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.