Just north of the University of Texas campus and a 10-minute drive from downtown, North Central Austin is affectionately being dubbed the South Congress of the north side. Part of the buzz is stemming from the number of bars, restaurants and shops staking claim in the down-to-earth nook, namely along North Loop and Burnet Road.

Record and book shops, thrift stores, cafes and a skate shop rest comfortably among real, unpolished neighborhoods, non-dolled-up porches and patios and newer modern flats. Keep an eye on these North Central businesses and others popping up as the area continues to prosper.

Foreign & Domestic Chocolate Mousse and cookies
Foreign & Domestic chocolate mousse. Courtesy of Aimee Wenske.

Foreign & Domestic This 47-seat, higher-end dinner hot spot has quickly become a neighborhood go-to for creative dishes and fun specials like $1 oyster Tuesdays with $2 cans of beer. Locals love the signature wagyu beef burger with blue cheese, crispy pork belly and smoked tomato jam on a housemade English muffin by F&D's award-winning pastry chef.

Room Service Vintage Serving Austin since 1981, this vintage treasure trove offers shoppers 5,500 square feet of furniture, lighting, clothing, costume jewelry, music, magazines and collectibles from the 1950s to 1980s. Regulars frequent the shop for their wide variety and constantly changing inventory.

Enchiladas Y Mas A must for anyone craving authentic Tex-Mex, this family establishment often wins best lunch spot and best enchiladas in Austin awards. Brothers-in-law Robert Martinez and Roumaldo Hernandez whip up family recipes, serving specialties that include fajitas, enchiladas and migas. Every dish is fresh and made to order.

Tigress Pub Tigress is a wonderful neighborhood pub for settling in and cozying up to a stout drink. The one-room hideaway pours Guinness and local draft beer from tap and boasts a specialty cocktail menu of around 12 hand-crafted concoctions. Try the Stone Fence: Moscow mule's winter cousin comprised of bourbon, apple cider, bitters and ginger beer on ice.

Pinthouse Pizza Pinthouse calls on some of the country's best hop growers to brew American-fusion style beer minus the bitter bite typical of hoppy brews. Stop into the space on Burnet Road and choose from more than 40 craft beers. Order one of their classic pies - think pepperoni and basil - or build your own. Try a beer and ice cream float for dessert.

BookWoman A one-of-a-kind feminist bookstore, BookWoman has been around Austin for more than 30 years. The shop on North Lamar is packed with books, T-shirts, jewelry and gifts you can't find anywhere else. They also host poetry events, book festivals and open mic nights.