If there’s a part of Austin that epitomizes the “Keep Austin Weird” slogan, then it’s South Austin. It's fitting that this part of town is separated from the rest of town by the Colorado River, because once you cross the bridges to the other side, you’ll find yourself in a whole new world of colors, foods and sights.
South Congress District
The funkiest part of this funky town is the South Congress District. It has everything from shopping to costume shops to antiques and candy shops. I recommend stopping by Lucy in Disguise to marvel at the aisles of costumes, Uncommon Objects to marvel at the unique antiques and Big Top Candy Shop to marvel at imported candies from around the globe and CHOCOLATE-COVERED BACON…yes, you heard that right.
Congress Avenue Bridge Bats
Join the hundreds of Austinites going batty over the colony of Mexican free-tailed bats that live underneath this bridge over the Colorado River connecting South Congress to downtown Austin at dusk.
Since Austin is the “Live Music Capital of the World,” each night as the sunsets, live music fills the air. and folks get ready for some good ol’ Texas two-stepping and live country music. For honky-tonk, look no further than the Broken Spoke which has been an Austin favorite since 1964.
Cathedral of Junk
Artist Vince Hannemann has been collecting the hodge-podge of random stuff in this towering pile of straight up weirdness for over 30 years. Everything is glued, wired and concreted together to form a one-of-a-kind wacky work of art piece that you could only find in Austin. And the weirdest thing of all? Everything here is up to city code. Proof that one man’s junk is an Austinite’s masterpiece.
Hopdoddy Burger Bar
Head to Hopdoddy on South Congress for an absolutely killer burger, and don’t miss the addicting Parmesan truffles fries. If you go during popular dining hours, just be ready to wait in line — Austinites love this place!
Home Slice Pizza
Home Slice is another spot to slay your hunger on South Congress. Stop by for a slice of killer homemade pizza (possibly the best in town!) the size of your face!
Food Truck Parks
Off of South Congress, I recommend dining at one of the hundreds of trailer parks filling up every empty lot. You can eat everything from Asian to Cajun. For your sweet tooth, don’t miss grabbing a chocolate-covered banana from Bananarchy or a over-the-top decadent doughnut at Gourdough’s. Two of the trailers we ate at in the episode, Odd Duck and Torchy’s are now a brick and mortar restaurants, but they are still just as delicious.
Start your day on South Congress with an “Iced Turbo,” a blend of coffee, espresso and sweetened condensed milk for a caffeine-kick that tastes like a milkshake! Trust me, around here it’s normal to have dessert for breakfast…
Habana has been bringing the flavors of owner, Ysabel Flores’s East Havana home to South Austin since 2001, and boy is it tasty. She’s even found a way to mix the funkiness of Austin with the culture of Cuba to make up their signature dish of Cuban Nachos — fried plantain chips piled high with Mojo sauce, black beans, roasted pork and lots o’ cheese. Pair it with a Mojito, the national drink of Cuba, and a classic “Sandwich Cubano” and you’ve got the perfect evening. This restaurant was featured in our Texas World Food Tour Episode.
To enjoy the outdoors of South Austin like the locals, head to Zilker Park which is Austin’s big grassy playground. It’s a great place to walk your dog, toss a football or just lay out on the grass and take in the view of Downtown Austin.
For a dip, jump into Barton Springs which is always a refreshing 68 degrees year round, making it cold enough for rotating between swimming and laying out in the sun to warm up (aka the Barton Springs Two Step).
Austin, TX – South Side