The restaurant scene in Austin reflects the sleek, modern, and sometimes eclectic vibe of the city’s young population. The cuisine in the popular South Congress neighborhood ranges from the expected Tex-Mex style restaurant to a unique Japanese inspired sushi bar. South Congress is often praised for being a cultural hub in Austin. Here are the 10 best restaurants in South Congress.
California inspired Café No Sé opened during the summer of 2015 and has been a huge hit ever since. Built into the South Congress Hotel, Café No Sé embodies a popular attitude in Austin, eat local and eat fresh! Under Amanda Rockman, a 2015 James Beard Foundation Award Semifinalist and a participant in the Bravo television series ‘Top Chef: Just Desserts’, the popular restaurant serves fresh baked pastries and bread every day. With its sleek design and fresh ingredients, Café No Sé is the perfect place for a casual lunch with a west coast vibe.
Built into a 1940s era pharmacy building, South Congress Café does a great job of bringing high class menu items and making them available to the everyday consumer. Owned by the same company that runs Trudy’s, a Tex-Mex favorite throughout Austin, South Congress Café is praised for its creative and approachable menu that puts modern twists on old continental favorites. Many especially love their decadent dessert selection from the salted caramel crème brulée, to the lime and cornbread ice cream sandwich with blackberry compote.
Sway brings modernized Thai food to Austin’s very diverse food culture. Acclaimed for his modern take on the traditional Thai dish, executive chef Martin Wilda aspires to bring Australian style Thai cooking to the very similar Tex-Mex culture found throughout Austin. Sway is also on many peoples’ radar because of its unique décor and seating arrangements. Sway takes fine dining and puts an almost radical twist on it, by allowing its guests communal seating. Sway has become a popular spot known for its great and friendly atmosphere, and even greater food!
Enoteca VespaioEnoteca Vespaio, a smaller portion of the popular Vespaio, is a bistro inspired café in the heart of South Congress. Enoteca was created to fulfill the wishes of Vespaio’s faithful customers. They wanted a place where they could enjoy the food they love in a more relaxed setting, and with more variety. Unlike its counterpart, Enoteca serves not only dinner, but lunch and Sunday brunch as well. Vespaio is often praised for their use of in house ingredients. They make everything from cured meat to pasta and bread right in the restaurant. Enoteca does a great job of bringing fine Italian dining to the comfort of the laid back Austin vibe.
Formerly a piece in the local chain Zen, Lucky Robot brings a little modern Japan to Austin. As Do512’s Restaurant of the Week in August of 2013, Lucky Robot is praised for its ‘digital Tokyo vibe’. The most prominent thing on Lucky Robot’s list of praises is their menu. With a focus on sushi and other traditional Japanese dishes, what strikes many about their menu isn’t necessarily what’s on it. Lucky Robot makes it easy for those new to their cuisine to explore the little piece of Tokyo that Lucky Robot brings to Austin.
As one of the oldest restaurants in South Congress, Bouldin Creek Café is seen by many as a major source of Austin culture. The Café displays art from local artists and rotates them every month, and the location is dog friendly with an open patio. Bouldin Creek Café was the winner of the 2013 and 2014 Austin Chronicle Readers’ Best Vegan/Vegetarian Café, so it’s no surprise that the café is revered for its all vegetarian menu. From the blueberry cornbread to their signature sandwiches Bouldin Creek Café offers most of its menu in vegan options as well.
Although many restaurants in Austin practice the use of fresh ingredients daily, Perla’s Seafood and Oyster Bar takes it to another level. Each day they have fresh fish and oysters flown in from the Gulf of Mexico. Sporting a Cape Cod style menu with oysters, lobster rolls, and other seafood inspired by the East coast, although the menu isn’t very Texas, the vibe screams Galveston. Perla’s is praised for its laid back environment, and nautical décor that remind its patrons of the Gulf Coast and all that it has to offer.
Habana SoCo was created as a genuine homage to owner Ysabel Flores’s home country Cuba. Even after over 10 years of being in business, and an electrical fire, Habana SoCo still manages to give Austin a taste of the Caribbean. From the planto loco to the seafood paella, you won’t find any state side imitations from Habana. The restaurant stays as close to Ysabel’s roots as it can, and gives Austin an authentic piece of Cuba.
Botticelli’s is a unique spot in Austin. Every Tuesday and Thursday they host live music, from string quartets to singer-songwriters, Botticelli’s boasts a large variety of live music. Alongside live music, Botticelli’s patrons can enjoy their unique and modern take on traditional Italian dishes. The selling point for most is Botticelli’s wine list. They have been praised time and time again for the wine selection provided for guests.
A top 10 list of anything wouldn’t be complete without Home Slice. Considered a classic in Austin, Home Slice provides Austinites with an authentic New York style pizza experience. Many have praised Home Slice for its specialty Sicilian style pizza, while others stick to their equally delicious pepperoni, cheese, and sausage pizzas. Many Austinites are excited to hear that Home Slice is planning on expanding into North Austin as well!