Café No Sé
1603 S Congress Ave., South Congress
If you’re after something substantial, Café No Sé is open all day, but the weekday breakfast is our favorite. The space is big and bright, with wooden tables, wicker chairs, and outdoor seating. The menu falls somewhere between healthyish and decadent, so you can order, say, the gluten-free paleo granola one day and ricotta pancakes with pecan butter the next.
1400 S. Congress Ave., South Congress
Go to Perla's on South Congress for seafood and top-notch oysters. (It's run by chefs/restauranteurs Larry McGuire and Thomas Moorman and their Austin power group that's responsible for Lamberts, Clark's, and Josephine House, to name a few.) The inside of the restaurant is beautiful, but if you want to people watch while you're in Austin, sit outside here.
1822 S. Congress Ave., South Congress
There is a lot of awesome Tex-Mex in Austin but most people would agree that you have to go to Torchy’s at least once every time you find yourself in Austin. (If you're only making one trip, make it in the morning for a breakfast burrito.) Torchy’s, which started as a taco trailer in 2006 in the Bouldin Creek food truck mecca, now has several regular locations in Austin (in addition to the still-operating trailer), plus dozens of others around Texas and in a couple of other states. Sure, this makes Torchy’s seem less special, and many of the locations look no more remarkable than your average fast food joint—but the food here says otherwise.
South Congress Hotel, 1603 S. Congress Ave., South Congress
This sliver of a shop is right next door to tenoverten in the South Congress Hotel—which you'll realize, once you start sifting through the racks, is a bit dangerous. The owners are dedicated to young, independent designers, so you'll find a deep commitment to brands like Golondrina, Cypress Label, and Solid & Striped, plus a few fan favorites like Karen Walker and Assembly.
Stag Provisions for Men
1423 S. Congress Ave., South Congress
The vibe here might be described as high-end with a twang. The owners don’t let trends influence the buy too heavily, so it’s a good place to update a guy’s wardrobe, whether you’re looking for a professional look, a pocketknife, or just a pair of jeans. The clothing selection is really classic, and there’s also generous shelf space devoted to clean grooming products. Keep an eye out for Ralph Lauren’s Double RL Line—a rarity even in Austin.
1400 S. Congress Ave., South Congress
Service Menswear is a long-time tenant on South Congress, occupying their bright, clean-cut space for over a decade. Founder Kirk Haines' buy kind of epitomizes the straightforward, mildly hipster style that most Austin guys subscribe to, stocking Steven Alan shirts, Eastland boots, RVCA graphic tees, and plenty of Levis. He's also got a great selection of accessories (Steven Alan sunglasses, Nixon watches, Faribault blankets) and grooming products (Juniper Ridge, Marvis, etc.) to round things out.
1603 S. Congress Ave., South Congress
The Revival brand is considered one of the top hand-built motorcycle brands in the country, and they host an annual Handbuilt Motorcycle Show in Austin every spring. Their shop, which occupies a corner retail space at the South Congress Hotel with a spiral staircase and mezzanine overlooking the selection of bike-related product, from boots to helmets to gloves. Enthusiasts will drool over their museum-quality bikes, which they always have on display on the ground floor, but there are also plenty of cool graphic t-shirts and hipster accessories for non-riders.
1700B S. Congress Ave., South Congress
Along with Tex-Mex and live music, there's a big vintage scene in Austin. Aficionados will want to comb all of South Congress and South First Street, but if you're looking for a really great edit, go to Feathers. The shop, which has been open since 2005, is neatly organized, beautiful, and well-run (by two women, one of whom is a Texas native). It's worth a stop for vintage-virgins, too—the clothing and jewelry selection is very accessible, and there are always pieces here that are conveniently easy to work into an everyday, modern wardrobe.
1318 S. Congress Ave., South Congress
Just a stone’s throw from Hotel San Jose, the sprawling two-story Cove is a new kid on a much-loved block of South Congress. Here, University of Texas alum Rebecca Yanoff assembles a roster of brands “Austin women like to wear,” including Rebecca Taylor, Mara Hoffman, Sundry, and Current/Elliot in a light-filled setting accented with palm leaves. A highlight: there’s a wraparound patio with white mid-century Acapulco chairs so shoppers can socialize between fitting room deliberations.
1522 S. Congress Ave., South Congress
While Allen's could be considered a bit touristy (you'll know it from the enormous red cowboy boot affixed to the front awning), there's nothing more fun than perusing their shelves, which are jam-packed with every style of boot imaginable. If you do decide to invest, they stock everything from shiny black Luccheses to Fryes with red leather and white stitching.