South Austin Hot Spots

The hottest South Austin date spots for local lovebirds

The hottest South Austin date spots for local lovebirds

Austin Photo Set: News_Beth_Lenoir Austin_june 2012_1
Treat your sweetheart to one of these South Austin hot spots. Photo by Jody Horton

Each Austin neighborhood — almost each street, in fact — has its own flavor and charm, meaning you don’t have to travel far to find great date spots. We’re breaking it down for you, starting with South Austin's hottest places for lovebirds.

Barton Hills
This residential area mostly comprises longtime Austinites (you know, the rare breed that predates the tech boom), and the original Tacodeli has been here almost as long. Tucked away between Mopac and the Barton Springs Greenbelt, it’s the perfect spot for a post-hike lunch or breakfast. Inspired by childhood memories in Mexico City, founder and owner Roberto Espinosa has created a unique menu that blends his roots with his love for Austin and his passion for quality ingredients (local and organic produce, sustainably sourced seafood, antibiotic-free beef and chicken).

Sure, you’ve seen a few Tacodeli’s around town, but if you’re searching for a taco mecca, this is it. Go for a classic blue plate special or try the seasonal El Veg — roasted beets, poblano, and sauteed kale with queso fresco, toasted pecans, and a 512 Tequila-balsamic-honey glaze. Delish.

South Lamar
The South Lamar corridor saw significant growth thanks to a major renovation of the Alamo Drafthouse. The Lamar Union development has brought new residential, retail, and restaurant/coffee spaces to the area in recent years, but our favorite spot is Odd Duck across the street. It’s your classic food-truck-turned-brick-and-mortar fairytale.

Don’t miss the Beeteroni Beetza (roasted beets, goat cheese, arugula-pecan pesto, and scamorza cheese on a delightfully thin crust pizza base), which is currently featured at half-price during happy hour (Sunday through Thursday, 5-6:30 pm). Grab drinks, share plates, then go see a movie with your sweetheart.

Juliet Ristorante resides in the former Romeo's space on Barton Springs Road. Inspired by the Italian countryside, the menu balances rustic and refined: classics like fritto misto and spaghetti marinara meet Austin fusion dishes with Texas peaches and grilled corn on the cob.

There's a generous happy hour from 3-7 pm, where you can sip wine or cocktails. Then, stay to dine al fresco on the expansive patio, which helps the restaurant achieve a romantic and relaxed ambience. Whatever the midcentury magic ingredient may be, the restaurant is not to be missed.

South Congress
It doesn’t take a design expert to see why South Congress Hotel is in the spotlight. The recurring theme is a study in blue, from funky geometric patterns in the lobby bathroom to Mexican tile at Mañana — even the deep, solid blue elevators exude peace.

With not one, but several romantic atmospheres to choose from, South Congress Hotel could be your one-stop shop for any date night. New casual crush? Make eyes over mochas at Mañana. Gals’ brunch? Gather the ladies at Café No Se. Central Standard is your ticket for cocktails and fine dining with your main squeeze. 

Another spot that feeds the eyes as much as it does the appetite, Elizabeth Street Café looks like it was specifically designed for Instagram. Add it to your list of options for French/Vietnamese fusion, but if you’d rather focus on the French cuisine, head down the street to Lenoir.

The beautiful light fixtures and intimate space make for a very romantic date night. The three-course prix fixe is possibly the best bang-for-your-buck menu in town. If you’re aiming for a more low-key evening this year, try the wine garden: $5 wines, small plates to share, and no reservation needed!