South Congress and South First

With one of the biggest and best patios in town, bold and beautiful pizza pies, and an on-site brewery, it’s no wonder this warehouse spot has become a favorite hang spot. Sourcing from Johnson’s Backyard Garden and other local farms, the possibilities are endless.

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

We don’t want to get too much into Lana Del Rey’s business, but maybe if she had a restaurant like Alcomar nearby, she wouldn’t experience so much “Summertime Sadness.” With an effortless interior, achingly fresh seafood, and heady margaritas, chefs Alma Alcocer-Thomas and Jeff Martinez preside over an instant pick-me-up.

CLOSED

You could easily play hipster food bingo with Café No Sé’s menu (Avocado toast? Check! Kale salad? Yup!) but the execution here is flawless, simultaneously excessive and elegant. #foodporn-worthy bites for the Instagirl in your life that taste good enough that you don’t mind putting up with her.

1603 S. Congress
512/942-2061
www.cafenoseaustin.com

How to land a deal: Take your client to Central Standard. Sit at the glistening bar, away from the hubbub of the dining room. Order one Standard Platter stocked with oysters, lobster, and clams, an order of the decadent potato bread, and two seriously boozy Salted Caramel cocktails. Clink your glasses and sign on the line. You tycoon, you.

CLOSED

John Anderson

John Anderson

This beloved hang spot might have the best mascot in town: a queen of pies with rockin’ ’stache and a sly wink. She knows why she rules – her New York-style and Sicilian pizzas are above reproach, and the garlic knots can build empires. But that doesn’t mean she won’t treat you like royalty too.

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

It’s hard to resist the sirens’ call of a big juicy handcrafted burger, especially from a place that offers endless variations in toppings and proteins. Even though this Austin original opens its fourth location soon, it still packs the house – proving that craft burgers are more than just a trend.

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

John Anderson

A rare affordable date spot in a crowded high-dollar dining scene, Lenoir’s three-course prix fixe remains the best value and one of the most dazzling meals in town, with dishes like masa-stuffed quail and cold crawfish salad defying categorization without confusing taste buds.

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

Like Buccellati engagement rings or the Olsen twins, good things come in small packages. Case in point: chef Yoshi Okai’s 12-seat tasting table in the South Congress Hotel where every detail – from the napkins to the impeccable omakase – has been carefully considered. It’s not cheap, but treat yo’self.

1603 S. Congress
512/994-0428
otokoaustin.com

John Anderson

Shopping is hard work, but SoCo has a time-honored respite. A diner space adjacent to neighbor-with-the-best-sign Austin Motel for 70 years, this revamped space offers the best in tasty, consciously sourced and created eats and drinks. Rest your weary dogs, support local farms, and get in some stellar people-watching.

CLOSED

Sway’s extensive menu means there’s never a lack of exciting dishes to try, even though we can’t seem to forgo our favorites like prawn miange and blue crab fried rice. (We’ve learned to come with a group and share all the dishes.) Chef Martin Wilda’s special menus, celebrating events such as the recent Songkran, as well as a new brunch menu, ensure we keep coming back.

CLOSED

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

 
South
South Lamar and Barton Springs

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle