Retail Roundup: Villas on Town Lake Shopping, Dining and Entertainment

Living downtown means that residents of The Villas on Town Lake have a seemingly endless number of places to shop, dine, dance to live music, or just relax and enjoy a few drinks with friends.

The burgeoning shopping district on 2nd Street, just two or three minutes away, has a large number of high-end services and stores. Bonobos, Estilo, Fransesca’s, Langford Market, and Urban Outfitters are just a few of the stores offering high quality fashion. Mercury Studio, Design Within Reach, and BoConcepts are a few of the stores that sell sleek, chic furnishings and home goods. The district also includes popular restaurants, spas, hair salons, and more.

Many residents do their grocery shopping at the nearby 80,000-square-foot flagship Whole Foods Market or take the short drive to Central Market. In addition, the weekly Republic Square Park Farmers’ Market is a popular place for locals to find the freshest local produce.

Funky, Chic Shopping and Diverse Dining in SoCo

South Congress, lovingly known as “SoCo,” is pure Austin. This district, just four minutes from the Villas, includes a variety of locally owned, eclectic boutiques, gift shops, salons, restaurants, music, and art galleries. Boutiques like Creatures and Parts & Labour feature funky-but-chic to just plain chic clothing, shoes, and accessories. Popular and worthy stalwarts that have been doing business on South Congress (since before anyone had thought to call it SoCo) like Lucy in Disguise costume shop and Allen’s Boots western wear still draw many old and new customers alike.

Restaurants in SoCo range from the informal Magnolia Café, Homeslice Pizza, and Jo’s Coffee Shop to upscale dining at places such as Vespaio. Vespaio serves exquisite Italian food in an elegant dining room. South Congress is also home to one of the Austin scene’s most enduring live music venues, the famous Continental Club.

Austin’s Freshest Hot Spot is Just Around the Corner

While 6th Street nightlife gets all the attention, the emerging scene on Rainey Street is downtown’s freshest hot spot — and residents of the Villas can just walk on over in a minute or two. Only a couple of short blocks away, the length of the nightlife segment of Rainey Street is less than a quarter mile. But the density of nightlife spots in that short strip is like almost nowhere else in Austin with at least 18 bars and restaurants in a very compact area — and all of it a short walk from the Villas.

And that’s not to mention up the street where Red River crosses 6th Street. The section of Red River just six or seven blocks north of the Villas is another cluster of live music clubs including Mohawk, Red-Eyed Fly, Red 7, Beerland and many more. The biggest kid on the block is Stubbs BBQ, which in addition to great smoked meats has an outdoor amphitheater that hosts national and international stars throughout the year.

Corndog-Style Shrimp, White Lightening and Chocolate Malt Ball Ice Cream

Dining within walking distance includes such popular spots as Moonshine Patio and Grill, Fogo de Chão Churrascaria, TRIO, Café Crepe, and Vince Young Steakhouse, to name just a few.

Moonshine Patio Bar & Grill, less than a 5-minute walk from the Villas, is popular for their delicious menu and ample shaded outdoor seating. Their seasoned mixologists prepare delicious classic and house special cocktails, including their own unique white lightning concoctions. As unlikely as it may sound, one of the most popular starters is the corndog-style shrimp served with honey mustard and a swirl of blueberry. If a diner is feeling a bit more staid, the fried calamari is also excellent.

Both boldly inventive and traditionally delicious entrees are also on offer. Southern-fried chicken and waffles with maple butter and chipotle gravy is excellent, as is pecan-crusted catfish served with crawfish tails, homemade hot sauce and brown butter sauce. Careful when ordering desserts — while they are all delicious, many are big enough to serve more than one diner. Those in the know encourage asking the server about the portion size. The fudge stout brownie with chocolate malt ball ice cream is one rich and delicious favorite dessert that normally leaves at least two diners satisfied.