Are you ready for Small Business Saturday 2019? Here are the SmartBiz team’s top picks for local shopping in the Austin, Texas area. Shop small and support your locally owned businesses this holiday season!
Food and Restaurants
No matter where you go in Austin, you can’t go wrong with the incredible food. Here are just some of the unique local establishments we love visiting for a delicious fix.
Starting off with a classic—fried chicken—Happy Chicks is a popular choice for lunch at the SmartBiz Austin office. The menu is all about the comfort food: you’ve got your staples, or you can build your own perfect combination.
“I absolutely loved this place!! I'm really picky with my chicken strips, because I don't like them super breaded. Happy chicks has great chicken, fries, and omg their cream corn is thee best! Their staff is great too! Marina was really friendly and was a big help when it came to picking a sauce! She recommended the jalapeño ranch, and I'm so glad she did. I will definitely be back again, this time I'll bring more friends so they can see what they are missing! Lol”
Another must-visit restaurant is Tumble 22. With Nashville-style hot chicken, this local joint specializes in outstanding customer service and fresh, natural chicken with spice levels ranging from “Wimpy” to “Cluckin’ Hot!” You’ll find us here enjoying a delicious sandwich on the weekend.
“My goodness this place has some tasty home cooking fried chicken. My early childhood at home is what this chicken reminded me of. Perfect amount of batter juicy and tender inside. The flavor is out of this world good as you can pick the spicy level you are comfortable with. There are six levels of spiciness but we found dang hot and mo hot to be the best! Each entries come with two side and both the Mac and cheese and fries were also amazingly good! Their service is top notch and you get your food to the table super fast! This is even with a full house so make sure you prepare yourselves a short wait.”
Looking for a truly unique Austin meal? Arlo’s Curbside is the stop for you. This 100% plant-based food truck serves up delicious comfort food, all freshly made onsite. With three locations and late hours, this is the perfect spot for a lunch bite, after-work kombucha cocktails, and everything in between.
“I don't know what vegan magic this is, but Arlo's is the best! No matter if you're a vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, omnivore, or any other variety of -arians and -vores, Arlo's will hands down deliver you an indulgently delicious meal. My favorite is the chicken sandwich and their fries, which'll only put you back about $12 or so. The serving size is HUGE. Instead of the thin patties and small burger buns you so often get at fast food joints, Arlo's delivers a hearty patty on a large buttered bun. I don't know about you, but when I decide to indulge in a burger and fries, I want to make the most of those calories. If you're anything like me, go to Arlo's -- you'll be satiated without the meat coma and greasy hangover. Pro tip: get yourself a kombucha cocktail to sip on while you wait for your vegan burger goodness.”
Pool Burger is more than a quality meal—it’s a full poolside tiki experience. Whether you’re an Austin native or visiting for the first time, you’ll feel like you’re on vacation when you visit this local joint. Located right by the Deep Eddy Pool, it’s a local favorite for a fun, relaxing ambiance and top-notch burgers, drinks, and more.
“Austin has a lot of great burgers, but this is one of my faves! Great quality, cute atmosphere, and a great place to stop after a swim at Deep Eddy. I went during lunchtime on a Saturday and did not have to wait long at all for our food. Next time I have to try the drinks and soft serve ice cream!”
Have you heard of cowboy wok cooking? This technique, originated in Northern Mexico, creates delicious mixed meat dishes known as discada. Austin’s Discada food truck has a small but flavorful menu: the seven-layer, family-recipe mixture is served in corn tortillas with salsa and lime. Besides these tacos, you can also pick up some fresh elote (Mexican-style corn) and drinks.
“Probably the best, most authentic tacos in town that I have tried. If you are from the Mexico City area this will be the closest taco you can find to home. I also love that their elote (corn in a cup) is not made from corn in a can. They actually roast the corn and shave it off into the cup. They have a great green salsa and chopped habanero that other stands do not provide. Just be aware that these are actual Mexican street taco size from Mexico so they are small. They also only offer Discada but it's some of the best I've had. You will not be disappointed!”
Always leave room for sweet treats! Hey Cupcake! is another staple Austin food truck and a team favorite. The desserts stand out just as much as their “storefront” – an Airstream camper with a giant cupcake on top! If you’re strolling along South Congress Avenue, you can’t miss it.
“What a fun treat on South Congress! We stumbled upon this place as we were visiting a couple murals next door. The guy working was super friendly and helpful. The cupcake I got which was a classic vanilla, was huge and soooo delicious. The cake was dense and flavorful and the homemade icing was to die for! Plus, it made for the perfect prop for fun photos. The airstream camper had tons of charm and the cupcake on top was literally just the sugar on top! So fun! Don't pass up this place as you explore SOCO!”
Art, Fashion, Books, and More
Austin’s known for its vibrant culture, and these office favorites live up to the distinctive reputation.
Located by UT Austin, Longhorn Fashions specializes in the school’s color—burnt orange. From dresses to jewelry to mugs and everything in between, you’ll find uniquely Austin items for your wardrobe that are perfect for when you’re feeling the school spirit.
“I've always had the best experiences shopping at Longhorn Fashions for game day attire and last minute gifts for my friends. Everyone who works here is SO sweet and helpful. I couldn't say enough great things about stopping in if you need super cute dresses, tops, accessories and even stadium-friendly purses.”
South Congress Books
You can’t go wrong with a local used bookstore, and South Congress Books does not disappoint. With a wide selection of unique, interesting books, as well as posters, prints, and art pieces that you won’t find anywhere else. The collection is curated with various collector’s items, like signed and first editions. No wonder this is a favorite destination in the office!
“Love this shop! They have a great, curated collection and the signed/collectible/vintage book editions are fantastic. I keep finding hidden gems of books I've had on my list for awhile. Highly recommend!”
Things to Do
The fun just doesn’t stop in Austin! Here are some of our top picks for exciting activities to celebrate wins as a team.
Peter Pan Mini-Golf
If you see a giant Peter Pan and T-Rex on Barton Springs Road, you’re definitely passing by the Austin community staple, Peter Pan Mini-Golf. This family-owned, nostalgic course is known for its laid-back and welcoming atmosphere. From children’s birthday parties to co-worker outings, this destination is a total crowd-pleaser.
“Been coming here since I could walk! It's so nostalgic. When people who are in town ask me for places to check out... Peter Pan Golf is ALWAYS on my list of recommendations. Two thumbs up. 5 stars. Just all around a good time. Stay unique.”
Blazer Tag Adventure Center
If you’re looking for an exciting, fast-paced, and fun-filled activity, Blazer Tag is the Adventure Center for you. Located in the heart of Austin, this local family-owned venue offers not only a laser tag arena, but an arcade with over 50 games. Bring a group of friends for hours of fun or join the competitive laser tag team if you’re a regular player.
“Blazer Tag is truly an Austin establishment, and one of the most awesome places to have fun in all of Texas. The game itself is challenging and satisfying. I've been coming to Blazer Tag for 20 years and still visit once a week with a group of my friends. After all these years the game is still super fun, and is perfect for a party and for groups of all ages and sizes. The staff is super friendly as well. I cannot recommend this place enough to anyone looking for a good workout, a strategic game to play, or even just a nice dose of nostalgia.”
Check out more of our shopping recommendations before Small Business Saturday! Head to the SmartBiz Resource Center to see the businesses we love in your area.