Austin >Food & Dining > South Congress Cafe
1600 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX | Directions 7870430.247921 -97.750383
Monday To Sunday From 10:00 AM To 10:00 PM
Neighborhoods: South River City, Greater South River City
Easily among the best restaurants in Austin, South Congress Cafe serves up a great brunch menu including items such as carrot cake french toast, venison jalapeno meatloaf, and crab cakes Benedict. Get there early or make a reservation because everyone else knows how great the food is here too.
If you try to come for weekend brunch you'll be standing in line, but the crab cake eggs Benedict is totally worth the wait. Mimosas and a spicy but flavorful Bloody Mary don't hurt either.
Carrot. Cake. French. Toast. Perhaps I'm being hyperbolic, but I think this is among the most decadent turns I've seen among French Toast flavor varieties, and is certainly denser and more cake-like than traditional concoctions. It's also served with a cream cheese/maple dipping "sauce" (i.e. frosting, but more viscous). Wait, are you still reading this review? Please stop, and drive immediately to South Congress Cafe to order some.
Trendy restaurant with eccentric and beautiful foods, but the hosts and servers aren't so appetizing. – Call-ahead seating is a must if you would like to grab a seat in this quaint restaurant in the heart of SoCo. The wait time is the worst due to a small seating area. Taking a large party is not recommended; The restaurant is not set up for it. The menu options for dining are delectable, and the cafe is a microchosm of Gay Austin. I chose this restaurant as a dinner party destination for nine, and was anxious to be seated and experience what so many people had raved about. Unfortunately, the results weren't what was to be expected. Most that dine there are in their early to mid-twenties, and we were one year younger than eighteen. I felt like the host and waiter did not fully trust us, and didn't take us as serious customers. That feeling was confirmed when a friend at the party informed the waiter that is was my birthday, so that I was to receive a traditional birthday dessert after dinner. The waiter asked the friend if I could prove with proper identifcation that it was indeed my birthday. Since it was to be a surprise, the friend disagreed, and the waiter called upon his manager, the hosts, and the advice of other waiters, and soon we had the entire restaurant staff eyeing us as if we were theives. Eventually, desert was served, and was delectable. I thought that SoCo had redeemed themselves, but was disappointed again when the dessert was added to my bill! I immediately asked to speak to the manager who agreed to take it off my bill after I offered (but was not required) to provide ID, and the bill was quickly altered to reflect the change. Ultimately, I was disappointed with the service provided, but will concede that this trendy restaurant does have good food. The manager was respectable and seemed genuinely concerned about the issue that arose. My meal wasn't too appetizing, and was admittedly a bit cold, but it was garnished beautifully and the potatoes were amazing. Others enjoyed the food, and desert was great. I would go back, during non-peak hours only.
Friendliest staff in town – I went to South Congress Cafe with some friends after we had been shopping on Saturday. The friendly bartender informed us that the happy hour was even on Saturdays and we had $3 mojitos. I have to say they were the best mojitos I have ever had. The atmosphere of the bar was upbeat, warm, and the other patrons were wonderful. We decided to eat brunch at the cafe and it was incredible. I had the blackened tuna tacos and they were delicious. My three friends also enjoyed their entrees and we shared a flourless chocolate torte that was to die for.Our waitress was very attentive, helpful, and sweet. We will definitely be going back, and you should go too!
Gourmet at Casual Price – My husband and I checked out the South Congress Cafe a few weeks ago when we had some friends in town. We started the dinner with mojitos- fantastic! Our server was very friendly and helped us select some fantastic dishes. The jalepeno meat loaf was well liked. I enjoyed the crab cakes, which were the perfect texture (not too wet or dry). Each of these dishes were only $12 each and presented wonderfully. The bottom line- I expect to pay more for such fantastic service, delicious food, and upscale-like atmosphere.
Great Atmosphere and Fun waitstaff – We went with a group of girls and it was so fun! A bottle of Champagne and two luxurious desserts at only $9 a person, it was fantastic! They also have great happy hour deals with yummy apps, never had dinner there but I'm sure its great!
Spicy means HOT! – The hostess and my waiter were pretentious, my waiter less so thank goodness. I ordered the pork which was listed as spicy. I love spicy. There is a big difference between spicy and painfull. This dish was painfull. Many many people would not be able to eat it. I was able to eat it but it was a brow sweat dish. The flavor of the dish was there, spot on, just too hot. I'll try again at some point to see if the chef has learned the difference between spicy and painfull. If he has, then this place could really move up the food chain rating. The spices and flavoring he used were really spot on great, he just used too much heat.
Great food, casual elegance – My wife and I went there tonight for our 36th wedding anniversary and thoroughly enjoyed it. We were just driving around and decided to go in. The staff greeting us were very friendly. We were seated immediately. The restaurant was not very crowded when we arrived (6:15 on a Wednesday), but was pretty full by the time we left.
The food was great and the portions were almost too large. I had a cup of gumbo as an appetizer that I would have been happy with if they had called it a bowl. The only other problem we had was that there were too many great choices on the menu and as specials. Our waitress was very friendly and helpful in helping us make our selections. Lastly, we loved the decor and the large window in front.
I would highly recommend dining here.
Loved the service, food and the funky decor – We had a wonderful experience on January 18th at South Congress Cafe. We tried the salsa sampler with the homemade chips and it was amazing, very spicy but each of the three salsas had it's own unique flavor. One member of our group had the house salad with the avacado dressing and this person is not one for spicy things and he had no complaint with the degree of fire so it had to be mild.
I had the pasta fresca lots of very good grilled veggies in a garlic dressing with angel hair pasta. There could have been a wee bit more flavor to the sauce but I enjoyed it very much.
My husband had the beef milenesa and he ate every bite and the roasted garlic potatoes too. Our friend had a special which was a huge pork chop with horseradish mashed potaotes and yikes they certainly had plenty of horseradish but not too much.
Our water glasses were constantly refilled as were the coffee cups and I was offered more water for my teapot . We took the dessert bread pudding to go because we just could fit it in.
We loved the place and our waitress was very attentive, I highly recommend it.
Terrible ... just terrible – I recently ate at the South Congress Cafe with four family members. The experience was horrible, to say the least. A few of the low-lights:
? When dinner arrived, my wife?s was missing ? the waitress failed to even ring it in. Then, the waitress failed to offer to either keep the rest or our meals warm, or re-cook all of them, so we could all eat together. This is was a real demonstration of the amateur-hour service we received.
? When my wife?s dinner arrived (pasta with chicken), it looked and tasted like something you?d likely find at either a chain restaurant, or your grocer?s freezer. The pasta was incredibly sticky, the chicken was bland, and the sauce was heavy and flavorless. If the Olive Garden is in need of a new dish for their menu, the South Congress Cafe has the perfect addition.
? We also had a salad, which was fine. The problem was that the avocado dressing was way, way too spicy. I ordered the chipotle dressing myself, which you?d expect to be spicy ? but the avocado matched it, and was not edible to the person who ordered it. If they ordered the chipotle, they?d get what they asked for ? but this wasn?t the case.
? The duck was the driest and least flavorful I?ve ever had. Duck is normally a wonderful, special treat for dinner ? this was about as disappointing a dish as one could ask for.
? The waitress, for some bizarre reason, felt it appropriate to address members of our party as ?Love.? Last I checked, I?ve not met this woman before, so referring to me as ?Love? was more than a bit weird.
My overall take of South Congress Cafe was that it really is designed for perhaps the college crowd, who not been exposed to higher quality food and service. Both, in my estimation, were more in line with what you might find at a generic chain restaurant, rather than a spot with the price point and design of the South Congress Cafe. It?s unfortunate that this is the case ? but be warned.
a must-go treasure – If this place was in Seattle (where I live), I would break the bank eating and drinking here, like, all the time. Where to start? The two times I ate here (one dinner, one lunch) I ordered the wine special--which I would normally avoid (are they trying to get rid of it?). But this one, a barbera I think, really was special: deep, spicy, and drinkable. Loved it. The menu is a laundry list of intriguing and inventive dishes using enticing ingredients like boar's meat (in migas!) that makes it difficult choose just one thing to order. I like to get salads as my meal but this was the kind of place you want to eat and eat just to try as many items as possible because it all sounds so good! The seared tuna salad I eventually settled on was pretty darn good, not great, but everything else on the table was--fish, meat, pasta were all winners--and our adorable, smiling servers gave overly (but not annoying) attentive service. Truly, the staff was so geniunely nice-seeming that I think I'd want to WORK here if I lived here. Oh, and they have the best windows--very stylish and hip--and my favorite bathroom sink ever, like a shallow carved slab of tinted concrete. Very cool. The whole place is designed well and a big bonus is that although it looks like it's going to be noisy (spare, clean design and architecture) but we noticed zero din whatsoever during our meals. The only thing I didn't love was the whipped flavored butter that comes with the mediocre bread, but whatevs. I still rank this restaurant as highly recommended!
Chic Southwestern cuisine in a retro Jetsons-like atmosphere suits this trendy neighborhood. – In Short
Creative decor blends into the kitschy surroundings of this popular shopping district. Enormous plate-glass windows along the restaurant's front allow natural light in and a view of the bustling street. Although small, the dining area is stylish, with booths lining the perimeter and sleek, wooden-chaired tables. Less of a cafe and more of an upscale eatery, it serves inspired Southwestern fare like a mesquite-grilled filet sauced with a spicy charred poblano demi glaze and adobo chili bearnaise, crab enchiladas finished with a tomatillo-jalapeno cream sauce and Cajun seafood scampi with Creole garlic butter, all in oversized portions.
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