As an unabashed east Austin lover, I offer a warning to those who are making it their home: try not to fall in love with the neighborhood too much. Yes, it’s the most fun part of Austin. Yes, it has everything you need to live your best life. Yes, there are new bars and restaurants popping up every week that need to be tried. But, it’s still important to visit other parts of the city every once in a while. Maybe?
For the people flooding into the many, many new apartments and condos in the neighborhood, let me tell you it can be difficult to venture out. These days, I find myself lacking motivation to leave east Austin for even a few hours.
As my first year with The Austinot comes to a close, I’ve decided to pen an ode to my neighborhood, which doubles as a word of caution. What follows are the top 10 reasons you might find yourself never leaving east Austin.
Let’s start with the food. Austin’s east side is home to quality local restaurants of all types and flavors. There’s Detroit-style pizza at Via 313, modern Chinese at Old Thousand, and authentic Japanese sushi and barbecue at Fukumoto.
➡️ Keep reading: Via 313 Dishes Out Authentic Detroit-style Pizza at 5 Locations
Then there’s my second home, Kebabalicious, where every menu addition leaves me wondering how I could be so lucky as to live across the street. Home of Turkish-style döner kebab, mouth-watering French fries, and other craveable creations, you won’t be able to get this food out of your mind for weeks.
➡️ Keep reading: Kebabalicious: Old-school Austin Food Trailer and East Side Eatery
Looking for Tex-Mex that has stood the test of time? Check out Tamale House East, which has been an institution since 1958. I recommend the chipotle migas, fish taco, and tinga chicken chalupa. You can class it up with Launderette, which serves my favorite burger in town, or head to Pitchfork Pretty.
➡️ Keep reading: Tamale House East Bridges Old and New Austin on East Side
You get the point. If you’re looking for a sit-down restaurant, the east side has everything you could want and more. That doesn’t mean you should never eat in other parts of Austin. It’s just…difficult sometimes.
2/ Food Trucks
The food truck scene in Austin is booming, and nowhere is this more true than on the east side. If you’re in the mood for tacos, Armando Vazquez’s Granny’s Tacos serves some of the best in town, or you can head six blocks south and try his daughter Reyna Vazquez’s tacos at Veracruz All Natural.
➡️ Keep reading: Granny’s Tacos Uses Ambulance as Food Truck to Keep Austin Weird
The trucks here come with prestige. Boteco offers Brazilian fare so good that Yelp ranked it the best food truck in the country in 2017. Not bad! If you’re looking for Asian cuisine, there’s Chicken Lollypop (Chinese/Indian fusion), Thai-Licious (Central Thai), Dee Dee (Northern Thai), and much more. Are you in the mood for pasta and you don’t know where to go? Check out Patrizi’s at Vortex theater–homemade and delicious.
➡️ Keep reading: Chicken Lollypop Food Truck Serves Fresh Indian/Chinese Fusion
But Jonas, this is a lot. If you had to choose one favorite food truck on the east side, what would it be? Glad you asked. I’ll go with the Colombian deliciousness served at Artessano on East Sixth. Try the chicken and beef empanadas to go along with the arepa rellena. Satisfaction guaranteed.
The east side is home to some of the most famous barbecue in the country, which deserves a category of its own in this list. Franklin on East 11th draws the lines and the lore, and la Barbecue on East Cesar Chavez isn’t far behind. Pro tip: la Barbecue now allows pre-orders at least five days in advance. Skip the line!
When I moved to Austin, I was curious about the brunch scene. Brunch was a vital part of my life in NYC, and fortunately it remains so in Austin.
But do you want entertainment, too? Go watch some serious tap dancing at Tamale House East on Sundays, or drink Bloody Marys at Revelry Kitchen + Bar while listening to a DJ set the mood. Yes, brunch is done best on the east side. But I’m not biased.
We are now moving to the alcohol portion of our list. First, the bars. Whisler’s is well-known for the cocktails (try the old fashioned), as well as the dark mezcal room up the steps. The decor is nothing if not original, and happy hour is always popping. Speaking of decor, Nickel City on East 11th Street is a dive bar with historical significance. Next time you visit, take note that the bar top is actually the original bar from The Driskill Hotel.
➡️ Keep reading: Nickel City Bar Pours Neighborhood Vibes on East 11th Street
Shangri-La is great for a game of pool and Kitty Cohen’s has an actual pool as part of its California-in-the-70s vibe. Are you looking to watch the big game on some big TVs? Go to Haymaker on Manor Road. When it comes to bars, east Austin has something for everyone.
➡️ Keep reading: 5 East Austin Patio Bars for Happy Hour Bliss
Oh, I see. You want to go right to the source. I understand the urge all too well. My favorite Austin breweries are, surprise, on the east side. I recommend the beer and ambiance of Lazarus Brewing Company (as well as the tacos and queso). Hops & Grain serves brews of all styles and Blue Owl Brewing specializes in those of the sour variety.
If you head north on Springdale Road for a bit, you’ll quickly hit Friends and Allies. You can bar hop in a lot of neighborhoods. But it’s not everywhere that you can brewery hop. Welcome to the east side.
Looking to do something besides eat and drink? I guess that’s probably healthy. Bouldering (rock climbing without gear) at Austin Bouldering Project could be the workout you’re looking for. It’s right next to Friends and Allies, so be responsible and don’t drink and climb (maybe climb and drink?).
My favorite activity is riding my bike on “the trail,” which is easily accessed on the east side. Don’t own a bike? No problem. Rent one for the day at East Side Pedal Pushers on East Fifth Street and you’ll be on your way. The east side has basketball courts, baseball fields, yoga studios, and parks. If you’re looking for an excuse to not be active, you won’t find it in this part of town.
➡️ Keep reading: Stretch Creates Accessible Approach to Yoga, Headphones Included
Need to recharge? Looking to do some work? We have that, too. Cenote offers great coffee and food, and a beautiful environment for reading that book or writing that paper. I know what you’re thinking–that all sounds great, but I want to be surrounded by furry animals while I relax. We’ve got you covered. Just head over to Blue Cat Cafe.
Brew & Brew is a solid option for hanging out or working. If you’re as distracted by the Internet as I am, go to Cuvee Coffee where they don’t offer WiFi. I can’t get enough of the cold brew on nitro.
If you want to hear some good music on the east side, then you can buy tickets to a show or just stop by a reliable bar. Historic Scoot Inn, a venue that gets local artists as well as big names on tour, is always a great option.
➡️ Keep reading: Breathing New Life Into Historic Scoot Inn’s Funky Old Bones
The White Horse has quality music seven nights a week. Looking to two-step? Try this famous bar, and dance away with the cowboys and amateurs alike. The White Horse even offers free dance lessons Wednesday through Saturday at 7 p.m.
If you’re more of a salsa dancer, swing by Tamale House East on Thursday night and get your salsa on with the help of the amazing salsa band, The Brew.
Okay, maybe you just want to get down to some hip hop? I thought so. The Volstead’s DJs can be heard from blocks away. Get there in the late night hours to lose yourself in sweaty darkness for a couple hours.
I love standup comedy. If you want to watch some good (and free) bits, then come to the east side. Monday nights at Lustre Pearl East has comedians working out their material, mostly for other comedians. Come see where the sausage is made (those jokes don’t come easy!).
Hops & Grain hosts a quality comedy night every Thursday, as does The Brixton on the first Thursday of every month. Keep an eye on Hotel Vegas and The Volstead’s comedy shows as well. If it’s laughs (or a chance to try it yourself) that you’re after, you’ll find what you need on the east side.
Okay, after further analysis, I can’t blame you if it takes something special to get you to venture out from east Austin. This neighborhood has it all.
@theAustinot want to know:
What’s your favorite thing to do on the east side?