On a sunny day, there’s no place like the SoCo district in Austin. Fabulous restaurants, funky vintage shops, chic boutiques, cool bars and live music. Always, live music. If you're wondering what to do and where to find the best restaurants, music venues and shops on South Congress Avenue, read our guide to the neighborhood and get to exploring.

Woman holding a slice of pizza and a soda outside of Home Slice Pizza on South CongressHome Slice Pizza. Credit Julia Keim.

DINING

Austin’s food scene is not for the faint of heart. Within the South Congress neighborhood, you’ll find culinary tourism at its most delicious. 

Aba: This Mediterranean restaurant takes inspiration from Turkey, Greece and Israel. Try their signature whipped feta on their popular rooftop patio.

Amy's Ice Creams: Get your licks at the famous walk-up stand with personality plus scoop masters. The Scoop: Order the Mexican Vanilla. Double Scoop: Mad for ice cream? Schedule a tour of the production facility to see how the magic happens.

Habana: Stop in for authentic Cuban food complete with refreshing, minty mojitos.

Home Slice Pizza: Thin crust pies, local beers and an order-by-the-slice window with a retro vibe keeps this joint jumping noon to late night.

Hopdoddy: Bite into their big-as-life burgers and wash it down with a boozy shake.

Jo's Coffee: This free-standing bean scene offers breakfast tacos, pastries and caffeinated bombs like the Iced Turbo. Be sure to snap a selfie in front of the "I Love You So Much" mural.

Joann’s Fine Foods: This restaurant has a retro diner vibe with a tropical patio and Mexican fare, right next door to the Austin Motel.

The Meteor: Cycling enthusiasts should stop by this cafe and coffee/bike/beer-and-wine shop.

Perla's Seafood & Oyster Bar: Snack on salt and jalapeno fried calamari and sip rosé on one of the loveliest patios in town, ideal for people watching and while shooting oysters. 

Otoko: Reservations are a must at Otoko, a 12-seat omakase-style sushi restaurant. 

live band and dancing in the gueros oak garden in austin texas
Courtesy of Guero's Taco Bar

NIGHTLIFE

From historic blues clubs to record shops stacked with obscure vinyl, the rhythm of this road is gonna get you. 

C-Boy’s Heart & Soul: Stop into this jazzy joint for bluegrass to soul and R&B acts. On the second floor, the Jade Room evokes a WWII Japanese GI Bar.

The Continental Club: Catch a show at this famous venue or head upstairs to the intimate Continental Gallery to see who’s playing.

Ego’s: This basement dive bar is where karaoke legends are born. 

Guero’s Oak Garden: On Wednesdays and weekends, head to the Oak Garden at Guero's Taco Bar for live Americana and blues.

First Thursdays on South Congress: Join the block party on the First Thursday of the month. Select stores are open late, restaurants are buzzing and live music pours out of every door. Don't miss First Thursday happenings at South Congress Hotel with local bands and DJs in the courtyard, drink specials, a photo booth and more.

Merchandise at Parts and Labour shop in Austin TexasParts & Labour. Credit Lizelle Villapando.

SOUTH CONGRESS SHOPPING

The new development Music Lane is home to upscale boutiques. Look for hip clothing and housewares from Neighborhood Goods, vintage inspired pieces at Reformation, innovative jewelry from Nak Armstrong and fresh-blended perfumes at Le Labo

Allens Boots: The “sole” of Texas style is all about calf-kissing footwear. Visit this Austin landmark for more than 4,000 boots, plus cowboy hats, clothing and accessories.

Big Top Candy Shop: Satisfy your sweet tooth at the old-fashioned soda fountain and pick out old-fashioned penny candy.

Heritage Boot Company: Shop an intimate collection of hand-made western boots with historic detail and design elements.

Kendra Scott: Step inside this cozy little house-turned-boutique for locally designed jewelry and seasonal baked goods at the Kendra Scott flagship store.

Lucy in Disguise with Diamonds: Find everything you need for a theme party at this enormous costume shop - the employees are dressed up every day!

Maya Star: Shop breezy tops and dresses, independent designers and boutique labels at this South Congress boutique.

Monkey See Monkey Do: Kids and kids at heart will go bananas in this quirky gift and toy store.

Parts & Labour: Browse a curated collection of Texas-made gifts and art at Parts & Labour.

Tesoros Trading Company: Find fair trade folk art and craft treasures from more than 20 countries at this eclectic shop.

people standing on Congress Avenue bridge waiting for bats to emerge at dusk in front of downtown Austin skylineCongress Avenue Bat Bridge. Credit Pierce Ingram

ACTIVITIES

Try to find some of Austin’s most iconic murals hidden around South Congress Avenue, like the Willie For President mural outside STAG Provisions. From March to November, elbow your way into a spot on the Congress Avenue Bridge to watch as the world’s largest urban bat colony emerges from beneath. Get a different perspective by taking the Lone Star Riverboat Bat Cruise and catching the sight from Lady Bird Lake.

View of calm Hotel San Jose pool amid lush greenery.Hotel San Jose. Credit Hannah Koehler. 

PLACES TO STAY

Looking for lodging in the middle of the action? There are a number of places to stay on South Congress just steps away from the excitement. Everyone fits in at the quirky and iconic Austin Motel and Hotel Saint Cecilia is for those who want a quaint retreat just off the main drag.

South Congress Hotel: Not just for chic slumbering, locals frequent the modern minimalist boutique hotel to partake in on-site features like Sunroom boutique, Revival Cycles, tenoverten nail salon and five spots to eat and drink.

Hotel Magdalena: The newest boutique hotel on the South Congress scene with a 1970s vibe and steps away from shops and eateries.

Hotel San Jose: Spend a tranquil night or just take a break with a Frosé on the patio.

Looking for lodging in the South Congress neighborhood of Austin? Learn more about nearby hotels here.