When you think about East Austin, you probably think of old neighborhoods slowly being gentrified as tiny homes and businesses are knocked down one after another to make way for mixed-use developments. Gentrification is happening, but there are still cool old places in East Austin. Things are changing, but Austin’s uniqueness and weirdness are still alive and well in this part of town. And while a lot of new places may be new, they’re maintaining the Austin vibe.
In short, east Austin is a great place to go for a date. Here’s some of our favorite spots. Food, live music, and adventure await!
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10. Dine at Manor Road’s anchor restaurant, Eastside Cafe
The stretch of Manor Road just east of I-35 is dotted with great places to eat. One of the first ones to bring resurgence to this neck of the woods was Eastside Cafe. If you’re into the whole farm-to-table thing, this place is up your alley. They grow vegetables and herbs on site, so before or after dinner you can take a peek into the garden with your date. You can’t get fresher than that.
9. Go directly to the source for Cuvée Coffee
Cuvée Coffee produces coffee with a focus on sustainability. “We are committed to positively impacting the quality of life for everyone who helps bring the coffee from the plant to your cup, while also preserving the natural resources that make our quality product possible. And, we only work with suppliers and partners who share our vision,” the company says.
You can get Cuvée Coffee all over Austin, all over Texas, and in many parts of the US. But you can also go directly to their East Austin coffee bar to get it straight from the source. It’s only open until 8 p.m., so it’s a great way to start out a date before cocktails and dinner, or an ideal spot for a breakfast/lunch date.
8. Stroll along the boardwalk
Everyone knows the Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail running along both the north and south shores of Lady Bird Lake is Austin’s most popular place to exercise. But you don’t have to don Under Armor or Nike Dri-FIT to take advantage of the trail. A sunset stroll along the boardwalk portions of the trail could make the perfect ending to your next date.
7. Make a morning of the Franklin Barbecue experience
You don’t just go to most popular place to exercise for lunch. You experience everything that goes with that lunch … including the morning-long wait outside the restaurant. Grab your lawn chairs and a cooler and make the best of waiting around for what many call the best barbecue in the world. Barbecue is always a great conversation starter, and you’re pretty much guaranteed good people watching in the line.
6. See the biggest music acts going at Austin360 Amphitheater
Austin360 Amphitheater at the Circuit of the Americas is a relatively new Austin music venue. Built in 2013, it has a capacity of 14,000 concert-goers with reserved seating for 6,700 of them. Being away from the inner city, there is ample parking and easy access considering you and your date are two of 14,000 people going to the same place.
5. Experience Austin’s ultimate in comfort food at Hoover’s Cooking
Hoover’s Cooking has become an East Austin institution. Get something smoked or chicken fried, and you’ll be begging for mercy … but you’ll be happy, too. Owner Hoover Alexander’s culinary roots run deep, and it shows in his food. Just be forewarned, you might have to battle a case of the ‘itis afterwards, so plan for a low-key follow up activity.
4. Get a bird’s eye view of Austin
Austin is beautiful from the ground, and Google Earth shows you it is pretty from above as well. But what if you could see Austin from high up but not as high up as Google’s satellites? Well, Austin Helicopter Tours has you covered. You can cruise above downtown, COTA, Lake Travis, and the Hill Country on a chartered flight. This makes for a great anniversary date, or maybe you could pop the question. But no pressure.
3. Admire the natural beauty of McKinney Falls State Park
McKinney Falls State Park is a great place for a daytime date. At only $6 per person, the entrance fee is very reasonable. Pack a picnic, and explore the miles of trails and the upper and lower falls. If you’re not a hiker, don’t worry. There are short trails for the not-so-outdoorsy types.
2. Indulge in Austin’s hotbed of Mexican food
If you have a hankering for Mexican food, head immediately to East Austin. There is no beating the south-of-the-border options all so close together. Juan in a Million, Los Comales, Mi Madre’s, and La Palapa are just a few of the popular places. Try these and others and pick a favorite.
1. Snuggle up at Blue Starlite Urban Drive-In
There aren’t many drive-in theaters around anymore. But East Austin has one! Blue Starlite Urban Drive-In plays old movies in a classic drive-in setting. Bring lawn chairs or watch from your vehicle. Either way, snuggle up real close.
Featured photo: Flickr user SeeSawAustin, with permission