I have lived in Austin for about a year and a half, and I am nowhere close to seeing, eating or doing everything this city has to offer. I have a running list in my of new restaurants (most of them are just new to me) that is 35+ places that I need to try. Austin has endless tasty food trucks, delicious restaurants, insta-worthy views, hole-in-the bars and countless craft beers and cocktails. The list goes on and on... So, I am no where near being an expert. But, as a local, I'll share some of my suggestions to avoid the tourist traps.
Where to Eat
Skip - Hopdoddy's
A congress favorite. Don't be persuaded by the line around the door. Yes, it is a delicious burger, but is it worth waiting in a 100-degree weather for 45 minutes? Absolutely not. Either go at an off time during the day or try the north location, it hardly ever has a line.
Go - Lucky Robot
I recommend skipping Hopdoddy's all together and trying the extremely underrated Lucky Robot next to Amy's Ice-cream. I have never seen the restaurant with a wait. It is a hip restaurant serving Tokyo-inspired street fare including Asian tacos, sushi, dumplings plus sake punch! On Saturday and Sundays, their Tokyo brunch is 30 percent off from 10 to 11:30. You really can't go wrong with your order, but I would suggest the robot scramble and the peach blossom breeze sake punch. But, if you are there for lunch or dinner order the R2D2 sushi role made with wagyu steak, AH-MAZING!
Where to Shop
Skip - Kendra Scott and ByGeorge
If you only have a short time to browse don't waste your time wading through the crowd at Kendra Scott or gasping at the prices in ByGeorge. If you want to experience South Congress for all its worth, you should bypass these shops and head north to some of the most must-see shops on the street.
Go - Allen Boots, Uncommon Objects and Lucy in Disguise
Now I know I said skip the touristy stuff, but I don't care how long I live here I will never get sick of exploring Uncommon Objects, smelling the new leather in Allen Boots and getting lost in the costume aisles at Lucy in Disguise.
Uncommon Objects is this vintage shop that has the most bizarre inventory. Anything from a squirrel's skull to a 100-year-old doorknob can be found in this museum on wonder. The best part is everything is for sale. Take home a souvenir from the most unique stores in the country.
There is nothing more Texan in the city of Austin than Allen Boots. It is an "everything is bigger in Texas" boot store where authentic custom boots can be bought for a hefty price tag. But, I recommend stopping by to be awed by their large selection of leather goods and cute cowboys.
Lucy in Disguise is a must-see. It is a costume shop that is a little girls dream come true. When walking through the doorway it is as if you walked onto a movie set. There are costume's for rent and buy that range from mascot body suits to perfect outfits for any theme party. It is seriously mind-blowing.
Where to Drink
Skip - Guero's, Doc's
Guero's is one of the first places I ever ate in Austin. It just so happens to be a Mexican restaurant in the middle of South Congress, there is nothing good about it besides its location. Doc's is a bar on the south end of the street. The service is less than par and you'll only fit in if you have a motorcycle.
Go - Hotel San Jose
As a newbie to the city, I didn't realize Hotel San Jose's bar and courtyard was open to the public. I always thought it was very mysterious from the outside. When I finally ventured into the celebrity favorite, I was blown away by the hidden gem. The backyard is stunning and feels as if I have been exported to the west coast. It has a great cocktail selection. I highly suggest the Frozen Hanalei a frozen sake that should be the new pina colada.
Always, Maddi B.