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Top 10 South Congress Signs

December 16, 2010

Austin, Texas is a great city. Austin is lively, youthful, diverse, naturally scenic, and relatively small. I’ve lived here for 18 years and I plan to have kids that grow up here. As I travel around town, I often find myself critiquing the design of road signs, billboards, storefront signage and business logos, local restaurant menus and interior design, church logos and marquees, and the list goes on.

This blog is dedicated to design in Austin – the good and the bad, the great and the terrible. Our first stop is South Congress – a historic, hippie, and ultra-local atmosphere with a dash of retro-modern design. I photographed every storefront sign between Riverside and Live Oak, and picked my top ten favorites out of around 100 photographed signs.

Click here for the honorable mentions. I’d love to read your comments at the bottom of the page!

10 | Fran’s Hamburgers

frans hamburgers on south congress in austin texas

Fran’s actual sign is pretty ugly and unoriginal, but I have to give it to the marketing department for coming up with the red-headed beauty up top. Santa, I’d like a Fran bobble-head for Christmas.

9 | Snack Bar

snackbar sign, south congress austin tx

This sign has a slight retro look, I like the colors, and the design is decent. The oval behind the text looks like something a global tech company would have in there logo. I’m not sure what it represents, but it looks pretty nice at night. Are the “K” and “B” a bit too close together?

8 | Amy’s Ice Cream


I’m not crazy about the color choice or the font for “ice creams”, but the overall the sign is great. I like how “amy’s” is hovering in front, and the retro shape is a nice addition to the south congress location. While I waited here for a small mexican vanilla ice cream, I had to hold myself back from jumping into the trailer through the small window. The A/C felt amazing while I was roasting just outside of this trailer paradise.

7 | Monkey See, Monkey Do!

monkey see monkey do sign, south congress austin texas

This is a clever sign for a store full of clever items. I love the name, and I love the monkey. Something else I want for Christmas – one of those monkeys that beat cymbals together. I wonder if they sell them here?

6 | Hotel San Jose

hotel san jose on south congress

This modern logo gets overtaken by the wall of vines in the summer, but funny enough, so does the entire hotel. This trendy urban getaway in the heart of South Congress makes it’s presence known with beautiful landscaping and modern design aesthetics. The logo is nice – not great – but it’s placement on the vine-covered wall makes it noteworthy South Congress signage.

5 | The Continental Club

the continental-club on south-congress in austin texas

The Continental Club boasts the reputation of being one of Austin’s premier music clubs since 1957. This sign is simple but classy. Two simple shapes and the contrast of sans-serif all-caps font with a retro-style script font gives it a timeless and classy look. Did you notice that the middle shape is a door? The doorknob is above the “B” in “CLUB”.

4 | Uncommon Objects

uncommon objects sign on congress street

This sign design’s contrast of modern with “weird” is what ranks it high on my list. It even seems like the windows of the building and lines of brick are part of this logo. Does anyone know why a man is riding an overgrown rabbit? Is he about to lasso another mutant bunny?

3 | Yard Dog

yard dog sign, south congress sign, texas

This funky sign is one of my favorites because the design is very cohesive. The fence is great, and the dots inside the letters make me think of a dog collar. I with the letter spacing of “YARD” and “DOG” was the same, though.

2 | Wet

wet store sign on soco

This logo would look great in print. I don’t have much to say about the sign because there’s not much to it, but it is a very nice logo.

1 | The Mighty Cone

the mighty cone in austin texas

This is my favorite. The Mighty Cone sign has a very retro look, in the typography and design of the cone graphic. I usually don’t like primary colors and gradients in logos, but all of these elements so logically fit together. I wonder what a mighty cone tastes like?

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  1. nice – I’ll take a bobble head Fran and monkey also for Christmas

    Comment by MWG Media Works — July 15, 2010 @ 3:25 PM

  2. My favorite is Amy’s Ice Cream sign. The contrast between the two words makes a bold effect on the whole sign. I also like the retro shape.

    Comment by Signage Design — January 26, 2011 @ 11:25 PM

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