As SXSW approaches, celebrity sittings are guaranteed to increase significantly as we hop from panel to party during the festival. Some of us will eventually get tired of eating free tacos and catered snacks to look for a real dining experience in an actual restaurant. At some point, you’re bound to see a movie star, famous musician, comedian or some other well-known public personality who used to star in Friday Night Lights. Sure they’re just people like we are, but not all of us have our own show on Netflix and HBO do we?
If you spend enough time downtown during the festival, your chances of seeing a celebrity is fairly high. Austinites have a reputation of being really laid back and mostly chill when a celebrity crosses our path. The moment you see that familiar face, just remember to be cool and make sure you don’t have any brisket stuck in your teeth. They might be cool and snap a selfie with you but don’t expect them to exchange phone numbers with you. To prepare yourself for an eventual siting we’ve listed several well-known, upscale hot spots celebrities are likely to dine during SXSW.
Caroline + Upstairs at Aloft Hotel
Caroline is literally next door to the Paramount Theater, which is the home spot SXSW Film premieres. It’s not a far stretch to think that some of the celebrities will be staying in the Aloft Hotel and the Stephen F. Austin Hotel across the street. The fare is excellent and there’s even a coffee and pastry shop inside.
The Townsend is one of my favorite bars in Austin and it just happens to be located across from the Paramount Theatre. The Townsend will likely be the go-to spot for celebs looking for a craft cocktail and a few small plates. It also provides a great vantage point for red carpet premieres.
Corner Bar and OP Wine Bar – JW Marriott
The JW is Austin’s largest downtown hotel and serves as a hub for several official SXSW events. I can absolutely guarantee that there will be a lot of celebrities staying in the hotel throughout the duration of the festival. Don’t be a stalker, but if you hang out any of the restaurants long enough you are most definitely going to see a celebrity. Skip the selfie and offer to buy them a drink instead.
TRACE and The Living Room – W Hotel
The W Hotel is like a magnet for celebrities in almost every city in the world, but especially for Austin. The hotel is upscale and flamboyant in nature and is exactly the spot celebs love to be seen. You’re more likely to see them in the Living Room sipping fancy cocktails or bar snacks. Trust me, I’ve seen dozens of them there during SXSW.
Yes, even celebrities eat BBQ, but I’d be very interested to see if any of them have line-skipping privileges. I doubt it, but I also wouldn’t be surprised to see them waiting in line for the most legendary BBQ in the state. Jon Favareau filmed a portion of his movie, CHEF, at Franklin BBQ and the film premiered at SXSW in 2014. Oh yeah, and there was that one time President Obama made an appearance and bought over $300 worth of BBQ, including some for his the people he skipped in line.
Café No Sé and Central Standard – South Congress Hotel
South Congress Hotel might be the most Hollywood-like hotel in Austin. It’s boutique style is swanky enough to attract A-listers like Richard Linklater, Jack Black and Pierce Brosnan who have all supposedly been seen there at some point. With Chef Casey Wilcox and team cranking out an amazing new seasonal menu that’s been a huge hit, dining at Central Standard and Café No Sé will be an easy option for many celebs crashing at the hotel.
La Condessa has seen more celebrities dining in the restaurant in the last sevearl years than perhaps any other in town. The space is gorgeous and the regional Mexican cuisine is usually outstanding. There’s also likely to be a few private parties being hosted on the 2nd floor nearly every day.
ATX Cocina is one of the latest and greatest spots to open in the popular and upscale 2nd street district. I can personally attest on magnificence of the menu as well as the overall ambiance and beauty. Longtime local restaurateurs Larry Foles and Guy Villavaso brought this modern Mexican restaurant to Austin with ecutive chef Kevin Taylor at the helm. Hollywood stars love to eat healthy and chef Taylor meshes the traditional flavors of Mexico with ultra-fresh ingredients to create health-conscious and sophisticated pairings any celeb will easily enjoy. Photos by Bethany Ross
Jo’s Coffee shop on 2nd Street is notorious for celebrity sightings. They’ve seen celebs like Luke Wilson, Taylor Kitsch and Jesse Plemons just to name a few.
The Driskill Bar
Matthew McConaughey has been spotted several times over the years but you’re more likely to see several stars circling the bar throughout the duration of the festival. 604 Brazos Street