You could spend a week in Central Austin and still find new things to do, eat and buy. From country bars to culinary feats, this area is well worth exploring. The energy of collegiate culture abounds around the University of Texas and the North Campus/Hyde Park neighborhoods, while the North Loop and Airport neighborhoods are home to dive bars, decadent dinners and vintage shops galore. Spend an entire day (or more) enjoying the area's wide range of food, drink, entertainment and shopping options.
RESTAURANTS & BARS
Central Austin is flavorful without the fuss. Crispy fried chicken contrasts oh so beautifully with the fluffy buttermilk biscuits at Bird Bird Biscuit. Don’t choose between sweet and savory at JP’s Pancake Company — get both with white chocolate chip and bacon pancakes. Try the slow-smoked beef ribs at Stiles Switch BBQ — they’re as delicious as they are enormous. 1970s vibes live on at Top Notch, Austin’s classic carhop for char- grilled burgers. Skip the fork at Aster’s Ethiopian Restaurant. Use spongy injera bread to scoop up spiced lentils and raw kitfo. Komé Sushi Kitchen is a little piece of Japan in Austin, with authentic sushi and ramen in a bamboo-clad dining room.
Find small plates packed with bold flavors at Barley Swine. Ingredients come from a long list of local farms. Longtime favorite Fonda San Miguel serves elegant, authentic Mexican food in a colorful hacienda. A ceiling of greenery hangs over Lutie’s Garden Restaurant, where a plant-heavy menu highlights the earth’s bounty. French bistro épicerie pleases with comfort foods like steak frites and pastrami sandwiches.
Courtesy of Lala's Little Nugget.
Divey venue Hole in the Wall hosts live music daily and boasts a list of celebrity sightings a mile long. At tiny honky-tonk Little Longhorn Saloon, live bands pack the dance floor tight. Pick your number for Chicken Sh*t Bingo, held here every Sunday! Festive Lala’s Little Nugget is covered in Christmas kitsch year round, from twinkle lights to the Christmas countdown clock. Gather the whole crew for a craft beer at Easy Tiger at The Linc, with a 10,000-square-foot patio.
Circus- themed Carousel Lounge keeps things weird with elephant decor and a carousel behind the bar. The tables at Vigilante are designed for board games. Enjoy a tasty cocktail over a friendly match. At gastropub Hopfields, French fare and craft beers are served in a charmingly rustic and mismatched space. The new Moody Center is Austin’s largest venue, featuring world-class acts from Thomas Rhett to SZA.
Courtesy of Blanton Museum of Art.
The University of Texas at Austin (UT) is packed with cultural attractions like The Art Galleries at Black Studies, dedicated to the art of Africa and the African Diaspora. The Harry Ransom Center is home to important arts and humanities artifacts, including a genuine Gutenberg Bible. The city’s largest art collection can be found at the Blanton Museum of Art. Outside, the Butler Sound Gallery features audible exhibits that reflect the ecology of Central Texas.
Explore the life and work of the 36th president at the LBJ Presidential Library & Museum. At the Neill-Cochran House Museum, learn about life in the 19th century by visiting the main house and the Reckoning with the Past: The Untold Story of Race in Austin exhibit inside the Slave Quarters building. Art house theater Austin Film Society (AFS) Cinema screens indie and foreign films from around the world. Tour the Elisabet Ney Museum, the former home and studio of a successful German sculptor and Austin transplant.
Breakaway Records. Credit Arts+Labor.
Browse the packed aisles of Room Service Vintage for mid-century treasures ranging from furniture to jewelry. Upgrade your closet with fabulous pre-loved dresses from Blue Velvet, and vintage band tees and casual wear from Monkies Vintage and Thrift. Shop locally made gifts and pop culture treasures at eclectic Atown. Vinyl collectors can spend all day at Breakaway Records, perusing new and used albums. Indie shop Black Pearl Books amplifies the voices of underrepresented groups through its curated book selection.