Fathom Favorites : Austin

1. Thinkery


"A foundry for a new generation of innovators and creative problem solvers," this science and activity lab for families is also a really good time. Rotating interactive exhibits focus on play-based learning; workshops, light installments, and a wild outdoor jungle gym will keep kids occupied for hours. Check the calendar for aged-based happenings.

1830 Simond Ave.
Austin, Texas 78723

2. The Contemporary Austin - Laguna Gloria

The Contemporary Austin - Laguna Gloria

On a beautiful Texas day, stroll the fourteen-acre sculpture park, which winds around Lake Austin and is often in bloom. The museum house, called the Jones Center, in Downtown Austin, hosts ambitious installations, multidisciplinary exhibitions, and special events.

3809 W. 35th St.
Austin, Texas 78703

3. MASS Gallery

MASS Gallery

A great example of the low-fi but well-curated Austin art scene. A selection of curious and innovative work, thoughtfully curated, is culled from an established community and is run as a community-oriented not-for-profit.

507 Calles St. Suite 108
Austin, TX 78702

4. Museum of the Weird

Museum of the Weird

Kids, especially, will love the zany nature of this strange attraction, which always includes a live sideshow performance and stays open until midnight. Beyond a strange gift shop is a hand-painted museum sign and a showcase of oddball artifacts including shrunken heads, Fiji mermaids, mummified things, wax figurines, and other bizarre kitsch.

412 E 6th St.
Austin, TX 78701

5. BookPeople

Everything's bigger in Texas, including this bookstore, the largest in the state. Founded in 1970, it has maintained that freewheeling, artsy vibe you want from your local indie shop — plus events, gifty items, mugs of coffee, and an awesome section for kids.

603 N. Lamar Blvd.
Austin, TX 78703

6. Waterloo Records

Waterloo Records

The long-running music shop (since the '80s) stocks new and used vinyl and CDs in its 6,400-square-foot space, is run by knowledgeable staff, and has a generous return policy (ten days, no questions asked). Tons of in-store events, performances, and happenings keep it lively and relevant 30+ years later.

600 N Lamar Blvd.
Austin, TX 78703

7. Line Austin

Line Austin

The 428-room hotel brings together all corners of Austin in a chic rock-meets-ranch vibe. Staying true to the brand's design ethos, the commitment to Austin styling makes it the perfect backdrop for local art installations, an awesome infinity pool, a lakeside restaurant delivering a bounty of Central Texas produce, and a greenhouse-inspired rooftop lounge specializing in handcrafted drinks and incredible sunset views. Read more on Fathom

111 E Cesar Chavez St.
Austin, TX 78701


8. The Carpenter Hotel

The Carpenter Hotel

Sunny, spacious, great-looking, communal, and with a very nice little to-go coffee counter serving cinnamon buns and migas and other things that will destroy any hope of eating well for the day by about, oh, 9 in the morning. While the aesthetic is super design-forward, prices are super affordable. Great for couples, families, groups, and solo travelers who want to feel like locals.

400 Josephine St.
Austin, TX 78704

9. Heywood Hotel

Heywood Hotel

East Austin's chic, seven-room hotel is on a mission to deliver a wholly Austin experience. There's local art, furniture, coffee, and beer, and a concierge dedicated to showing off its local knowledge.

1609 E Cesar Chavez St.
Austin, TX 78702

10. Little Longhorn Saloon

Little Longhorn Saloon

With over 250+ live music venues in Austin, it can be hard to settle on just one. If you’re seeking out classic Honky Tonk, though, The Little Longhorn Saloon is a must-see. Be sure to visit on Sunday for a truly unforgettable Bingo experience (you read that right).

5434 Burnet Rd.
Austin, TX 78756

11. Broken Spoke

Broken Spoke

One of the state’s last original honky tonk dance halls is all soul, no frills. This 52-year-old spot is nothing short of iconic, and those who are light on their feet (or who have two left feet) would be remiss to pass up a dance here.

3201 S. Lamar Blvd.
Austin, TX 78704

12. Barton Springs Pool

Barton Springs Pool

This watering hole is at the top of just about everyone’s Austin hit list, and for good reason: natural underground springs keep the pool temperature hovering around a constant 68 degrees, which means year-round swimming, lounging, and people-watching. The scene is always a mix of locals and tourists, so you know it’s cool.

2201 Barton Springs Rd. 
Austin, TX 78704

13. Whip In

Whip In

Austin is a city known for its innovation, and this mashup — gastropub meets Tex-mex meets Indian fusion — may be just the thing we never knew we needed. Chutney con queso? Pulled pork sandwiches on naan? Yes, please.

1950 S. IH 35 Frontage Rd.
Austin, TX 78704

14. The Townsend

The Townsend

In the front, it's a classy and elegant bar. In the back, it's one of the best acoustically sound rooms for seeing live bands. Original cocktails from Justin Elliott are on-point! It's a great place to stay from happy hour through closing. Hot chicken is a must.

718 Congress Ave. #100
Austin, TX 78701

15. Half Step

Half Step

This shining gem of a cocktail bar on bustling Rainey Street is the sister restaurant of world-renowned Varnish in Los Angeles. Created by Austin native Chris Bostick, expect a concise list of drinks alongside local bands through the week. While you're in this hood, drop by other classic bungalow bars like Lustre Pearl, Banger's, Icenhauer's, and No Va.

75 1/2 Rainey St.
Austin, TX 78701

16. Small Victory

Small Victory

Tucked away on the second floor of an office building, the bar is local bartender Josh Loving's first solo venture. The meticulous approach to classic cocktails, served in an intimate space, exists outside of time and makes it easy to forget the world's troubles.

108 E. 7th St.
Austin, TX 78701

17. Péché


One of the first classic cocktail bars in Austin and a longtime breeding ground for many of the city's best bartenders. Along with hearty food, Péché easily claims the largest curated liquor selection in town.

208 W. 4th St.
Austin, TX 78701

18. Elizabeth Street Cafe

Elizabeth Street Cafe

By morning it's a Vietnamese coffee house, by night, a cocktail spot (try the Red Dragon with beet-infused sake or coconut milk punch). Fill the belly with a banh mi or spicy noodles.

1501 S. 1st St.
Austin, TX 78704

19. Mean-Eyed Cat

Mean-Eyed Cat

It used to be a chainsaw shop and there are still signs on the wall advertising blades. But don't let that scare you. These days, it's a bar...no, make that a shrine to the late, great Johnny Cash.

1621 W. 5th St.
Austin, TX 78703

20. Antone's


The first music club on 5th Street, Antone's is one of the largest and most established venues in town: Everyone has played here. If you have a thing about crowds, you might want to check out smaller venues like Stubbs or Mohawk a few blocks up.

305 E. 5th St.
Austin, TX 78701

21. Curra's Grill

Curra's Grill

The self-anointed Mother of all Mex gets raves for its authentic and remarkably cheap food. But the best thing is the avocado margarita: Yes, an avocado margarita. It's the marriage of good fat and good tequila. Sounds gross, tastes incredible. You have to try it. Then have camarones campeche or enchiladas con chile colorado and die happy.

614 E. Oltorf St.
Austin, TX 78704

22. Dry Creek

Dry Creek

A two-story beer shack atop Mt. Bonnell is the best place to drink suds and listen to Johnny Cash on the jukebox until sundown (when they shut down). It's open seasonally and the telephone doesn't always work, so you'll have to make the drive to scope it out.

4812 Mt. Bonnell Rd.
Austin, TX 78731

23. The White Horse

The White Horse

Cowboys meet hipsters in an unconventional honky-tonk saloon for free live music and the two-step. Down Makers on tap, then get a shoe shine out back. On your way out, hit another diehard bar, Yellow Jacket Social Club, just a block away.

500 Comal St.
Austin, TX 78702

24. Continental Club

Continental Club

"Who's at the Continental?" is a phrase you hear a lot in Austin. Open since the 1950s, the Continental is legendary. Located in a strip of stores along South Congress Boulevard, it's been a supper club and a burlesque club but for the last four decades has been the premier place to see live music. If you're lucky, Patricia Vonne, Haybale, or Joe Ely will be putting on a show.

1315 S. Congress Ave.
Austin, TX 78704

25. Butterfly Bar

Butterfly Bar

Three blocks of Manor Road are dense with bars and restaurants, so just spending the evening there will be a mini-getaway. Hidden behind a big wooden wall, the Butterfly Bar is attached to a little theater called The Vortex, and Patrizi's truck is parked outside. Get the cacio e pepe pasta with a coddled egg.

2307 Manor Rd.
Austin, TX 78722

26. The Lost Well

The Lost Well

A beloved downtown punk rock dive bar brought back to life. The also beloved-but-displaced-for-development Dog and Duck British-style pub is now right across the street. And for terrific sandwich and brew, Gourmands is right next door.

2421 Webberville Rd.
Austin, TX 78702

27. Firehouse Lounge

Firehouse Lounge

Across the street from The Driskill, enter the hostel in a circa-1885 fire station and open the library wall to find a hidden lounge and music venue.

605 Brazos St.
Austin, TX 78701

28. Güero's Taco Bar

Güero's Taco Bar

If you're lucky, Della will be working. Say hello and ask for a table outside on the patio for the best people-watching. Order the official drink of Austin, a tasty margarita — frozen, shaken, straight up, any way you like it — and watch the ecletic townfolk go by. Don't miss the chips and salsa bar; you need something to absorb the tequila.

1412 S. Congress Ave.
Austin, TX 78704

29. King Bee

King Bee

A local favorite with one of the best mezcal selections in town, creative pizza, and a neighborhood vibe. The mirrored doors are a tip-off to cocktail bar neighbor Dozen Street.

1906 E. 12th St.
Austin, TX 78702

30. Midnight Cowboy

Midnight Cowboy

A reservations-only speakeasy on "Dirty 6th" has a non-descript door and a buzzer to get you in for tableside cocktailing in little booths where, until a few years ago, massages (ahem) were dispensed.

313 E. 6th St.
Austin, TX 78701

31. Hard Luck Lounge

Hard Luck Lounge

An enclosed beer garden and bar with its own little compound away from it all. Southern food with a global flare from the Lady Luck food truck will help with the hangover.

3526 E. 7th St.
Austin, TX 78702

32. The Aristocrat Lounge

The Aristocrat Lounge

Also referred to by its old name, The Poodle Dog, this dive is dark and filled with regulars playing Skeeball, but offers craft cocktails and a great selection of mezcal. A special cocktail menu goes with Southern delights from Three Little Pigs outside.

6507 Burnet Rd.
Austin, TX 78757

33. Whisler's


Rustic craft cocktail bar downstairs, cozy Oaxacan-style mezcalería upstairs, Paul Qui's East Side King Thai-Kun outside. And live music almost every night.

1816 E. 6th St.
Austin, TX 78702

34. The Liberty

The Liberty

Austin has food truck lots all over town, and there are plenty parked at dive bars. Head straight to the backyard, where everybody is very drunk, having converged for cans of Pearl Snap German Pils and, more dramatically, to line up at Top Chef-winner Paul Qui's East Side King truck for a plate of WTF-good chicken karaage and crowd-favorite deep-fried roasted beets dusted with shichimi and dressed with kewpie mayo.


1618 E. 6th St.
Austin, TX 78702

35. Easy Tiger

Easy Tiger

Bake shop and beer garden, a winning combination. Play table tennis by the creek, and pair your craft beer with a homemade pretzel and beer cheese.

709 E. 6th St.
Austin, TX 78701

36. Sandy's Hamburgers

Their frozen custard and hot dogs cure all.

603 Barton Springs Rd.
Austin, TX 78704

37. Bottecelli's


Delicious Italian food courtesy of the handsome Botticelli brothers of Chicago. (Do not mention the Bears unless you want to be there for hours.) Start at the bar and ask Tim, the manager/bartender, to pour you a pinot nero, then sit out back and order the amazing Botticelli bread, a bread pillow with stuffings — kind of like the love child of a pizza and a calzone. The original (grandma's recipe) has prosciutto, coppa, mortadella, salami, and cheese. 

1321 S. Congress Ave.
Austin, TX 78704

38. Hillside Farmacy

Hillside Farmacy

Classy bistro food in an old-fashioned drug store. Your prescription: gigantic sandwiches and homemade fountain sodas. 

1209 E. 11th St.
Austin, TX 78702

39. La Barbecue

La Barbecue

This barbecue trailer’s tender, smoky, flavorful brisket is said to rival Franklin BBQ's —high praise from Austinites. It is in a section of town that in two years might be just as busy as Rainey St., but for now, it still flies under the radar.

1906 E. Cesar Chavez St.
Austin, TX 78702

40. Barley Swine

Barley Swine

Bryce Gilmore moved his beloved nose-to-tail restaurant to a bigger, better spot uptown. His tasting menu is still there, but with new a la carte additions like crab tamales and pig skin noodles. No time to leave downtown? Drop by his other South Lamar spot, Odd Duck, for equally outstanding small plates (think mustard seed tater tots, shitake doughnuts, and croissants with runny egg yolk).

6555 Burnet Rd., #400
Austin, TX 78757

41. Polvos


A classic South Austin Mexican spot. It's reliably and authentically local, with awesome salsa, enchiladas, and drinks. If there's a wait, consider walking down First Street towards the increasingly-popular gourmet food truck lot. 

2004 S. 1st St.
Austin, TX 78704

42. Josephine House

Josephine House

Don't let the white marble bar and countertops fool you: this place might be the epitome of refinement and chic, but no one's too good for breakfast hamburgers and huevos rancheros. Cure your case of the Monday's with their weekly steak frites night. 

1601 Waterson Ave.
Austin, TX 78703

43. Ramen Tatsu-Ya

Ramen Tatsu-Ya

The original location in South Lamar has a line so steady there's a water station and ropes to organize the hoards. Instead, head north to their second spot for their Tonkotsu Original, an umami-bomb with pork bone broth and pork belly.

8557 Research Blvd., #126
Austin, TX 78758

44. Sawyer & Co.

Sawyer & Co.

Go for the Cajun cuisine and Hurricanes at this diner-style spot (locals will tell you it's where Arkie's used to be). The outside patio is carpeted with astroturf, but you should sit at the counter surrounded by mid-century modern decor for crawfish etouffee or breakfast "all the time."

4827 E. Cesar Chavez St.
Austin, TX 78702

45. Justine's


A French-influenced bar and restaurant with a huge garden for cocktails, escargot, and steak frites. It's also home to the Lumiere Tintype photography trailer where you can commission and receive an old-timey self-portrait in under an hour.

4710 E. 5th St.
Austin, TX 78702

46. Dai Due

Dai Due

If you want something more unusual in the way of juicy meat, Dai Due on the Manor Road strip has an in-house butcher. Watch racks of elk swing behind the line and in front of the three adjustable wood-fired grills on their way to becoming your steak or sausage. On his quest to define a regional cuisine for central Texas, chef Jesse Griffiths sources all his ingredients from within a 30-mile radius and offers an all-Texas wine list.

2406 Manor Rd.
Austin, TX 78722

47. Veracruz All Natural

Veracruz All Natural

No trip to Austin is complete without a proper Tex-Mex breakfast. Make the trek eastward for cultish morning migas and extensive vegetarian bites by sisters Reyna and Maritza, and if you happen to visit on the weekend, be sure to order the barbacoa taco.

1704 E. Cesar Chavez
Austin, TX 78702

48. Micklethwait Craft Meats

Micklethwait Craft Meats

From Tuesdays to Saturdays, just across the I-35 in a quiet little food truck park, you'll find one of the newer barbecue spots serving delicious pulled pork and jalapeño cheese grits. If you're there on Saturday and feeling brave, try the pulled goat.

1309 Rosewood Ave.
Austin, TX 78702

49. Franklin BBQ

Franklin BBQ

Widely considered to be the best barbecue in town (if not the best in the entire country). Bring a good book and your order: brisket, ribs, crunchy slaw. Line up by 9.30 A.M. — meat sells out by noon. Closed Mondays.

900 E. 11th St.
Austin, TX 78702

50. Uchi


Tyson Cole serves adventurous Japanese plates in his cozy James Beard award-winning spot. Order the hama chili and shag roll. If you can't make it there, consider the equally great small plates at sister-spot Uchiko.

801 S. Lamar Blvd.
Austin, TX 78704

51. Gourdough's


The most inventive and lip-smacking doughnuts you never dared dream about, served up from a vintage airstream trailer. Most people rave about the bacon doughnut, but also try the Blue Balls: small rounds of dough with an incredible blueberry sauce.

1503 S. 1st St.
Austin, TX 78704

52. Contigo


Fresh from the ranch, this bar food comes with a few winning twists, like ox tongue sliders, rabbit, and dumplings. Cocktails are stellar, so stick around for happy hour.

2027 Anchor Ln.
Austin, TX 78723

53. Jo's


A beloved local institution where you'll find an eclectic mix of artists, techies, musicians, and politicians getting a start to their day with a caffeinated beverage and a breakfast taco. It's also where you'll find the original "I love you so much" mural, so you know it's Instagram-approved. 

1300 S. Congress Ave.
Austin, TX 78704

54. South Congress Hotel

South Congress Hotel

Hardwood floors, muted colors, and walk-in showers stocked with Aesop products bring a modern twist to the South Congress antique shopping street. Rooms and public spaces are flooded with light — opt for a suite with floor-to-ceiling windows and/or balconies for even more sunshine. See if you can score a seat at the twelve-seat Otoko sushi bar by local food-hero Paul Qui.

1603 S. Congress Ave.
Austin, TX 78704

55. Hotel Van Zandt

Hotel Van Zandt

A music-themed Kimpton hotel in the historic Rainey Street district. Dark wood, metallic accents, and leather finishes in the lobby and guest rooms reinforce edgy, rock 'n' roll vibes. Don't miss drinks and live music at Geraldine's.

605 Davis St.
Austin, TX 78701

56. Lake Austin Spa Resort

Lake Austin Spa Resort

A 35-minute drive from the airport gets you to the shores of the Colorado River and the best spa retreat in Texas Hill Country. Rooms are spacious and comfortable. Some have private jacuzzis; all have views of the lake. Every room comes stocked with the spa's handcrafted, signature skincare line in two scents, Lavender Fields and Gifts of the Garden.


1705 S. Quinlan Park Rd.
Austin, TX 78732

57. Kimber Modern

Kimber Modern

Just off the noisy South Congress Avenue, Kimber Modern is an oasis hidden under a canopy of oaks. Take refuge in minimalist and thoughtful design, bright light pouring through the floor-to-ceiling windows, and downtime on the patio hammocks. Book early — the seven rooms fill up fast.

110 The Circle
Austin, TX 78704

58. Hotel San Jose

Hotel San Jose

Austin's quintessential boutique hotel — low-key, casual, cool, and stylish — was constructed from an old motel. Props for the best micheladas in town and fabulous kimono bathrobes, custom-made for the hotel's guests.

1316 S. Congress Ave.
Austin, TX 78704

59. Hotel Saint Cecilia

Hotel Saint Cecilia

Named after the patron saint of music and poetry, the five suites in this small hotel (three studios, six poolside bungalows) are each inspired by a pop-culture icon. We love the idea of bathing in a private, bamboo-lined outdoor shower in the Patti Smith suite.


112 Academy Dr.
Austin, TX 78704

60. Four Seasons Hotel Austin

Four Seasons Hotel Austin

It's hard to feel fancy in Austin, but the hotel's bar (complete with celeb sightings) may be your best bet. If you have a room with a balcony that faces the lake, you can watch the bats fly out of the Congress Street bridge —a beloved city pastime. 

98 San Jacinto Blvd.
Austin, TX 78701

61. The Driskill

The Driskill

Built in 1886, it still stands today as a vestige of historic Austin. The stained glass dome and art-deco lobby reinforce the space’s antique charm, but newly renovated rooms give you the best of both worlds.

604 Brazos St.
Austin, TX 78701

62. Austin Motel

Austin Motel

Each of the 41 rooms are individually decorated with bright colors and vintage furniture. This SoCo spot, open since 1938, is cozy, unpretentious, and close to everything cool (Jo's Coffee, Continental Club, and some of the city's best antique shops). Plus: It's always a fun scene at the kidney-shaped pool.

1220 S. Congress Ave.
Austin, TX 78704

63. Raven + Lily

Raven + Lily

Fair trade jewelry, clothing, and accessories all made with locally-sourced and eco-friendly materials. A percentage of the proceeds go towards funding micro loans for women in developing countries, so you can feel good about your purchase. 

Domain NORTHSIDE, 11601 Rock Rose Ave. Ste. 110
Austin, TX 78758

64. Nannie Inez

Nannie Inez

Contemporary, minimalist design from around the world draws tourists and locals alike to this indie boutique dealing in home goods, art, jewelry and apothecary. Go for the decor inspiration or to pick up that perfect souvenir.

701 S. Lamar Blvd.
Austin, TX 78704

65. Allens Boots

Allens Boots

You're in Texas. You'll want (need?) a pair of cowboy boots at some point. You could spend hours browsing the aisles upon aisles of different styles at Allens, and even if you end up passing on the boots it'll still feel like an afternoon well spent. 

1522 S. Congress Ave.
Austin, TX 78704

66. Whole Foods Headquarters

Whole Foods Headquarters

Calling all foodies: Whole Food's flagship store has a walk-in beer cooler, taco bar, and fresh-baked pizza counter. Yum! 

525 N. Lamar Blvd. 
Austin, TX 78703

67. Uncommon Objects

Uncommon Objects

This self-proclaimed “emporium of transcendent junk” is filled to the brim with antique, quirky relics: feline taxidermy, antique busts, and off-beat decorative objects abound.

1602 Fortview Rd.
Austin, TX 78704

68. Austin Vintage Guitar

Austin Vintage Guitar

A polished selection of Fender Stratocasters, Gibson Les Pauls, amps, and other high-end instruments. Feel free to ask one million questions: they will answer them all.

4306 Red River
Austin, TX 78751

69. Helm Boots

Helm Boots

Stylish, timeless, and hand-made, this handsome line of men's footwear is handcrafted in the U.S. from locally sourced materials. Their flagship showroom is a converted library building from the late '30s and you’re likely to hear owner Joshua Bingaman's voice on the line when you call.

1200 E. 11th St. #101
Austin, TX 78702