Campus Curated: Top Places to Dine, Drink & Discover Near UT Austin
Study up on these top picks for coffee, cocktails, culture, dining and lodging around The University of Texas at Austin
The University of Texas at Austin and its surrounding neighborhoods have long been a draw to anyone visiting our capitol city. From the stunning original Spanish Revival architecture along West Campus to the lively shopping and dining destinations along The Drag, it’s always worth exploring the UT Austin campus even if your freshman days are behind you. We’ve set out to round up our top picks for can’t-miss locales and classics that make up the fabric of this youthful borough of an ever-changing Austin.
Coffee on the UT Austin campus practically rains down with the abundance of options, but one stands out for its superior espresso pull. Trippy Buck is a trailer located by the World’s Largest Longhorn just to the west of the Drag in the parking lot behind the University Co-Op, making it the best bet for a spot to grab an excellent cup before exploring the campus. The coffee itself is nothing short of exceptional. Sourcing their beans from one family in Ecuador, Trippy Buck’s espresso is consistently excellent. From traditional choices to their own macchiato latte, toss them a few bucks for the best brew by campus.
Dirty Martin’s Place
Their time here might be running out, so now is the perfect time to get in and try this campus classic before Dirty’s doors close for good. A staple of the collegiate experience of UT since 1926, this burger stand serves as a remaining slice of the often lamented old Austin.
If dinner at UT Austin conjures up images of big steaks and bigger hats, then you’re in luck. While the food scene by campus offers a robust selection of Asian restaurants, Acre 41 is a return to the classic steakhouse — perfectly deserving for a town of well-educated longhorns. Named for the original 41 acres of campus, the interior is a thoroughly modern space with classic plates of Tomahawk ribeyes and filets with their signature steak served with lump crab, asparagus, black truffle béarnaise. The palate is rich and the flavors are beyond refined for a dining experience you’ll never forget.
For the Gram
UT Tower Stairs — between College of Nursing Sciences & Dorothy L Gebauer Building
For the sake of simplicity, this stairwell should be called the cinematic stairs, as the framing of the two buildings, stone stairs, and tower looming above feel as if a director had a say in their layout. The campus has a bevy of photogenic spots, but this one’s for some reason unlisted still. Giving it an edge of cool for its hidden aspect and ease to find. All anyone needs to do is head to the northeast corner of the tower and head towards the alleyway between the two buildings. Step down, turn around, and be wowed by the perfect photo op.
Spot on Campus
UT Turtle Pond
The original Spanish Revival architecture of the core inside the campus is worth exploring on its own, but tucked in the shadow to the north of the tower is a trio of ponds teeming with turtles. Utilized by the College of Natural Sciences, students and visitors alike can gawk at the bale (group of turtles) splashing around. It’s a uniquely weird plot of land on campus that adds a natural sense of whimsy to the campus.
The Blanton Museum of Art
Recently undergoing a renovation by architectural powerhouse Snøhetta, adding more art and a huge installation of 12 story tall “petals” casting much needed shade in the courtyard, it’s hard to beat the campus art museum. With a robust collection to wander through, The Blanton is a perfect excuse to get enjoy some cool AC as you wander around UT. Pro tip: be sure to head up the stairs in the ticketing/gift shop side of the museum to fully see the full rainbow effect of Plexus No. 44 by Gabriel Dawe.
Sarah Oppenheimer “ C-010106”
As everyone lines up and stresses over tickets for the beloved Skyspace by James Turrell on campus, a new rival for art lovers and aspiring photographers emerges from the Peyton Yates Family Bridge. “C-010106” is an architectural mirror shifting the perspectives from passersby by connecting those above and below the bridge. Take your time and embrace the new interaction with space this landmark artwork creates — and bring your camera to capture it all.
While we have a great new assortment of hotels near the UT Austin campus, it’s hard to beat legacy. Named after one of the first women to graduate from UT, this Greek revival mansion sprawls out back as a renovated hotel dripping in Texan excellence. Recline on the patio on a rocking chair or grab a bite from the acclaimed Goodalls on property and imagine your life as a socialite. Even if it’s for a night or two.
Total Dive Bar
Cain & Abel’s
A UT Austin campus tradition since 1991, this upcoming semester marks the first time this beloved dive has switched things up as they move to a new location at 907 W 24th St. While returning students and alumni might miss the original location, this new chapter for Cain & Abel’s marks a chance for new memories to be made in a new spot. With great greasy burgers and cold beers, the spirit of this iconic campus dive lives on as the skyline of its college town continues to reach new heights.
Otopia Rooftop Lounge
Facing downtown, it’s hard to beat sharing a colorful cocktail while looking out onto Austin after a day of exploring the UT Austin campus. The views alone are worth making it to the top of the Otis Hotel, but thankfully the cocktails provide a reason to stay awhile. Even for those who don’t imbibe, their You are Going to Remember This and Fauxjito mocktails stand out as superior sips compared to most found around town. While anytime at Otopia is a good time, finding a table for sunsets will illuminate why so many visit and make plans to move here.