It’s clear from the proliferation of co-working spaces and coffee shops in Austin, TX, that there’s a definite (and growing) need for public workspaces. In addition to college students camping out in coffee shops and eateries throughout the school year, it’s common to see startup executives polishing their business plans, startup job seekers polishing their résumés, or both types of people meeting with prospective customers or employers.
However, not all establishments encourage their patrons to pull up a seat and hang around for a while. So think twice before you get cozy just anywhere.
Here, we’ve rounded up a list of 10 establishments that are conducive to working collaboratively. Most are computer-friendly, and most lack table service. All of them are spacious enough to conduct a job interview or a brainstorming session without feeling rushed or worrying about pestering people around you.
1400 E. 38½ St., 78722
Despite its name, Cherrywood sells much more than coffee. The full menu includes everything from giant breakfast tacos ($2.77-$4.99), breakfast sandwiches ($3.99), and smoothies and juices ($4.50-$5.50) to sandwiches, burgers and seafood platters for lunch and dinner ($4.99-$17.99).
Thanks to the proprietor’s New Orleans upbringing, muffalettas and po’ boys are viable options here ($8.99-$10.99). Cherrywood has 15 local and craft beers on tap, which sell for $3.50 each during happy hour (from 3-7 p.m. weekdays). All of this can be enjoyed on the expansive, dog-friendly patio or at the many large and small indoor tables.
616 W. 34th St., 78705
Expect to stand in line if you come to FoodHeads during the lunch rush on a nice day. But mornings and evenings are a bit of a well-kept secret.
Starting at 7 a.m. every day (except Sunday), FoodHeads serves yummy tacos like the Gypsy Grove (egg, tomato, serrano pepper, potato, avocado, sprouts, $3.25) and a lunch menu serving customized and signature sandwiches. It also serves dinner Thursday through Saturday, offering rotating specials like barbecue pork ribs and grits ($13), pan-fried crabcakes with chimichurri ($9), and arugula steak salad ($10.95).
Indoor and outdoor seating comes in the form of mismatched vintage tables and chairs. Keep in mind that this place is BYOB.
4101 Guadalupe St., 78705
A New Jersey native owns this deli, so it’s no wonder that the specials include Reubens ($7.95), double-decker sloppy joes ($7.25/$7.95), eggplant parmigianas ($5.50/$7.50) and meatball subs ($5.50/$7.50).
Open seven days a week for breakfast, lunch and dinner, the big dining area affords many options for conducting group meetings or interviews, or simply tackling everyday work. If you need a break, the deli does feature live music and poetry on some nights.
2050 S. Lamar Blvd., 78704
Opa! is a café and wine bar run out of a large house, with a majestic Live Oak shading the front-yard area. There’s plenty of seating both outside and inside, where the dining area opens up into a larger back room that’s ideal for groups.
Breakfast offerings include croissants with Nutella or ham and cheese ($4) and granola with Greek yogurt ($3.95). Meanwhile, lunch and dinner options include home-style Mediterranean plates like dolmas ($6.75), gyros ($8), Greek meatballs ($8) and moussaka ($13.95). In addition to wine, there’s a full bar and lots of beer by the bottle.
3418 N. Lamar Blvd., 78705
James Beard Award-winning Robert Del Grande, executive chef of Houston’s renowned Cafe Annie, opened Cafe Express so that even diners on the go could enjoy his fresh Southwestern cuisine—and now there’s a location in Austin.
For breakfast, Cafe Express serves healthy scrambles such as the Mediterranean (turkey ham, steamed spinach, sautéed mushrooms, feta cheese, scrambled eggs, green onions, $7.39) as well as standards like the American Classic Platter (eggs, bacon, skillet potatoes and toast, $6.99). Salads, burgers, pastas and sandwiches ($7.99-$11.99) are available for lunch and dinner, in addition to six choices of grilled and roasted entrees, including a roasted vegetable tart ($7.99) and an herb-roasted half-chicken ($10.99). The well-lit, sprawling cafeteria has ample seating.
242 W. Second St., 78701
Unlike many coffee shops, the food here is just as good as the brew (both coffee and beer). Besides a full breakfast menu with plenty of egg and pancake options ($4.50-$8.25), Jo’s is known for its Angus burger ($9-$9.75), which comes on a sweet bun accompanied by fries. There’s also a long list of sandwich and salad options.
At the Second Street location, you can work and chat comfortably at tables inside or at European-style sidewalk seats. In addition to the regular weekday happy hour, Mondays bring two-for-one burgers, and Tuesdays offers special all-day pricing on beer and wine.
1206 Parkway, 78703
Yet another deceivingly named cafe with an extensive menu, Austin Java offers all-day breakfast, build-your-own burgers and chicken sandwiches ($7.59 and up), copious amounts of salad and pasta ($3.99-$9.99), and plenty of snacks like dips and quesadillas ($3.99-$8.99).
The interior of Austin Java’s original location near 12th Street and North Lamar Boulevard opens up to a huge back room that’s ideal for a group meeting or a job interview. Check the website for daily specials, such as two-for-one burgers on Mondays, half-price appetizers on Wednesdays, and happy-hour pricing on beer and wine.
Looking for more of a fine dining option to take a client out on the town? These establishments aren’t places for pounding away on your laptop, but they do feature lovely lounge areas to relax before or after a business meal. Keep in mind that everything is much busier on the weekends, so weekdays are the best days to make dinner plans.
200 Lavaca St., 78702
Table service; reservations recommended
Enjoy the farm-to-table masterpieces ($10-$45.00), house-made charcuterie ($5-$7) and stunning pastry art at Trace before relaxing over conversation and coffee or cocktails at the W Austin Hotel’s beautiful Living Room Lounge. On weekends after dinner, the scene can get pretty loud, but lounge makes for cozy conversation during the week or after lunch. Trace even offers a “lunch on the fly” option, which includes a choice of vegetable pakora burger, smoked beef brisket or blackened redfish, all with soup and salad ($16).
507 Calles St., 78702
Table service; reservations recommended
The recently opened Mettle already has been wowing diners with its globally influenced modern American cuisine, like salmon crudo with Thai chili, lime, vanilla and pretzel ($15), and beef tongue tacos with escabeche, crème fraîche and salsa verde ($11). The lunch and dinner menus offer many of the same choices, with some MVPs appearing slightly differently on their brunch menu as well.
The interior is spacious, with a modern, industrial edge and many dark corners for quiet perching. Several couches on the patio invite you to kick back with an after-dinner cocktail.
2905 San Gabriel St., 78705
Table service; reservations recommended
A hop, skip and a jump from downtown Austin, this sleek, modern Mediterranean restaurant is mixed among an unassuming group of high-end stores on 29th Street, just off North Lamar Boulevard. Its rooftop patio includes a group of chairs and couches that are perfect for pre- or post-meal chatter.
Tapas and shareable plates, as well as larger entrees, are available for lunch and dinner. The seafood-heavy menu includes favorites like warm crab croquette salad with grapefruit and avocado ($12), pork belly and octopus with fennel pollen and squid ink aioli ($14), and seafood and saffron paella ($48). Tapas and wines are discounted from 3:30-6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Tuesday is Paella night, when the Spanish dish is 50 percent off from 5-7 p.m. and 25 percent off from 7-10 p.m.
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