The wonderfully weird city of Austin is known for many things: live music, craft beer, Tex-Mex and amazing street art, to name a few. But a little known fact about the city is that, when it comes to kick-ass local coffee houses, Austin's cup runneth over. But since there are so many great cafes to choose from, you may have missed out on a few hidden treasures around the city. Worry not, here are eight of the coolest:
Mozart's Coffee Roasters
Nestled right by the blue waters of Lake Austin, Mozart's Coffee is an excellent place to spend a lazy Sunday taking full advantage of their great outdoor deck, bottomless cups of coffee and free wifi for hours of caffeine-fueled internet browsing. The interior is modest, with just a few tables and the coffee/snack bar, but the real appeal of this place, other than their delicious fire-roasted coffee beans flamed in-house, is their sprawling outdoor wood deck filled with picnic tables and ancient trees. The coffee shop is right next to Abel’s on the Lake, a popular American restaurant on Lake Austin, and just down the road from Hula Hut, a unique fusion of Polynesian and Tex-Mex cuisine.
Tip: Go between Thanksgiving and Christmas and check out their spectacular lights show over the water!
Radio Coffee and Beer
Hidden within the suburban streets of south Austin, Radio Coffee Bar is a delightfully surprising place to find great drinks, tasty pastries and super chill outdoor seating complete with taco trucks and live music. Their wood-paneled interior is understated but ultra hip, and their menu offerings range from Stumptown Coffee and croissants to an impressive list of craft ciders, ales, pilsners and pints from local breweries like Real Ale Brewing, 512 Brewing, Adelbert's, Hops & Grain and Austin Beerworks. Of course a trendy coffee shop wouldn't be complete without a rotating selection of local art for sale on display. Fun events at Radio Coffee include Trivia Night, Karaoke Night, Mazel Tov Kocktail Hour and Comedy Night, as well as live music from Austin singers and songwriters. Come for the killer coffee and beer and stay for the great vibes, tunes, and tacos!
Tip: Try the Tacos al Pastor at Veracruz All Natural food truck, parked right outside the coffee house!
Summer Moon Coffee
Nestled right off South First Street is the low-key, family-owned Summer Moon Coffee. Driving by, you just might miss it, but once you've had a taste of this amazing coffee, roasted in an originally designed hand-made brick roaster (yeah, they're that serious about coffee), you won't be able to accept anything less. Summer Moon prides itself on making unpretentious coffee "unplugged", with an emphasis on tried-and-true 19th century techniques and premium ingredients from around the world. Since its inception in 2004, the coffee shop has expanded to nine locations around Texas. Still, each day their coffee is carefully made Pioneer-style, beginning with hand-splitting and stacking Texas Oak for the fire, to slow-roasting 100% organic, 90% Fairtrade, and 100% arabica coffee beans to perfection. With no electricity, no switches and no modern technology, this incredible custom coffee takes three people to make and is definitely worth a taste!
Tip: Try their Quarter Moon Latte with an extra shot.
Vintage Heart Coffee
Located in the heart of east Austin, the adorably offbeat Vintage Heart Coffee serves up superb fair trade coffee from fellow locals Third Coast Roasting, along with fresh fine pastries from Russell's Bakery and vegan treats from Red Rabbit Cooperative Bakery. Although small in size, it packs a lot of character and Austin vibe into their small converted house space. One major reason to stop by Vintage Heart and grab a coffee is to see the incredible murals outside the building by local street artist Lucas Aoki. Everything about Vintage Heart says Austin, from the friendly faces that greet you at the counter to the funky art and décor that lines the walls. And you're just a few steps away from all the action and excitement of east Austin (read: the opportunity to bar hop along the famous east "dirty" sixth).
Tip: Try the Vanilla Latte, which is lauded as one of the best in the city.
Located in the hip SoCo district of south Austin, Manana Coffee is a swanky, chic coffee house that serves up quality, Fairtrade coffees and teas as well as delectable pastries and bakery bites. The cleverly curated beverage menu at Manana features handmade drinks with single-origin, direct-trade coffee from Austin local Cuvee Coffee as well as delicately balanced teas from Kusmi, plus free sparkling and still water on tap. The bakeshop features sweet and savory offerings from executive pastry chef and James Beard Award semi-finalist Amanda Rockman to satisfy your every coffee craving, including ham and cheese croissants and gingerbread cookies with apple butter. The interior of the coffee shop is super sleek, with a gorgeous tiled coffee counter and floor to ceiling windows for amazing natural light. And just outside is the hustle and bustle of South Congress, with dozens of local shops, restaurants, boutiques and galleries to keep you busy and buzzing all day.
Tip: Try the Japanese-style orange cardamom latte.
Seventh Flag Coffee
Right in the center of south Austin is the outrageously sleek Seventh Flag Coffee. This modern coffee hangout provides a relaxed, open and gorgeous environment for people to sit down, sip their drink and enjoy blissfully uninterrupted hours of peace and concentration, complete with tiny succulents on every table. The coffee itself, which comes from the experts at Cuvee Coffee, is made fresh daily with delicious ingredients like house-made almond milk, and the menu is full of caffeinated concoctions and sweet confections. If savory is what you're after, you can order a loaded taco from Tacodeli, or just pop right across the street and grab a dangerously delicious Doughnut Sandwich at Gourdough’s Public House.
Tip: Try the Avocado Toast with the Gibraltar, a coffee specialty with espresso and milk.
Brentwood Social House
Fairly new to the Austin coffee scene is the charming Brentwood Social House. This British-style boutique bakery and coffee shop specializes in handmade drinks from locals Greater Goods Roasting Co. and Zhi Tea, as well as expert-made pastries, pies, quiches, croissants and more (ingredients are all organic and responsibly-sourced, obv). The interior is separated into four rooms, with private rooms that can be reserved or outdoor seating for an afternoon of sipping tea and people watching. The main reason to visit the Brentwood Social House is to try one (or all) of English pastry chef Sara Orlano’s divine creations, including puff pastries imported from Belgium, savory sausage rolls, sweet Lemon Tea Bread and bleu cheese tarts.
Tip: Book a reservation for Afternoon Tea on Sunday and enjoy their specially curated and coursed meal.
You might not have noticed this place, since it’s in the back of a bookstore in east Austin, but Sister Coffee is a fantastic find for great coffee, local art and an undeniably Austin atmosphere. This quaint coffee shop evolved from a tiny trailer on Rosewood Ave. to a brick-and-mortar location right behind Farewell Books that provides an artistic and inclusive community space for creative types to converse and explore new ideas – even puppy pals are welcome! The coffee menu ranges from traditional caffeinated drinks like lattes, cappuccinos and espressos to more exotic creations like the Mexican Mocha, activated charcoal lemonade and Thai Iced Tea. Not only does Sister Coffee serve exceptionally good hot and cold brews, they also have a showroom where you can peruse ceramics and artworks from local Austin artists. So you can spend the afternoon sipping lattes and shopping paperbacks and ceramics, or you can grab your coffee to go and venture out on east Cesar Chavez for more unique street art and gallery finds.
Tip: Try the deliciously decadent Iced Horchata latte.
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