Austin’s biggest grocery deserts (and watering holes)

Posted by Local Logic on Mar 3, 2017 10:16:57 AM

We crunched the numbers to find the best neighborhoods for grocery shopping, eating out, and partying

We’ve been crunching a lot of numbers on Austin recently. Last week we calculated the best Austin neighborhoods to live in if you don’t have a car. The winners were Old Enfield (for cyclists) and Downtown (for transit riders and pedestrians). We also discovered that UT was someplace you never want to drive — between traffic and parking and myriad other reasons, it’s a commuter’s worst nightmare.

But enough about transportation! What about where that transportation can take you in Austin? Thanks to Local Logic’s data-crunching magic, we were able to find Austin’s biggest:

  • Grocery deserts (places where there’s low access to grocery stores)
  • Restaurant jungles (places where there’s great access to restaurants)
  • Watering holes (places where there’s great access to bars and nightclubs)

Grocery deserts

Most of our team is used to living downtown (and not driving!) so the idea of having to travel to the ends of the earth to pick up groceries seems slightly terrifying. After all, how long can you gorge on peanut butter sandwiches from 7/11 before coming down with a case of scurvy?

And yet it seems for many Austinites, grocery deserts aren’t just a terrifying proposition — they’re often a reality. Granted, a 10-minute drive to Trader Joe’s may not seem that terrifying to someone with a car (or Uber budget) but it can be enormously inconvenient for those who don’t.

Access to grocery stores in Austin

With data available on Local Logic, you’re able to see that people living around downtown and UT have a pretty easy time loading up on groceries. Clusters of grocery stores can be found all around these neighborhoods. Often times you don’t even need a car to pick up ingredients for your burritos and brisket.

Then again, the same can’t be said for the following neighborhoods:

Austin’s grocery deserts

  1. Johnston Terrace
  2. Southeast
  3. West Oak Hill
  4. St. Edwards
  5. Parker Lane

Don’t even try to live in one of these neighborhoods without a trunk for groceries (or an Instacart account). Maybe that’s a non-issue for some of these neighborhoods (like West Oak Hill) where residents are usually pretty well-off. Nevertheless, these neighborhoods are much less grocery shopper-friendly than the rest of Austin — although there are select zones in suburbia where groceries are a bit easier to get:

Zooming into Franklin Park, you can find (some!) grocery store access

Restaurant jungles

Ooh ha! Who needs groceries when you’re surrounded by some of the world’s best restaurants nearby? (Okay… still most of us.) But if you’ve got a fear of ovens and fridges, it’s still amazingly possible to eat like a king without hiring a chauffeur — provided that you live downtown or close to one of Austin’s suburban restaurant strips.

Unlike great grocery store access (a character of several Austin neighborhoods), downtown is unrivalled in its diversity of restaurants. Granted, some of Austin’s best restaurants will be found way outside of the downtown core — but if you want to be a stone’s throw away from a bunch of good chow, downtown is the place to be.

Best neighborhoods for Austinites who hate cooking

  1. Downtown (by a long shot)
  2. West University
  3. Bouldin Creek
  4. University of Texas
  5. East Cesar Chavez

A closer look at downtown Austin’s food scene

Obviously, we’re just measuring access to a diversity of restaurants here. If you live next to your favorite taco shop, you probably don’t care about diversity… you’re already set! But if you’re a foodie outside of downtown with an adventurous palette, better hop on that bicycle (or car).

Watering holes

Most Austinites like to party. And from our data, it looks like most of that partying happens downtown downtown downtown.

Now we’re not saying that the suburbs doesn’t have great bars (or house parties) but odds are if you want to experience Austin’s nightlife, you’re best off getting near the center. Unlike Austin’s restaurant scene (which is strongest in downtown, but also pretty good around UT and some select suburban strips), there are fewer Austin neighborhoods with a high concentration of bars and nightclubs. Then again… Local Logic can only crunch numbers for officially listed bars and nightclubs. (Maybe there are tons of illicit Great Gatsby-style parties going on in those West Oak Hill mansions? We won’t tell if you don’t…)

Thankfully, downtown is amazingly accessible by foot, bike, and transit (as we showed in last week’s post) so there’s no excuse to drink and drive. But these are obviously just high-level observations!

How grocery-, restaurant-, and nightlife-friendly is your home? What about your friend’s place? Look it up on to find out

Topics: US South, All Cities, US

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