The Taco Street Guide to Living in East Austin

Welcome to the Taco Street Guide to Austin! I’ll be your spirit guide to the city. We’re going to be best friends. You’ll learn about what to expect when living in different neighborhoods. We’ll go through some history, things to do, lifestyle, prices, and if it’s the right place for you. By the end you’ll be all like “Whoa! This was super helpful! I’m totally going to hire them to help me find my new apartment!” At the end I’ll link a nifty Google Map you can use too.

East Austin

First, let me get this out of the way. I live in East Austin. I love it. It’s far and away my favorite part of Austin. Don’t expect a blandly objective analysis of East Austin. This will be a highly subjective (but honest) personal account (or love letter?) of the neighborhood.
But before we go into where East Austin is today, let’s take a brief look into its history
Spoiler Alert: There was racism. Like, a lot of it. With The City Plan of 1928 East Austin was a Jim Crow era segregated black neighborhood. Not cool man.
Ask local Austinites who’ve been here their entire life, and they’ll tell you what it was like. East Austin was the part of town you didn’t go. Prostitution, shootings, robberies, drugs, etc. You get the idea. No bueno.
But that would sell it short. East Austin was (and still is) a thriving cultural hotspot. Scattered around the neighborhood you’ll find awesome blues and jazz bars like Skylark Lounge, Dozen Street, Sahara Lounge. Beautiful murals of East Austin’s most famous residents are hidden everywhere. On Sundays, a sprawling community of old Baptist churches buzz with life.
So what’s going on now?
Development. Change. New stuff! Lot’s of it. Yeah, you can call it gentrification. It’s not even up and coming. It’s here. This time without the crime and shootings!
Let’s dive a little further into each sub-region see what’s going on!

East 6th Street

East 6th street in Austin
Walking around East 6th.
This is the epicenter of East Austin. Basically, you’ll find a shitload of new….everything. There’s new apartment buildings, condos, office buildings, craft breweries, restaurants, salons, overpriced cocktail bars, yoga studios, art galleries, hip coffee shops, and old houses converted into cute businesses that sell expensive stuff.
All of it.
I’m just going to throw up a bunch of links of these new places that I love/places you’ll find me hanging out. Ah Sing Den (Cocktails) Lichas Cantina (Mexican) Lazarus Brewing & Zilker Beer Company (self explanatory), Last Straw (Tropical Cocktails), Suerte (Mexican), Lefty’s Brick Bar (Cajun/Vietnamese), Ramen Tatsuya (Best…Ramen…Ever), the East Austin Hotel (A cleverly named hotel).
But it’s not just new stuff!! Tucked into all of the new goodies you’ll find some older holdout grungy dive bars that anchor down East Austin’s misfit funkiness like Shangri-la, Latchkey (Self described adult day-care center), Yellow Jacket Social Club & The Liberty. A few classic restaurants have survived the transition as well, Cisco’s, Tamale House, Joe’s Bakery.
Maybe the most compelling reason to live here is the walkability. Other than Downtown, East 6th is one of the only parts of Austin you can live in Austin without a car. You have everything you would need from food, bars, restaurants & shops in a 1 mile radius. With rideshare, scooters, bike-paths, and even the Cap Metro Metrorail train, you can get anywhere easily. Aside from walkability, my favorite part of the neighborhood is that it actually feels like a neighborhood. It’s a place you can walk around. Say hi to neighbors. Meet friends at breweries. Grab a quick snack. Go on a fancy date. Catch live music. All right here.
Then there’s the catch. Living here isn’t cheap anymore.
Studios start around $1400. One bedrooms around $1600, and two bedrooms around $2200. If you can’t afford to live here on your own, I would highly recommend finding a roommate to share the cost. There are plenty of great potential roommates out there.

East Cesar Chavez

Lou’s Bodega
Where East 6th has radically changed, Cesar Chavez Street is where you’ll find the soul and charm of the eastside fully intact. Named after the Latino civil rights activist, Cesar Chavez, This side of town is where you’ll find Austin’s Latin culture intact. There’s a healthy blend of older and modern buildings. There’s local business nestled into converted bungalow houses. Food truck parks, dive bars, and classic Austin-styled Mexican restaurants. You’ll even find some cool non-soulless office spaces for tech workers and artists.
Cesar Chavez is a great area for a day stroll. Murals, breweries, cute houses, relaxed streets, parks, etc. A few blocks away you can plug into the trails at Lady Bird Lake for a nice run and view of the lake.
Some highlights in this area: Juan in a Million (Famous Breakfast Tacos!), La Barbecue (IMO, second only to Franklin’s), Cenote (Coffee), Veracruz All Natural (More tacos!) Las Cazuelas (Mexican) Juiceland, and Blue Owl Brewing (Sour Beer Brewery) and Launderette (a sexy place for dinner). My absolute favorite restaurant in Austin, Kemuri Tatsuya (Mutant Texas/Japanese) is tucked into nearby 2nd street.
As for living, there are mostly single family homes. Currently there are no apartment units, and only a few condos. Unless you’re willing to pay an inflated rate for a home, it’s likely you’ll wind up living in a different part of East Austin.

East 11th Street & Rosedale

Mural on East 11th
“Alex, are you sure this is a seperate part of the eastside? Isn’t it a bit small? Is it really worth covering as its own subsection?” Yes. I live here. Dammit I’m going to cover it.
East 11th is a mini neighborhood a few blocks north of the epicenter, East 6th. It’s removed from the main action. East 11th feels like a calm residential neighborhood sprinkled with a few shops, bars, and restaurants. As a resident, I’ll say it’s one of the best places in the city to live.
I can walk right across the street into Downtown, yet feel removed from it’s chaos. The streets are relaxed, but alive. I’ll walk around charming houses, grab a drink at my favorite bar, Nickel City, snarf a taco at Quickie Pickie, and check out live music at Kenny Dorham’s Backyard.
There’s some high end food too. Hillside Farmacy is an excellent boutique American diner. Rosewood is a hyper-local-Texas joint located in a beautiful historic home. There’s the French Legation which will make you be all like “wtf are the French doing here?”
Probably the best barbecue in the world. Also, my neighbor!
But everything on this list is a side note when compared Austin’s most famous landmark. No, not the capitol building. Franklin Barbecue. In my supreme estimation, Franklin Barbecue is a holy desination. Aaron Franklin is one of Austin’s patron saints, brought down by the heavens to save us from poorly smoked meats
There are those who will tell you Franklin’s is overrated. That it isn’t worth the wait. That they are above waiting hours in line for “just food”.
Everyone is entitled to have wrong opinions. Franklin’s is worth far more attention than I can give in this article. I will eventually make a seperate ode of affection for this pilgrimage-worthy bastion of smokey-beefy delightfulness. But in short. Yes, it’s worth it. Yes, it’s the best. Everyone who tells you otherwise is both wrong and jealous. This is objective truth. Anything else is heresy.
East 11th has a few great apartments like the Eleven (my home!) and AMLI Eastside.
Lovely East 11th apartment where I may or may not live at.
There are some condos and single family homes too, but not many. If you can afford the relatively high prices, this is one of my favorite parts of Austin to live(which is why I live here!)

Chestnut – Manor, East 12th and MLK

I’m bundling these three parallel streets into one category. Combined, they represent some of East Austin’s most interesting streets and neighborhoods.
Like the rest of East Austin, it’s gone through a lot of growth. It’s next to the University of Texas, so lot’s of students come here for cheap housing.
With a recent spurt of apartments, condos and office space, it’s become a destination for young working professionals as well
12th street was one of Austin’s most dangerous streets years ago. Since the mid 2000’s it’s developled quickly and crime is rare. You’ll find an amazing area with some of Austin’s best jazz and blues venues. Skylark Lounge, Dozen Street, and King Bee Lounge.
The food here is evolving rapidly! Some of my favorite places are here. Dai Due (One of my top 5 Austin restaurants) Bird Bird Biscuit (Breakfast Sandwiches) Sour Duck Market (Just cool everything) Austin Daily Press (Sammiches) and some of Austin’s best Southern Soul food. Roland’s Soul Food and Hoover’s Cooking.
This is where you’ll find some of East Austin’s most affordable housing. You can find everything from houses, modern apartments, condos, and older student apartments.
Living here has some distinct advantages. You’re close to UT Austin, East 6th, Downtown, and have easy access to North Austin by way of I35. Rents are here a lower as well. The main downside is having to rely on your car more to get around. If you can afford to live around East 6th or 11th, I would choose those areas instead.

Springdale & Deep East Austin

Infinite Monkey Theorem
Going deeper into East Austin you’ll find a quieter residential neighborhood. But don’t let it escape your radar! The area is relaxed and dominated by small houses, schools, and a few apartments. There is a high velocity of “cool stuff” . This is the part of East Austin where you’re most likely to fulfill your “urban farm ” fantasies. 
Austin bouldering project
Let’s hang out!
Mainly I want to talk about this area since I spent most of my working hours at the ultra amazing climbing gym/yoga studio//sauna/HIIT studio/co-work space behemoth that is the Austin Bouldering Project (down with ABP? yeah you know me). For all of these amenities, you pay a stupidly low $75 per month. The art studio complex Canopy teems with life during the East Austin studio tour.
Others like Austin East Ciders, Friends & Allies, and Infinite Monkey Theorem together make the area an awesome place to hang out. Deeper into the neighborhood are awesome live music venues like the Sahara Lounge .
Nearby, Brewer’s Table, Eden East, Uroko, and Tillery are planting their flag as some of Austin’s best restaurants.
Living here is becoming more and more accessible. Apartments like the Guthrie have added a lot of inventory to the area, with more to come soon. Soon I predict this area will be one of the hottest places to live in Austin.


Like I said before, I love East Austin. I can easily see this being my forever neighborhood. It has a deep rooted culture, undeniable charm, and a uniquely Austin vibe. Few places in Austin have a more distinct character then here. It’s one of the only neighborhoods that actually feels like a neighborhood.
The location is awesome. It’s next to Downtown, and gives you easy access to the rest of Austin by train or highway. You’ll never feel isolated from your friends or family.
Like every area, it has it’s cons. It’s becoming prohibitively expensive if you’re on your own. It’s not as nature-y as South Austin, and some areas deeper in the area are still feel run-down.
Overall, if you could afford the cost of living, and don’t mind some rough-around-the-edges areas, I would absolutely consider East Austin to live in.

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