Caffé Medici, on West Lynn or Guadalupe.
Once Over Coffee Bar, 2009 S 1st.
JP's Java, North Campus area.
I work at Once Over. We're nice.
Other things to do:
Harry Ransom Center is AMAZING, free, and near the Guadalupe Medici. It is a humanities museum. I'm infatuated with it.
The shops on South Congress are cheap entertainment provided you buy nothing. Notable shops include Uncommon Objects, Big Top Candy Shop, Lucy in Disguise for taking a gander at strange costumes.
BookPeople is a large independent bookshop.
It's too cold to see the bats. Zilker Park is nice.
I'm a barista at Medici, and I'll tell you right now...this town is pretty rad. Thanks for the shout out James, Jon, and Jen. I think we make some pretty tasty coffee too. And Jen at Once Over, in fact, everyone at Once Over, is super nice and cool. And they make tasty coffee.
JP's had a clover last time I checked, and they pull Zoka.
Thunderbird is a fun vibe up north, and they sell beer.
Frank on 4th and Colorado is an Intelli account, and their hot dogs rule. And they also sell beer. And liquor.
I second the Harry Ransom Center and South Congress (eat at Homeslice Pizza . . . you'll thank me!). Some pretty fun bars on the East Side - the Good Knight, East Side Showroom, Shangri-La, Rio Rita, the Scoot Inn, and the Longbranch Inn are a helluva good time.
Check out a movie at the Alamo Draughthouse, I like the one Downtown personally. Also Austin Cinematheque at the Union on UT Campus is rad. Check out Zilker Park as well, right off of Barton Springs Road. Huge park, fountains, nice walks and stuff.
Oh. And live music every night of the week in almost every part of town. Pick up an Austin Chronicle (it's free) to see what's happening around town that week. I hope you enjoy my town, cause I sure as hell do!
For an enjoyable slice of life on the cheap there are plenty of options here in Austin.
The barista and food culture is taking it to the streets in food trailers (e.g. last month I just opened up one serving Cuvee and other quality single origin beans--it's called Good Bike Cafe. located on west campus, 24th Street and San Gabriel). But you should definitely check out most of the competition as well, it's easy to spot them on Yelp. In addition to Medici and a passel of other coffee shops serving good beans there are others that serve seriously good, solid food on the cheap.
One of my favorites is on S. Lamar (Lamar Square) called "Odd Duck Farm to Trailer" at which, if you order the entire menu, (highly advisable) you spend ~$20 and enjoy deliciously fine cuisine and enough to feed two. Then just saunter 10 yards to another trailer serving fresh made gigantic donuts (Gourdoughs) for dessert or another savory donut entree if your bingeing.
A little further down Lamar on the right and up on a hill you'll find a recently opened Euro food stand dishing euro coffees and pastries out of a shipping container, called La Boite Café. It stands up the hill from another trailer called Texas Cuban. La Boite has some of the best french pastries in town--try their almond croissant--and they pull a good shot to go with it. Not too far away on South 1st Street is a food trailer court (for some reason they are herding here in Austin) that features Holy Cacao (wickedly rich hot cocoa and sweets) and Torchy's Tacos with a host of other food trailer vendors popping up. It's almost such that you can't swing a French press without hitting one.
And for more established sit down venues inside you might try Beets Cafe on 5th Street and Daily Juice on 45th off Duval, both are a little more pricey but offer totally raw and vegetarian dishes and some amazingly good food. There's also Franks for gourmet and over the top hot dogs and if you don't care about your wallet, one of the best restaurants in the country is Uchi, for sushi--Tyson Cole does some amazing food fusion work that is comparable to the best you'd find in LA or NYC.
Lastly, I'm not as impressed by the pie at Home Slice as the others suggest here. However I am impressed by Home Slice's operation and the customer scene on S. Congress, yet their pizza is simply adequate. So if you're looking for better tasting pies then you have options, a few include: East Side Pies (bigger thick crust, House Pizza (thinner crust) and Cippolina's (wood-burning oven w thin crust and more exotic ingredients--Lamb and feta, etc.) on West Lynn (which is the sister cafe to Jeffrey's, one of our snootier good food sit down places in town). There is a little Mexican bakery called Pie Slice that serves some good pizza on South Lamar and amazingly good regular pies for dessert--it's a hidden delight, but you won't get the vibe and scene like at Pie Slice. There are also some new pizza food trailers that I've heard are good, but I've not eaten at them yet so can't remark from experience.
All in all there's more than enough here in Austin to sate you, especially in a few days. Enjoy!
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