Downtown Austin is full of vibrant neighborhoods, each with its own personality and style.

But which neighborhood is the right fit for your business to set up shop, buy your new condo or simply have a night out?

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This guide will introduce you to the various personalities of Downtown Austin neighborhoods and give you an idea of where to go, what to do, and which employers have a presence in the area. There are no strict lines that define Austin’s Downtown neighborhood but we will give you some general guidelines.


 

 

Capitol Area Complex

The Uptown/Arts District is a small pocket between the Texas Capitol and The University of Texas campus, bordered by Trinity Street and West Avenue.

This Neighborhood is Known For

This is a historically quieter area of Downtown. It’s mostly occupied by government organizations, law firms, and parking garages because of its proximity to the Capitol. Activity here usually ebbs and flows with legislative sessions. 

The Arts District of Uptown was given a bit of life with the opening of the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum in 2001 and the Blanton Museum of Art. The Blanton Museum of Art first opened in 2006 and has grown to one of the largest university art museums in the U.S. at 21,000 pieces in over 190,000 square feet.

The area immediately north of the Capitol has an impending makeover coming with the Capitol Complex Master Plan, a 1 million square foot, two-phase development implemented by the Texas Facility Commission to house state agencies. Within walking distance of this neighborhood is not only the Capitol building but also the Travis County Courthouse, The Texas Court of Appeals, The Supreme Court of Texas, and the Texas Governor’s Mansion.

The Best of the Uptown/Arts District

While not all gems are hidden in this district, The Cloakroom is a classic cocktail bar tucked away in a basement on a quiet corner just next to the Capitol. Here you’re likely to find yourself sipping spirits alongside an in-session legislator if you visit during the right time of the year. It makes for a good pit stop before heading to Olamaie for Southern fine dining at its finest. This dinner-only restaurant was established in 2014 and boasts some of the best biscuits in Texas. But, if you’re craving something with a little spice, head to Indian Food restaurant Clay Pit for their Spicy Tikka Masala and Naan. 

For the history and museum lovers, take a self-guided tour through the Texas State Capitol building or the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum to learn all about why we Texans love Texas so much. Hop across the street to wander through the Blanton Museum of Art, which is one of the largest university art museums in the US with over 21,000 works in almost 190,000 square feet!

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Major Companies and Organizations in the Uptown/Arts District Tenants

Due to the proximity to the Capitol, this area is home to numerous law firms, NGOs (non-government organizations) and regulatory offices, including:

Tenant Property
The State Bar of Texas Texas Law Center at 1414 Colorado Street
Texas Hospital Association 1108 Lavaca
Texas Association of Counties 1210 San Antonio
SXSW SXSW Center
WeWork SXSW Center
WeWork Westview 

Major Office Properties in the Uptown/Arts District

This district is home to mid-sized, often older, office properties mixed in with a few new developments, such as SXSW Center and 1836 San Jacinto. A few new high-rise developments in the area have started to successfully pass through zoning and permitting efforts, which should help stitch this area of town together with the thriving CBD.

Property Size Year Built
Westgate Tower 151,294 1965
SXSW Center 143,988 2019
Westview  100,166 1954 (renovated in 2018)
1836 San Jacinto 230,609 2021

 

Congress Avenue Historic District

Congress Avenue is Austin’s main street. It stretches from Lady Bird Lake to the Texas State Capitol, through the heart of Austin’s Central Business District. Lined on either side by the skyscrapers making up the city’s iconic skyline and historic brick buildings, with the picturesque Capitol building prominently in the background, Congress Avenue is home to some of Austin’s most remarkable, architecturally unique office buildings as well as a plethora of restaurants, hotels, bars, and museums.

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This Neighborhood is Known For

South Congress is Austin’s main street and has something for everyone. Whether you are craving the chain restaurant you can always count on for a $10 lunch, or going to dinner with clients, or you are looking to catch a history lesson followed by happy hour, Congress Avenue has something for everyone.

The Best of Congress Avenue

For casual lunches, coastal transplants can rest easy knowing they’re only a few blocks away from fast-casual staples like Cava or Sweetgreen. Or if you’d prefer to go the more local route, there are some other stellar options like Veracruz, Tacodeli, or Cooper’s BBQ. Fareground at 111 Congress, a unique indoor/outdoor food hall, is a great spot for a large or indecisive group. The food hall at Fareground is managed by the local hospitality company, ELM Restaurant Group (responsible for Easy Tiger, Italic, 24 Diner, and more) and features six concepts ranging from dumplings to Israeli street food.

Entertaining visitors or taking clients out? Hotels are always an easy option and the lobby bars of the Aloft, JW Marriot and The LINE Hotel have great options to escape the heat or sit outside for some sunshine. Bar game enthusiasts can check out Upstairs at Caroline, Punchbowl Social or Shiner’s Saloon. Those looking for something off the beaten path or with a little character might enjoy the history (and design) of the Driskill Hotel bar, a Belgian beer from Mort Subite, or a cocktail with jazz music at Elephant Room. Must-try dinner spots include Red Ash, Sushi Junai, Swift’s Attic, and Simi Estiatorio. If you are looking for a midnight snack, Velvet Taco and P. Terry’s are both open late.

The neighborhood isn’t short on activities either. Catch a show at The Paramount and State Theaters, and check out the Mexic-Arte Museum, Texas Toy Museum, or The Contemporary Austin – Jones Center. Alternatively, you can break a sweat at SoulCycle or take the family to see the world’s largest urban bat colony emerge from under the Congress Avenue Bridge.

Major Companies and Organizations in the Congress Avenue District

Tenant Property
Box, Inc 600 Congress
RetailMeNot  301 Congress
WeWork 600 Congress
Frost Bank Frost Bank Tower
Husch Blackwell One Eleven Congress
Jackson Walker  100 Congress 
PIMCO Frost Bank Tower
Vista Equity Frost Bank Tower
Workrise One Eleven Congress
Kirkland & Ellis Frost Bank Tower

Other companies in this neighborhood include AirTable, DLA Piper, Armbrust & Brown, Texas Monthly, Atlassian, Cloudera.

Major Office Properties in the Congress Avenue District

Congress Avenue is lined with many of Austin’s most iconic buildings, most notably the Frost Bank Tower, but also including: 

Property Size Year Built
One Eleven Congress 518,385 1987
100 Congress 411,536  1987
301 Congress 445,658 1986
501 Congress 116,000 2015
515 Congress 268,000 1975
600 Congress  503,951 1984
Littlefield Building 111,000 1910
Scarbrough Building 131,000 1910

 

Market District

Austin’s Market District is situated on the western portion of the CBD, from Nueces to Lamar and Sixth Street down to the booming Seaholm Development on the southern edge.

This Neighborhood is Known For

The Market District is known for luxury high-rise apartments and condos, renovated low-rise apartments, and a lively cluster of bars and restaurants known as “West Sixth.” 

The Best of the Market District

Take in the downtown views from one of the many rooftop bars like Green Light Social and Buford’s or grab a beer with friends at a low-key spot like Little Woodrow’s and Starbar. Start your night with dinner at Ranch 616, the birthplace of the “Ranch Water,” for Southwestern eats in an eclectically Texan atmosphere, and then head over to catch some live music at Rustic Tap or Whiskey Tango Foxtrot.

The area is also a hub for high-rise residential developments, including The Monarch, The Bowie, 360 Condominiums, Spring Condominiums, Fifth and West, SEVEN, and The Independent (a 58-story tower that looks like a Jenga game!)

Grab coffee and a breakfast taco from Juan Pelota while checking out some of the bicycles ridden by the owner of the cafe/bike shop, Lance Armstrong, before jumping onto the Shoal Creek Trail for a morning walk or bike ride. 

Have friends in town for the weekend? Head to Irene’s for brunch or spend the night dancing under the twinkly lights of the legendary dive bar, Dirty Bills. Get back on track with a healthy grocery trip to Whole Foods. 

Hanging out with Mom? Walton’s Fancy and Staple, a bistro and flower shop owned by Sandra Bullock, has great breakfast or lunch and you can buy her that nice arrangement she deserves from the floral shop at the back. 

Major Companies and Organizations in the Market District

Tenant Property
Cirrus Logic Shoal Creek Walk
IBC Bank IBC Bank Plaza

Other notable companies in the area include:

  • Whole Foods Headquarters and Flagship Store
  • GSD&M 
  • Under Armor and Athenahealth just across the street in the Seaholm Redevelopment
  • Austin U.S. Federal Courthouse

Major Office Properties in the Market District

The Market District has not traditionally been a prime area for large office towers; however, as the core of the CBD shifts west, there are a number of new office developments either recently completed or underway in this area, including:

Property Size Year Built
Horizon Bank Redevelopment at 5th and Nueces 144,507 Expected delivery in 2023
6th X Guadalupe 589,112 Expected delivery in Q4 2022
Shoal Creek Walk 218,180 2020
Seaholm Redevelopment 190,000 2015
IBC Bank Plaza 195,378 2014
The Republic 816,583 Broke ground in 2022
Third + Shoal 374,963 2018

 

Warehouse District

The Warehouse District is based around, what used to be, a smattering of mechanics’ garages and warehouses just west of Congress over to Nueces, between Third and Sixth Street.

This Neighborhood is Known For

Now a mix of high-rises and historic brick buildings, the heart of the Warehouse District, 4th Street, is the gem of this neighborhood with cocktail lounges, fun restaurants, and a number of staple bars for the LGBTQ+ community.

The Best of the Warehouse District

Newer additions to the area shine bright, but it’s hard to miss the old Austin staples. Peche boasts one of the largest Absinthe collections in Austin and an expansive cocktail list (along with one of the best burgers in town). Catch some live music next door at Cedar Street Courtyard or head around the corner to Lavaca Street Bar to catch some sports on one of their 50 TVs and chow down on Turf N’ Surf Po Boy (be ready to share, it all comes in large portions). Enjoy scratch-made Italian at Red Ash or bone marrow heaven at Comedor. Republic Square Park hosts Farmers’ Markets on Saturday mornings and other public programming events throughout the year.

Major Companies and Organizations in the Warehouse District

The Warehouse District tenant makeup reflects that of the CBD as a whole, part tech titan, part traditional institutions. The major tenants in the area include:

Tenant Property
Facebook 300 West 6th Street (Moving to Sixth and Guadalupe in 2023/24)
DLA Piper 405 Colorado
The University of Texas System 210 West 7th (Owned by The University of Texas System)
JP Morgan Chase Chase Tower
TikTok 300 Colorado
Snapchat 405 Colorado
Indeed  Indeed Tower
Miro Colorado Tower

Major Office Properties in the Warehouse District

Amongst the hustle and bustle of the nightlife, are many of Austin’s major downtown office properties, including:

Property Size Year Built
210 West 7th 342,000 2017
300 West 6th 454,225 2001 (renovated in 2020)
Chase Bank Tower 389,503 1974 (renovated in 1995)
Lavaca Plaza 123,380 1983
405 Colorado 206,946 2021
Indeed Tower 733,000 2022
300 Colorado 369,000 2021
5th and Colorado 179,351 2016

 

2nd Street District

Stretching the length of Second Street, from Trinity Street west to Nueces Street, the strip is lined with local boutiques, trendy shops, and restaurants.

This Neighborhood is Known For

The 2nd Street District is known as Downtown Austin’s shopping hub. The street is also home to a number of Austin’s downtown hotels, luxury apartments, and condos, and the famed Moody Theater, home to the longest-running music program in television history, Austin City Limits. Starting at the Austin Central Library and Butterfly bridge, dead-ending into the Austin Convention Center, the area is a hot spot for tourists and Austinites alike.

The Best of the 2nd Street District

Intermixed with the shops are some of the city’s best brunch spots, happy hour haunts and a number of fast-casual chains for the surrounding residents. The Peacock (Mediterranean), North Italia (Italian), Lamberts (BBQ), La Condesa (Mexican) and Taverna (Italian) all offer great brunches on the weekends, in addition to great happy hour and dinner menus. ATX Cocina and La Condesa both offer modern Mexican food with fabulous and eclectic interior designs. Sweetgreen and Flowerchild are great spots for a fast and healthy lunch, with BarChi Sushi and Torchy’s Tacos helping round out your lunch options. Your morning coffee or a pick-me-up after lunch can be found at Jo’s.

Once you’re full and ready to rock, catch a taping or one of the many bands that come through ACL Moody Theater or check out a local band playing in the quaint venue upstairs in Lambert’s BBQ historic building. Violet Crown Cinema offers a wonderful escape from the heat and has a great menu of food and drinks to enjoy during your movie.

Major Companies and Organizations in the Second Street District

Although Second Street is heavily populated by retail, residential and hospitality, there are a few office tenants that call the district home:

Tenant Property
Silicon Labs & Spredfast 200 and 400 West Cesar Chavez Street (owned and occupied by SIlicon Labs)
Google 500 West 2nd
Google Block 185

Major Office Properties in the Second Street District

While not many, there are a handful of office or office-adjacent properties to be found in the Second Street District, including:

Property Size Year Built
Silicon Labs Buildings 406,650 2001
The Convention Center 881,400 1971
Austin City Hall 118,164  2000
Block 185 796,525 2022

 

Red River District

Running along Red River Street, from Seventh Street north to 12th Street, the Red River District is flush with nightclubs and concert venues alike.

This Neighborhood is Known For

Officially designated The Red River Cultural District, the area is the ideal place to catch live music in Downtown Austin. You can find anything from local, up-and-coming bands to big names. 

The Best of the Red River District

Grab some Tex-Mex at Pelons and gear up for your night out. Catch a show at music venues including Stubb’s, Mohawk, Cheer Up Charlies, or Empire Control Room & Garage, and then end the night dancing at Barbarella.

You don’t want to miss seeing a show at Stubb’s Waller Creek Amphitheater. The barbecue is good. The live music is better. Both national names and Austin icons frequent this outdoor theater and the atmosphere can’t be beaten.

Mohawk is also a great place to catch some smaller bands and Cheer Up Charlies always has local artists working their way up to the big stages.

Major Companies and Organizations in the Red River District

The Red River District is primarily retail and residential/hotel users; however, there are a few government, municipal, and nonprofits that office within the Red River District or the surrounding area.

  • City of Austin Police Department
  • Austin Municipal Court
  • The Salvation Army Center
  • Caritas of Austin

Major Office Properties in the Red River District

The Teacher Retirement System of Texas building is 198,972 sf and was built in 1971. It is one of the only large office properties in the Red River District.

Construction on a mixed-use project at Symphony Square and the Velocity Credit Union site has begun and Trammel Crow Residential’s Alexan Waterloo, a 29-story, 274-unit apartment tower recently completed, helping further connect Austin’s downtown amenities. Waterloo Park and Amphitheater, just north of 12th street on Red River, is worth noting as it creates a “bridge” between the Red River Cultural District, through the Innovation/Medical District, onto UT’s campus.   

 

Entertainment District

Stretching the length of Sixth Street, from IH-35 on the east to Congress Avenue on the west, is the Entertainment District, one of the most iconic neighborhoods in Austin, Texas.

This Neighborhood is Known For

The Sixth Street Entertainment District is made up of the section of Sixth Street that was known historically as Pecan Street but is now commonly referred to as “Dirty 6th.”

At night, the bars open their doors, and on weekend nights the street is blocked off to cars. Live music, DJs, and drink specials in every bar compete to draw in college kids, tourists, and bachelor(ette) parties all wandering the district.

The Best of the Sixth Street Entertainment District

There is much more to this neighborhood than just its reputation as the “Bourbon Street of Austin.”

On the west end, where Sixth Street hits Congress Avenue, stand a number of the city’s most historic buildings: the Littlefield & Scarbrough Buildings, now prominent Austin office buildings, and the Stephen F. Austin Intercontinental Hotel and The Driskill Hotel, two classic Austin hotels that are still functioning today.

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On the east end of the neighborhood, where Sixth Street approaches IH-35, local restaurants and event spaces have popped up along revitalized Waller Creek.

Sip a cocktail at the historic (and haunted) Driskill Hotel Bar. Built in 1886 by Col. Jesse Driskill, the hotel was listed in the National Register of Historic places in 1969 and it’s easy to see why when you walk through the lobby to the bar. 

Major Companies and Organizations in the 6th Street Entertainment District

Although the Entertainment District is mostly populated by bars, restaurants and retail, one developer is currently embarking on the journey to “clean up Dirty 6th” by adding commercial offices, hotels, and apartments above the historic brick facades. Stream Realty has amassed over 30 parcels in the Entertainment District and is currently working through the City of Austin’s historic and zoning commissions. For now, this district of downtown will focus on entertainment.  

Major Office Properties in the Entertainment District

Most of the Sixth Street Entertainment District offices are low-rise buildings, either located on street level or on the second story above a retail suite. However, where Sixth Street meets Congress, there are some of Austin’s most prominent office buildings, including:

Property Size Year Built
211 Seventh 159,313 1973

 

Rainey Street District

The Rainey Street District, tucked away just outside of Austin’s downtown core, has risen to life over the past 10 years.

Previously a residential neighborhood of bungalows, most of these small houses have been converted to hip bars and trendy restaurants. Rainey Street is known for its “Sunday Funday” vibes. The bars are packed long before the sun goes down on Sundays, with a similar scene to the Entertainment District on Friday and Saturday nights.  

First came the bars, then came a flush of multi-family development. New developments abound in the Rainey Street District, primarily all luxury residential, including 70 Rainey, The Millennium Rainey, and SkyHouse.

The Best of Rainey Street

Super Soul Sunday at Icenhauer’s is a must-see. Each Sunday, the Nightowls, a 10-piece soul band puts on a show at Icenhauer’s. Get there early, because the place gets packed, and make sure you’ve got your dancing shoes on.

Major Tenants & Office Properties in the Rainey Street District

While there aren’t currently any office developments in the Rainey Street District, that is soon to change. There are multiple developments in the early planning stages that are sure to attract Austin’s top tenants.

Now that you’re up to speed on the eight major Downtown Austin neighborhoods, it’s time to go out and explore the city.

Originally published January 2018, updated September 2022.

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Thomas Matheney

As a Senior Associate on the tenant representation team, Thomas focuses on advising tenants, commercial real estate investors and developers through the site selection process.

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