South by Southwest 2022 is right around the corner with sessions starting on Friday, so get ready for an action-packed 10 days. The tech, arts, film, music and culture festival attracts hundreds of thousands of attendees every year, so why not get creative when you get your grub on?
When looking for a place to eat in Downtown Austin, here's a few tips:
- Check inside the nearest hotel
- Look up in the high-rises
- Look for large patios
- When in doubt, head east!
Whether you’re attending the conference or just want to be near the action, these restaurants are in close proximity to all the festivities.
Analog Bar + Bites | 301 W 17th St.
Located inside the Hilton Garden Inn Austin University Capitol District, Analog was created with inspiration from the city’s many food trucks.
With an interior bar, covered patio and rooftop patio with views of the Capitol, there is plenty of room to spread out after a day at the festival.
The restaurant serves dishes inspired by Texas culture, like fried green tomatoes, triple barbecue sliders and cocktails made with Texas-local Tito’s Vodka. During the festival, Analog will offer a special late-night menu available from 10 p.m.-midnight, including salted caramel popcorn, rosemary cashews, shrimp cocktails, dill pickled green beans and salami and brie sandwiches.
Corinne | 304 E Cesar Chavez St.
Serving upscale American comfort food, Corinne is one of the best areas for people watching after the festival with one of the largest outdoor patios on West Cesar Chavez Street. From the breakfast pecan praline french toast or housemade biscuits, to truffled bucatini or crab croquettes for later in the day, to craft cocktails to close out the evening, Corinne is open for all occasions.
Fareground | 111 Congress Ave.
With two full-service bars and six restaurants to choose from, Fareground is an upscale food court with options for everyone.
Choose from an array of noodles and potstickers at Little Wu, Israeli street food like falafels and schnitzel sandwiches at TLV, James Beard-nominated pizza and salads at The Market, plus more James Beard-nominated American fare like chicken sandwiches, burgers and salmon bowls from Henbit.
Every day at 5 p.m. at DRINK, you can find $4 house cocktails, beers and wines. Fareground also has weekend brunch offerings and is steps away from the Austin Convention Center.
Old Thousand | 1000 E. 11th St.
If you find yourself on the east side, don’t miss out on Old Thousand, a mix of Chinese food and Texas flavors. Though you can get brisket fried rice or General Tso’s chicken, the menu is also very vegetarian/vegan friendly with options like mapo tofu or the Buddha’s Delight noodle bowl.
Unwind with a gin-based Red Lantern cocktail, given a red hue by hibiscus, cherry heering and cranberry bitters. Check in on Sundays for chicken and waffle brunch!
Reverly Kitchen + Bar | 1410 E 6th St
Another east side option, Revelry’s specials will keep you fed and its spacious patio will give you a break from the crowds. On the menu are crispy chicken sandwiches with house pickles, angus beef burgers, Bavarian pretzels and more.
Its daily weekday happy hour, running all night Monday and from 4 p.m.-7 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, will get you $5 off wells and certain appetizers, $2 off house cocktails and wine, and $1 off beer.
Walton’s Fancy and Staple | 609 W 6th St.
(Walton's Fancy and Staple)
Your one-stop shop for a quick breakfast and latte, Fancy Lunch combo or flowers on the way to SXSW, Walton’s Fancy and Staple has you covered. Walton’s opens at 8 a.m., early enough to stop by on your way to the fest, and normally closes at 4 p.m. but stays open later from Thursday to Saturday for its 5:30-7:30 p.m. happy hour.
Stop by early in the morning for a breakfast taco or challah french toast, grab a gourmet sandwich for an afternoon pick-me-up or indulge in some $6 sips for happy hour.
Zanzibar | 304 E Cesar Chavez St.
Located in the same building as Corinne, the Austin Marriott hotel downtown, Zanzibar is a tropical oasis seven stories above the ground. With a lush rooftop terrace and pool to enjoy tiki cocktails or small plates beside, the bar has its own street-level elevator on San Jacinto Boulevard to take you straight up.
Through Monday-Wednesday of SXSW, Zanzibar will host a “Tiki & Chill” happy hour from 4-6 p.m., or you can pop in on Sunday for the “Sunday Staycation” special with tropical mimosas and $7 small bites.
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Timmy and Tommy are ready to play.
As the 2-month-old white-and-tabby brothers swat feather wands, chase toys and generally hold court inside Purr-fecto Cat Lounge, a half-dozen potential adoptive parents look on lovingly, trying to get their attention.
“This is kind of like the speed dating of cats,” said Lupita Foster, owner of Purr-fecto Cat Lounge. “I intentionally didn’t put in any tables. That’s why we call it a lounge instead of a cat café because we have these lounge areas where you can sit and relax and cuddle.”
Foster, who has owned a cleaning company, Enviromaids, for 18 years, was inspired to open Purr-fecto Cat Lounge after adopting her own cat, Romeo, from a local shelter.
“When you want to adopt a cat, you have to spend a lot of time with them to get their personality,” Foster said. “I wanted to do something to help the community and something that makes me feel good, that warms my heart. A business with a purpose. This was a perfect idea.”
Actually, a purr-fect idea.
Inspired in part by a cat lounge she visited in Los Angeles, Foster began laying the groundwork for the business in late 2021 and officially opened the doors of Purr-fecto Cat Lounge, located at 2300 S. Lamar Blvd., in July 2022. Since then, she’s worked with rescue organizations such as Fuzzy Texan Animal Rescue and Sunshine Fund Cat Rescue to facilitate nearly 100 cat adoptions.
At any given time, there are 10-15 cats living in the space, which features an ideal blend of calm, cool corners and adorably Instagrammable backdrops with phrases such as “I want to spend all my 9 lives with you.”
Lina Martinez, 32, learned about Purr-fecto Cat Lounge from a friend’s Instagram post and made an appointment to visit two days later.
“My first impression was, ‘AWW!’” Martinez said. “The kittens were to die for. I felt happy and at peace – just what I needed.”
Visitors to the cat lounge pay $15 for a 30-minute CATXperience session or $30 for a 70-minute session that is spent getting to know the personalities of each cat. Foster said the first thing she typically sees from visitors to the lounge is a smile.
“Everybody that enters the door is smiling,” she said. “And we’ve seen people who have cried because they can’t have kids and they decide to go and adopt a cat instead.”
Foster said she loves bringing in cats who might not have a chance to be adopted at traditional shelters. She told the story of one cat named Izzy, who was partially blind, who was adopted by a family that had a deaf cat at home.
“Izzy was not going to get adopted anywhere else, but she’s extremely beautiful,” she said. “If she was in a cage in a rescue and you tell people she’s blind, she was probably going to be overlooked. But visiting our space, she doesn’t seem like she’s blind. She knows her way around. She moves around perfectly.”
Although Martinez, who had been casually looking for a pet to adopt since moving to Austin nearly four years ago, was interested in a cat named Ruby that she had seen on Purr-fecto’s social media, at the lounge she instead found herself drawn to 5-month-old mixed breed Tuxedo cat.
“I thought he was a star,” she said. “He worked the room and introduced himself to everyone. When I laid down to pet Ruby, he ran from the other side of the room and cuddled with me. It was game over. He got me.”
And she, of course, got him, complete with a commemorative photo that read “My Furrever Family” the day she took him home. Although his original name was Emmanuel, she renamed him Sullivan after her favorite DJ.
“Purr-fecto is special because of the amount of effort and love they put into taking care of the cats,” Martinez said, “and finding them good homes and making possible adopters feel at home.”
Foster, who spent a recent Thursday hosting a group of teenagers in foster care at the lounge, several of whom expressed interest in working there, said the best part about her new endeavor is that her heart is always full.
“I just feel complete,” she said. “I always felt as an entrepreneur that I was missing something. I knew I accomplished a lot, but in my heart I was missing a little connection with the community. Now I’m creating connections between humans and pets and that’s amazing. I’m creating family bonds. It’s just about love, you know. And we need that.”
We all have those cravings for an amazing butter chicken or some authentic dosas with coconut chutney, but when I was thinking about where I wanted to go to satisfy my taste buds I realized that my list of great Indian food around Austin was surprisingly short. After doing some research and asking around, here is your list of the best Indian restaurants around town.
This restaurant claims to have the most authentic South Indian food, and from what I've heard, the claims might be true! Their menu features the traditional South Indian dishes of Idlis, Vadas, a variety of Dosas, and more.
If you're looking for an Indian and Tex-Mex fusion cozy restaurant, then look no further! Nasha on East 7th Street prides itself on its specialty margaritas, Tikka con Queso, Biryani, and more creative dishes!