South Congress and South First

Good news! The ABGB is the perfect joint to please both the beer snobs and the pizza snobs in your life, so you’re not going to regret visiting the reigning national “Large Brewpub of the Year” three years running. And while you’ll never wanna sleep on any of ABGB’s pie specials (hat tip to the prosciutto & truffle rosemary butter cream), their excellent selection of seasonal salads (butter lettuce nicoise) and sandwiches (do the muffuletta) make visiting on a two-beer lunch break worth hanging with Daryl from Accounts Payable for an hour.

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

Elevated diner and Tex-Mex food check into a swanky midcentury setting at the Austin Motel. Dine on classic enchiladas, patty melts, and chicken-fried steaks, then enjoy iconic and modern cocktails poolside. Note that the “sides” menu includes a “pack of smokes,” for the complete hairnet-turned-chic vibe.

1224 S. Congress
512/358-6054
www.joannsaustin.com

John Anderson

John Anderson

A romantic treasure curated by husband-and-wife chef team Todd Duplechan and Jess Maher since 2012, Lenoir recently switched from prix fixe to an à la carte menu – more flexibility for the snack-minded diner! The warm-weather food – inspired by Indian, Thai, Italian, and Mexican cuisine – is perfect for sitting pretty in the wine garden, where you can snag bottles for half price during happy hour.

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

Yes, this food truck’s slogan boasts “New school barbecue and old school service,” but don’t let that first part scare you: It’s traditional ’cue done even better, with alternative cuts of meat and modern twists on side dish classics that keep winning awards year after year.

121 Pickle Rd.
512/945-9882
www.leroyandlewis.com

photo by John Anderson

Mattie’s manicured mansion lawns, creaky floors, and preening peacocks make a dinner here feel special; thankfully, the food matches the setting. While the Southern accents speak strongest here, the flavors are balanced and reach for nontraditional ingredients to pique the diner’s interest. One of Austin’s finest wine lists completes the package – this is date night done right. Start with the fried green tomatoes and grilled Spanish octopus.

811 W. Live Oak
512/444-1888
www.mattiesaustin.com

There are only 12 coveted seats in this SoCo haven of omakase delights, with chef Yoshi Okai and his team fusing locally sourced goodness together with the best fish jetted in from Japan. Close your eyes, or focus on the stark black-and-white interior, while you celebrate a multicourse combination of sushi and kaiseki that’s earthbound yet outta-this-world impressive. Make your reservations now.

1603 S. Congress
512/920-6405
www.otokoaustin.com

Photo by John Anderson

This is not your typical Thai joint. At Sway, lights are dimmed, seating is intimate, portions are shareable, and dishes pack some heat, enhancing the entire sensory experience. Blue prawns and toasted cashews elevate classic dishes like pad thai, and fresh tropical drinks incorporate authentic ingredients like galangal to complement the spiced-to-thrill food.

1417 S. First
512/326-1999
www.swayaustin.com

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.bouldincreek.com

photo by John Anderson

Photo by David Brendan Hall

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

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
www.homeslicepizza.com

John Anderson

photo by John Anderson

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

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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