Spent all day on South Congress in Austin, and I still didn't see and eat everything I wanted to. I was interested to learn from a shop keeper that South Congress used to be the 'Red Light District' of Austin. Crazy how its now a hopping place full of charm and funk for all members of the family both young and old. If i had more hours, energy for steps, and a capacity for more food, then just maybe I would have felt that good conquering feeling. Here are the must see and eat stops on South Congress. (Plus a great Japanese ramen shop!)
1.) The Great Outdoors
Im no master gardner, I'm just struggling to keep my greens happy, so I started bright and early at a plant heaven! This oasis looked as if it went on for a mile, it was that big. Every section was well marked and grouped together nicely. Everything was strikingly colorful and such attention to detail. The staff go out of their way to make this more of an experience rather than just a plant shop. It is even great for people who kill all their plants. The staff don't hover and are equipped with a very sturdy knowledge base for all kinds of plants. For instance, I have a very temperamental Fiddle Leaf Fig tree that gives me attitude from time to time, and a nice associate shared with me some great instructions and things to try (like not feeding your tree tap water...apparently thats a NO-NO). Needless to say, after visiting The Great Outdoors, I left a better human!
2.) Farm to Market Grocery
This is a quaint little home grown grocery featuring home town products. It has a wide selection for a small shop, but it was so neat to look at the back of all the tags and see that it indeed did come from a local farm, ranch or company rather than shipped in from all over. This is a great pit stop for juice and a snack to get you on down the road with energy for more adventures!
3.) South Congress Books
This quiet and quirky little used book shop is a perfect spot to pick a corner and learn a bit. From top to bottom, it is filled with creativity and inspiration and packed full of all kinds of books on all sorts of topics! I indian styled in a corner and brushed up on Japanese food art.
4.) Street Culture
Everywhere you turn, the funk is alive and the city is crawling with creativity. It is an inspiring place filled with inspiring people who are kind and generous. Art and music are everywhere at all times painted and sung by all kinds of people. I had the pleasure of listening to the tunes of this rugged long haired cowboy for a minute or two.
4.) Hopdoddy's Burgers
Ignore the line, it goes very fast and staff helps by reserving you a table while you wait so there is no awkward search for a table. Not a bad item on the menu, so go for it! Finger licking Bison burgers, truffle fries, all accompanied by crisp home grown craft brews. It is surely a place to rest your feet and fill your tank!
5.) Uncommon Objects - Vintage Boutique Resale
This treasure house is full of all quirky odds and ends. Anyone is sure to walk out with something interesting, and leave with a smile! It is the place that creates the most excitement for me...probably because I too am full of an extra portion of weird.
6.) Magnolia Cafe
Talk about a hopping breakfast spot! It is a popular option for local`s and tourists alike, so coming on a weekday will reduce your wait time drastically, however, they do seem to push crowds through at a quick pace. The trinket shop next door is a good spot to pass time as you wait because you will hear your name over the loud speaker when your table is ready. I feasted on eggs benedict with a side of spinach and fresh fruit. This is a fantastic place to kick off your day in Austin!
7.) Ta Tsu Ya Ramen - NOT ON South Congress but my favorite Japanese Ramen Shop!
Authentic ramen true to that actually served in Japan and mouth watering dumplings!!! My favorite Ramen dishes are Tonkotsu and a new fav is Shoyu. If you are going for dinner and don't want to wait, try getting there by 5:30 otherwise you risk waiting in a long line. A long line lets you know its good, so get there early!