Retail Roundup: Kinney Mues Shopping, Dining and Entertainment

Kinney Mues is conveniently located near downtown’s legendary nightlife, but practically next door to two of South Austin’s hottest shopping and dining scenes.

South Congress Avenue, known as “SoCo,” is Austin’s reigning champ for eclectic locally owned shops. Within a few blocks there are stores and boutiques offering one-of-a-kind accessories, funky clothing, home furnishings, and unique gifts. If the shopping and peerless people watching piques a person’s appetite, there are also a number of casual and fine dining restaurants to choose from, including Vespaio Italian Restaurant, Hopdoddy Burger Bar, and Homeslice Pizza.

While South Lamar (sometimes known as “SoLa”) has not yet attained the iconic status of nearby SoCo, it is an established and growing Austin shopping destination. Among the boutiques, salons, and unique clothing and accessory shops on South Lamar, Strut, SoLa and Marlo offer both new and vintage fashions. South Lamar also has the honor of hosting three of Austin’s best reviewed and nationally noted restaurants — Uchi, Barley Swine, and Olivia’s.

Shopping at the Mecca of Organic Foods and Nine Retail Malls

And if all that falls short of a shopper’s dream, Kinney Mues is within 15 minutes or less of nine major malls representing an assortment of more than 550 department stores, movie theaters, boutiques, merchants, and restaurants.

For groceries and daily needs, many residents shop at Central Market Westgate, a few minutes south, or the 80,000-square-foot flagship Whole Foods Market a few minutes north.

Gourmet Entrees from Two of Austin’s Most Renowned Kitchens

Uchi is routinely cited as either the best or one of the best restaurants in Austin, and according to some food critics, one of the best restaurants in Texas. The restaurant’s guiding culinary philos­ophy is to combine local seasonal ingre­di­ents with a broad variety of sustainably fished seafood from around the world. While the kitchen is founded in traditional Japanese cuisine, it presents dishes with combinations of novel ingredients for new and refreshing flavors and textures. To that end, the kitchen keeps strong active connections with local farmers and the vendors who sell the seafood flown in daily from Tsukiji market in Tokyo.

At Barley Swine, the stated mission sounds simple: “Find the best ingredients, and don’t mess them up!” The restaurant sources fresh ingredients from local farmers, so the restaurant’s prix fixe menu is constantly evolving to make the tastiest, best use of what is available at market. The kitchen uses both modern and classic techniques and carefully plates each dish to be visually appealing. Leading the kitchen brigade is Chef Bryce Gilmore, who prizes his relationships with his farmer friends and creatively and thoughtfully showcases their products. Some of the small plates prized by diners include cobia with apple, kefir, and fennel, and mole brisket with corn and radish.

Delicious Vietnamese Bahn Mi, and Mango Smoothies

While there is plenty of sophisticated, upscale dining on South Lamar, there are also plenty of casual eateries. It doesn’t get much more casual than Lulu B’s Vietnamese trailer. Voted by Zagat’s as one of the best restaurants on South Lamar, Lulu B’s specializes in Vietnamese banh mi — sandwiches with fillings such as grilled pork or chicken, lemongrass pork or chicken and lemongrass tofu. Tucked into a baguette and garnished with carrots, cucumber, cilantro and jalapeño chilies, banh mi are widely known to be addictive and delicious. Lulu B’s smoothies also have a loyal following with flavors such as banana, berry, mango, pineapple, and other seasonal fruits.