Guide to Austin, TX

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We spent this New Years in Austin, Texas and the hype truly lives up to its expectations. There was seriously so much good food, good shopping, and really just good vibes, that I could tell why people have been moving there in herds. On top of that, everyone is so friendly, which was so very refreshing. 

We stayed in a really cool, laid back Airbnb in South Congress, which is one of Austin's more touristy neighborhoods – not in the Times Square kind of way, but in the way that there are tons of great places to eat and shop around. It was very centrally located and close to Downtown Austin too.

My only complaint, which was out of Austin's control, was that the weather was cold (read: freezing), so we weren't able to do a lot of the outdoor things that we would have in the summer (hikes, swimming, farmer's markets). Totally our own fault though – so the things on this list are mostly eating, drinking, and shopping related. I hope you enjoy :)

Where We Ate:

Austin is seriously a foodie city. We had some of the best food we've had in a long while, if not ever. From tacos, to Vietnamese, to donuts, to BBQ – Austin really does not disappoint. Most of these places require reservations so make sure to plan ahead!

  • Josephine House: The sweetest little spot in an sweet little blue house. We came for brunch and both had the huevos rancheros. They even started us off with the most delicious Nutella stuffed muffin to share. Definitely recommend starting your day off here!
  • Elizabeth Street Cafe: This Vietnamese spot is super good, but tends to get really busy, especially around lunch time. You can't get a reservation so prepare to wait. Make sure to try both the bahn mi and pho!
  • Laundrette: I think I had one of my favorite dinners at Laundrette. This spot was once a laundromat (hence the name). We had the burrata, beef tartare, charred octopus, and brick chicken and I recommend them all!
  • Hillside Farmacy: I loved loved loved Hillside Farmacy, not just because the ham and cheddar cheese grits were delicious, but also because the restaurant theme was so on point – the servers dressed in early 1900's uniforms, the walls were covered with general store items, and the decor echoed modern takes on the Old West. Brunch here is a must!
  • Valentina's Tex Mex BBQ: My friend Ryan suggested this place to us and I am so glad he did. Nestled on the outskirts of the city, this authentic Tex Mex is served out of a food truck and 100% worth the trip to get there. The tacos are HUGE but honestly some of the best I've ever had. So was the queso!
  • Fresa's Chicken Al Carbon: We stumbled upon Fresa's when we attempted to try Elizabeth Street Cafe the first time. It's what I consider healthy-ish Mexican food. The outdoor seating area was so adorable, bright, and fun. I recommend trying their bols because they are delicious – and of course the guac!
  • Perla's: We ate at Perla's for NYE. It is known more as an oyster bar, and while I am sad to say we didn't have any, their dinner menu is still superb. I had the lobster buccatini and it was one of the best pasta dishes I have ever had.
  • Torchy's Tacos: This was the first place we stopped at when we got to Austin. In my opinion, Torchy's is to Austin what Shake Shack is to New York. All of the tacos have interesting names – we ordered "The Democrat", "Trailer Park", and "Alabama Shake". They also had a really fun selection of tap beverages, my favorite being the prickly pear cactus juice lemonade :)
  • Voodoo Donut: Holy donut coma. We stopped here the morning we left Austin, and I am glad we did. With donuts the size of your face, Voodoo has fresh donuts that are impressive in selection and super cheap in price. 

Where We Drank:

  • June's All Day: While this place is known for being open all day, June's is also super fun at night. They played really funky music and the ambiance was super laid back and inviting. If you go for food, you can't go wrong with their burger!
  • Geraldine's: Situated on the rooftop of the Kimpton Van Zandt Hotel, Geraldine's has live music, craft cocktails and small plates in a fancy setting.
  • South Congress Hotel: We stumbled across this hotel on NYE and hit the lobby bar. The hotel itself is super modern and cool, as well as the drink menu. I had the hibiscus margarita!
  • Auguste & Marcel: Quiet and curated cocktail bar in South Congress if you are looking for a drink before or after dinner.

Where We Went:

  • Charm School Vintage: Probably the best vintage shop I have ever been in. They have such rare, beautiful vintage pieces from so many different decades for relatively reasonable prices. They also have an impressive selection of crystals as well as beauty products.
  • Take Heart: Right next store to Charm School Vintage, this sweet little shop is perfect for one-of-a-kind delicate housewares and gifts including palo santo.
  • The Fox Den: Really cute shop filled with potted plants, locally made clothing, and essential oils.
  • Mana Culture: Really sweet boho boutique and for women's fashion and jewelery.
  • Passport Vintage: A really small, curated selection of vintage clothing. They also had faux Gucci sweatshirts and I regret not getting one.
  • Olive: Curated vintage fashion for women in a really bright space. A "progressive general store" within Olive called Catchtilly has design-forward smoke products. They also have beauty products with CBD oil.
  • Treasure City Vintage: A cross between vintage and thrift with really interesting selection and cool finds.
  • Tiny Taiga: A health food store with a lot of natural health remedies and essential oils as well as healthy food options.
  • Helm Boots: Beautiful, high quality boots for men but very expensive.

We also spent the day in San Antonio while we were in Texas. It's only an hour and a half outside of Austin, so it's perfect for a day trip or a weekend getaway. You can find my day guide to San Antonio here.