You’ve likely heard of Austin’s fondness for barbecue, beer and music. That’s all true, but there’s more to it. The city is transforming into a haven for wine lovers, thanks to an influx of discerning young professionals and organizations like the Wine & Food Foundation of Texas and the just-launched ATX Somm Society. And with appreciation for local, natural and small-production, the wine scene is in line with the city’s eclectic vibe.
Start the day on South Congress Avenue, or SoCo, a popular zone that draws locals and tourists to its watering holes. Grab some breakfast tacos and cold brew at Jo’s Coffee before the line snakes. Nearby, South Congress Hotel boasts five drinking spots, including café Mañana for creamy cortados, Café No Sé for all-day rosé and clandestine Watertrade for refined cocktails. Up the road, slurp fresh-shucked bivalves and chilled bubbles at Perla’s.
After 10 pm, slip on your cowboy boots for live music at The Continental Club. For a proper sniff-and-swirl, head to Vino Vino, Aviary Wine & Kitchen or Winebelly, all scattered across the city. Sip local beer and take in the deck views at Boiler Nine Bar + Grill, which occupies a former power plant. For off-beat natural wines, sips at dusk beneath the oak trees on Lenoir’s back patio is utter perfection.
Breakfast tacos are a point of pride and fierce loyalty here. Try the offbeat wild boar version at Dai Due Taqueria, in the city’s gleaming new food hall, Fareground. For pizza, Bufalina’s gives any serious New York City outfit a run for its money, especially with its killer wine list. June’s All Day, helmed by Master Sommelier June Rodil, wins for best wine selection in a relaxed setting. Rodil also controls the deep cellar at Jeffrey’s, the city’s swankiest address. Dine next to peacocks at Mattie’s, where Paula Rester directs the wine list. Don’t miss fried chicken paired with Dandy Bubbles from local winemaker Rae Wilson. And you can’t leave without brisket. Try La Barbecue, and sip local draft suds.
Despite the heat that grips Austin half the year, its denizens live for the outdoors. Take a dip in Barton Springs, a spring-fed municipal pool that attracts hippies, hipsters and hip moms. Close by and far less crowded, zip over to McKinney Falls State Park. Pack a picnic to enjoy after a hike or swim in Lower Falls. Rent kayaks, stand-up paddleboards or bikes to cruise around Lady Bird Lake downtown.
Austin’s a city of neighborhoods stacked with cool, independent stores. South Congress is no exception, and it’s easy to navigate on foot. Step into the Western world of Allens Boots. Stetson hats and dazzling designs will inspire homestead fantasies. Nearby, pricey competitor Heritage Boot Co. stocks gorgeous, limited-run Western boots. Shift back to contemporary designs with apparel and lifestyle goods at ByGeorge. Women can snag affordable jewelry popular with celebs at Kendra Scott. If you do make a move on real estate, accent new digs with colorful south-of-the-border housewares from Tesoros Trading Company.
4 Hour Getaway
The lush knolls of Hill Country surprise first-time visitors. It’s Texas, sure, but heavy, sporadic storms keep things green and growing. An exciting addition: Southold Farm + Cellar. Regan Meador, a native Texan, relocated his winery from Long Island, and brings natural winemaking to a stunning hilltop site. Nearby, William Chris produces thoughtful, balanced wines, especially from single-vineyard Mourvèdre. As you head back into Austin, chill out at Jester King Brewery, a farm and brewery that uses wine grapes and wild yeast to create complex, wine-like beers.