Exploring South Congress Avenue

South Congress is a bustling street just below the river and Downtown Austin where you can spend an entire day without even hitting a side street. If you’re new in town or want to get an efficient taste of the city in one straight shot, here is a tried-and-true itinerary for this super-famous part of town …

Start with brunch at Perla’s. “A seafood restaurant for brunch?” you say, exasperated. Yes. You’ll see. Order the Crab Florentine, a twist on the classic eggs benedict, except, you know, with crab instead. Wash it down with a bloody mary, and yes, add a cocktail shrimp for a couple bucks extra, if only for the Instagram picture you’ll take.

Next, it’s time for some shopping. SoCo is home to a ton of vintage stores. Feathers is always a good bet. And check out Prototype Vintage where you may find that rare Iron Maiden tour T-shirt you’ve been looking for. Men of all ages flock to Stag, a heralded menswear boutique stocking everything from swim trunks and henleys to cologne and flasks. Need some cowboy boots? Allens. A Day of the Dead wedding cake topper? Tesoros. Your shopping needs are covered on just this one street.

After a long day of shopping, refuel at Jo’s coffee shop for an iced turbo, which is exactly what it sounds like: a cold drink that provides a big boost. Sit outside and people-watch; it’s a hallmark of South Congress. If you want to look like a tourist, take a picture in front of the “I Love You So Much” wall out back.

Hop right next door after you’re caffeinated to the Hotel San Jose’s outdoor patio. It’s time for a drink. Order a michelada with Modelo or a glass of rose and relax. If it’s time for another meal already, dinner at the legendary Guero’s Taco Bar is never a bad idea.

Whew. OK, you’re off to C-Boy’s Heart & Soul, a hip, double-decker bar near the intersection of Oltorf and South Congress. On any given night, a soul or blues band will be playing inside, and the outdoor patio is one of the best in town. Have an extra cocktail or beer, because the night is about to get pretty crazy.

Next stop, yes, is Ego’s.

Is it kind of a cluster? Is everyone inside very drunk? Is it located at the bottom of a parking garage? Yes, yes, and yes, but it’s also an Austin rite of passage to wobble into Ego’s for a late-night karaoke session. Tip the DJ if you want to sing your heart out to Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” before closing. You’ll be glad you did.