Little Black Book

What’s Hot and New in Austin Right Now

by Larry McGuire and Tom Moorman
Sculpture The Museum Without Walls project. Photo courtesy of The Contemporary Austin.

As SXSW kicks off, we're reporting what was new and great in Austin, a city that doesn't stand still. If anyone knows, it's restaurateurs Tom Moorman and Larry McGuire, whose McGuire Moorman Hospitality spots have always been on everyone's list of top spots in town.  

AUSTIN - We have been business partners since 2006, opening restaurants together in Austin. Larry, a native Austinite who now lives not far from where he grew up, wanted to develop restaurants inspired by their respective neighborhoods — restaurants that would contribute to the city’s ever-evolving growth, while preserving its rich history. Tom, originally from San Antonio and raised on a cattle ranch in Brady, Texas, worked in cities like New York and Montreal before claiming Austin as home. Together, we set out to make our mark on our beloved hometown, creating seven dining concepts and two retail shops that embody the city's fiercely local attitude. These are the spots that have opened in the last two years that we're most excited about.  

Better Half
406 Walsh St.;+1-512-645-0786
This coffee and cocktail cafe just opened and seems like it's going to be a hit. The chefs are longtime friends of ours and know what they are doing. Check out the biscuits from baker Jennifer Tucker. She’s one of the best in town.

The Contemporary Austin - Laguna Gloria
700 Congress Ave.;+1-512-458-8191
The sister to the downtown exhibition space Jones Center on Congress Avenue is situated on beautiful Lake Austin in an old villa and its surrounding grounds. The museum is building a world-class sculpture collection, and the nearby trails are perfect for a break from the city.

Ellsworth Kelly Austin
200 E. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.;+1-512-471-5482
The new monumental building on the grounds of the Blanton Museum of Art is getting rave reviews and looks to be the next national pilgrimage for contemporary art lovers.

Beignets from Better Half.
Fresh beignets at Better Half. Photo courtesy of Better Half.
Ellsworth Kelly Austin building on the grounds of the Blanton Museum of Art
Ellsworth Kelly Austin building. Photo courtesy of the Blanton Museum of Art.

Hike & Bike Trail at Lady Bird Lake
Sandra Muraida Way and W. Cesar Chavez St.;+1-512-974-6700
The new boardwalk floats over the river, creating a scenic path for early morning runs or leisurely strolls. The whole city uses the trail, so the people-watching is top-notch. The off-leash dog park nearby on Auditorium Shores is also a great place to let your pup play and jump in the water.

Kinda Tropical
3501 E 7th St.;+1-512-373-8430
The cool kids on the east side who miss Brooklyn hang here for healthy-ish breakfast and beers at night. Fun vibe and good music.

Kemuri Tatsu-Ya
2713 E 2nd St.;+1-512-893-5561
The dudes from Ramen Tatsuya opened this isakaya a couple of years ago and have been racking up the awards since. Great interior with an indoor-outdoor vibe, little bars to tuck into, and tasty bites and cocktails.

The Bouldering Project
979 Springdale Rd.;+1-512-645-4633
A sweet climbing gym inside a redesigned eastside warehouse. There are a bunch of great local breweries next door for post-workout relaxing.

And with the full disclosure that these are places we’re involved with, they’re also our favorites.

June’s All Day
1722 South Congress;+1-512-416-1722
This was our answer to what we saw as a need for more great neighborhood cafes in Austin. Open all day until late, with a funky menu and great coffee, bar, and wine programs, June’s is fun to stop in at any time for any reason. We even have a free jukebox and show some sporting events.

Pool Burger
2315 Lake Austin Blvd.;+1-512-334-9747
Our buddy Will Bridges owns one of the original, and in our humble opinion, the best dive bar in town, Deep Eddy Caberet. He cleaned out the apartment under the bar, and we pulled up a 1968 Airstream and converted into a burger trailer. Now it’s a super-fun, tiki-themed burger and cocktail spot. Ideal for kids and neighborhood folks during the day, it also makes for an good spot to hang between shows at Deep Eddy Caberet.

June's All Day
A sunny afternoon at June's All Day. Photo courtesy of June's All Day.
Racks of clothes at ByGeorge. Photo courtesy of ByGeorge.

Outdoor Voices
606 Blanco Street;+1-512-356-9136
Larry's girlfriend's athletic wear company Outdoor Voices opened their first Austin shopin an adorable old housein behind our oyster bar, Clark’s. They carry the best new gear for jogging the trail, going on hikes, or taking a class.

1400 South Congress;+1-512-441-8600
524 North Lamar;+1-512-472-5951
Our two men’s and women’s shops offer our favorite designers and brands with a sharp focus on what works for our customers. We sell things you would normally only see in much bigger stores and do it with old-school customer service andcomplimentarydrinks while you shop.

Where to Stay

When friends come to town, we recommend they stay at Saint CeciliaHotel San Jose, and Austin Motel.

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We make every effort to ensure the information in our articles is accurate at the time of publication. But the world moves fast, and even we double-check important details before hitting the road.