If you’ve ever been to the Silicon Valley, or lived there, you know Il Fornaio restaurant in Palo Alto. It’s the spot where all the valley venture guys, startup CEOs, and power brokers went for lunch back in the 90’s. Come to Il Fornaio in the morning with a backpack full of copies of your pitch, and by the end of the day you’ll have a term sheet (okay, maybe this is a slight exaggeration). I’m sure it’s still a hot spot today, but it used to be legendary. Coffee and lunch spots are so important, that I’ve heard some of the Boston-area VC’s started moving their offices to a different area of Boston because there were more coffee shops.
So where are the hot spots in Austin? Please add your own in the comments.
Starbucks Westlake – If you look passed all the women who are fresh from their rounds of morning tennis, you will find tons of tech folks here, since it’s close to where many people live. It’s a great spot to meet and get some business done while waiting for traffic to lighten up. I’ve seen folks like Jimmy Treybig and Dave Sikora here.
Le Madeline Westlake – If you want a full breakfast, not just coffee, this is the place to go. Back in the late 90’s I could tell exactly what was going on around town by looking to see who was meeting with whom.
Cafe Uno 360 – This is by far the most happening spot around town these days. Each time I go in for coffee I see at least one tech power broker here. It used to be a secret spot where you could go and have a quiet conversation, but now it’s too popular. Hint: Sit at the tables in the restaurant, and order your coffee and croissant from the server rather than at the counter. The tables are much more spacious. Free WiFi too!
Joe’s 2nd Street - Since it’s just a short walk from anywhere downtown, this relatively new little spot in the 2nd Street district is pretty popular. If the weather is super nice, you can even sit outside.
Mozarts – Free, solid WiFi and a lake view make this a popular spot. The angels and VC’s that live in Tarrytown prefer Mozarts over most places.
Jo’s – More free and good Wifi, but probably more popular with the techies. Sometimes it’s hard to talk when the city is ripping up South Congress during your morning coffee. Beware the occasional dog fight, as the “04” crowd loves to bring their dogs here.
The Belmont – This is also known as the Austin Ventures cafeteria. Maybe because it’s right across the street, and the food is good. Eat here every day and you’ll be 50 pounds heavier and definitely lighter in the wallet.
Walton’s Staple and Fancy – Since it’s just a small walk from The Belmont, this is like the second choice for AV people. Great food too, and owned by up and coming West Sixth Street real estate mogul Sandy B.
Ranch 616 – Also known as the Silverton Partners cafeteria, I saw the Austin police chief eating there today. Excellent food as well.
Little City – Don’t want anybody to see who you are meeting? Try this place. It’s hip and cool, and I guarantee you won’t be spotted.
Austin Java on Lamar – Pretty good breakfast food, and not a tech hangout. You can meet recruits there without worry. The soda fountain ensures that you’re $1.69 soda will refill till you get that total Mountain Dew buzz.