A Local’s Austin Travel Guide: Restaurants, Sights, and Things to Do

Written by: Daniela Covian



Time to read 8 min

Welcome to Austin, Texas, a city bursting with creativity, flavor, and cultural gems. Here's your local guide to experiencing the best that Austin has to offer, from tantalizing restaurants to unique sights and activities. This curated list honors what is true to Austin beyond South Congress. Spoiler alert: There are no BBQ or Dirty 6th Street recommendations.

Honey Moon Lounge - Local Things to do in Austin, TX
Honey Moon Lounge - Daniela Janette

Eat: Culinary Adventures Await.

Honey Moon Lounge: 624 W 34th St, Austin, TX 78705 ($$)

Savor a culinary journey at Honey Moon Lounge, where inventive dishes and delightful cocktails collide in a relaxed and stylish setting. The interior decor in this establishment just screams ‘cool eclectic Austin’ - which we locals try to hold on to for dear life as the city expands. Their menu changes seasonally, and I’ve never had a bad meal here.

Juniper: 2400 E Cesar Chavez St UNIT 304, Austin, TX 78702 ($$$)

Indulge in modern Italian cuisine at Juniper, where each dish is a symphony of flavors that pays homage to both tradition and innovation. This is perfect for a romantic date night or celebrating a special event. The service is always impeccable - I recommend doing their tasting menu, which also changes seasonally.

Patrizi's: 2307 Manor Rd, Austin, TX 78722 & 1705 Cuernavaca Dr N, Austin, TX 78733 ($$)

Delight in handcrafted Italian pasta and dishes made with love at Patrizi's, where simplicity and authenticity shine. This is a more affordable and laid-back Italian option. There are two locations: One is a food truck on the East side where you order and sit outside in a covered area. Our friends took us to the one in Lake Austin Hills, where there is an A/C and indoor seating. Do NOT skip out on the garlic bread. I dream about it every day.

Este: 2113 Manor Rd, Austin, TX 78722 ($$)

Discover the soulful notes of Latin American cuisine at Este, offering a vibrant menu that celebrates the diverse tastes of the region. This is one of Austin’s newer restaurants, and it definitely lives up to the hype. Their food focuses on fresh sea food and farm-to-table herbs and vegetable, which they have their own garden right behind the restaurant. How cool is that??

Licha Cantina: 1306 E 6th St, Austin, TX 78702 ($$)

Situated in a charming space that reflects both rustic charm and contemporary design, Licha's Cantina welcomes you with open arms. As you step inside, you'll be greeted by warm hues, a lively atmosphere, and the alluring aroma of spices that transport you to the heart of Mexico. You can never have too many spicy Margaritas here.

Macoco: 501 Comal St, Austin, TX 78702 ($$)

Escape to the Baja Coast with Macoco's seafood delights and coastal-inspired flavors that transport your taste buds to paradise. My favorite is their fish taco and their churro donuts.

Maru Sushi: 4636 Burnet Rd, Austin, TX 78756 ($$)

Nestled in a cozy setting in a residential neighborhood, Maru Sushi beckons you to step into a Japanese world run by a husband and wife duo. From the moment you enter, the serene ambiance sets the stage for a dining experience that is as visually stunning as it is delectable. This is an affordable option for Sushi, but their quality is spectacular.

Pepe's Tacos: 704 N Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78703 ($) 

Satisfy your taco cravings at Pepe's Tacos, a local gem serving up authentic Mexican street food bursting with flavor. This is a food truck that ONLY serves birra tacos. You can choose from Combos 1 through 4. The cons about this place is that it is a little tricky to get to since it’s in a random parking lot off the middle of a busy road, and there are only two picnic tables to sit at. But plan to go early, and you’ll be fine.

Apt 115 - Local Things to do in Austin, TX
Apt 115  - Daniela Janette

Wine & Cocktails: Raise Your Glass to Austin Nights

Ah Sing Den: 1100 E 6th St, Austin, TX 78702 ($$)

Step into a world of creativity and mixology at Ah Sing Den, where imaginative cocktails and a captivating atmosphere await. If you’re tired of going to overcrowded bars where everyone seems to be in their early 20s, this place is quite the opposite. It’s sexy, sophisticated and the interior is *chef’s kiss*

Apt 115: 2025 E 7th St, Austin, TX 78702 ($$)

Relax and unwind at Apt 115, a cozy spot where carefully crafted cocktails and intimate ambiance make for a perfect evening. If you enjoy a good location to just sip on wine and eat a charcuterie board, venture over to the East side of Austin and check this place out. It’s very small and intimate, making it perfect for unique place to visit. Did I mention their endless wine selection?

House Wine: 408 Josephine St, Austin, TX 78704 ($$) 

Discover your new favorite vintage at House Wine, a charming space where wine lovers gather to savor and share. This one is my and my fiance’s favorite place. Their laid-back and cozy bungalow-style home holds the true Austin Charm. We take all of our visitors here, and everyone loves it. This is a good spot for live local music while you sip on their selection of refreshing wine.

Stay: Where Comfort Meets Style

Commodore Perry: 4100 Red River St, Austin, TX 78751 ($$$$)

Indulge in luxury at Commodore Perry, where opulent accommodations and impeccable service create an unforgettable retreat. This place transports you to the Mediterranean. Steeped in history and mystery, the ambiance transports you to a different era and locale. The cuisine is truly exceptional, and a highlight is the outstanding on-site restaurant known as Lutties Garden – I highly recommend securing a reservation here.

Carpentier Hotel: 400 Josephine St, Austin, TX 78704 ($$$)

Immerse yourself in the character of Austin at Carpentier Hotel, a boutique gem offering unique charm and personalized hospitality. I'm utterly captivated by this hotel. The breathtaking architecture and design encompass the entire place in a remarkable ambiance. The meticulous attention and intricate details infused into every aspect truly shine through.

Hotel San Jose: 1316 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704 ($$$) 

Okay, so this one is located on South Congress. However, this is an experience you truly need to have. The rooms at Hotel San Jose radiate minimalist elegance, offering a serene retreat within the vibrant energy of the city. The thoughtfully curated décor, which blends vintage and modern elements, adds a distinctive touch to each space 

Uptown Modern- Local Things to do in Austin, TX
Uptown Modern

Thrift Shop: Unearth Unique Treasures

Garment Modern + Vintage: 701 S Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78704 ($$$)

Embark on a treasure hunt at Garment, where vintage clothing, accessories, and décor pieces await to tell their stories. They offer a diverse range of prices and items! You'll find some truly exceptional pieces here, and what's even better is that you can sense the genuine passion for fashion from everyone on staff. Be sure to check out their sister company Moss just a few doors down.

American Drifter: 906 S 1st St, Austin, TX 78704 ($$- $$$)

Discover the eclectic marvels of American Drifter, a haven for vintage enthusiasts searching for unique treasures. Here, you'll find an impressive array of reasonably priced items. The staff is exceptionally friendly and attentive, adding an extra layer of excellence to the experience.

Uptown Modern: 5111 Burnet Rd, Austin, TX 78756 ($$-$$$$)

Pure luxury. This vintage store boasts a high-end selection with meticulously refurbished pieces. From Mid Century bars adorned with glassware to captivating art, it's a haven for unique finds. The prices reflect the craftsmanship invested, especially in their stunning Scandinavian teal pieces known for their sleek lines and exquisite woodwork.

Charm School Vintage: 1111 E 11th St #150, Austin, TX 78702 ($$)

Located in a quaint historic building, Charm School Vintage invites you to step into a world of nostalgia. As you enter, you'll be greeted by racks of clothing that span decades, each piece with its own story to tell. The cozy and welcoming atmosphere makes it feel like you're visiting a close friend's walk-in closet filled with hidden treasures.

Blanton Art Museum- Local Things to do in Austin, TX
Blanton Art Museum

See: Unforgettable Sights

Blanton Museum: 200 E Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, Austin, TX 78712 ($) 

Immerse yourself in artistic brilliance at the Blanton Museum, home to a diverse collection spanning different eras and cultures. As you step into the museum's elegant space, you'll find yourself surrounded by a captivating array of art forms that captivate the senses. From classical masterpieces to contemporary creations, the Blanton Museum houses a rich tapestry of human creativity that resonates across time.

"I Love You So Much" Mural: 1300 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704 (Free) 

In the heart of Austin, a simple yet powerful message is immortalized on a wall – the "I Love You So Much" mural. This iconic landmark has become more than just words; it's a symbol of affection, a popular photo spot, and a testament to the city's unique charm. Situated on the side of Jo's Coffee, the mural's vibrant green script against a white backdrop immediately captures your attention. As you approach, you'll sense the warmth and positivity radiating from this simple expression of love.

Allens Boots: 1522 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704 ($$$)

As you walk through the doors of Allens Boots, you're transported to a realm where cowboy boots aren't just footwear – they're a statement, a tradition, and a way of life. The store's rustic charm and rich history make it a must-visit destination for locals and visitors alike.

Barton Springs + Zilker Park: Barton Springs Rd, Austin, TX 78704 +  Austin, TX 78746 ($)

Barton Springs is a cherished oasis known for its clear waters and scenic beauty. Whether you want a revitalizing swim or simply to relax by the water, it offers a deep connection to nature. Zilker Park, a favorite among locals, is a gathering spot for friends and their dogs. It's an essential visit in Austin, embodying the city's spirit. Recent efforts to "Save Barton Springs" highlight its irreplaceable role as the heart and soul of the city.

Desnudo Coffee- Local Things to do in Austin, TX
Desnudo Coffee

Coffee: Energize Your Austin Adventures

Try Hard Coffee: 1115 E 11th St, Austin, TX 78702 ($)

Start your day off right by visiting Try Hard Coffee, a haven for coffee enthusiasts in search of the perfect brew. They have already established themselves as a staple in the world of specialty coffee in Austin. What sets them apart is the inviting atmosphere of the shop, enhanced by DJs spinning vinyl records of great bands. As you savor exceptional coffee, this combination elevates the experience to a remarkable level. Don’t skip out on their pastries as well!

Desnudo Coffee: 2505 Webberville Rd, Austin, TX 78702 ($) 

A highly sought-after coffee truck in the area, they source beans from small Colombian coffee farms. The staff is extremely friendly but also informative. Despite their well-deserved line of people, the owners will greet you and sample some ice-cold coffee while you wait. I have tried their signature Brown Sugar Miso and found it to be exceptional. Whether you're a black coffee enthusiast or prefer a more adventurous shake iced espresso like the Desnudo, this coffee truck has something for every palate.

Carpenter Coffee: 400 Josephine St, Austin, TX 78704 ($)

The coffee shop's beauty is unparalleled, matched by its superb coffee. It's like stepping into a mid-century dream, complete with cozy furniture. While there are no working tables, stools at the counter provide an alternative. Surprisingly, finding a seat is rarely an issue. The only drawback is the need to pay for street parking.