I get random messages and emails over the years from friends asking for Austin recs. (For credibility purposes, I’ve been living in Austin for nearly 20 years.) And every year I always tweak the list simply because some places don’t exist anymore. Like the list I had compiled a year ago - half the coffee shops and restaurants I had mentioned are gone! So I plan to update the list every year. Though the one thing that will never disappear are the top beloved Austin “touristy” spots. Austin isn’t a very big city and almost everything can be reached by car within 10-15 minutes. If it’s your 1st time in Austin or you’re still new to the area, def check out the MUST SEE / MUST DO list below!
// ICONIC PLACES //
Pennybacker Bridge (aka 360 Bridge) - 5 minute hike up the “mountain” for panoramic views of the Colorado River with the cityscape in the background.
South Congress (aka SoCo) - Walk up and down this quirky part of Congress.
Congress Bat Bridge - Bats only come out from March to October.
Mount Bonnell - Another 5 minute hike up for panoramic views.
6th Street (Dirty 6th and East 6th) - Go late at night to see the crowds go bar hopping. Dirty 6th is mostly filled with college partygoers, but represents the quirky Austin vibe the best. East 6th used to be the more chill part of 6th street, but is decidedly more hipster with gentrification taking over.
Rainey Street - Drink here, if you don’t want to go drinking on 6th street. Kinda for the older crowd. Used to be hole-in-the-wall vibe, until gentrification happened.
The Oasis on Lake Travis - A popular sunset restaurant spot overlooking the lake.
Walk around Lady Bird Lake - Start from Auditorium Shores or Zilker Dog Park.
Take a segway tour in Downtown.
Take a dip in Barton Springs.
Many hiking trails in The Greenbelt.
Peter Pan Mini Golf - Opens late at night and it’s BYOB.
// BREAKFAST //
Kerbey Lane - Local fave. Multiple locations.
Sawyer & Co. - American Southern Food with 1960’s diner feel. Located in East Austin.
Jack Allen’s Kitchen - Good ol’ Southern cooking. 3 locations.
Spider House - Probably one of the few breakfast places in Austin that still feels like the Old Austin. Located near UT Campus.
// COFFEE //
Sa Ten - Coffee AND Japanese-Texas fusion eats. Multiple locations. I personally think the East Austin location is the best, because it’s surrounded by many art shops.
Summermoon - Local fave. Multiple locations.
Greater Good Coffee Roasters - Minimalist design. Located in East Austin.
Bennu - Local fave. East Austin location is the original. I personally think this coffee shop captures the old school weird Austin vibe perfectly.
Thunderbird - Another local fave. 2 locations. East Austin location is my fave.
// BBQ //
Franklin - THE place in Austin for BBQ. Come really early. Like, before it opens. And be prepared to stand in line for hours. Or order online months in advance.
Micklethwait - Right across Franklin’s. Just in case the line at Franklin is way too long, this BBQ spot is also a great place.
Salt Lick - Used to be THE place in Austin for BBQ, but still pretty decent. The original spot is a 45 minute drive outside Austin, though.
// LUNCH //
Ramen Tatsuya - Best Ramen Fusion in town. Multiple locations.
Hopdoddy - Burgers. Multiple locations.
Homeslice - Local fave pizza. Multiple locations.
Austin Daily Press - Great quirky local sandwiches. 2 locations.
// DINNER //
Kemuri - Japanese-Texas fusion. Izakaya style.
Emmer & Rye - American. Kinda fancy. Located on Rainey St.
Sala & Betty - American. North Austin.
Launderette - Kinda fancy American fusion. East Austin.
// FOOD + BEER //
Easy Tiger - 2 locations.
Sour Duck - East Austin.
// DESSERT //
Sugar Pine - Asian inspired desserts and food. North Austin.
Gemelli - Gourmet gelato and drinks. East Austin.
Gourdough’s - Epic gourmet donuts. Best food truck location is on South 1st.