Seeing stars: The best restaurants, bars and odd spots for celebrity sightingsin Austin
Over the decades, Austin has been a bastion for artists, musician-types and, in more recent years, a growing number of celebrities. Sure, this has everything to do with Austin’s long-established independent film presence, combined with a throng of annual festivals, and, of course, the city’s reputation as Slacker Ville, USA.
So where do the famous frequent when they’re visiting or even living in Austin? Honestly, there is no one spot. However, there are a handful of places that tout, even privately, a pretty healthy and growing celebrity clientele.
When Jessica Alba visits Austin, chances are, she’s not going to be hanging out at Fiesta Mart. Instead, the flagship location of Whole Foods at Sixth and Lamar, is a much better bet. This store, even from its previous location where Anthropologie now sits, has long since held the distinction of being one of Austin’s best sites for celebrity spectating.
Stargazing notables: resident celebrities such as Matthew McConaughey, Luke Wilson and Sandra Bullock.
Hotel San José
As one of Austin’s original boutique hotels, the San José has seen its share of celebrity patrons over the years. Unlike some other area hotels (ahem, Saint Cecilia), the San José bar is open to the general public, making it an ideal location to potentially spot a celebrity.
Stargazing notables: Jason Schwartzman and Jack Black.
Not only is Uchi one of the best Asian restaurants in Austin, it has also garnered all kinds of acclaim for the talents of celebrity chef/owner Tyson Cole. It also doesn’t hurt that Cole’s protégé Paul Qui, who recently won Bravo’s Top Chef: Texas, is the executive chef at Uchiko.
Stargazing notables: Anthony Bourdain and Jake Gyllenhaal.
Guero’s Taco Bar
Guero’s may not be the best Mexican food in Austin, but you wouldn’t know it from its list of high profile clientele. Visiting celebrities, recent transplants and even long-time locals seem to revel in Guero’s sidewalk dining, outdoor music space and otherwise uniquely Austin ambiance.
Stargazing notables: Bill Clinton, Matthew McConnaughey, Val Kilmer, Vince Vaughn, Billy Bob Thornton, Sandra Bullock, the list goes on and on.
Lady Bird Lake Trail
Let’s be honest, who really calls Town Lake Trail “Lady Bird Lake Trail?” Okay, aside from major publications and the well informed. Whatever its preferred nomenclature, the 10-some-odd miles that make up Town — er, Lady Bird — Lake Trail are some of Austin’s finest. The trail’s accessibility, combined with its anonymity and, of course, the natural surroundings make it über appealing for celebs on the fitter end of the spectrum.
Stargazing notables: Barack Obama, Luke Wilson, Lance Armstrong and the Bachelor Brad Womack.
Jo’s Coffee, South Congress
Jo’s is perhaps one of Austin’s most famous coffee shacks, mostly on account of its longevity and situation along the SoCo strip. By design, the open-air coffee stop is naturally conducive to people watching and, by volume of foot traffic, an amazing place for potential stargazing.