Which Austin Neighborhood Should You Move To?

From historic Clarksville to funky South Congress, here’s everything you need to know about Austin’s vibrant neighborhoods.

Picture this: You’re fresh off the plane in your new home town of Austin but, right after brushing off that New York winter or the trauma of California traffic, you have an important decision to make—where should you direct that U-Haul containing all your precious belongings? That’s where our handy neighborhood guide comes in. We’re here to help you avoid all the standard Austin newcomer pitfalls, starting with the incorrect pronunciation of “Guadalupe.”

Whether you’re in the market for urban high energy or a place packed with more trees than bars, here’s a complete guide to every Austin neighborhood perfect for stashing those newly purchased cowboy boots.

Information listed here may be subject to change depending on the developing situation with COVID-19's Omicron variant. Please check for the latest updates available or contact each establishment directly for more info.
Clark's Oyster Bar
Clark's Oyster Bar

Clarksville

"Clarksville is a low-key and friendly neighborhood. People are really supportive during tough times—neighbors here help each other, just like they’re a part of a big family. Whenever I come to work, it feels like going back to my hometown and meeting all my old friends. I'm so happy to have my first restaurant in this town." - Chef Ling Wu, owner of Lin Asian Bar

Waterloo Records
Waterloo Records

Sites & Landmarks: At the corner of North Lamar and West 6th Street, you’ll find a powerful trifecta of some of Austin’s most well-known and well-loved businesses. First up is BookPeople, Texas’ largest independent bookstore, which has graced the city with poetry and prose since 1970. Next up? Waterloo Records, which has been around since 1982 and is probably the first place your favorite musician hits when they touch down in the city. Finally, there’s the flagship location of Whole Foods—before it had anything to do with Amazon Prime, it was a small health food store opened by four Austin friends. The size of the place has certainly grown with its reputation, though, and here you’ll find floors upon floors of fresh food and, come winter time, even an ice skating rink on its top deck.

Clarksville has one of the most storied histories of any neighborhood in Austin. Founded in the early 1870s, it was originally a community for formerly enslaved people. And, while it may be so close to Downtown you can see the city skyline through the branches on every tree-lined sidewalk, there is still a pervading sense of camaraderie that feels distinctively small-town. Speaking of those plant-decked streets, they’re filled with adorable bungalows, old-school businesses complete with retro signs, chic furniture boutiques, and some of the best restaurants in all of Bat City.

Lin Asian Bar + Dim Sum Restaurant
Lin Asian Bar + Dim Sum Restaurant

To dive further into that food statement, start with the exceptional dim sum brunch at Lin Asian Bar, where you can chow down on jumbo seafood soup dumplings that are tasty as they are massive. For a double-hit Sunday Funday, grab some grub at the pink umbrella-strewn Better Half Coffee & Cocktails (don’t sleep on the local favorite cauliflower tots), then head next door to Hold Out Brewing, where you and the crew can spend a relaxing day bottoming out pints of their incredibly drinkable fleet. And, for those craving seafood deep in the heart of Texas, there’s few better places to lap up the ocean than Clark’s Oyster Bar, where you can slurp Petite Crowes and Espresso Martinis while people-watching on their breezy patio.

Pease Park Conservancy
Pease Park Conservancy

Old West Austin

“I grew up in Old West Austin, and it will always have a special place in my heart. I think back on the lemonade stand my friends and I started in front of Brykerwoods Elementary, riding bikes throughout Terrytown, and exploring all there was to explore along the banks of Shoal Creek. Kerbey Lane Cafe wouldn't exist today but for the Old West Austin community—they supported us from the beginning and continue to support us today.” - Mason Ayer, CEO of Kerbey Lane Cafe and son of the restaurant’s founders

Sites & Landmarks: Any ‘90s kid will have a serious bout of nostalgia driving past the house from Disney classic Blank Check, located right here in this neighborhood. You can only peer at the outside though—there’s no way to know if the film’s signature indoor-to-outdoor house slide was real or an illusion of movie-making magic.

Pease Park Conservancy
Pease Park Conservancy

If the name doesn’t give it away, Old West Austin is one of the city’s most historic neighborhoods—and the houses, marked by the brick facades and grand Colonial-style columns straight out of your Pinterest dreams, certainly reflect that. Walk the streets, often populated with residents taking their Sunday strolls, to spot centuries-old oak trees and beautiful gardens at every turn. The family-friendly vibe is further personified by Pease District Park, an underrated green space gem which features volleyball and tennis courts as well as a treehouse observational pod for you to confirm, without a doubt, that the stars at night are big and bright deep in the heart of Texas.

Kerbey Lane Cafe
Kerbey Lane Cafe

While Old West Austin might not be the place to settle down for those who favor a rowdy nightlife scene, it doesn't mean it lacks evening activities. Chief among them being the original Kerbey Lane Cafe, every Austinite’s go-to spot for food at all hours of the day. And no matter how many times you’ve put away their buttermilk pancakes or signature queso, nothing beats digging into them at the bungalow location where it all started. There’s also Spread & Co., where the ability to build a custom charcuterie board to snack on while sipping draft rosés is bound to elevate your happy hour game. Finally, there’s Austin Flower Co, home to the prettiest stems in the entire city.

Quack's 43rd Street Bakery
Quack's 43rd Street Bakery

Hyde Park

“We‘ve been in the Hyde Park neighborhood since 1997. We’ve seen it change and grow. What we love about this neighborhood is how diverse it is—from students to new families to families who have been established in this neighborhood for generations, Hyde Park welcomes all.” - Heather O’Connor, chief of operations for Quack's 43rd Street Bakery

For The Love Of Old Houses
For The Love Of Old Houses

Sites & Landmarks: Hyde Park, founded over a hundred years ago, is known as Austin’s original suburb, but don't expect identical houses with white-picket fences. Instead, it's an eccentric mix of peaked-roof Victorian architecture, Tudor Revival homes, and cozy, colorful bungalows—with a population of young students, families, and older couples that can feel both hodge-podge and perfectly aligned. With sidewalks shaded by pecan trees, live oaks, and a flush of other greenery, it’s ideal for a Sunday afternoon stroll, yet modern enough that those same lawns are decorated with activist yard signs beneath the magnolia branches.

Hyde Park Bar & Grill
Hyde Park Bar & Grill

If all that leafiness isn’t enough, head to Shipe Park, a family-friendly 1.25-acre expanse littered with tennis courts, basketball courts, picnic tables, a swimming pool, and a playground. The neighborhood’s best eateries conjure Americana nostalgia. Hyde Park Bar & Grill is famous for its award-winning crisp, seasoned fries served alongside their signature Thousand Island and mayo dipping sauce—which, at first glance, looks disgusting, but is the ideal accompaniment to all that savory goodness. Don't miss a locally roasted espresso from Quack's 43rd Street Bakery, plus one of their chocolate cupcakes smeared with chocolate frosting to go along with it. Elsewhere, The Elisabet Ney Museum, located in the legendary sculptor’s former Hyde Park castle-style studio dubbed Formosa, houses a permanent collection of the OG feminist badass’ work and life memorabilia.

birdbirdbiscuit
Bird Bird Biscuit

Cherrywood

"Having grown up in Austin, I love the feeling of Cherrywood. It's central enough to have a real buzz to it while still apart enough to be genuinely full of locals and have a mellow vibe. It's kind of the perfect blend of old and new Austin.” - Ryan McElroy, co-owner of Bird Bird Biscuit

Friends of Patterson Park
Friends of Patterson Park

Sites & Landmarks: With traditional staples like picnic pavilions as well as more unusual features like a skate park, Patterson Park is the area’s best-kept secret, which is how locals would like to keep it. For those who like to keep things spooky, walk around the Oakwood Cemetery instead. The oldest city-owned cemetery in Austin, it's filled with notable figures from Texas political history, which you can learn about by booking a guided tour through the site.

When Cherrywood was being developed during and after World War II, the target demographic for the neighborhood was described as “gentle folk of limited budget but of unlimited good taste.” The budget of the average Cherrywood resident may have increased since then due to rising housing prices, but the taste is still on par with the neighborhood’s original sentiment. It’s close to Downtown Austin while still being residential enough to feel far away from the high-rises emerging from beyond the serene streets. The population is chock full of students and recent graduates, not to mention young families whose irregular sleep schedules are aided by the numerous coffee shops that dot the area.

Cherrywood Coffeehouse
Cherrywood Coffeehouse

When it comes to coffee shops, one of the best neighborhood haunts is the Cherrywood Coffeehouse, where no unfriendly face exists from the charming interior space to the sunny patio. Cherrywood’s homemade cold brew packs all the punch of jet fuel with none of the unpleasant diesel flavor, and their gigantic breakfast tacos come topped with generous helpings of potato hash. The best biscuits in the city can be found at Bird Bird Biscuit, where they stuff their flaky, buttery bites with a variety of enticing chicken and egg combinations. And those seeking a different sort of buzz can head to Haymaker, whose plethora of beers on tap and variety of craft sandwiches make it a go-to for game day viewing.

paramount theatre austin
Photo courtesy of Paramount Theatre

Downtown

“As the city is becoming more of an international destination, I’ve been excited to see the renaissance taking place downtown. So much of Austin life happens in the small neighborhoods, but this spot right at the corner of where the heart of the city meets the lake feels like a metaphor for Austin itself, where beauty and nature and wildness meet the aliveness of the city center. It’s a part of life here to go swimming at Barton Springs after work—how many cities have a beautiful, natural spring downtown? This connection to nature and the creative spirit that the city exudes all the time inspire me.” - Kristen Kish, executive chef and partner of Arlo Grey and Top Chef Season 10 Winner

Texas State Capitol Building
Texas State Capitol Building | LMPphoto/Shutterstock

Sites & Landmarks: Downtown is truly landmarks central. There’s everything from the terra cotta-hued Texas State Capitol (which is even bigger than the United States Capitol, because, you know, Texas) and the Paramount Theater, a revival-style entertainment center with a blazing marquee, to the statue of the city’s patron saint, Willie Nelson, marking the entrance to ALC Live at the Moody Theater.

Downtown’s iconic image decorates postcards, snow-globes, and other memorabilia found dotting the shops along its side streets. Here sits the political center of Texas, with multiple governmental buildings, as well as the heart of the live music scene, as evidenced by clubs and bars along the Red River and Sixth Street. The housing is almost exclusively high-class apartments that, depending on their location, might offer gorgeous views of Lady Bird Lake, which serves as the southern border for the neighborhood.

The LINE Hotel Austin
The LINE Hotel Austin

Being the most cosmopolitan location within city limits, the shops and restaurants here are equally sophisticated. Chinese comfort food and tiki drinks are taken to new levels at Wu Chow, where not ordering the Shanghai Soup Dumplings is a crime worth prosecuting at the Court of Appeals down the street. Arlo Grey at the LINE Austin hotel, helmed by culinary wunderkind Kristen Kish, is where you can get the already legendary Peeler Ranch Burger, topped with the unique and tasty addition of whipped potato. Be sure to grab one of their Beyond the Rainbow cocktails as well—a take on an Old Fashioned made with native son Matthew McConaughey’s Longbranch Bourbon, a label that donates money from every sale to Austin LGBTQIA+ non-profit Out Youth. If you’re looking for a less classy experience, however, there’s always Dirty Sixth Street, where you can drink your fill of sake cider bombs at The Jackalope until there’s no other option but to stumble home.

Lady Bird Lake
Lady Bird Lake | Skylar Dawn/Shutterstock

East Riverside

“I’ve lived on East Riverside for three of the five years I’ve been in Austin. I’m a five-minute drive from my favorite Austin music venue, Emo’s, and an easy bike ride to some delicious empanada and pupusa spots. Downtown isn’t a far reach, so I can still feel its energy while maintaining a local neighborhood feeling.” - Chelsea George, event production professional

Sites & Landmarks: East Riverside is nestled right up against Lady Bird Lake—and biking, walking, or simply dog-spotting on the boardwalk trailing a section of the waterway is one of the best things you can do in Austin. Looking to actually get out on the river? Rent a paddle-board or kayak from nearby Live Love Paddle and be one with nature.

Nature Boardwalk | Trong Nguyen/Shutterstock

East Riverside previously built up a reputation for strip malls and aging apartment buildings, but it's a different place today. Not only does its proximity to the glistening waters of the Colorado River and the beautiful wildflower fields of Mabel Davis District Park make it rife with natural beauty, but major developments and renovations in the works promise to bring even more businesses sure to appeal to the young professional crowd that dominates the area.

Emo's
Emo's

That’s not to say there aren't plenty of dining, drinking, and entertainment attractions already on board here. One of the best examples is famed music venue Emo’s, a local favorite for catching a band or some quality live comedy. Around the corner from Emo’s is Rosita’s Al Pastor, a taco truck serving juicy slices of its namesake pork on pillowy soft housemade flour tortillas 'til the wee hours of the morning.

South Congress
South Congress

South Congress

“South Congress runs between Travis Heights to the east and Bouldin to the west, neighborhoods that are a great mix of historic homes and a high concentration of modern ones, many designed by local architects like Bercy Chen. Both are a short walk to South Congress, which is not only the main spot for out-of-towners to shop at mom and pop shops, restaurants and coffee shops, but also where Austinites eat and shop. Bunkhouse is lucky to have four hotels and a Jo's Coffee on this stretch, and we proudly serve both locals and travelers alike—it’s the locals, though, who keep the spirit of Austin alive.” - Tenaya Hills, Bunkhouse vice president of design and development

South Congress, Austin | Dmitri Kotchetov/Shutterstock

Sites & Landmarks: South Congress street itself, with its multi-block expanse of quirky boutiques, refreshing bars, and more culinary affectations than you can count, is the real draw here. Plus, you can walk a good bulk of it without ever losing sight of the stunning Texas State Capitol building on the other side of the river.

South Congress is easily one of Austin’s most enviable zip codes for many reasons. And it’s been this way since the 1970s when it famously laid claim to Armadillo World Headquarters, a music venue which hosted memorable performances by heavy-hitters like Stevie Ray Vaughan, Waylon Jennings, Ray Charles, and ZZ Top. Although the Armadillo is sadly gone, the hip, eccentric vibe lives on in the (albeit increasingly expensive) brightly decorated bungalows beckoning from every side street.

Allens Boots
Allens Boots

Over the past few years, a lot of great shops that once defined South Congress have been pushed out due to rising rents, but a few still stand as a testament to the “Make Austin Weird” culture that the area encapsulated for so long. Case in point: Allens Boots, where you can feel like a true rodeo king thanks to a selection of Stetsons, belt buckles, and, of course, cowboy boots, all available in UT’s signature burnt orange. If queen of hearts is more your vibe, check out the fabulously named Lucy in Disguise with Diamonds, where you can find every costume and wig conceivable on planet Earth, both for rent and for purchase.

Hotel San José
Hotel San José

Whether you’re in the mood for caffeine or something stronger, South Congress is one of Austin’s top neighborhoods for any form of beverage. Take your cold brew by the gallon at community hang Jo’s Coffee, where you’re bound to find a line of people waiting to take their picture by the “I love you so much” mural donning the side of the building. And for a break from the bustle, head to The Courtyard Lounge at the Hotel San José to bask in the sunshine while sipping on a signature Michelada.

Barton Springs
Barton Springs | VDB Photos/Shutterstock

Zilker & Bouldin Creek

"We live in this neighborhood, along with having our coffee shop here. Things have changed a lot and continue to change, but you can still find vestiges of old South Austin—like telephone poles wearing dresses, tons of other independent businesses, and our beloved Barton Springs. And peacocks, we still have peacocks, too." - Once Over Coffee Bar co-owners Jenée and Rob Ovitt

Austin City Limits | Ismael Quintanilla III/Shutterstock

Sites & Landmarks: Zilker Park, which sits in this area, is every Austinite’s favorite urban green space. The more than 350-acre expanse plays host to the Austin City Limits Music Festival each fall, along with dog-walkers, soccer-players, and picnickers just about every other time of the year. Located inside Zilker Park is Barton Springs, a three-acre public pool filled naturally with water from underground springs. As a result, the temperature always hovers around a brisk 68 degrees—and there’s no better way to cool off on a hot August day than jumping right in.

One of the oldest neighborhoods in Austin, the Bouldin Creek and Zilker area achieves the perfect balance between trendiness and resisting becoming over-hyped. Its prime South Austin location, not to mention its proximity to such treasures as Zilker Park and the hiking trails of the Bouldin Creek Greenbelt, have made this area susceptible to much gentrification over the past decade—but, luckily, tried-and-true businesses who’ve been here for years have maintained a strong foothold thanks to all the local love they so constantly receive.

Roadhouse Relics
Roadhouse Relics

Walking down South 1st Street is a great way to take in the flavor of this neighborhood, as everything from clothing stores to ice cream parlors to art galleries call the sometimes-crooked sidewalks here their home. Not to be missed is the “Greetings From Austin” mural, which looks straight out of the kind of 1940s vintage postcard you can find in one of the many area antique shops. This mural was, in fact, first painted on the side of Roadhouse Relics—another must-see art gallery where you can browse the neon signs of artist Todd Sanders.

Once Over Coffee Bar
Once Over Coffee Bar

In terms of eats and drinks, Bouldin Creek Cafe has vegan meals so delicious you won’t even mind eating healthy, which just means you can go all in on a Margarita at Polvos afterwards. Additionally, if the great patio and friendly wait staff at Once Over Coffee Bar don’t automatically make you feel better about taking on the work week ahead, their Frozen Vanilla Latte certainly will.

JewBoy Burgers
JewBoy Burgers

North Loop

“As Austin changes and gentrifies, the North Loop seems to be holding the old Austin vibe better than most. The people are remarkably chill and supportive of the local culture. I lived in the area when I was in college at UT, so when I moved back and ultimately decided to open my food truck, I knew this area would be a good fit for someone like me who has both the new and old perspective on Austin. I want to see change and progress, but I don’t want to lose the things that make Austin what it is.” - Morris Pittle, owner of JewBoy Burgers

Sites & Landmarks: North Loop Boulevard encompasses everything there is to love about this neighborhood—vintage furniture stores, cozy coffee shops, and innovative venues bursting with top-notch food and drink.

Revival Vintage
Revival Vintage

You know that friend who has a totally brilliant wardrobe and a meticulously decorated house filled with pristine knick-knacks? Somehow, whenever you ask them where they got any of it from, they simply respond, "It’s vintage." That’s kind of like North Loop personified. The area is funky yet approachable, constantly evolving into a place where you want to spend more and more of your free time. In the past, the neighborhood used to be so directly in the flight path of the old Austin airport that folks reported seeing the passengers' faces as they flew overhead. However, with the airport now stashed in another section of town, North Loop has definitely become less “fly-over” and more straight-up fly.

The selection of vintage stores in the North Loop area is unparalleled. Room Service Vintage brings Austin vibes to your living room. From framed floral needlepoints to colorful deck furniture, you’re bound to find a spicy addition to your space here—as long as you can scoop it up before one of their legion of devotees does. And in addition to home goods, Revival Vintage is stocked with single stitch shirts and denim marvels.

JewBoy Burgers
JewBoy Burgers

The area’s unique atmosphere very much extends to the food and drink options. JewBoy Burgers peddles delicious patties with toppings that pay tribute to both Jewish and Mexican culture, such as latkes and green chilies. Modern twists on cocktails, like a dry martini made with Scotch, can be found at Drink.Well—but, just a warning, you may never want to go back to the originals again.

University of Texas
University of Texas | f11photo/Shutterstock

The Drag

"There's a friendly, low-key vibe to this very walkable part of Austin. We have an eclectic mix of small indie stores that appeal to local residents and students alike, including a bookshop that focuses on poetry and prose from independent presses, a head shop, a vintage store, and a co-op grocery—and great food options abound, whether you’re into pizza, pastry, or poke.” - Becky Garcia, owner of Malvern Books

Harry Ransom Center
Harry Ransom Center

Sites & Landmarks:The Harry Ransom Center, an archival dream of literary and cultural artifacts, is a building every Austinite should visit, whether or not they’re actually a student doing research. Some of the collection’s highlights include a painting by Frida Kahlo, an original Gutenberg Bible, and the oldest surviving photograph in the world.

Malvern Books
Malvern Books

There’s no doubt that the University of Texas casts a huge shadow on Austin—both in the metaphorical as well as in the literal sense when the UT Tower burns bright orange through the night to celebrate various sports victories. The Drag, an area along the western edge of UT’s campus, originated as a place to house businesses that provided services to students, such as campus bookstores. While students may still dominate this area—both in terms of who resides here as well who you’re bound to encounter while out and about—there’s still a lot to love about the neighborhood, even if your coed days are far behind you.

The Ballroom
The Ballroom

Fittingly, The Drag is worth its weight in hangout-worthy bars, delicious take-out options, and shops with an academic bent. Hole in the Wall has been a city institution since it first opened in 1974, where bands like Spoon, Fastball, and Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears earned their stripes. It remains one of the best places to catch a shot of whiskey and a show in the live music capital. Another long-term local favorite is Spider House Cafe & Ballroom, where a string light-laden patio shines like the Bat Signal. In terms of good reads, there’s no outpost with a better selection or kinder staff than Malvern Books. It’s the type of curated shop that makes you feel like your own personal librarian is giving you suggestions for new favorites—so, even those who haven’t read since college are bound to find a page-tuner that’s impossible to put down.

East Austin Mueller Pond
East Austin Mueller Pond | Roschetzky Photography/Shutterstock

Mueller

"Our guests come in every week with their kids in strollers from across the park or in their yoga pants from the nearby apartments and homes. In that way, Mueller is comfortable, but we also have folks from all over for date nights, concerts in the park, or movies around the corner at Alamo. As Austin grows east and north, Mueller is an accessible new centerpoint that can be different things for different people—and L'Oca d'Oro hopes they all like housemade pasta.” - L’Oca d’Oro co-owner Adam Orman

Sites & Landmarks: Neighbrohood centerpiece Lake Park offers plenty of green space for hanging with friends on a nice day or taking a sunset run around one of the trails encircling the eponymous lake. And every Sunday, Mueller’s Branch Park Pavilion is home to one of Austin’s best farmers markets.

Texas Farmers' Market at Mueller
Texas Farmers' Market at Mueller

Located in what was formerly the Robert Mueller Municipal Airport, this area has been transformed into a modern version of those 1950s cliche sitcoms neighborhoods—the kind where you can bike to the (eco-friendly) grocery store for a gallon of (oat) milk. The fact that Mueller has more electric cars per capita than any area of the United States should tell you a lot about the people who live here—progressive families who want a slice of Americana without the hold-ups of the traditional suburbs. And with everything from a movie theater to a diner to an Irish pub within its accessible confines, it certainly delivers.

L'Oca D'Oro
L'Oca D'Oro

Just because Mueller exudes traditional vibes doesn’t mean it’s any less chock full of business with a distinctive Austin edge. The handmade pasta at L’Oca d’Oro is the single strongest argument against the rumor that good Italian food doesn't exist in Texas. Grabbing a coffee at Halcyon or a scoop of Hill Country Honey & Vanilla Bean at Lick Honest Ice Creams makes a perfect portable treat for a walk around the duck-filled expanse of Lake Park. If that doesn't scream family-friendly loudly enough, there’s also the Thinkery Children’s Museum, where kids can live it up in the elaborate playscape of their dreams. We won’t blame you if you join in on the fun.

Austin Pets Alive - Tarrytown
Austin Pets Alive - Tarrytown

Tarrytown/Deep Eddy

“Tarrytown is one of the most charming and beautiful neighborhoods in Austin. It's a kind-hearted community that has always been incredibly supportive in Austin Pets Alive!'s efforts. Each and every year, local church and school groups in the neighborhood hold supply drives to aid us in our cause. Best of all, there are tons of APA! dogs and cats living their best lives in Tarrytown. It's a generous, goodhearted community that we're lucky to call home to one of our shelters.” - Annie Hoelle, dog adoption counselor at Austin Pets Alive!

 Deep Eddy Pool
Deep Eddy Pool | Flickr/Sheila Scarborough

Sites & Landmarks: Take a dip in the always refreshing waters of Deep Eddy, the oldest swimming pool in Texas. And during the summer, the pool hosts Splash Part Movie Nights, where you can catch a family-friendly movie on a big screen while you float around.

The Tarrytown/Deep Eddy neighborhood has certainly had its fair share of controversy. Most notably in the late ‘90s, when the Tarrytown Shopping Center’s ban on the sale of animal products and products deemed harmful to animals drove out a bunch of beloved Austin businesses. Despite this, the debate encapsulates both sides of what makes this area so special—it’s a place where people care about both their local community and the world at large.

Austin Pets Alive!
Austin Pets Alive!

The aforementioned ban, however, does make Tarrytown one of the best places for die-hard animal lovers. The Beer Plant takes all the gastropub standards but makes them entirely vegan—you’ll never look at a plate of chicken and gravy the same way again after trying their succulent plant-based version. And because you can’t really be an Austinite without a rescue dog in tow, be sure to stop by Austin Pets Alive!’s Tarrytown Dog Adoption Center. We dare you to walk through their facility and not come home with a sweet furry friend or two.

Deep Eddy Cabaret
Deep Eddy Cabaret

Rest assured there are safe havens for meat-eaters, too. Pool Burger not only boasts some of the best patties in town, but their tiki cocktails and velvety Jalapeño Pimento are not to be missed. For a taste of classic Austin, be sure to stop by Deep Eddy’s Cabaret, where you can grab a Lone Star while being regaled by locals about the good ol’ days.

Chinatown Center
Chinatown Center

North Lamar

“North Lamar is home to some of the most exciting under-the-radar culinary geniuses in Austin. It's a dynamic blend of cultures and cuisines—you can eat homemade tortillas for breakfast, Nigerian jollof rice for lunch, and Vietnamese pho for dinner, all within the confines of the same minimall. I love North Lamar because it's diverse, delicious, and affordable—a true slice of old Austin.” - Emily Beyda, author of The Body Double and former food critic for The Austin Chronicle

Sites & Landmarks: Enter via the pagoda in Chinatown Center for some of the best Asian cuisine in all of Austin. Don’t leave without getting your fill of the unique products found in the aisles of MT Supermarket, which features grocery and household necessities from China, Taiwan, Korea, and Japan.

MT Supermarket
MT Supermarket

The cozy, residential neighborhood of North Lamar is a throwback to the times before major corporations sponsored South by Southwest. The area truly feels like a cultural diamond thanks to the sheer amount of different nationalities sharing the space, not to mention the unbeatable food scene. The far north location and plethora of strip malls means it often gets left off of real estate maps, but for those looking for international charm and reliable affordability, North Lamar is the place to be.

La Michoacana Meat Market "Official Page"
La Michoacana Meat Market "Official Page"

Let’s talk food—because this is a neighborhood you will want to return to time and time again for dinner. Eateries here are reminiscent of finds in bigger cities like Los Angeles, where nondescript locations conceal homegrown flavor combinations from around the world. In addition to the previously mentioned Chinatown Center, there’s Northgate Shopping Center, stocked with standout restaurants featuring Indian, Pakistani, and Middle Eastern specialties. Don’t miss Mariscos Los Jarochos, which eschews Austin’s Tex-Mex dominance for Veracruz-style seafood, and follow it up with some Conchas from La Michoacana.

Photo courtesy of Visit Austin

East Sixth Street & Holly

“When we first opened our restaurant on East Sixth Street, we took a leap of faith. It’s been 11 years since then, and this area has developed into a vibrant and beautiful part of town. The culinary experiences are ample with diverse restaurants, bars, and food trucks, plus a strong artistic vibe, one that is unique to the east side.” - Buenos Aires Café co-owner and grill master Paola Guerrero-Smith

Huston-Tillotson University
Huston-Tillotson University

Sites & Landmarks: Established in 1877, Huston-Tillotson University is the oldest university in the city and a testament to East Austin’s rich African-American heritage. The beautiful campus not only caters to undergraduates, but is also a great place for adults looking to go back to school while balancing full-time work.

The East Sixth Street and Holly neighborhoods have traditionally been home to a thriving Black community in Austin. However, with the onset of gentrification, many of those Black-owned businesses have been driven out due to higher rents and national chains coming in. There are still some incredible local places to hit up in the area, though—and its reputation as a mecca for hipsters is somewhat well-deserved, as you’re bound to see at least one manbun per block around these parts.

Hotel Vegas
Hotel Vegas

Music venues are one of the area’s main highlights. Hotel Vegas is the place to catch your new favorite indie rock band before they hit it big, and you can two-step the night away at modern honky-tonk The White Horse. Happy hour at Licha’s Cantina is a true respite from the work day—their spicy Vampiro, a cocktail made from tequila, sangrita, grapefruit juice, and jalapeno, will burn away the bad memories of your unanswered inbox. The empanadas at Buenos Aires Café are famous in the Austin region—you should probably try one of each just to get the full experience. After all that drinking and eating, sign up for a class at Practice Yoga Austin, where each instructor’s different yet equally kind approach guarantees everyone feels comfortable transitioning into downward dog.

West Lake
West Lake | Roschetzky Photography/Shutterstock

West Lake Hills

“My favorite Greenbelt entrance is a 10 minute walk from where I live in Westlake. I love living in a neighborhood where it's as easy and convenient to get lost in the woods as it is for me to get to the downtown studios where I teach. This neighborhood offers the benefit of being close to all the vibrancy and energy of downtown without the logistical stress that comes from living smack-dab in the middle of it. You can easily bike to ACL or SXSW, but you also have room to breathe... and a place to park.” - Villanelle Vee, West Lake Hills resident and dance instructor at Minx + Muse

Mount Bonnell
Mount Bonnell | Kyle Cargill/Shutterstock

Sites & Landmarks: The best panoramas in the city can be found atop Mount Bonnell’s 106-step stone stairway. It’s a great place to bring a picnic or enjoy some drinks on a first date and, like many areas in Austin, it’s completely dog-friendly.

Of all the neighborhoods on this list, West Lake Hills is for sure considered the most bougie—and, fittingly, the most expensive. And while gigantic mansions priced into the millions play an undeniable role in the local fabric, the naturally beautiful hilly landscape is attracting the gaze of a new, younger generation. And for those aiming to raise a family in the city, the excellent schools in the area are a huge draw.

County Line on the Hill
County Line on the Hill

From casual to upscale, restaurants here lean on classic Texan flavors. Take in a 20-mile view of the Hill Country while eating your way through homemade bread and famous ribs at The County Line on the Hill. Jack Allen’s Kitchen covers two of the basic food groups found in Austin, with Tex-Mex classics like Layered Chunky Queso with Green Chile Pork and country-style dishes like Chicken Fried Chicken sharing the gut-busting bill. Those craving international fare, however, can get their fix at popular Austin Thai eatery Sway—their Blue Crab Fried Rice will leave you as awe-struck as the view from their upstairs patio.

Want more Thrillist? Follow us on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, TikTok, and Snapchat.

Molly Moltzen is a contributor for Thrillist.