/housewares. Spartan also offers registry services.
  • Finch: as one Yelp-er put it, “If you like the aesthetic of Dwell magazine and Design*Sponge, you’ll fall in love with Finch.”
  • Aviary: incredible home decor and accessories (vintage and modern).
  • Uncommon Objects: it might be a major crime not to have this first on the list. Uncommon Objects is an Austin institution carrying antiques, furniture, clothing, accessories and more. The common answer to questions about this store is “Just Go”.
  • Room Service Vintage: some of austin’s finest vintage furniture.
  • Gardens Austin: Mouth watering home, garden and lanscape architecture goods. Great stuff, expensive though.
  • Wildflower: a great bed, bath and home store with organic everything from around the world.
  • Big Red Sun: stunning (stunning) collection of furniture and home accessories. Great outdoor and garden goods, too.
  • Mercury Design Studio: A major must-visit with a mind-blowing collection of vintage accessories and furniture, as well as contemporary gifts. They offer design services as well. Really, a must-visit for anyone heading to Austin.
  • Eliza page: Great jewelry and accessories with a lot of local artists.
  • Tops: a great resource for old metal desks, lockers, file cabinets and chairs from offices and schools.
  • By George: One of the prettiest stores I have been in for clothing. Beautiful things.
  • Eco Wise: sustainable home /body store. Organic matresses, dishwashers…
  • Underwear: great undergarments
  • Cush Cush: Great upholstery fabric (lot’s of vintage blots too!). By appt only.
  • Fanny’s: Upholstery Fabric that is locally owned and has a good selection.
  • Service: for the boys. Good simple clothes.
  • La Luz: a great store with vintage home goods. Really good furniture.
  • The Paper Place: great gift store. Stationery as well.
  • IF+D: all things contemporary furniture and home decor. Great selection of lighting and artwork.
  • Toy Joy: for the little ones and adults. Awesome toys and gadgets. Locally owned and an Austin Favorite.
  • Progress– It’s a coffee place but they always have great art on the wall for sale.
  • Hill Country Weavers: textiles, thread, craft supplies and much, much more.
  • Kickpleat: Alyson’s favorite clothing store.
  • Ten Thousand Villages: wide range of personal and home accessories with a “world” flair.
  • Azzia: modern/contemporary furniture.
  • Four Hands Home: traditional, solid furniture if you’re in the market for something a little less contemporary.
  • Nest Modern: modern furniture and home accessories.
  • MOSS– a designer consignment store opened by the owners of the popular Feathers boutique.
  • Dog and Pony– a new boutique with vintage finds as well as new things. Close to UT campus.


  • AMOA: Austin Museum of Art always has great shows.
  • Blanton Museum of Art: The Blanton is the largest College Art Museum in the Nation. Beautiful space and a great collection.
  • Women and Their Work: A space dedicate to showing women’s work. Group and solo shows.
  • Art House– it recently reopened ( much anticipated)  and it is a really beautifully designed space by the LTL design team.

Where to Eat:

  • The Good Knight: A fun bar/restaurant.
  • Enoteca: Yummy Italian Food. Great Brunch on the weekends.
  • Thai Fresh: Great Thai plus cooking classes available.
  • Food Heads: Delicious sandwiches, salads and soups.
  • Eastside Showroom: Food, drinks and music.
  • Justines: Perfect French food in a great old house. I love it, but it is very popular so be prepared.
  • Enchiladas y Mas: I’m told by several people who eat meat that they have the the best Beef Fajitas ever.
  • Wink: A nice restaurant that has an ever changing menu. They also have a separate bar adjacent to the restaurant.
  • Amy’s Ice cream : A local favorite for creamy yummy ice cream.
  • The Steeping Room: Great healthy food in the Domain ( outside Mall). The best coconut tea!
  • Whip In: Live music a couple times a week and delicious breakfast and lunch sandwiches on naan.
  • Taco Deli: Fresh tacos. Really yummy green salsa.
  • Torchy’s Tacos: Good Taco’s with fun names.
  • Hey Cupcake: Big yummy cupcakes.
  • Counter Culture: Vegan and raw foods served from a trailer. Love it.
  • Uchi: Great Sushi
  • Casa De Luz: Alyson’s favorite. A Macrobiotic well being center. Pizza and mexican night are the best and Sunday Brunch.
  • Polvo’s: great Mexican
  • Vespaio: Italian food
  • 34th street cafe: wonderful sandwiches and soups!
  • Eastside Cafe: great fresh menu with many organic items and fresh herbs from their home garden
  • Davine Foods: All veggie place that is so healthy and delicious.
  • Lamberts: A great alternative to traditional bar-b-cue. Great side dishes.
  • Starlite Cafe: great brunch and yummy hashbrowns
  • south congress cafe: yummy brunch.
  • Koriente: Great Asian Food
  • Quacks Bakery: Best vegan treat I have had in a long time: Chocolate covered brownie.
  • Cocina de consuelo: Best breakfast tacos
  • House Pizzeria: They have a roasted potato pizza that is to die for.
  • El Chile: Good food, fun space and I love the salsa.
  • Red House Pizza: A fun bar with great pizza.
  • Fino- they have a fun outside patio and good food.
  • Mohawk bar– fun space, music  and lot’s of local things happening there.
  • Spartan Pizza– Yummy- with great toppings. In a trailer
  • Perlas– a seafood and oyster bar. When the weather is nice the patio is hard to beat.
  • Homeslice pizza– Can you tell I like pizza? THey have a great thing going here.
  • Hopdoddy– incredible hamburgers. really. A great veggie burger and locally sourced meat.
  • Haddingtons– great cocktails and food.
  • Mulberry- a wine bar with really tasty tapas and food.
  • Tacos and Tequila– a hearty weekend brunch.

Suggested For You


  • As a fellow Austinite I recommend Mother’s Cafe and Garden. They have the most amazing all vegetarian menu! It is actually right across the street from Quacks Bakery. If you visit Quacks Bakery you have to try the vegan truffles.

  • I lived in Austin for 2 years before transferring to art school in Rhode Island. I am definitely moving back after I graduate! I miss Austin so much! 3 suggestions for food that MUST be on the list.

    Maudie’s Tex-Mex
    There are several locations but the one on 1212 S. Lamar is my favorite!
    Real Tex-Mex, real great prices (especially their lunch specials).

    Hula Hut
    3825 Lake Austin Blvd
    Beautiful place on the lake. This is the one place I always make sure to take out of town friends to. A Hawaiian twist to the famous Chuy’s Tex-Mex.

    Food Heads
    616 W. 24th St
    BEST sandwiches. Fresh and delicious.

  • Blackmail / Vivid is also a must visit. Down the street from Uncommon Objects, they have 2 spaces – one that’s all black items, clothing, and vintage boots, and the other that’s full of bright, colorful items and art. Creatures next door is a great local shoe shop for guys and girls, and Hovercraft across the street has great home and personal accessories. It’s owned by Creatures people.

  • I would also suggest Beatnik Vintage for modern Dutch furniture. Good prices and quality pieces. They are worth a visit if they are still in business.

  • wow, i can’t believe this was missed. . . the hotel san jose is an absolute must-see, and stay here if you can afford it. at least go by and have a glass of wine on the beautiful patio.


  • Impeccable timing Grace and Alyson! I’m off to Austin for the first time in two weeks to visit a wonderful friend and hopefully to check out Stitch Austin (www.stitchaustin.com). Thanks again for the recommendations!!!!


  • Lights Fantastic is great source for obscure and iconic hard-wired lighting. And Flip-Happy Crepes is a must visit for Paris-meets-Texas sweet & savory crepes served out of a vintage Airstream.

  • Thank you so much for this great list! I’ve been an Austinite my entire life and I love it here. If you ever do get the chance, you really should come visit. I highly recommend that you eat at Shady Grove on Barton Springs road, they have the best strawberry margarita I’ve ever had.

  • I was wondering when Austin was going to get a guide. There are so many restaurants (Austin is very food-centric) and a few stores that could be added to the list, but all-in-all, this is a great start for anyone new to the city.

  • What great places, that make me miss living in Austin even more than I did already. You just can’t get a good breakfast taco up north!

  • Yay! Austin! For the parents, Terra Toys (by my house, conveniently) is a wonderful toy store. I love this guide. I didn’t know a few places mentioned — and I thought I knew everything.

  • anchovee, unfortunately Beatnik’s is gone, replaced by a drab consignment furniture shop. i only discovered it during the going out of business sale, but ended up with my favorite piece, a gorgeous dutch hutch for $75.

  • Tesoros Trading Company
    Austin, Texas, at 209 Congress Avenue

    Austin’s Tamale House
    5003 Airport Blvd, Austin, TX 78751-2708

  • I’m a Dallasite but visit Austin several times a year. And I can say from experience that your suggestions are fantastic choices. I’ll be in town Nov. 10-11 for Stitch Austin and plan to visit some of the places on your list that I had yet to discover. Thanks!

  • i third the san jose hotel. cool room. we stayed there last year for our anniversary. it gets pretty live in the evening as it is a favorite after work spot. also guero’s taco bar is a must place to eat. the best mexican food that i have ever had.

  • oh, another i’d like to mention that i think d*s readers would love: blue dahlia on east 11th: http://myspace.com/bluedahliabistro.

    the eat shop guide to austin is pretty good, but it’s tough for a printed book to keep up with all the new places opening! yelp.com is a great new source of recommendations when traveling.

  • what about the Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic store that opened at The Domain? Finally the real deal for all things Rachel Ashwell, vintage, furniture…the list goes on!

  • If anyone happens to visit Toy Joy, check out Dhaba Joy too. All the food there is vegan and I take a trip there at least once a week to get a cupcake fix.

  • I used to live in Austin, and I miss it so much. Here are 2 more places to eat to add to your list:

    * Mi Madre’s = best breakfast tacos
    * Dirty Martin’s = best burgers

    I hope you get to Austin sometime soon — you’ll love it!

  • i used to live in austin, but moved to the dallas area for grad school. i miss it SO much.

    -taco deli is a must!
    -i forth the san jose…(it’s where my we stayed the weekend my fiance proposed)
    -frank and angie’s is a cute little italian restaurant
    -all of south congress
    -east side cafe is a MUST

    i could go on forever…austin is my favorite city in texas!

  • I second eating at Maudi’s….great Mexican food and potent margaritas!

    Also, Shady Grove on Barton Springs- for hamburgers, salads, and such! Sit outside…there is usually a band and some nights they play silent films.

  • Good list!

    I second the motions for Hotel San Jose, Terra Toys, and Guero’s to be added to the list.

    I’d also recommend Maya on S.Congress for beautiful jewelry, home and gift items, and Parts and Labour (also on South Congress) for items made by some of our favorite DIY and indie craft gurus.

    Of course there’s so much more to add that I love about this town, but I can’t list them all here…..

  • I lived in Austin during my study abroad time from university in London. SPIDER HOUSE was a favourite haunt for great mexican hot chocolate and crazy decorative elements. Think stone gargoyles and fifties diner tables!

    2908 Fruth Street.

  • gotta love the “republic of travis county” (aka austin). no matter what preconceived notions you may have about tx, austin is its very own. we are a blue dot in a red state. keep austin weird. thanks for the great recommendations.

  • Great list! I miss Austin … I may be in Dallas now but Longhorn for life!

    Here are some places I suggest:

    The historic Driskill Hotel for brunch! http://www.1886cafeandbakery.com/

    A bookstore I could spend hours in: Book People – http://www.bookpeople.com/

    Other food picks: magnolia cafe,
    chez zee, and I bet you will be overwhelmed by the Whole Foods on Lamar Blvd. – a foodie’s dream!

  • If you like to be overwhelmed by food then you also have to check Central Market. That is hands down the number one thing I miss about Austin.

    Magnolia Cafe on South Congress is always a blast… 24 hours… diverse menu… it will satisfy any craving you have.

    The Elephant Room Downtown is another one of my favorite spots. It’s the perfect spot to catch a night of live jazz!

  • I, too, highly recommend the Hotel San José and Tesoros. I also highly recommend Kerbey Lane for eats, Flipnotics for coffee & vanilla frappés, and BookPeople for not only great books, but also the best card and magazine selection. Oh – Waterloo if you need good tunes. I live in Houston, but Austin is the best city in Texas!

  • The restaurants/cafe’s along Manor Road just east of I-35 are pretty fabulous: el Chile, Vivo’s, Hoover’s, el Chilito, Clementine’s, Stortini’s…and now Aster’s Ethiopian is open on Deen Keaton.
    Saturday mornings at Boggy Creek farm can’t be beat–buy locally grown produce and flowers, listen to music under the giant tree and feed the chickens–all within spitting distance of downtown!

  • in NYC for 12 yrs. now, but still miss Austin. How about Kirby Lane & Magnolia cafe’s. Someboday tell me they are still around!

  • Yep! Kirby Lane and Magnolia’s are still here! Though, I’ve only been at Kirby Lane within the span of 3am-6am.. I’ve only been here for about two months, being a new student at UT, so this guide is great! How exciting! I need help finding an affordable way to start furnishing my apartment in fall 2008, though. I guess I should start accumulating stuff now, right?

  • i just love these city guides for traveling!

    i’m crossing my fingers that minneapolis is on the list for a guide soon : )

  • Here are my picks for Austin’s best that I didn’t see mentioned:

    * Juan and A Million- East side breakfast (and lunch hotspot) that has what is honestly the BIGGEST, cheapest, and tastiest scratch made breakfast taco around these parts called the Don Juan…you only need to order 1!!

    * Guero’s- tasty chicken tacos located on the Congress strip

    * Toy Joy- just about the coolest toy shop I’ve ever seen located on the drag

    * Kirby Lane- My favorite 24 eatery. I belive they are an organic place (don’t qoute me on that). One of the two original owners of went off to start Magnolia Cafe, as I’ve come to understand, so their menus are very similar but Kirby feels a lot nicer to me. Tasty Gingerbread Pancakes!!! Various locations around town, my favorite is the original location on Kirby Lane.

    Amy’s Ice Cream- The best ice cream you’ll ever taste. No really. You can test ’em all if ya want to but my favorite is the Mexican Vanilla with the Dark Chocolate with some stawberries crushed in. Various locations around town.

    Wally’s Hamburgers- Now, i I had one wish it wouldn’t be for world peace it would be that Wally’s Burgers would be good for you much like carrots or spinich. Seriously, the best burger and shake (oh my lord, THE CHOCOLATE SHAKES) combo you can get here in Austin. Take it from a burger gal!! Located in North Austin.

    The Alamo Draft House- The best movie experience out here. Kick back and enjoy a current or cult favorite with a tasty dinner and a tall beer. Various locations in town ; recommend the new downtown location on 6th street.

    Waterloo Records- good but expensive and the ‘tude there is very hoity tioty but is known for more obscure hard to find stuff as well as the latest in music. Not my fav but I figured it should be noted.

    The Red Red River District- The best clubs in town:
    Emo’s- (at the corner of Red River and 6th) has the best bands for the best prices in town from Hip-Hop to Punk, Hardcore to Metal this place is great!

    Elysium- Has the best 80’s night EVER on a Sunday night with a $3 cover…I’m talking good 80’s, like The Smiths, Adam Ant, The Cure, The Ramones, etc…It’s always packed and sooo much fun!!

    Club Deville- Nice little bar with a great atmosphere.

    Room 710- awesome punk rock club

  • Ssshhhhhhh! If ya’ll keep talking about how great Austin is, we will be crawling with yankees! The sub-urban sprawl, traffic, and new toll roads are bad enough already. Did I mention that it gets hot enough to melt a flip flop on the sidewalk and the humidity is unbearable. Definitely not a place for the timid, Texans do not welcome visitors!

  • suzie, how unfortunate about Beatniks. i have been planning to go back there ever since i bought a beautiful dining room table from them.

  • Alyson has great taste — I love all of these places and frequent them often! Good job!

  • I’m so excited by this post! I’ve lived in Austin for years, but instead of enjoying it, I’ve been pathetically mopey and missing the pacific NW. I recently decided to do something about it by trying something new & local once a week. This gives me a great place to start! Thanks.

  • I don’t know if it’s been mentioned before, but with regard to the Biz Ladies, Austin has an established “Babes in Biz” group. It has several hundred members and was founded , of course, by Ms. Perkins (who posted above). Look into it if you are local!

  • You know, Austin is packed so full of such wonderful places that it would be almost easier (but not very nice) to post places not to go. The list would be QUITE short! I LOVE this town.

  • Love the Austin guide! Love all the great comments. Living off South Congres, I have to say I’m partial to, well, all of Austin. I’d have to add Hyde Park to the menu (not to mention Kerbey Lane, as well), and give a big huge plug for Room Service Vintage (there is a South and a North location, each carries a different trove of furniture, housewares, and awesome light fixtures.) Also, Amy’s Ice Cream is a must-visit to satisfy a sweet-tooth.

  • Great timing on this post. My wife and I are heading out to Austin for Stitch Austin (indy fashion and craft bazaar) next weekend.

    I’ve been out once before but looking forward to trying some of these great suggestions.

  • Ahhh, Austin! I was born and raised here, and I haven’t heard of a surprising number of shops on this list! I think I might be hitting up TOPS sometime very soon, I need a new desk and an old, metal one sounds perfect.

  • I am planning to travel to Austin this weekend and taking photos of several of the places you included. I will post them on my blog next week.
    By the way, Amarillo is my home town! Most people I talk to have never even heard of it!

  • For those interested in tops, there is also one in the north. Located at the intersection of Kramer and Braker. They keep a bunch of furniture outside during the day, and it is TEMPTING!

  • Voted Best Home Service (interior design) in The Austin Chronicle:


    Robin did a room for us and we LOVED it! She’s an awesome designer, and her rates are really reasonable. She’s got her finger on the pulse of Austin design. Check her out!

  • This nursery needs to be mentioned as well. It is located on the east side and they do some really amazing design work.

    I definately am excited that somebody posted their love for hey cupcake :)

  • I agree, Mother’s Cafe & Garden is delicious! One that I argue is that Dirty Martin’s is the best burger – a travesty! Its a dark punk rock-ish bar, but you MUST go to CASINO EL CAMINO on 6th st for a burger. Best burger in austin hands down – no contest. I think their kitchen opens at 4pm, but expect 45min to 1hr wait for their burgers after 9pm – the locals know its worth the wait.

  • kewl! i am lost out here and this gave me a couple leads. kewl people looking for a bargain property? look in taylor texas! this little town is the next to blow up real estate wise! i just got a steal 1600 sq ft fixer upper for 74000! i am a huge dwell fan! maybe you’ll soon see my house in a mag! now i need other kewl peeps to move there too! heehee!

  • Totally check out Austin Modern Vintage!
    They have a website so I can check out the vintage eye candy from work and I love their design sense and prices. Got a great pair of 60s Knoll side chairs there for a steal!
    They were just nominated one of the top vintage treasures of Austin in the Eat Shop Austin Guide.
    They’re just down the street from Roomservice and Pallenberg on North Loop, make a day of it and head to Epoch Coffeehouse for excellent pizza from Eastside Pies!

  • Don’t miss out on the great food at Hyde Park Bar & Grill and also at The Tavern on 12th. Different atmospheres, but equally good food.

  • Great list, but y’all left off a few awesome places:

    –Maria’s Taco Xpress. Austinites can argue all day about which place has the best breakfast tacos, but Taco Xpress is my personal fave and has topped various foodie polls. Design-wise, the statue of Maria towering above the place must be seen to be believed – kitsch at its finest.

    –Polvo’s. Some of the best – and most lethal – margaritas in town, but more importantly, some true interior Mexican cuisine that you don’t generally see in this Tex-Mex dominated town (aside from Fonda San Miguel, which is amazing as well but quite pricey). I don’t personally smoke, but my smoker friends appreciate the fact that it has a huge outdoor patio, which – this being Austin – is usable about 10 months out of the year.

    -Chuy’s has become a mini-chain of sorts, but the original on Barton Springs is most definitely worth a look. Kitsch-fab decor, top-notch margaritas, and notorious as the place where Jenna Bush was once arrested for underage drinking.

    –Several of its stores (e.g. Finch & Mercury Design) have already been mentioned, but the 2nd St. District as a whole is worth a looksee. It also has the advantage of being the most easily walkable collection of stores in town, aside from the big malls (including the Domain); S. Congress is as well, but it’s a bit more of a hike (as in uphill). And don’t miss 2nd’s western side! (the district is split into two halves, with City Hall and the future W Hotel in the middle)

    –Speaking of Finch, owner Kristi Pruett just opened a really cute kids store right next door called Wee. Lots of great design-oriented toys, games and clothes for tots.

    To give a few shoutouts to the east side:

    –Longbranch Inn – dive-y bar on a newly revitalized strip of 12th St. Great vibe, dirt-cheap beer, a 2-minute drive from downtown.

    –Progress Coffee – excellent indie coffeehouse a block east of I-35 w/great nosh, free wi-fi, ample parking (usually a problem at Flipnotics & Halcyon, my other faves), and coffee made with Fair Trade beans.

    –The Peacock – it’s a little hard to find (and on the edge of the revamped part of E. Austin), but design-wise it’s one of the coolest little bars in town, and the work of designer extraordinaire Joel Mozersky.

    On the cultural front: UT’s Blanton Museum of Art is definitely worth a visit. It’s not widely known, but the Blanton has the largest collection of Latin & South American art anywhere on the continent. Arthouse on Congress usually has some interesting exhibitions going on as well, as does AMoA (Austin Museum of Art).

    A couple of other notes:

    –The San Jose is the coolest hotel in town, as nearly everyone agrees, but that also means it’s one of the busiest. They’re at 100% occupancy most of the year, so BOOK EARLY if you want to stay there, particularly on weekends and if there’s some sort of big event going on. (If said event is ACL or SXSW, you should plan on booking a year in advance. Seriously.)

    –It’s Kerbey Lane Cafe, not “Kirby,” which is important to note since that’s the name of the street it’s on (and thus a Google Maps/Mapquest search on “Kirby Lane” would yield no results). Btw there’s a newer location on S. Lamar, near Taco Xpress, as well as one up in N. Austin.

    –A word of warning to you folks visiting from elsewhere: many of Austin’s best restaurants (e.g. Uchi and Vespaio) don’t take reservations. It’s one of those “Austin things” that takes some getting used to. Expect a 90-120 minute wait at primetimes on weekends; here we just think of it as “cocktail hour.” Same goes with Kerbey Lane & Magnolia for weekend brunch: you’ll have to cool your heels for a good 45-60 minutes (unless you’re solo and want to sit at the bar, at least if you’re at Magnolia or Kerbey South).

    –Austin now has multiple Alamo Drafthouses. All are good, but the best is housed in an old movie theater downtown called the Ritz. The “original” Drafthouse in the Warehouse District is now closed, FYI (the rent came to be too pricey now that the district is so popular).

  • I’m going down to Austin in a month and am considering moving down there! FYI Maria’s Taco Express is in a new building, her statue is no longer looking over all who enter. I heard some kids vandalized it. The new building is bigger, but doesn’t quite have the charm of the former shack. The breakfast tacos are still fantastic!

  • This is such a resourceful site for me considering the fact that I am moving there late summer. I love the local scene and will have to check out everything suggested.

  • A couple of additions to the list:

    The migas tacos (loaded down with the complimentary green sauce that comes with them) at Juanita’s Tacos on W. 5th

    I like Bouldin Creek coffee house on S. 1st–it’s kind of dingy but comfortable and with lots of outdoor seating. A great light meal there is the Slacker (a bean and rice dish) w/ the works, plus cornbread. Cheap and delicious.

  • I am in love with so many of the shops and restaurants mentioned here! My favorite shopping area is right near the original Kerbey Lane Cafe…it’s called Jefferson Square. There are a few sweet shops and the best is Verbena. They have a mix of new and vintage and they are also a custom flower shop. I have ordered a few amazing bouquets from them and love the girls there!

  • I LOVE LOVE LOVE Austin and am always inspired when I visit. Although already mentioned, I could spend a day or two just wandering the aisles of Uncommon Objects. The Hotel San Jose is simply amazing, every nook and cranny. South Congress Ave is a must!

  • If you’re thinking about moving to Austin, check out http:www-move-to-austin.com, a local’s guide to making the big leap.

  • I have to add my secret find in Austin. Zanzibar is my favorite gift store. It has everything your heart desires…..furniture, books, candles, scarves, wine glasses, lamps. I could go on and on. Plus it’s right next door to By George!

    Zanzibar Home & Gift
    524 N. Lamar
    Austin, TX 78703

  • hotels:
    Kimber Modern
    San Jose as above
    Hotel Saint Cecilia

    Bars on eastside:
    Scoot Inn
    Peacock lounge
    Rio Rita
    Good Knight

    Blue Dahlia: French
    The Clay Pit: Indian
    Lamberts: modern smokehouse
    Enoteca; Italian
    Madam Mam’s: Thai
    Ranch 616: Mexican/margaritas
    Parkside: oysters and good food
    Buenos Aires: Argentian

    Sugar Mamas

    Bows and Arrows (next to Spartan)
    By George

    Uncommon Objects: antiques
    Austin Modern
    Roundtop/Warrenton Antique show in the fields: April/Oct: ask Uncommon Objects, they show in it

  • Hah wow.
    Every single one of these suggestions is great.
    I have only one small one (the good ones were taken!):
    The Cupcake Bar.
    It’s amazing. But so is the rest of the town.

  • Hi there….a new part time resident in Austin, that’s me….but was taken last week to a new -ish restaurant (open seven months) on South Lamar called Olivia. It was fabulous! Very chic, very “local foods”, very very good. Just a little north of the Broken Spoke, so you can eat first and go dancing later! (love the rest of this guide…will come in handy in May when I get back to Austin from still snowy Canada!)

  • I’ve just stumbled on this post – quite a bit late. But I must mention that there is a magazine in Austin called the “Austin Design Guide”. And it only deals with home related resources. Your title “Austin Design Guide” seems misleading since this post seems to deal primarily with restruants and boutiques.

  • check these out for sure:

    spiderhouse- cafe

    buffalo exchange- vintage clothes

    toy joy- neato toys

    uncommon objects- antiques

  • Thanks for the guide! I would LOVE to see these guides saved as ‘My Maps’ on Google Maps. Would be awesome!

  • Another MUST is Homeslice Pizza, located in the heart of South Congress. Amazing New York style pizza! It can often be a long wait during lunch and dinner hours, but if you go before 6pm or after 9pm you can order pizza by the slice. And I would recommend going with the classic pepperoni… it is SO good.

    Does anyone know of any good, cheap furniture reupholsterers in Austin?

  • A fairly new addition to Austin- LuLu B’s Vietnamese sandwiches off South Lamar. Amazing!

  • I love Moonshine, Freddie’s, Wiki-wiki Teriyaki for food, and UnBridaled (south 1st) for chic wedding goods too

  • As a 10 year resident, I’d love to add a few of my favorites:

    Eating: don’t miss out on the great trailer eateries!
    Good Seed Organic on Oltorf, near south Lamar
    Flip Happy Crepes, behind Romeo’s on Barton Springs
    Hey Cupcake, with three locations (South Congress, Burnet Road, 620)

    Besides all the great shops on South Congress, don’t forget to check out Burnet Road and North Loop for vintage finds.

  • these are some fantastic recommendations! If it wasn’t mentioned above, i (highly) recommend Blue Velvet, if you’re into vintage clothing at spectacular prices. Seriously. I’m from NY and pretty well-informed about vintage. I find the selection w/ VERY fair prices cant be beat. Most Austinites are already in the know as this place has been an institution for over a decade. But what some may not know, is that they are now located on North Loop.

  • Any tips for places to check out/work in Lubbock, TX? Moving there for summer and need a graphic design internship!

  • I stayed at Hotel San Jose on my last trip to Austin, but I see Liz Lambert is back at it with Hotel St. Cecilia. Next time, I want to stay at this killer looking estate (off South Congress) that’s been infused with rock n roll style.

  • We are big on wildflowers along the highways here in Austin thanks to Lady Bird Johnson. And the greeting cards that capture the fun in this are called Flat Flower Cards, which is based in our state capital. Take a look!

  • First off, I love this site but this thread is bugging me. I am an Austinite born and bred and my neighborhood (South Congress) is constantly crawling with people, I can’t park on my own street, and we are gradually being priced out of the hood where we grew up. I know it’s called “progress” but I can’t afford to shop at any of these boutiques being mentioned, I can hardly afford to live within the city limits and more and more people come here all the time. Eventually the little city charm will dwindle and Austin will be another Dallas. And for the record Mothers is horrible, Bouldin Creek is muuuch better or Veggie Heaven even. So please, come and visit and be merry, but when it’s all over, go home. Mucho gusto…

  • How is Trudy’s not on here!? It is some of the best Tex-Mex Austin has to offer – not to mention their famous Mexican Martini!

  • @ Camille,

    With respect to your comments, I would like to first say that I agree with you on the need for preservation. This small-town-turned-growing-metropolis otherwise known as Austin enjoys a unique position as Texas’ unofficial “culture capital.” Yes, pricey real estate developments bring problems (see this summer’s Downtown Noise Ordinance, for example), and drive up rents.

    But I must point out, the fact that you live in the South Congress area means that your home is valued at anywhere between half a million to $900,000. The median home cost for that area is nothing less than $450,000 at the very least.

    If you are a renter, 1 bedrooms are available at the $800-1000 price range.

    I’m sure that the tourists are a nuisance to you (believe me, I know), but to live in the city’s most fashionable zip code is nothing to complain about!

    I would love to have bought a home in Austin pre-boom, only to have my home value skyrocket like it did in the 00’s. And, really, with the exception of By George and Stag, and sometimes Uncommon Objects, are the shops really that expensive?? Maya sells affordable costume jewelry and cute, casual clothing in the $20-80 price range, and a handful of vintage boutiques offer a variety of items at really reasonable prices! I just found a Pendleton wool sweater at Cream Vintage next to Crofts for something like $22! That’s a major find!

    It’s really not so bad, Texas still has some of the lowest priced real estate in the country these days. Come on!

  • I can not believe Whole Earth Provision Company has not been mentioned. It is the COOLEST store! I can spend hours in there every time I walk in the door. 3 locations in Austin. A MUST for anyone looking for unique gifts. An Austin institution for sure.

    And Mushashino is the best sushi in town. IMO. No 1-2 hour wait (uchi)….

    Homeslice for pizza on south congress. I drool!

  • Oh glee I love this list!
    But I’m afraid you can’t come to Austin without having the best veggie burger in town (and I’ve had ’em all) at Bouldin Creek Coffee House, it’s literally amazing- and pup friendly!

  • La Luz merged with Prototype a while back. They seem to be focusing a little more on clothing than home furnishing/decor these days, though. As for food, food trucks are huge now (and quite a few are run by chefs from fancy restaurants). Check out Odd Duck Farm to Trailer, East Side King, Franklin Barbecue, Gourdough’s, Chi’lantro, Me So Hungry, etc.

  • Next to the Hotel San Jose (and atached to the Motel Austin), check out the relatively new Snack Bar. Very cool restaurant/bar/chill spot. Bethany Andree the owner is an artist and designer as well and it shows.

  • Can’t forget the hamburgers, fries and shakes at the drive- or walk-through P. Terry’s; the breakfast burritos and bbq at Rudy’s (and you can fill up the car’s tank at the same time); and Fino, for small plates and wine. We miss Austin terribly!

  • Stumbled upon your blog looking for eclectic nursery designs, which ARE AMAZING, very inspired, thank you.

    Then I find this GEM of a blog!! I just moved to Austin from LA, after living there my entire life. And I already LOVE it, but man – this just gave me a to do list that is endless. THANK YOU. I’m so excited to live here.

    Couple of favorites I’d like to add:

    FEATHERS – Amazing vintage, SO well priced.

    MAGNOLIA CAFE – Such a great chill spot for brunch.

    STAG for men’s clothing. Not a lot of men’s shops here, but this one is great.

    BUY DEFINITION for fashion forward current women’s clothing. Plus the owner Esti is fab.

    And Jo’s for either a cup of coffee or a beer, take your pick. Gotta love Texas.

  • you missed Threshold….amazing modern furniture and fun accessories, including Missoni thresholdfurniture.com

  • Just a heads up–both Gardens and Big Red Sun have closed their retail spaces within the past year or so. Gardens is reopening a plant nursery this summer–yay!

  • Since this was an update I would assume you’d note places the are no more. Off teh top of my head, IF+D has moved in with Aviary (I think) and Gardens closed a while ago. Maybe double check the links as well… several don’t seem to work.

  • I’m surprised to see the Alamo Drafthouse left out of this update. It was one of the best parts about living in Austin while I was there. I really miss it!

  • I was born and raised here – and it’s growing so fast that I can’t even keep up with everything on this list!

    Note: Gardens and Big Red Sun are both closed for business – Gardens is now Gilda Grace boutique…not sure what Big Red Sun is though. And someone above mentioned Vivid – it’s also closed :(

  • I would add:
    Whole Foods -downtown
    Whole Earth Provision
    Book People – book store love
    Fonda San Miguel – for brunch
    Waterloo Records
    Flip Happy for crepes
    Zuzu’s for breakfast tacos
    Salt Lick for barbeque (worth the drive out of town)
    Natural Gardener – best plants and plant advice
    Boggy Creek Farms for organic produce.
    Alamo Draft House for movies
    Settlement Home Garage Sale – first weekend in November is so worth the wait.
    Interior Fabrics for great deals on upholstery fabrics
    Mod Green Pod for organic cotton upholstery fabrics
    Stitch Lab for craft and clothing fabrics
    Silk Road for exotic fabrics & amazing selection of buttons

    Sadly, Big Red Sun and Gardens are no longer in business.

  • For people who are raw vegans or for those who want some awesome food and smoothies: Beets Cafe near downtown and Daily Juice has several locations in Austin.

  • G’Raj Mahal is so cool. Food Truck vibe with waiter service. The atmosphere is quintessential Austin. They serve delicious Indian food using local and organic ingredients when possible. It is outdoor dining made super cozy with cute Mughal inspired tents with shear curtains. They generally have live music and it is BYOB. Opens after 5.
    It’s on Rainy St. near one of the coolest bars in Austin, Icenhauer’s another must visit! fantastic cocktails and cool modern setting.
    Spruce is awesome!! Best fabric selection in the city. Check out the store for vintage pieces that have been given new life. All about color and print!!

  • Check out Etcetera, Etc. on 2nd St. downtown. This little boutique is busting at the seams with fun, whimsical clothing and jewelry, and the owner is precious! Also, check out Elizabeth St. Cafe for some French-Vietnamese cuisine, and then Contigo for a ranch style dinner with all local farmer’s produce and meats. Enjoy!!

  • Ahhhh! Bouldin Creek Coffeehouse and Cafe moved a couple of blocks away to South First and Mary! Converted an old tire store to a beautiful new space. See their Facebook page for some interior photos.

  • Bows + Arrows seems to have been replaced with JM Dry Goods, which is also a great boutique! I reccommend eating at Hillside Farmacy on East 11th that just opened in March and Franklin Barbecue if you can stand the wait.

  • Lots of great suggestions. But if you want the best burger anywhere, please go to Hut’s and get anything medium rare. Heaven.

  • I think it’s time for an update on this guide. I’ll be going for a second time for a month in May. When I was there last year I was told with a sigh that Austin does not have nice women’s clothing shops like a Stag (menswear) equivalent. That makes me sad and I’d like to think it’s not true. Suggestions? I like vintage but I mostly don’t shop vintage.