The ultimate Austin souvenir guide
Visiting the best city on earth? Don't leave with a tacky tourist trinket
Bringing a souvenir home should take more thought than grabbing a magnet from the airport. The challenge lies in wanting to remember a trip without the souvenir itself looking completely out of place back home. Austin doesn't have an iconic, go-to souvenir the way some other places do — how many "I Heart New York" shirts have you seen in your lifetime? — but you can still find a plethora of items that capture the spirit of the Texas capital without letting everyone know you were once a tourist.
Display your travels proudly, but grab a recommendation from some locals first. Our staff rounded up a few take-home treasures visitors should consider.
Local hot sauce. If you didn't come to Austin craving hot sauce, you'll leave craving it. Although Tacodeli's doña sauce — arguably, the city's favorite hot sauce — is commercially available at Whole Foods, you have to keep it refrigerated, which means it doesn't travel long distances well. But for a lingering reminder of how much your taste buds love the capsaicin found on every corner here, keep your eyes peeled for Yellowbird, another local hot sauce brand that sells a variety of hot sauces available at many grocers, in sizes ranging from small packets and 2-ounce samplers to 9-ounce bottles. — Addie Broyles, food writer
Jam from Confituras Little Kitchen. The small-batch jams from this local shop that specializes in biscuits and their sweet and savory accoutrements can be used for just about any occasion. Spread some jalapeño pepper jelly on a bacon-egg-and-cheese breakfast sandwich; drop a dollop of strawberry, pepper and balsamic vinegar on a mount of ricotta; or spread ruby red grapefruit on a slice of toast. Whatever route you go, you’ll be getting a taste of the seasons and Texas. Open 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday. 2129 Goodrich Ave., 512-710-9370, confituras.net. — Matthew Odam, restaurant critic
A bag of local coffee. It's likely any trip anywhere involves a stop for a cup of joe at some point. Take a memorable one home with you in the form of coffee beans or grounds, and enjoy the taste of an Austin morning after your trip has ended. Mozart's Coffee Roasters offers lakeside sipping alongside the smell of their beans roasting nearby, where you can see the coffee you can purchase by the bag. Summer Moon Coffee has multiple locations and sells its "wood-fired" blend. Or, multitask and get a picture at the "I Love You So Much" mural on the side of Jo's Coffee on South Congress and grab a bag of the coffee shop's blend to take home after. — Abigail Rosenthal, digital content producer
Crowler or growler of an Austin beer. One of the most fun ways to get to know a city is by visiting its breweries. Because of Texas law, not all beer producers can offer beer to go, but those that do — namely, brewpubs — often have cans and bottles or crowler and growler fills that you can take with you, to be enjoyed when you're back home and missing vacation. Might we suggest Pinthouse Pizza, Jester King Brewery and Lazarus Brewing as three places you don't want to miss? — Arianna Auber, drinks writer
"The Austin Cookbook" by Paula Forbes. After you've sipped on a Mexican martini, enjoyed a bona fide breakfast taco or dipped too many chips in a big bowl of Bob Armstrong dip, you're going to want to make some of those dishes at home. There's no better guide to Austin food than "The Austin Cookbook" by Paula Forbes, a cookbook that came out in 2018 and covers everything from Tex-Mex and barbecue to Southern staples like chicken-fried steak and Austin's nouveau food scene. — A.B.
A sweet treat from Maggie Louise Confections. To taste the sweeter side of Austin, stop into Maggie Louise Confections, an adorable East Sixth Street candy shop created by lawyer-turned-chocolatier Maggie Louise Callahan. Choose from a mix of vibrant and quirky chocolate boxes that feature everything from roller skates to guitars to Champagne bottles, each piece meticulously painted by hand. For a souvenir-size sampler of our state, try the Lone Star Sweets box, which costs $21 and includes three pieces: a cactus (milk chocolate and hazelnut mocha crunch), a boot (dark chocolate and salted caramel) and a Texas shape (white chocolate and hazelnut cream). Larger Austin- and Texas-themed boxes are available for $48. Tip: The shop is located on a brimming block of East Sixth Street, so make an afternoon of it if you can. Open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday. 1017 E. 6th St., 512-840-0233, maggielouiseconfections.com. — Kristin Finan, travel editor
Salumi from Salt & Time. Whether you want the funk of a Spanish chorizo, the velvety fat of prosciutto, the tannic zap of coffee lomo or a salami flavored with the state nut of Texas (pecan, duh), this butcher shop and salumeria has you covered. This spot opened in 2012 and includes a restaurant in the eastern half of the space, so you can order a charcuterie board and give the cured meats a taste test before you decide which ones you want to purchase as a gift. Butcher shop open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday-Sunday. 1912 E. Seventh St., 512-524-1383, saltandtime.com. — M.O.
Art from a local gallery. Austin may be known for its live music, but the local art scene here is alive and well. Galleries like Austin Art Garage and Yard Dog have prints and original work for purchase. One example: Austin artist Landry McMeans' wildflower prints available at Yard Dog. Austin looks (almost) as pretty hanging on your wall. — A.R.
A blues album from Antone's Records. Austin's signature sound, popularized by Stevie Ray Vaughan in the late '70s and carried into the modern era by Gary Clark Jr., is electric blues. No one did more to build the local blues scene than Clifford Antone, whose namesake club has been home base for Austin blues musicians and touring legends for more than 40 years. In 1987, Antone opened a small record shop just north of the University of Texas campus, and after his death in 2006, longtime employees stepped in to keep it open. The shop has a wide selection of used vinyl, with a heavy emphasis on blues albums and Texas artists. Clark's friend Eve Monsees, who first convinced him to hit the clubs when the two were teenagers, is a co-owner. Open 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday. 2928 Guadalupe St., 512-322-0660, antonesrecordshop.com. — Deborah Sengupta Stith, music writer
Waterloo Records T-shirt. Beyond the Austin City Limits empire, Waterloo Records is probably our city's most recognizable music-related brand. Its omnipresent logo, based on the design for a stop on the London Underground subway system, is available on a variety of merch items at the Sixth Street and Lamar Boulevard store. We'd most highly recommend the T-shirts, which come in lots of different colors beyond the original blue-and-red-on-white model. The fact that they come in so many sizes, from toddler to XXL, makes them ideal as a gift option. And we've found these shirts are made of quality material, built to last longer than your typical band tour T-shirt. There are also hats and tote bags with the classic logo, if that's more your speed. Open 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday. 600A N. Lamar Blvd., 512-474-2500, waterloorecords.com. — Peter Blackstock, music writer
Austin coasters. Four square inches of design perfection: ceramic Austin coasters. These little utilitarian gems began popping up at South Congress Avenue spots like Parts & Labour and Prima Dora more than a decade ago. Some are colorful, others more restrained. They freeze in time local Instagram magnets such as the “I Love You So Much” graffiti and the “Greetings from Austin” mural. And they keep your precious furniture free from those rings of beverage shame. — Michael Barnes, history columnist
Shirt, barbecue sauce and miniature tray from Franklin Barbecue. Kill three birds with one stone when you visit the most famous barbecue restaurant in Austin: You get a great story about the people you met while waiting in line and drinking a cold beer; you get to eat the best brisket in Texas; and you can buy a comfortable Franklin Barbecue T-shirt, small replica blue cafeteria trays and Franklin Barbecue sauces. Tell the recipient of your benevolence to put the espresso-packed sauce on brisket, the vinegar-tinged sauce on pulled pork and the Texas-style sauce on anything that doesn’t move. Open 11 a.m. until sold out Tuesday-Sunday. 900 E. 11th St., 512-653-1187, franklinbbq.com. — M.O.
A movie from the Alamo Drafthouse vending machine. Between the Paramount Theatre's Summer Classic Film Series, the Austin Film Society Cinema and several Alamo Drafthouses (Alamos Drafthouse?), Austin is one of the best small movie cities in the world. Take home a little piece of it by grabbing a DVD or a Blu-ray from a movie vending machine in the Austin-based chain's South Lamar location. Pick up a copy of movies Drafthouse had a hand in distributing, including "The Act of Killing," "Miami Connection" or "Bullhead." — Joe Gross, pop culture writer
A local (or not) read from BookPeople. Here is my secret to making sure a souvenir does not end up as a future Goodwill donation: Buy a book. It's practical (you'll read it). It's decorative (you'll think of your trip every time you pass your bookshelf). And yes, a book can be sentimental, too. If you buy a tome by a local author, you're taking a slice of your visit back home. And if you don't, just get something meaningful to you. You'll remember why you bought it where you bought it. In Austin, you've gotta head to BookPeople for this. They tout themselves as Texas' largest independent bookstore. Open 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. 603 N. Lamar Blvd., 512-472-5050, bookpeople.com. — Eric Webb, Austin360 editor
Stickers. Anytime we go anywhere, my dad is on the lookout for a free sticker that he can slap on his toolbox. Looking for stickers as souvenirs can mean keeping an eye out where you're already headed or thinking of the spots that are more likely to keep them in stock, like coffee shops, restaurants, record stores or bookstores. Bonus: They're usually free. More seasoned travelers might even have a dedicated sticker collection, like my dad. Start or continue your own with a sticker from an Austin spot. — A.R.