To experience the real, independent and artistic heart of South Austin, you've got to take a trip to the area around South 1st Street. It’s a unique spot overflowing with owner-operated, independent-minded creative businesses and eateries.
“I’ve loved watching this place transform but maintain its down home feel,” says business owner Amelia Jane, who operates Amelia’s Retro-Rogue & Relics. “It’s walkable, there’s no corporate here, there’s amazing food, good coffee and bars. I feel really lucky to be in this house and have these cool neighbors who are really passionate about what they do.”
You could easily spend an entire weekend here and still not sample everything the area has to offer, but if you're feeling energetic (and have a healthy appetite) we've found a few must-dos during 24 hours in South Austin.
Nothing puts a little spice in your morning quite like a breakfast taco. These Mexican-inspired specials are an Austin tradition. Papalote Taco House on South Lamar Street, run by three generations of Mexican women, is one of the finest. Plus they’re $1.95 each. Egg. Meat. Cheese. Tortilla. Salsa. The list goes on.
We’ve never seen so many vintage stores in one place. Start at Amelia’s Retro-Vogue & Relics on South 1st Street and work your way up. New Brohemia, sister store to Bohemia, is also a great spot for the gentleman retro shopper.
Located behind Amelia’s store is Old Slackerville. This collection of shacks includes some amazing studios and workspaces, an audio technician who toured with some of the greats, and even a blacksmith.
There are plenty for options for vinyl spinners in Austin, but our favorite is End of an Ear on South 1st Street. It’s got that ‘Empire Records’ feel and the staff will talk your ear off. There’s a killer selection of new and older material, and they like to play Maiden nice and loud.
Tucked away in a backyard in South Austin, is the Cathedral of Junk. It’s a three-story structure adorned with bicycles, bottles, bowling balls and everything in between. Vince Hammerman has been lovingly piecing it together with found and foraged items since the late 80s. Call for an appointment at Trash Vegas, Austin. We’d give you the number and location, but where’s the fun in that?
There are few limits to the range of international eats available in South Austin’s thriving food trailer community. The Four Brothers Venezuelan truck is a highlight.
OK, so you’re probably pretty full right now, but what kind of person says no to a cupcake? Sugar Mama’s Bakeshop has some tasty offerings. We had a Hemmingway - a creamy vanilla sponge topped with key lime frosting, dusted with crushed graham crackers.
Street art is an integral part of Austin’s independent charm and there are dozens of one-of-a-kind murals. The most famous is the ‘Welcome to Austin’ mural, but fans of Bill Murray swarm to see the homage to Caddyshack at The Criquet Clubhouse.
Feeling weary from all the shopping and overindulgence? Step inside the hip Once Over Coffee Bar for a refreshing jolt of java. This Austin hot spot has some seriously potent espresso to supercharge the rest of your day. There’s also a secret deck around the back that hangs over the creek.
CRAFT store at the north end of South 1st Street is an awesome walk-in space that's just waiting for you to unleash your artistic side. Pay a flat rate of $10 for an hour and they’ll provide you with all of the raw materials and tools you need to get creative.
The Austin Beer Garden and Brewery (ABGB) is a must-do for craft beer fans. Its beers are brewed exclusively on the premises, so it doesn’t come fresher. They have a whole lot of space, a great bar venue, regular live music and, yep, great local beer. The Day Trip pale ale is a winner.
To commemorate your travels, you could stop by one of South Austin’s many excellent tattooists. Gully Cat on South 1st Street comes very highly rated.