A hidden gem of the Austin scene, where culture and sports thrive.
Up-and-coming · Foodie · Industrial
North Austin, a true hold-out of the authentic Austin spirit, is a bit hippie, a bit cultural, and a bit Texas. However, upon first glance, you would never guess it — driving through this area, you’ll notice a facade of strip malls, plazas, and warehouses. But, concealed within these sites hide some of the most exciting places the city has to offer, from breweries, to succulent shops, to specialty markets.
Its restaurants likewise deliver a huge range of delicious and authentic cuisine. The recent addition of the Q2 Stadium, home to the city’s only professional sports team, the Austin Football Club, adds another dimension to this neighborhood and ensures its continued growth. Moreover, its proximity to Walnut Creek Park, one of the most stunning green spaces around, contradicts anyone who may stereotype its landscape as drab.
Dominated by red brick apartment buildings and classic Southwestern-looking condos, North Austin residents represent a mix of brand-new city citizens and old school locals who have called the place home for decades. You can grab a beer with all of them at one of the area’s many breweries every weekend. One favorite, Circle Brewing Company, near the Q2 stadium gets especially rowdy during their Austin FC game watch parties.
Locals also love to feast around North Austin’s Chinatown Center, a slightly misleading name as the plaza contains a variety of superb places that draw on various Asian cultures, including Vietnamese bakeries, Korean grills, and Chinese noodle shops.
The best kind of Sunday in North Austin starts with a hearty meal at Cafe Java, an east-coast-style diner and cornerstone Austin restaurant. Complete with thick, plastic-coated menus, servers that call you “hun” in a sincere way, and a comforting smell that speaks to the years of coffee and maple syrup poured out there, this place never fails to please. Their french toast is a definite must-order.
If that doesn’t fill you up enough, head to banh mi paradise, Smoking Beauty. Combining the traditional Vietnamese dish with Texas BBQ, their brisket banh mi will make your regular take-out rotation.
Things to know
You’ll never lack a parking space in North Austin, and, depending on where you go, this walkable neighborhood’s nearby coffee shops and restaurants might make one unnecessary. The apartments found here are mostly older, with brick or cement facades and, usually, at least one balcony per unit.
Their reasonable pricing makes them a great option for someone looking to dip their toes in Austin without signing the dotted line on a huge financial commitment. With the city’s growing population, plenty of new builds are under construction in the area — the bulldozers on every corner confirm all this activity.
Image attribution: Larry D. Moore CC BY-SA 4.0.