Words by Kristen Olson
Just a few blocks north of the Colorado River between 5th and 9th Street, North Lamar Boulevard hits its stride. You’re probably already familiar with some of the cornerstones of the area —the flagship location of Whole Foods acts as the local celebrity of this bustling boulevard, and stores like Anthropologie, REI, and Lululemon coexist among Austin-born establishments. Come explore what makes this section of North Lamar a true gem of Austin.
603 N Lamar Blvd
Even the most enthusiastic of bookstore fanatics will appreciate this independent, locally owned bookseller. BookPeople had a strong enough tenacity and fanbase to scare away Borders from moving onto North Lamar back in the early 2000s. Perhaps you’ve heard the phrase “Keep Austin Weird” — These were the words that BookPeople’s owner used to rally the community together to promote local business, and the rest is history. Borders backed down (and went bankrupt in 2011, incidentally), BookPeople remained the finest book establishment in the city, and Keep Austin Weird became the official slogan of proud Austinites.
626 N Lamar Blvd
For fluffy pancakes, an amazing cheeseburger, or heavenly biscuits and gravy, come to the tiny but mighty Counter Cafe. It has an impressive resume—a former runner-up on Texas Monthly’s Best Burgers in Texas List; a visit from Guy Fieri for a feature on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives; a 3-time spot on The Austin Chronicle’s annual list of Austin’s top 100 restaurants; and a larger second location built on East Fifth in 2014. It feels a little more local than the 24 Diner down the street, so when it’s time for breakfast or lunch on North Lamar, come here instead.
524 N Lamar Blvd #103
Come make a long list of new friends at this chic clothing store—Chloé, Céline, and Isabel Marant, to name a few. ByGeorge houses hard-to-find designer labels for both men and women, adding a little shimmer and sparkle to North Lamar. You can also pick up fine home goods and perfect gifts like candles, notebooks, beach towels, and vases. It’s an expensive stop for sure—but if you’re in the market for some upscale products, ByGeorge is the place to be.
600 N Lamar Blvd
To some, it’s a record store. But to others, it’s so much more. Waterloo Records opened in 1982, when Austin was small and its music scene was relatively unknown. Today, neither of those things is true in the slightest, but Waterloo still feels like home. Visitors can still listen before buying, peruse hundreds of records organized by the alphabet, not by genre, and chat up the staff that have a tangible passion for music.
Amy’s Ice Creams
1012 W 6th St
Next door to Waterloo, Austin native Amy’s Ice Creams has been a favorite dessert destination for locals since 1984. It now has 12 Austin locations, as well as one each in Houston and San Antonio. Be sure to try the famous Mexican Vanilla ice cream with any combination of topping options, or go for the specialty flavor, which is on daily rotation with 350 other special flavors. It’s the perfect excuse to stop in every day!