You know what they say: everything is bigger in Texas. And that includes one of Austin’s most vibrant and exciting streets to stay, shop, and dine – South Congress Avenue. It’s packed with places to explore, and I’ve discovered lots of new favorites while spending time in town filming Queer Eye. So today, I’m focusing on this stylish stretch just south out downtown – and sharing all the spots you won’t want to miss on your next visit.
What are y’all waiting for? Keep scrolling to see all my picks on South Congress Ave – and don’t miss Bobby’s Complete Guide To Austin for everything I love in the Lonestar capital.
1. JOANN’S FINE FOODS
This lovely lunch hand dinner spot serves up a mix of American classics and traditional Tex-Mex. It also has a great courtyard bar perfect for sipping a cocktail and soaking up some sun.
2. JO’S COFFEE
This Austin chain has been around for 22 years – and serves up a lot more than coffee. Stop by for a fried chicken sandwich or their weekly brunch featuring a rotating list of local musicians.
3. LUCKY ROBOT
Seriously some of the best sushi I’ve ever had. There’s also a great half-price happy hour and Japenese-style brunch you won’t want to miss.
4. HOTEL SAN JOSÉ
As I mentioned in my Austin City Guide, this 40 room hotel has tons of character combined with so much Austin cool. A totally hip but unpretentious place to stay right in the heart of South Congress.
5. HOWLER BROTHERS
An eclectic men’s shop focused on laid-back and outdoorsy styles (the Austin uniform), from button-ups to graphic tees to western-inspired accessories.
If you’re looking for a gorgeous pair of boots, look no further than this South Congress staple. They’ve got a huge selection in their rustic modern storefront, along with belts, bags, and accessories for men and women.
This is the spot for fresh seafood in town. The wood-grilled oysters and shrimp and blue crab gumbo are definitely tasty, and you can’t beat the oak-shaded front patio.
8. GÜERO’S TACO BAR
No trip to Austin is complete without a plate of Tex-Mex goodness. Güero’s has been serving up tacos, enchiladas, and more for over 30 years, and you can’t go wrong with any of their mouth-watering dishes.
Taking a Texas classic to a new level, Maufrais makes some seriously chic hats. Stop in for a custom hat shaping to pick up an option perfectly made for you.
10. CENTRAL STANDARD
An elegant bar and grill that’s a great date spot (Dewey and I stopped in for a romantic dinner) or a place to grab a gorgeous cocktail.
11. SOUTH CONGRESS BOOKS
I love checking out bookstores where I travel, and this is a great spot to peruse for vintage books ranging from photography to classic literature to everything in between.
12. SOUTH CONGRESS HOTEL
For a more modern lodging option, book a room at this sleek 83 room hotel. It’s also pet friendly, has a great rooftop pool and 5 restaurants and bars.
Another all-day café you won’t want to miss. It’s named after the master sommelier on staff, June Rodil, so you’ll def want to order a glass or two (or three).
15. BIG VINNY’S BARBEQUE
This tiny trailer parked in front of a meat market serves some delicious bbq with big flavor. Pick up a 3-meat plate with sides and have a Texas-sized picnic in Zilker Park.
16. TORCHY’S TACOS
You can’t miss this stand-out Mid-Century inspired building. And while Torchy’s is a chain in the South and Midwest, it’s definitely worth checking out some of their specialty tacos (like the fried avocado or jalapeno cheddar sausage) if you’ve never been.