Westgate – Austin, TX

The Westgate neighborhood, located 5 miles south of downtown near Highway 71, epitomizes south Austin's comfortable yet hip lifestyle. The small enclave provides big-city amenities with a small town feel. Often overlooked in favor of more urbanized locations closer to the city center, Westgate remains one of the last neighborhoods in Austin proper still accessible to middle-income families. Though not as walkable or diverse as other areas, Westgate still offers many urban comforts, such as coffee shops, yoga studios and specialty boutiques. Westgate stands out as a safe, well-established community with a distinctly Austin vibe. Definitely a sound choice for someone looking to put down roots in the city.

Schools in Westgate

School data provided by GreatSchools

Restaurants & Nightlife

Just south of Highway 71, the Westgate shopping center comprises the majority of dining and nightlife choices in the neighborhood. Some chains exist in this upscale strip mall, and a few Austin-based restaurants and shops thrive here as well. For affordable comfort food with a gourmet touch, check out the Austin original Hyde Park Bar & Grill. An offspring of the pilot location in Austin's Hyde Park neighborhood, this classy yet laid back restaurant delivers sumptuous, classic American cuisine. Comfort food entrées, such as chicken fried steak and meatloaf, stand out as the features of this restaurant. Try the Potato Crusted Tilapia for a perfectly breaded fried-fish fillet served with rice pilaf and a side of your choice. The Hyde Park Mac & Cheese, served in dangerously large portions, can quickly become an addiction. With most sandwiches and entrées coming in at $13 or less, you can dine at this affordable local favorite on any occasion. Sap's Fine Thai Cuisine, another beloved Austin restaurant, serves up authentic Thai fare. Located across from the Hyde Park Bar and Grille on the other side of Westgate Boulevard, this restaurant is famous for it's extremely spicy curries and stir fries. With peppers next to each menu item indicating the heat level, you can gauge the intensity of each dish. Be forewarned, anything with three to five peppers packs a considerable punch. A unique restaurant and live music venue hybrid, The Cafe at Central Market provides great food and entertainment seven days a week. This cafe serves a mix of healthy world cuisine and imaginative takes on American classics such as burgers and pizza. With local craft beer, wine and an eclectic selection of live music several days a week, this cafe has something for the whole family. Enjoy a cold beer with a Bison Burger smothered in gouda cheese topped with grilled onions and salsa. Polish your meal off with a cup of gelato, or a nutritious smoothie from the ice cream and coffee bar. Though the neighborhood lacks bars or pubs, a few atypical nightlife options exist. Located at Westgate Boulevard and Jones Road, Austin Hookah Lounge epitomizes a BYOB-friendly hookah bar with a limited menu of non-alcoholic drinks. This lounge has a relaxed atmosphere fully furnished with couches and coffe tables, and a variety of board games to play while you smoke. A coffee shop and bar combined, Strange Brew on Manchaca Road ranks as a local favorite. Open 24 hours a day, Strange Brew divides into a quiet coffee bar on one side, and a dark music venue complete with a stage and alcoholic beverages on the other. Strange Brew features live music acts many nights of the week, and attracts both college students in need of a study spot and working professionals looking for a good time. If you are looking for a quieter or more family oriented evening activity, stop in at the Regal Westgate movie theater in the Westgate Shopping Center, and catch a new release. Alternatively Westgate Lanes, a bowling alley at the corner of Westgate Boulevard and William Cannon Drive, serves food and beer in a family friendly environment.

History & Culture

Developed throughout the 1950s and 1960s, Westgate was a primarily residential neighborhood until the construction of the Westgate Shopping Center in the early 1990s. Though still comprised of mainly single family residences, a few apartment complexes sprang up around the increased development. Architecture styling in the neighborhood includes standard ranch style homes, with many two story structures featuring well kept lawns and large trees. The Westgate neighborhood contains a variety of shopping and dining options, as well as a few highly rated public schools. A mostly middle-income neighborhood, the area attracts progressive Austin professionals looking for a comfortable spot to settle down. The Manchaca branch of the Austin Public Library provides regular educational programming for children, adults and teens in the neighborhood.

Transportation

With larger than average city blocks, walking and biking are not common forms of transportation when traveling within the neighborhood. However, if you do utilize these forms of transit, the neighborhood streets have well-maintained sidewalks and some bikes lanes on major thoroughfares, such as Westgate Boulevard and Manchaca Road. Located directly north of the neighborhood, Highway 71 running east and west stands alone as the only main highway easily accessible to Westgate residents. Fortunately, Highway 71 has a lower volume of traffic than other highways in Austin, and connects to the primary north and south running thoroughfares, Interstate 35 and Mopac. Simply travel north on Westgate Boulevard or Manchaca Road to reach 71,or east on Stassney Lane to reach Interstate 35. A good selection of bus lines comprise the majority of public transit options in the neighborhood. The Westgate Shopping Center lies at the far end of Metro Rapid line 803, which can take you downtown in less than 20 minutes and as far north as the Domain in an about an hour. Standard MetroBus line 331, also beginning a the shopping the center, takes you to southeast central Austin via Oltorf Street and end at the ACC Riverside Campus. The 238 Westgate line stops all along Westgate Boulevard between Highway 71 and Slaughter Lane, ideal for traveling within the neighborhood. Finally, MetroBus line 3 has multiple stops on Manchaca Road, running north and south, traveling as far north as the Domain. As with most areas of Austin outside of downtown, cabs only really appear if you call a cab company yourself. Uber is always an option here, with a growing number of Austinites using the service in the absence of a regular cab presence. The Westgate neighborhood sits at the southern end of the Car2Go home area, if you want to pay a monthly fee for the use of these economy cars.

Cost

The overall cost of living in Westgate runs 6 percent higher than the Austin average and 10 percent higher than the national average. However, rental rates in the area remain 7 percent below the Austin norm, averaging around $725.77 for a one bedroom in comparison to well over $1,000 for the city as a whole. Gas prices for the area come in at 9 percent lower than the national average, on par with average lower prices in Texas and Austin. To travel downtown on the bus, a one way trip costs $1.50 on the 803 Metro Rapid and $1 on a standard MetroBus. Unlimited-use month passes cost $30 for standard buses and $50 for Metro Rapid buses. Pretty standard in comparison to Austin as a whole, drink prices can range from $4 to $5 for a pint of beer, and $5 to $8 for a glass of wine or a cocktail

Shopping

Most retail shopping choices in the neighborhood can be found in the Westgate Shopping Center. Upscale boutiques targeting conscious, eco-friendly consumers create a distinctly modern feel in what would normally be a typical strip mall. Central Market, the largest and most frequented store in the shopping center, specializes in retailing organic and world-food products. This natural wing of the Texas based HEB grocery franchise has higher prices than a standard grocery store, but inventories more selection and higher quality products. Focused on procuring seasonal and local products, Central Market hosts regular festivals, such as the Hatch Chile Festival and the Chocolate Festival, where the store features anything and everything that contain the celebrated ingredient. With specialty cheeses, an amazingly extensive beer and wine selection, and the highest quality produce and meat, Central Market has everything you could need for a special occasion. The nearby Sunset Valley Farmer's market hosted in the Berger Stadium of Jones Road also supplies local organic produce and prepared food. Open every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., this market serves as a more localized alternative to Central Market's organic goods. Randall’s provides another grocery option in the neighborhood at Highway 71 and Cactus Lane. Also a known higher-priced store, this shop has less selection than Central Market or even a standard HEB. However, Randall’s, with less crowds and a Starbucks, bakery and prepared foods counter remains a popular alternative. The Treehouse, also located in the Westgate Shopping Center, retails environmentally friendly home improvement supplies. Locally based and pricier than Home Depot or Lowe’s, the store sells all kinds of green building products from paint to flooring and even light fixtures. The Treehouse allows consumers to shop for home building supplies relatively guilt free when it comes to environmental and health hazards. Austin-based Whole Earth Provision Company, another eco-minded retailer in the shopping center, sells a variety of gifts, books, and outdoor sporting equipment for the athletic and environmentally conscious consumer. Well-known for their selection of high quality camping and hiking equipment, the store has everything you may need for an excursion into the great outdoors. Though more expensive than big-box stores such as Academy, Whole Earth Provision stocks a unique selection of high-quality products that you cannot find at many other stores. For clothing, Blue Lux provides yet another option for conscious consumers. Specializing in fair trade and environmentally friendly women’s clothing, Blue Lux attempts to take the guilt out of shopping for stylish, practical clothing. Also located in the Westgate Shopping Center, this clothing retailer fits in the with general theme of conscious consumption in the Westgate neighborhood.

Parks

Though lacking public green spaces in the immediate area, the southern end of the Barton Creek Greenbelt lies just 1.5 miles northwest of the Westgate neighborhood.This heavily forested public greenbelt has over 7 miles of hiking trails, swimming holes and rock climbing areas. You can easily access this Austin gem from Westgate using entrances off of Highway 360 and the Mopac Expressway. Much smaller, more typical city parks in the vicinity include Joslin Neighborhood Park and Garrison Park off of Manchaca Road. Both parks have basketball courts, picnic tables and barbecue pits for good old-fashioned outdoor fun. Additional amenities include two tennis courts at Joslin Park and two baseball fields at Garrison park.
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