When entering the East Side, check out the light and sculpture installation under I-35. Rows of lit-up arches underneath the interstate between 6th and 8th streets are meant to represent stitches - symbolizing a re-unification of East and West sides. It also brings light to what can often be a sketchy parking lot.
As you've probably noticed by now, Austin is a sea of trailer eateries. Not to be missed is on E. 6th is East Side Drive-In, which includes favorites such as the Vegan Yacht, The Local Yolk, and the converted double decker, #19 Bus - which serves up delish cheese steaks.
Rio Rita on 6th and Attayac is famous for their Bloody Mary's, but you can also get a quick coffee there during the day. One block down (and up - 7th and Onion) is Takoba, a restaurant that infuses interior Mexican food with a swank modern decor. Takoba boasts spacious outdoor seating, including a backyard "adult sand box" - and is my pick for grabbing a delicious frozen margarita (Strawberry) and some tacos (Al Pastor).
If you're looking for a place to grab a drink and some quick food, head down to the street The Liberty (1618 E 6th), with its famous backyard trailer East Side Kings. Those beet fries are amazing. Hey, if it's good enough for Anthony Bourdain, right?
Image courtesy of Domy Books/Flickr
Domy Books, located at Cesar Chavez and San Marcos, is part beautifully curated specialty book shop, part gallery space - a great place to get your art fix. Stitcher extraordinaire Jenny Hart even had a show there last year.
Treasure City Thrift just re-opened in new digs at 2142 E. 7th St - and it's considered by many to be one of the best thrift stores in town.
My personal favorite restaurant on the east side, Justine's, is a quaint French brasserie located in an old house on 5th and Springdale. Justine's is always packed, and for good reason. You just can't beat the atmosphere here. I usually get the Steak Frites, and if my name is any indicator, I fancy myself a bit of a pommes frites connoisseur - Justine's will not disappoint. If you're looking to impress a date you picked up at one of those day shows, this is the place - although be prepared to drop a pretty penny. It's impossible to resist the lure of relaxing with a bottle of wine.
You've also got to check out the Wondercraft at Starving Art Studios, 2324 E. Cesar Chavez. Tons of Etsy Austin artists are represented in this mobile trailer boutique/craft space.
For you beer fanatics, Live Oak Brewing Company offers weekly brewery tours and tasting opportunities at their space on E. 5th.
Image courtesy of El Grupo/Payphone Revival Project
Lastly, be sure to stop by El Chilito (Manor & Chicon) - because you can't leave Austin without eating some breakfast tacos - and taking a mustache ride while you're at it. The giant mustache and glasses are part of the Pay Phone Revival Project, where artists are beautifying and re-imagining old pay phones around town.