Austin’s SoCo and South Lamar Neighborhoods







Austin has some really fun neighborhoods to explore. SoCo, or South Congress, with hotels, antique and vintage stores, boutiques, cafes, restaurants and food trucks is one of the best in the city. This includes the restaurants and food trucks on S. First Street. Just to the west is South Lamar Blvd. and the South Lamar neighborhood with great restaurants as well. Spend an afternoon exploring our recent recommendations.

South Congress Café: Located at 1600 S. Congress, this is a great place for daily brunch or dinner. I liked the creative menu, the staff and the contemporary interior. I enjoyed a spinach salad, with scallops and a warm maple/bacon balsamic vinaigrette. Save room for dessert in the neighborhood!!

From here you can walk to many area antique shops, coffee cafes and food trucks with great cupcakes and desserts. Loved Hey Cupcake.

Jo’s: At 1300 S. Congress, this is one of a two store chain offering coffee and food items. The South Congress location has outdoor seating and is a great spot to people watch.

Uncommon Objects: At 1512 S. Congress Ave., this is an antique store with boutiques by 20 small local dealers where you can easily get lost.

Continental Club: For live music, this is the venue… since 1957.

Gourdough’s – Big Fat Donuts: Now located at 1503 S. First Street, this is a food truck housed in a vintage Air Stream trailer that was featured in the NY Times and on the Travel Channel. The donuts are huge and amazing. A perfect place for a snack!

Elizabeth Street Café: Located south of downtown at 1501 S. First St., this is a café/restaurant offering Vietnamese/French fusion. I had breakfast there and really loved the food. They have wonderful French pastries (the almond croissant was incredible), omelettes and other breakfast items. My omelette with roast pork, mushrooms and a jicama/mango/cilantro slaw was really excellent. The atmosphere/décor was attractive. It is located next to Gourdough’s.

Odd Duck: A popular restaurant where chefs Mark Buley and Sam Hellman-Mass were semi-finalists in the Rising Star category by the James Beard Foundation in 2015. They also have Barley Swine where I enjoyed one of the best meals I have had recently. The restaurant opened in 2013 on the site of their original food trailer and supports local farms and ingredients. 1201 S. Lamar. 

At 1700 S. Lamar and situated in an old container, is PicNik which features coffee made with unsalted grass-fed butter to make the coffee light and creamy. They feature coffee drinks as well as chai. It is worth trying!

Torchy’s Tacos is a popular food casual spot serving tacos and sides. There are fifteen area locations. They have fun locations at 1822 S. Congress and  3005 S. Lamar.

I recommend staying in the neighborhood as well. I checked out and loved the design of the Kimber Modern, a small boutique hotel at 110 The Circle just off of S. Congress. I would definitely try it on my next trip.

I also walked through the grounds of the Hotel Saint Cecilia at 112 Academy Dr. This a small boutique hotel with lovely, secluded grounds. I met an architect from New York who loves it and who stays there often when in town for business.

A wonderful new option includes the South Congress Hotel. At 1603 S. Congress, this is a very stunning, 83 room, contemporary boutique hotel located in the heart of South Congress. They have a contemporary lobby with bar and restaurant, Cafe No Se. Under the same ownership, next door, is the sleek Central Standard Kitchen & Bar South Congress. 

San Jose Hotel: For those wanting to be in the heart of the South Congress area, this is a small boutique hotel, a sister property of the Saint Cecilia, at 1316 S Congress. They do have a bar with outside patio that is open until midnight, so make sure to ask for a quiet room. It is located in a former motel/motor court from 1936.