Austin’s South Lamar Neighborhood: The Perfect Homebase for Trendy Urbanites

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Just south of Austin’s downtown, the vibrant South Lamar neighborhood is one of the up and coming renter hotspots in the city. This wide boulevard is lined with both apartment buildings and restaurants and shops, making it the perfect home base if you’re an urbanite to your core. 

With less traffic than neighbor-to-the-east South Congress and easy access to hiking and walking trails to the west, this lively district is a great home for both city and nature lovers.

Where is South Lamar?

South Lamar Blvd is a major artery that makes its way southwest from Lady Bird Lake to Ben White Blvd. The area also includes many quiet side streets and single-family homes in small communities just off the broad, bustling road.

 

Just west of South Lamar is part of the Barton Creek Greenbelt, providing easy access to hiking and walking trails in the heart of the city. At the same time, residents of the northern part of South Lamar are within walking or biking distance of the beautiful Lady Bird Lake and its waterfront walkways.

History

Before the wild construction boom of the late 1990s and early 2000s, South Lamar Blvd was a working-class neighborhood dotted with used car lots and low-income housing. Many of the city’s artists and musicians flocked to the area for its cheap rents and easy access to downtown music venues. 

In fact, there was a (mostly) friendly rivalry between the “good ol’ boys” of South Austin and the highfalutin’ technology crowd in North Austin. The north vs. south debate came to a head in 1987 when hundreds of Austinites gathered for a tug-of-war across Lady Bird Lake, then called Town Lake. South Austin won, and the Northerners got soaked. 

As Austin’s population exploded in the early 2000s, the South Lamar neighborhood experienced a development boom. Now it’s a hub for retail, restaurants and nightlife with easy access to downtown Austin and the east-west corridor of Ben White Blvd. 

Lifestyle

South Lamar’s artsy roots are still on display in this unique district. A combination of mixed-use developments, single-family homes and independent shops and restaurants make this an exciting yet cozy neighborhood.

What to do

The Barton Creek Greenbelt is one of the most beloved outdoor spaces in Austin. South Lamar is just east of this popular hiking destination, so residents can enjoy walks or trail runs on their doorsteps. 

A state-of-the-art Alamo Drafthouse location was recently built on South Lamar, with 9 theatres and two large parking garages. Film fans can catch new releases or one of the Drafthouse’s famous Quote-Alongs.

Eclectic art lovers should visit the Austin Art Garage, home to exhibits by up-and-coming local artists. Or take in a professional show at ZACH Theatre, which performs both original and well-loved productions.

And of course, don’t miss line dancing at the Broken Spoke. Austin’s original honky-tonk has been two-stepping on South Lamar since 1964. As the district has grown, the Spoke stays true to its roots, inviting local musicians to grace the stage that once welcomed Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson.

Where to eat & drink

With so many great options, it’s hard to know where to begin! 

South Lamar is home to Ramen Tatsu-Ya, some of the best ramen you’ll find outside Japan. The rich pork broth in the Tonkotsu Original is almost a meal in itself, and you can add flash-fried brussels sprouts, roasted nori sheets and extra garlic to make it your own. 

Farm-to-table favorite Odd Duck makes innovative dishes from local ingredients. Menus change seasonally, so this is one place you’ll want to visit again and again. 

Further south, Matt’s El Rancho has been serving legendary Tex Mex in Austin since 1952! Make sure to get one of their famous margaritas. 

For special occasions, you’ll want to visit Uchi. James Beard winner and sushi master Tyson Cole brings sashimi, sushi, makimono and tempura to the South Lamar neighborhood in a refurbished house-turned-restaurant.

Finally, visit Patika for excellent coffee, and stop by Tiny Pies to pick up bite-sized desserts on your way home! 

Moving to South Lamar 

Real estate snapshot

South Lamar is a stone’s throw away from both the Greenbelt and the downtown area, so rents tend to be higher than average in this vibrant neighborhood. Prices for apartments in South Lamar circle around $1,645, while high-end units go for $2,008 on average. 

However, you’ll get the best bang for the buck. You’ll have your pick from modern buildings with incredible community amenities and high-rise structures with breathtaking views, all while living in the heart of the action. 

Transportation

South Lamar Blvd is a significant thoroughfare straight into the heart of downtown Austin. Bike lanes run the road’s length, making it an accessible path for cyclists and electric scooter riders. 

The neighborhood’s proximity to downtown makes it easy to catch a rideshare at any time. Plus, there’s a bus line that runs throughout South Lamar for easy access to the city core, and North Austin beyond.

Schools & employment

South Lamar’s central location means there are many schools in the area. Zilker, Becker and Barton Hills Elementary Schools all serve the central area of South Lamar, while Joslin Elementary welcomes the southernmost residents of the neighborhood. 

Middle school students may go to Lively Middle School, located nearby on South Congress Ave. They could also attend O. Henry Middle School or Covington Middle School and Fine Arts Academy.

High school students may attend Crockett High to the south, Travis High to the east, or Austin High to the north — depending on where they live in the district.

When it comes to employment, South Lamar is home to hundreds of independent small businesses, making it an excellent place for entrepreneurs to live and work. With a straight shot downtown, it’s also close to the capitol building, City Hall and the University of Texas.

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