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Despite the ongoing boom in chain coffee-shops, Austin locals prefer to frequent longstanding local cafes with friendly, familiar staff and a good selection of light bites. Discover the best places to relax with a small meal and some good vibes in Texas by visiting one of these top 10 Austin cafes.
Continental cuisine meets local Austin culture at the South Congress Cafe, which offers a wide range of food ranging from peppered omelets to fresh gumbo. The cafe was founded in 2003 in response to a new generation of local artists, and aims to provide a progressive approach to modern food. The building itself is a testament to this model; originally a drugstore built in the 1940s, the South Congress Cafe decided to preserve the original brick structure in the bar, while remodeling the rest of the restaurant. Modern architectural details mix with South Congress history, and classic American dishes are served with signature house margaritas. For great drinks, stop by during happy hour weekdays 3-6pm and experiment with a pomegranate martini or habanero pepper-infused tequila. The South Congress Cafe is also great for families who can stop by during brunch and enjoy the classic South Congress Caesar salad.
South Congress Cafe, 1600 South Congress Avenue, Austin, TX, USA, +1 512 447 3905
Located on the busy campus of The University of Texas at Austin, Texas French Bread prides itself on providing artisan breads and a fresh ‘farm-to-table’ dinner. Preferring to let the ingredients ripen naturally on-site, Texas French Bread sources its fruits and vegetables from local vendors with a low carbon footprint. Owners Judy and Paul Willcott don’t stop there; in their commitment to creating a sustainable production process, they avoid fossil fuel-based fertilizers and chemical pesticides. The original menu offered peasant-style French bread, but diners can now enjoy a casual bistro-style dinner that blends French and Mediterranean cooking styles. Be sure to check the menu before heading out: each week’s dishes will change depending on the seasonal variations in vegetable availability. The website also features the Texas-based farms used to provide that week’s delicious dinner, ranging from baked polenta to pork Milanese.
Texas French Bread, 2900 Rio Grande, Austin, TX, USA, +1 512 499 0544
Though Cenote is an East Austin cafe, its namesake refers to the deep wells of the Yucatan Peninsula found in Mayan civilization. Although it does not provide water to the cafe anymore, the local well still sits on the property. The building itself is an amazing treasure; built in 1887, the house appears on Austin’s first hand-drawn map in 1889. The cafe foods are no less impressive; each single-origin coffee is French-pressed and the food is sourced from local farms and an on-site garden. Cenote serves up great sandwiches and salads, gluten-free pastries, and now features Rockstar Bagels for breakfast connoisseurs.
A South Congress essential, Snack Bar offers tapas-style meals all day to locals and tourists walking through the quaint shops and historical buildings . There is something for everybody, from the Mediterranean falafel to the Japanese sake, and portions are available in snack size to pass around. The menu is friendly to vegans and gluten-free patrons, and prides itself on locally grown foods with globally inspired roots. Snack Bar is also a great place to come after a long work day, with a 4-7pm happy hour featuring discounted drinks and $2 off selected snacks. Snack Bar is dog-friendly and a great spot to sit in the shade and enjoy looking out at the South Congress visitors, alone or with a large group.
Snack Bar, 1224 South Congress Avenue, Austin, TX, USA, +1 512 445 2626
Located in the heart of Austin’s sixth street district, the 1886 Café & Bakery is housed in the historic Driskill Hotel. The delicious recipes are the product of the successful 1886 Lunchroom founded by The Heritage Society of Austin after the hotel was declared a National Historical Landmark in 1969. To pay homage to the cafe history, the current bakery now features Texas comfort foods and the traditional pastries of the 1886 Lunchroom. This historic cafe is open from 6.30am to 10pm daily for small bites such as marinated olives as well as larger plates such as The Driskill Muffaletta. For a real Texas treat, the 1886 chocolate cake is made with a recipe that dates back to the opening of the Driskill Hotel.
1886 Cafe & Bakery, 604 Brazos Street, Austin, TX, USA, +1 512 391 7066
The Cafe Crepe was founded by two French natives to bring traditional French cuisine to the Texas restaurant scene. The menu boasts authentic savory and sweet crepes that are best eaten with the house wines and specialty beers offered from Cafe Crepe. The atmosphere mimics a cozy Parisian cafe and the walls are covered with French signs and plates. Cafe Crepe makes a house-blend coffee, but visitors should not expect a wide range of foods. By focusing on their signature dish, the crepe, this small, downtown cafe has become the standard for authentic French fare. Wake up early for a morning special between 7.30 and 10.30am which includes a delicious crepe, coffee, and fruit salad.
Cafe Crepe, 200 San Jacinto Boulevard, Austin, TX, USA, +1 512 480 0084