South Congress and South First

Affectionately known as ABGB, this South Austin brewery has already evolved into an essential venue for live music, craft beer, and sharing pizza pies with neighbors. Toppings galore include house-made sausage to local farm veggies, and bonus menu fare includes deviled eggs and a French Cuban. Try a pint of "Always" favorite, Industry Pilsner.

1305 W. Oltorf
512/298-2242
www.theabgb.com

Serving breakfast, lunch, dinner, and Sunday brunch, this charming, neighborhood delight is an epicurean's dream. The Vietnamese cafe/French bakery offers báhn mì on house-made baguettes, pho, vermicelli bowls, a wide assortment of coffee, French baked goods, cocktails, and more. Enjoy the tranquility of the patio or the cheerful hum of the sunlit dining room.

1501 S. First
512/291-2881
www.elizabethstreetcafe.com

Photo by John Anderson

Vespaio's little sister may have a more casual atmosphere, but the food comes from the same kitchen. The thin-crust pizzas and handmade pastas (oh, the pappardelle bolognese!) are stellar, but don't overlook the daily specials. Also lovely for a glass of wine or cocktail with a house-made pâté, or a cup of coffee with one of their decadent desserts.

1610 S. Congress
512/441-7672
www.austinvespaio.com/enoteca

The grande dame of Austin restaurants offers the city's most elegant Southern Sunday brunch buffet at the venerable Faulk-Koock family estate in South Austin. As always, it's a favorite spot for weddings and special occasions.

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Green Pastures owners Bob Buslett (l) and Ken Koock in 2012   John Anderson

The Ibarras have been holding court on Oltorf for more than a couple of decades, serving up tender fajitas and steaks grilled over mesquite, fantastic gorditas and tortas, and beautiful chile colorado, carnitas, and chuletas. The short wait for breakfast (get the machacado) and lunch is worth it.

501 W. Oltorf
512/416-0443
habanerocafe.com

The original location of the mini-chain struck a surefire formula for success: high-concept crafted burgers (including bison, chicken, veggie, and tuna), beer from small, artisanal breweries, and craft cocktails. Throw in the hand-cut, Kennebec potato fries and it's obvious why Hopdoddy is so popular.

1400 S. Congress Ste. A-190
512/243-7505
www.hopdoddy.com

photo by John Anderson

John Anderson

If you are looking to star in your own rom-com, Lenoir will set the scene. The glistening dining room makes everyone more attractive, and the seasonally focused menu amps up the amour. Better yet, the close quarters allow you to see every dish leaving the kitchen – so you can always have what she's having.

1807 S. First
512/215-9778
lenoirrestaurant.com

Glamour and workmanship converge in this modern temple to Asian cuisine. Bold flavors reign uncontested through dishes like beef jungle curry, with coconut cream and fresh green peppercorns, and the decadent Son in Law – stewed pork in thick, sweet soy. Communal tables foster uncommon festivity.

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Photo by John Anderson

photo by John Anderson

This may be one of Austin’s oldest and most reputable vegan and vegetarian restaurants, but even omnivores can’t get enough of the Renedict and sweet potato and pecan tamales at this longtime favorite. Between the ever-changing exhibits by local artists and the blueberry cornbread, brunch will be worth the wait! Inducted in 2018.

1900 S. First
512/416-1601
www.bouldincreekcafe.com

If, in the hallowed halls of your restaurant, Bill Clinton grabs a classic taco special and Quentin Tarantino shoots part of his Austin-based Death Proof (but not really), it’s fair to say you’re recognized as an Austin institution. But the venerable Güero’s Taco Bar needs not that shimmer of celebrity to shine. For over 30 years, the Lippincott family has been perfecting a menu rooted in Mexican street food with Texan flair – we see you, tacos al pastor – and the Austin party vibe could not be more apparent. Unless, of course, your afternoon involves downing one of Güero’s 20 specialty margaritas, witnessing the ghost of Stevie Ray Vaughan haunting Lucy in Disguise, whizzing over Congress bridge on an e-scooter, and searching for “vintage” pearl snap shirts (a screenplay that is being optioned, so hands off, QT). Inducted in 2019.

1412 S. Congress
512/447-7688
www.guerostacobar.com

Photo by David Brendan Hall

John Anderson

Despite the many new pizza places that have popped up around town since it first made a splash, Home Slice still packs the house with both out-of-towners and locals. The reason? Hot, fresh, New York-style pies that haven’t lost their luster in more than a decade. Inducted in 2017.

1415 S. Congress
512/444-7437
homeslice.com

The great philosopher Jimmy Buffett was likely prophesying Hopdoddy with “Cheeseburger in Paradise,” and fellow wordsmith Jean-Paul Sartre boldly proclaimed that “hamburgers are other people.” No, wait, that might have been Charlton Heston in that Soylent Green film. Regardless, no other local burger joint has struck such a chord as this purveyor of all things ensconced in a bun. Be it beef, lamb, chicken, or veggie, Hopdoddy has cast a spell on this town. The fries with green chile queso is a solid combo, particularly paired with the elegantly dangerous Doble Fina margaritas, but the real MVP is that Caesar salad. Two words: fried chickpeas. Add a turkey burger patty and you might just believe there is hope in this world. Now with more locations than we can count – and a sister restaurant, Lil’doddy – it’s safe to say this is officially an empire. Perhaps, at the end of the day, we are all cheeseburgers. Inducted in 2019.

1400 S. Congress Ste. A-190
512/243-7505
www.hopdoddy.com

photo by John Anderson

A SoCo staple from before it was called SoCo, the elegant eatery takes its name from the buzzing dining room. It’s classic Italian, with walls of wine, in-house butchery, a long list of house-made delights, and thoughtfully sourced ingredients. We love the calamari fritti arrabbiata, Scampi con Salsa all’Aglio, and the Sicilian cheesecake, so very much. Inducted in 2016.

1610 S. Congress
512/441-6100
www.austinvespaio.com

 
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