The über-trendy stretch of South Congress Avenue just south of the Colorado River used to be so desolate, you could easily spot the undercover cops seeking out drug dealers and prostitutes. The area transformed mightily during the 1990s, most notably when a dot-com start-up replaced a decrepit adult theater.
Other new businesses followed suit, and the streetscape soon was revitalized with cafés, galleries, and trendy clothing stores. There were marketing efforts to brand the strip with the cute moniker “SoCo,” but you won’t hear many locals referring to it by that name.
Two of the strip’s anchors are Lucy in Disguise (1506 S. Congress, 512/444-2002, www.lucyindisguise.com ), the quintessential thrift store featuring the city’s coolest vintage threads and accessories along with bodacious costume rentals, and Uncommon Objects (1512 S. Congress Ave., 512/442-4000, www.uncommonobjects.com ), a fascinating expanse of antiques, curios, folk art, and, well, uncommon objects from across the world. Incidentally, the stock here is always changing since the store showcases many different vendors offering rotating collections of vintage and modern knickknacks.
Clothing-wise, South Congress is a haven for trendy boutiques. Among the most popular are Therapy (1113 S. Congress Ave., 512/326-2331), a vibrant shop known for its progressive clothing lines (some by owner Jyl Kutsche), playful accessories, and wall of chocolate treats.
Next door, Goodie Two Shoes (1111 S. Congress Ave., 512/443-2468) has developed a strong reputation for its immense selection of affordable quality footwear, jewelry, and impeccable customer service.
Further down the road, Creatures Boutique (1206 S. Congress Ave., 512/707-2500, www.creaturesboutique.com ) has a hipster edge, particularly with its eclectic selection of purses and shoes.
Though certainly not as trendy, one of the best apparel shops on the entire South Congress strip is Allen’s Boots (1522 S. Congress Ave., 512/477-1413, www.allensboots.com ), a refreshingly low-key establishment among the much-hyped boutiques. Allen’s knowledgeable employees help customers find a perfectly fitting boot and explain the differences among styles and brands. In addition to the extensive selection of boots, Allen’s offers a broad range of shirts, hats, jeans, and belts.