The Best Restaurants in South Congress, Austin

Austin has a beautiful skyline, plenty of attractions and outdoor spaces, and top-notch restaurants
Austin has a beautiful skyline, plenty of attractions and outdoor spaces, and top-notch restaurants | © Sean Pavone / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Michaela Jenkins
9 July 2021

The eclectic restaurants you’ll find in South Congress – a cultural hub in Austin, Texas – are popular with the younger population in the city and reflect the sleek and modern restaurant scene in the wider area. From a vegetarian spot to a sushi bar, these restaurants will help satisfy your cravings.

Café No Sé

Cafe, Restaurant, Pastry Shop, American, $$$
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Courtesy of Café No Sé
California-inspired Café No Sé, inside the South Congress Hotel, embodies a popular attitude in Austin: eat local and eat fresh. Under executive chef Kendal Duque and pastry chef Amanda Rockman – once a participant in the television series Top Chef: Just Desserts – the popular restaurant serves fresh-baked pastries and bread every day. Café No Sé is the perfect place for a delicious brunch or dinner with a West Coast vibe.

South Congress Cafe

Bar, Diner, Restaurant, Cafe, American, $$$
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Building-Front-South-Congress-Cafe
Courtesy of South Congress Cafe
Inside a 1940s-era pharmacy building, South Congress Cafe does a great job of bringing high-class menu items and making them available to the everyday consumer. This cafe is praised for its creative and approachable menu that puts modern twists on old continental favorites. Many especially love the decadent sweet dishes, including carrot cake french toast with whipped crème fraîche, fresh berries and candied rosemary pecans.

Enoteca Vespaio

Bistro, Restaurant, Italian, $$$
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Courtesy of Enoteca Vespaio
Enoteca Vespaio, a smaller version of the popular Vespaio Ristorante, is a bistro-inspired cafe in the heart of South Congress. It was created to fulfill the wishes of Vespaio’s faithful customers, who wanted a place where they could enjoy the food they love in a more relaxed setting and with more variety. Like its sister restaurant, it makes everything from scratch, including cured meat, pasta and bread. Enoteca does a great job of combining a fine Italian dining experience with a laid-back Austin vibe.

Lucky Robot

Restaurant, Japanese, $$$
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Courtesy of Lucky Robot
Lucky Robot brings modern Nikkei-style cuisine to Austin and has been praised for its “digital Tokyo vibe.” However, the most prominent thing on its list of praises is the menu, which fuses Japanese cooking techniques with flavors from Latin America. It’s also the first sustainable sushi restaurant in the Lone Star State.

Bouldin Creek Cafe

Cafe, Vegetarian, Vegan
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Interior of the Bouldin Creek Cafe in Austin, Texas, hipster bar and cafe serving vegetarian and vegan food
© simon leigh / Alamy Stock Photo
As one of the oldest restaurants in South Congress, Bouldin Creek Cafe is seen by many as a major source of Austin culture. It displays work by local artists and has a dog-friendly open patio. The cafe is revered for its all-vegetarian menu and has won several awards. From the blueberry cornbread to its signature sandwiches, most items on the menu can be made vegan as well.

Perla’s

Bar, Seafood, $$$
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Courtesy of Perla’s
Although many restaurants in Austin use fresh ingredients daily, Perla’s, a seafood and oyster bar, takes it to another level. Each day it has fresh fish and oysters flown in from the Gulf of Mexico. It sports a Cape Cod-style menu with oysters, lobster rolls and other seafood dishes inspired by the East Coast. Perla’s has a laid-back environment and nautical decor that will remind you of the Gulf Coast and all that it has to offer.

Habana Restaurant and Bar

Restaurant, Cuban, $$$
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In business since 2001, Habana Restaurant and Bar pays homage to owner Ysabel Flores’s home country of Cuba. From the ceviche to the seafood paella, you’ll find nothing but authentic Cuban flavors. The restaurant stays as close to Ysabel’s roots as it can, giving Austin a taste of the Caribbean country.

Home Slice Pizza, South Congress Avenue

Restaurant, Bar, Italian, Vegetarian, $$$
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Home Slice Pizza, South Congress, Austin, Texas, Usa (Editorial Use Only)
© Danita Delimont / Alamy Stock Photo
Considered a classic in Austin, Home Slice provides Austinites with an authentic New York-style pizza experience. Many have praised it for its specialty Sicilian-style pizza, while others stick to its equally delicious pepperoni, cheese and sausage varieties.

Otoko

Boutique Hotel Restaurant, Restaurant, Sushi, Japanese, $$$
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Otoko, Austin, Texas, USA.
Courtesy of Otoko

The omakase-style meal presented by chef Yoshi Okai at Otoko is unlike any other. Omakase essentially refers to a multi-course Japanese meal in which the chef decides what to make. The beautiful establishment, inside the South Congress Hotel, features only 12 seats for a truly intimate dining experience.

These recommendations were updated on July 9, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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