Retail Roundup: Bel Air Lofts Shopping, Dining and Entertainment

Residents of the Bel Air Lofts have Austin’s best shopping, dining and entertainment right outside their door. For groceries, homeowners shop at the nearby 80,000-square-foot Whole Foods or the ever popular Central Market. And on the weekends, the Farmer’s Market at Republic Square Park is a must stop for fresh produce.

“SoCo,” as South Congress Avenue is referred to by locals, is just a few minutes from home, and is one of Austin’s most popular and fun shopping districts. Known for its trendy boutiques featuring fashion forward clothing, one-of-a-kind accessories, funky home furnishings and unique gifts, SoCo is a great place to enjoy the day, shopping, eating and people watching.

For extensive shopping lists, Bel Air Loft’s enviable location puts homeowners within 15 minutes or less of six major shopping centers. These six — Southpark Meadow, the Village at Westlake, Arbor Trails, Sunset Valley Market Fair, Escarpment Village, and the large and popular Barton Creek Square Mall — represent an assortment of almost 500 department stores, local and national merchants, movie theaters, and restaurants.

Patio Dining, Live Music and Austin’s Best Margaritas

Restaurants near the Bel Air Lofts are plentiful. Hometown favorites such as Home Slice, Hopdoddy Burger Bar, Magnolia Café, South Congress Café, and Guero’s are all on South Congress. Guero’s, a popular Austin mainstay, makes one of the best margaritas in town and features an outdoor musical performance courtyard and stage next door.

For more high-end dining, SoCo hosts Vespaio and its sister restaurant, Enoteca Vespaio. While both serve up fresh Italian dishes in a cozy, inviting atmosphere, Vespaio is a fine-dining dinner restaurant. Enoteca Vespaio was founded as a bistro-inspired café, a place people can stop for a more casual lunch or dinner. Vespaio’s legions of loyal repeat customers had been clamoring for Vespaio to open such a place for years, and in 2005, Enoteca fulfilled their demands. Now, Vespaio’s delicious food is available all day, features patio dining, and is open for lunch, dinner, and Sunday brunch. Enoteca’s has built its own solid reputation on Vespaio’s foundation. It offers daily specials, a full bar, heavenly desserts, exquisite housemade and imported charcuterie, and a variety of quality cheeses.

Pan-Roasted Crab Cakes and Mouthwatering Smoked Beef Brisket

Also on South Congress, Perla’s Seafood & Oyster Bar is another popular destination, serving dishes such as fresh Maine Lobster Bucatini and pan roasted crab cakes. World-famous chef Anthony Bourdain singled out Perla’s as one of the best restaurants in Austin.

On nearby South 1st Street, Austin’s own Torchy’s Tacos builds a variety of unique and delicious tacos. The Crossroads, for instance, is made with smoked beef brisket that melts in your mouth, and is garnished with grilled onions, jalapeños, cilantro, jack cheese and a slice of avocado and served with their famous tomatillo sauce on a fresh corn tortilla. It makes for a delectable meal.

Enjoy Austin’s Legendary Music Scene and the Nation’s Best College Sports

The University of Texas at Austin is also nearby for the thousands of Longhorn sports fans who enjoy attending some of the nation’s best college football, baseball and basketball games. The Texas State Capitol is within viewing distance and, at night, is a beacon that can be seen at the end of Congress Avenue.

And all of the live music on legendary 6th Street and the various other downtown entertainment districts are forever in full swing for those who want to kick up their heels and dance, or just sit back and relax with a refreshing drink and good friends.