Beardbrand's Guide to Austin, TX: 2022 Edition
Welcome to Austin, TX—land of barbecue, Willie Nelson, keepin’ it weird, and Beardbrand.
We’ve been headquartered here since 2014 and love calling Austin home. The city is vibrant, eclectic, and constantly changing—Austin seemingly adds a new skyscraper as frequently as Carlos Costa changes his beard style.
After that, there’s no limit on things to do and see.
We know it can be overwhelming planning a visit to Austin, regardless of whether it is your first time in Texas or your seventh SXSW. With that in mind, we decided to highlight some essentials for your trip in this Beardbrand Guide to Austin, TX.
Yeah, we know everyone is a critic in Austin regarding where to go and where to eat. But this list will give you some sure-fire building blocks to ensure you have an amazing visit to Austin, TX—the Beardbrand way.
WHERE TO STAY, EAT, AND DRINK IN AUSTIN
The hardest part about visiting Austin is figuring out where to stay. We’ll use this section to help you decide which part of town is ideal for you.
We’ve broken Austin up into four areas—East Austin, Downtown, South Congress, and North Central. Each has its own vibe, so we’ll give you some suggestions on where to stay, eat, and drink in each area.
Below is a quick breakdown.
East Austin: Attracts a more creative and eccentric crowd. Great for dining and bar crawling.
Downtown: There’s 6th St. which attracts a younger, party-heavy crowd, and Rainey St. attracts more of a tech professional/conference attendee crowd. West Austin gets a little more residential and ritzy.
South Congress: Touristy. Best for shopping.
North Central: Mostly residential but features some of the best vintage shopping and authentic “Keep Austin Weird” vibes.
If good food and unique bars are at the forefront of your desires, East Austin is for you. You’ll find a healthy mix of locals and tourists here, though it gets decreasingly touristy the further east you head. East Austin attracts eccentrics and creative types. You’ll find a wide array of bars, lounges, and restaurants in the East 6th area. Head further east for gems like Kitty Cohen’s—an art deco-inspired lounge adorned with pink flamingos and Burt Reynolds—Central Machine Works, and Justine’s.
WHERE TO STAY IN EAST AUSTIN: NATIVE HOSTEL
Situated in a historic 1890s railroader hotel and adjoining mid-century warehouse in downtown Austin, Native offers a kinetic collision of music, arts, warm beds, culinary delights, and spirits. Four- and six-bed rooms are available, or if you don’t feel like meeting strangers, get yourself a private King Suite.
The onsite bar is vibey and attracts both travelers and locals. The best part of Native is its location, which gives you easy access to East Austin, Downtown, and South Congress.
WHERE TO EAT IN EAST AUSTIN
Micklethwait Craft Meats
No trip to Austin is complete without barbecue. But rather than spend hours waiting in line, swing by Micklethwait Craft Meats to experience the same quality without losing half a day.
Over the past few years, Austin has become a mecca for barbecue enthusiasts with the rise of Franklin Barbecue, La Barbecue, and the return of local legend John Mueller. And while they've received the lion's share of the spotlight, upstart Micklethwait’s Craft Meats has forged its own name by focusing on a constantly rotating menu of homemade sausage. Oh, and their barbecue is amazing too.
Micklethwait is located on a quiet stretch of Rosewood Avenue in East Austin, so it hasn’t attracted the same intimidating lines as some of Austin’s other barbecue institutions. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that's an indication of their quality and service—both of which can’t be beaten. However, Make sure you bring a friend because you’ll want to try everything. And although we’ve all eaten our body weight in barbecue before, it’s best to share and sample, especially when beef ribs are involved.
Dai Due has evolved into one of the darlings of the Austin dining scene, acting as one part full-scale butcher shop and one part fine casual dining. Owner and head chef Jesse Griffiths believes in sustainable hunting, whole animal butchery, and sourcing from local farms. Did we mention his beard? Yes, he is also the epitome of a beardsman.
Farm to table, utilizing the whole animal, creating a setting reminiscent of a great intimate dinner party—lots of restaurants are using these concepts these days, especially in Austin. But nowhere executes them in unison as well as Dai Due does.
Beyond the noise and bars of the East 6th area sits Justine’s Brasserie (warning: website NSFW). Aside from the exceptional French cuisine, Justine’s has a distinct aesthetic and atmosphere unmatched in Austin. Justine’s isn’t interested in pleasing the masses (see note above about NSFW website). However, this only adds to its appeal. You’ll find an eclectic mix of Austinites at Justine’s and likely some of Austin’s most celebrated artists and musicians. Late-night dining is available until 11 PM, but drinks are served until 2 AM every night. Records are played all night, and the staff is masterful at creating a fun atmosphere bordering on chaos and freedom.
Nothing beats Via 313’s delicious take on Detroit-style pizza when hunger strikes after a few beers or cocktails. We’ve all been there: it’s late, you’re a little drunk, and you want something cheesy, hot, and tasty. Assuming you’re somewhere in the vicinity of Rainey Street or East Sixth, it would be best to follow the seductive scent of Via 313’s signature pizza radiating through the Austin night sky. Like Sicilian-style pizza or Chicago deep dish, Via 313 specializes in a style commonly found in and around Detroit: a rectangular pie with cheese cooked to the edged and topped with sauce. We promise you, you want this, you want it bad.
Austinites have strong opinions about tacos, so you’ll likely get a different answer no matter who you ask. But for something just off the beaten path, try Discada. This little food truck on Rosewood near East 11th St. serves up just one type of taco—but trust us, you won’t even want another kind. And whatever you do, don’t skip out on the Mexican street corn.
WHERE TO DRINK IN EAST AUSTIN
Cocktails have gotten really overblown in recent years, but for quality drinks, friendly bartenders, and charming intimacy, stop in at Whisler’s.
Whisler’s is located a little further down East Sixth. That slight remoteness, coupled with the bar being housed in Rabbit’s—a former neighborhood staple and political meeting ground—creates a vibe different from any other town place. Whisler's is part elegant garage, and part abandoned haunted mansion, making it one of the more unique establishments in Austin.
Also, the upstairs bar at Whisler's is one of the only bars in town dedicated solely to mezcal. Be careful, though—once the mezcal starts getting poured, there’s no telling where you’ll end up heading next. Then again, that's half the fun of Austin anyway.
The White Horse
The White Horse is a classic honky tonk in East Austin. Stop in at 7pm on any night of the week for free two-step or swing dance lessons, and then practice up with live bands from 8pm until 2am.
Central Machine Works
Swing over to Central Machine Works across the street from Justine’s for beers. This microbrewery beer hall sits in a massive converted 1940s machine shop. You’ll find a good beer selection here, occasional live music and movie nights, and plenty of space to kick back.
Wright Bros. Brew & Brew
Ride over to Wright Bros. Brew & Brew, get yourself a coffee of your choosing, and spend the morning talking to strangers on the patio. It is (or at least should be) a right of passage.
Austin is a coffee city, maybe not entirely on par with the big boys in the northwest, but not that far off. You can find great coffee shops all over town, but the fellas over at Wright Bros. Brew & Brew are serving up coffee of unparalleled quality. Wright Bros. sits between a multi-purpose record/clothing/bookstore/performance space and a yoga studio. There’s quite possibly no place in town where you’ll feel more “Austin-y,” and we mean that in the best way possible.
Perhaps no area in Austin has benefited more from Austin’s rapid growth than South Congress Street. This strip of shops, boutique motels, and restaurants is your best bet if shopping is high on your to-do list. You’ll find brick-and-mortar shops for brands like Billy Reid, Aviator Nation, and Tecovas, along with local brands and Austin institutions like Allen’s Boots. The downside to South Congress is that it is always crowded. The made-famous-by-Instagram “i love you so much” mural is here, and you’ll find a steady line of people waiting to take their photos in front of it.
WHERE TO STAY ON SOUTH CONGRESS: THE HOTEL SAN JOSE
Austin has a wide array of great places to stay, ranging from hidden away Airbnbs to every major chain hotel. And with new boutique hotels popping up all over town, it’s best to look where it all began: the Hotel San Jose. Run by the same group responsible for Marfa’s El Cosmico, the Hotel San Jose is a staple of cool, idyllic seclusion nestled smack dab in the middle of South Congress Street. The Hotel San Jose features private gardens, a pool fit for a bungalow, and a bar where locals are just as likely to be seen as guests. This is the perfect spot to recharge and soak up the energy that radiates around the hotel. It's one part Chateau Marmont and one part Amazonian artist colony. It is one of the best places to lay your head while visiting.
WHERE TO EAT ON (OR NEAR) SOUTH CONGRESS
Bouldin Creek Café
There are an infinite number of places to have breakfast or brunch in Austin, but for a proper look at the mishmash of people that are keepin’ it weird daily, take a trip to Bouldin Creek Café.
Bouldin Creek Café is a true staple of South Austin. Locals and visitors from all corners of the city flock to it for their funky take on vegetarian fare. With one of the most tattooed and free-wheeling staff in the city, Bouldin Creek has become home to folks from all walks of life. The only requirement is a hearty appetite.
With an incredibly diverse menu and a wide selection of beer and wine to chase away last night’s questionable decisions, even the most diehard carnivores can enjoy a meal from the fine folks at Bouldin Creek. Their food is truly top-notch. It’s hard to order incorrectly, but make sure you at least try some of their tofu scramble. It can change your life.
Güero’s Taco Bar
Güero’s has perfected the art of Tex Mex and served as inspiration for a scene-setting in Quinton Tarantino’s film, Death Proof. This Austin institution was inducted into the Austin Chronicle’s Hall of Fame. It should be your go-to stop for tacos—and margaritas—on South Congress.
Torchy’s has over 90 locations nationwide, so you don’t have to be in Austin to find one. Torchy’s is still an Austin original, and if you’ve never had a Torchy’s taco before, you owe it to yourself to try one or five.
WHERE TO DRINK ON (OR NEAR) SOUTH CONGRESS
Hotel bars and lounges are your best bet for grabbing a drink while wandering around South Congress. We suggest Hotel San Jose’s Courtyard Lounge or the Austin Motel Restaurant. If you’re not staying at the Austin Motel, you can grab a day pass for the pool—and the pool bar.
Downtown Austin tends to get a little overlooked. 6th St. (also referred to as dirty 6th) heavily attracts a younger, party-focussed crowd and can get a little wild on weekends. You’ll find bigger clubs and multi-level bars down here. West 6th is quieter and more laid back. You’ll find more upscale shops and restaurants the further west you head. Rainey St. is a newer developed area north of the river and west of I-35. You’ll find another party scene here, but one that attracts more tech professionals.
WHERE TO STAY IN DOWNTOWN AUSTIN
There is no shortage of quality hotels downtown, but we suggest the Kimpton Hotel Van Zandt, The Line, or The Driskill.
Kimpton Hotel Van Zandt
Hotel Van Zandt is located near Rainey St., and aside from stellar rooms and views, the location is just a short walk from South Congress and East Austin. The hotel also features a chic bar and restaurant called Geraldine’s. You’ll find live music every night—and a rooftop pool. The hotel is named after the Van Zandt family—specifically Isaac Van Zandt. Isaac was an early Texas politician whose great-great-grandson happened to be one of Austin's most beloved songwriters—Townes Van Zandt.
The LINE Hotel delivers some fantastic views of the river while also being well-located. Just cross over the pedestrian bridge and find yourself on South Congress.
If you value history and don’t mind the craziness of 6th St., The Driskill might be the spot for you. For starters, it's the oldest operating hotel in Austin (it opened in 1887). Rumors say The Driskill is haunted, so this is your place if you’re into that sort of thing. You can also get Veracruz tacos inside The Driskill, which is a nice bonus.
WHERE TO EAT IN DOWNTOWN AUSTIN
Better Half Coffee & Cocktails
For a quick breakfast or lunch on the west side, swing by Better Half Coffee & Cocktails. Afterward, walk over to Waterloo Records and dig through Austin’s largest selection of vinyl.
Texas Chili Parlor
Like barbecue and tacos, you can’t visit Texas without getting some chili. It is the official state dish of Texas, after all. And If you find yourself here when the weather is on the cooler side, pop into the downtown dive that Guy Clark immortalized in his song, “Dublin Blues.”
“Well, I wished I was in Austin in the Chili Parlor bar, drinking Mad Dog Margaritas and not caring where you are.” - Guy Clark, Dublin Blues.
You never have to wander very far to find killer tacos in Austin. Veracruz is a perennial frontrunner on the list of Austin’s favorite taco shops. If you’re staying at The Line Hotel, you’re in luck because one of Veracruz’s six locations can be found at The LINE Hotel.
WHERE TO DRINK IN DOWNTOWN AUSTIN
Austin has a bit of an obsession with speakeasies, and there is quite a handful around town that you can try and gain access to. For obvious reasons, we can’t tell you about those. But we can tell you about Garage Bar. It isn’t technically a speakeasy, but you'll get that kind of vibe once you find it and get inside.
The Roosevelt Room
There are cocktail bars, and then there is The Roosevelt Room. The Roosevelt Room is known for its seated cocktail experience. Knowledgeable bar staff provide table service and guide you through the expansive list of cocktails—which consists of ten innovative house creations, six Roosevelt Room classic creations, fifty-three meticulously-crafted classic cocktails, and a curated selection of spirits, beer, and wine.
There are a ton of great beer bars in Austin, but in terms of celebrating all things local, no one beats the selection at Craft Pride. Nestled at the “quiet” end of Rainey Street is Craft Pride—a beer lover’s outpost with more Texas brews on draft than anywhere else in town. Besides an incredibly knowledgeable staff and a beer-to-go window, Craft Pride offers an oasis from the craziness you'll typically find in the Rainey Street district.
NORTH CENTRAL AUSTIN
Throughout the 90s and early 2000s, Austin developed a reputation for being weird, and “Keep Austin Weird” became an official slogan adopted by the Austin Independent Business Alliance. These days, much of Austin’s quirkiness can be found in small pockets in various Central and North Central neighborhoods like North Loop and Hyde Park. If you come to North Central, you’ll find some of Austin’s best vintage shops and some good old dive bars.
You’ll also find the Beardbrand Barbershop and Beardbrand HQ—so that should be reason enough on its own to make the 10-minute car ride from Downtown to North Central Austin.
WHERE TO STAY IN NORTH CENTRAL AUSTIN: AIRBNB
You won’t find much in the way of hotels up here aside from your standard Super 8’s and Wyndhams. However, you will find plenty of friendly folks offering up some truly unique stays—such as Airstream trailers and casitas—on Airbnb.
WHERE TO EAT IN NORTH CENTRAL AUSTIN
Foreign & Domestic
Foreign & Domestic is one of Austin’s oldest nose-to-tail, farm-to-table restaurants. It sits in the North Loop neighborhood on 53rd St. (also known as North Loop Blvd.). North Loop is a bustling strip of local restaurants, vintage shops, and dive bars that cut through a predominantly residential area. Foreign & Domestic is the flagship. If you’re in the area, Foreign & Domestic is a must.
Home Slice Pizza
Located almost across the street from Foreign & Domestic, Home Slice Pizza is perfect for a quick lunch or dinner. Pizza is available by the slice, and if you’re in a rush, you can just order from the walk-up window.
Tacos Yo Soy
This inconspicuous taco truck on North Loop Blvd. might be Austin's most overlooked taco truck. These tacos are really damn good, and no one is ever talking about this place!
Bird Bird Biscuit
Giant, fried chicken breast on fresh-made biscuits from Bird Bird Biscuit is all you need to start your day. The Manor Road location gets really busy, and you can expect long wait times on weekends. But the Brentwood location on Koenig typically isn't as much of a madhouse. It’s worth the trip.
WHERE TO DRINK IN NORTH CENTRAL AUSTIN
Epoch Coffee on North Loop is open from 6 AM–12 AM and is the kind of neighborhood coffee shop that makes North Loop such a cool place to hang. Grab a coffee and head next door to Blue Velvet Vintage or Breakaway Records.
For beers, brats, and fresh-baked bread—head to Easy Tiger. Their rotating beer list has something for every taste, and the North Austin location is super laid back.
The Little Longhorn Saloon
This little honky tonk dive on Burnett is Austin to its core. You’ll find live country and western music here most nights of the week. But if you can, stop by The Little Longhorn Saloon on a Sunday and try your luck at chicken shit bingo—which is precisely what it sounds like.
WHERE TO GET A HAIRCUT IN AUSTIN: BEARDBRAND BARBERSHOP
The exterior of the Beardbrand Barbershop in the North Loop neighborhood of Austin, TX.
What? You thought we would refer you somewhere other than the Beardbrand Barbershop?
Located in Austin’s North Loop neighborhood and right next door to Beardbrand HQ, the Beardbrand Barbershop is home to the best barbers in Austin. This is where most of the cuts on the Beardbrand Barbershop YouTube Channel occur. You can get a cut and beard trim here while you’re in town and pick up some Beardbrand products while you’re at it. If you stop by on a weekday, there's a good chance you can tour the Beardbrand office and meet Eric Bandholz if you're lucky.
We recommend trying to book your cut and beard trim at least two weeks in advance. Click below to get on the books.
WHERE TO SHOP IN AUSTIN
No matter what your style is, you’ll find it in Austin. Below are a number of our favorite local brands and shops. And don’t forget to check out the close to thirty vintage shops around Austin.
“Stag is classic and modern; traditional and progressive; new and old; respectful and rebellious. We’re several parts clothing, part antique, part gift, part accessory, and part apothecary. We’re a modern-day general store for every man.” - Stag Provisions.
If you want to make only one shopping stop in Austin, it has to be Stag Provisions on South Congress. You’ll find an incredible assortment of hand-selected brands ranging from Levi’s to RRL to many brands you’ve likely never heard of.
Heritage Boots Co.
No trip to Austin is complete without at least trying on a pair of cowboy boots. Allen’s Boots on South Congress gets a lot of attention, but for a truly Austin experience, you have to stop into Heritage Boot Co., where you’ll find genuinely unique handcrafted artisan cowboy boots.
If you’re looking for a pair of cowboy boots that are a little less flashy and built to be worn for years (if not decades), you have to stop in at Chisos Boots on South 1st Street for some truly comfortable cowboy boots. If you happen to meet Will, the founder, tell him that Beardbrand sent you.
If you’re looking for a hat, Maufrais is the spot. Maufrais deals exclusively in Stetson and Resistol hats and can custom shape a hat for you on the spot (you may need to schedule a shaping appointment ahead of time).
You’ll find quite a few record stores around Austin, but Waterloo Records on Lamar and 6th has the most extensive selection. Seriously, you can spend hours digging through the used records crates alone.
If you need a book for your return flight, swing by Book People across the street from Waterloo Records. Book People is locally owned but offers a selection that rivals any major book retailer.
WHERE TO SEE A SHOW IN AUSTIN
Austin is the self-proclaimed “Live Music Capital of the World,” and it has a vast number of concert venues to choose from, ranging from the cavernous drawl of The Parish to the pristine palace that is ACL Live at the Moody Theater. That said, below are five other venues we love to catch a show at.
Stubb’s is a unique experience—a BBQ joint that doubles as a multi-stage concert venue. The outdoor courtyard stage attracts major national acts. At the same time, lesser-known artists and local bands hit the smaller capacity indoor stage. Stubb’s represents so much of what makes Austin such an amazing place to call home. When the sun dies down and the shark’s mouth-shaped stage lights up, it’s at that exact moment—between Lone Star tallboy number two and three—that you’ll understand why so many who visit Austin end up calling it home at some point.
Antone’s has been around since 1975 and is Austin’s home of the blues. This downtown venue helped launch the careers of Stevie Ray Vaughan and Gary Clark Jr., to name a few, but these days you’ll find a broader range of genres taking the stage here. Whatever your tastes are, you can always find a good show at Antone’s.
Far Out Lounge & Stage
Located well south of the touristy section of South Congress, the Far Out Lounge is helping to preserve the weirdness that made Austin iconic. The vast outdoor space features multiple stages that attract up-and-coming acts and the occasional bigger name. Grab a beer and browse the various pop-up vintage shops while catching a show.
Saxon Pub is your spot if local and touring singer-songwriters are more your speed. It’s a pure listening room where story and song are king. Kris Kristofferson likened Saxon to plying in his own living room. You’ll find a show here every night of the week.
Hole in the Wall
Located on the University of Texas campus, Hole in the Wall is legendary. Rumor has it that Townes Van Zandt and Blaze Foley spent many nights sleeping off a bender under the pool tables. Almost every band and songwriter that ever emerged out of Austin has graced the stage, playing for nothing more than tips. The front room stage sits in front of a window overlooking Guadalupe St. You’ll find up-and-coming singer-songwriters cutting their teeth here. The backroom features a larger stage and features heavier rock and metal bands. Regardless of your taste in music, you owe it to yourself to stop by this iconic dive.
WHERE TO COOL OFF IN AUSTIN
If you’re coming to Austin between March and October, be prepared for the heat (no, it’s not a dry heat). Fortunately, there are plenty of easy ways to stay cool. Below are two of our favorites.
Barton Springs Pool
When the summer sun starts blazing, Barton Springs Pool is where to be. This massive outdoor swimming pool is filled entirely with water from nearby natural springs within Zilker Park and is always refreshing.
Lady Bird Lake
This wide section of the Colorado River cuts right below downtown Austin. It offers up plenty of views of the ever-changing skyline. Hiking and biking trails run along both sides of Lady Bird Lake, or, if you want to hit the water, rent a stand-up paddleboard or kayak. You technically can’t swim here, but who’s to say you can’t accidentally fall off your SUP?
WHERE TO SEE A GAME IN AUSTIN
You don’t have had to have seen Friday Night Lights to know that we’re football crazy in Texas. And with the addition of Austin FC, we’ve doubled down on our love of football—in all of its formats.
Darrel K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium
There’s football, and then there’s Texas football. If you’re here on a Saturday in the fall and there’s a home game, the Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium is the place to be. The stadium, named after UT’s famed former coach, sits in UT’s oddly condensed campus, shining as a beacon of past glories and future triumphs. During home games, it's also the epicenter of one of the nation’s largest tailgates, a visit of which is all but mandatory for any Austin transplant or visitor during the football season. And if you see the clocktower lit up in orange on a Saturday night, well, that just means the home team won.
Austin FC, Austin’s first professional sports team, began MLS play in 2021. It became immediately apparent that Austin was the perfect location for a professional soccer team. On game days, you’ll see green jerseys everywhere.
ONE LAST THING: GO SEE THE BATS!
The South Congress St. Bridge houses North America’s largest urban bat population between late March and October. Every night, around dusk, as many as roughly 1.5 million bats fly out from beneath the bridge on their way to feed on 10,000 to 30,000 pounds of insects. It’s a pretty wild sight to see and worth doing at least once.
Originally posted by Eric Bandholz in 2017. Updated in 2022 by Mike Lawson.