Congrats on the new gig and welcome to Austin
I don't have much to add on schools other than Dieter's post is pretty much exactly what I found from research and talking to coworkers. Montiac's post is good too, but that area is pretty pricey per square foot.
I'm currently in SW Austin, and it's a good area for family-type stuff since it's more suburban than Central Austin. For your commute, it would be fantastic as long as you don't have to contend with The Y
. It may look innocuous, but it backs up on all 3 prongs during rush hour. Common avoidance techniques are Southwest Parkway to the north if you're off of 71, and 1826 if you're off of 290 (which can put you well out of your way). There's a pretty big spread in price ($200k-$400k for 1700 sq ft) in the SW area that we looked in when we bought in 2008. The names of the neighborhoods around there are Lantana, Circle C/Meridian, Travis Country/Travis Country West, Legend Oaks, Maple Run, Harris Ranch (not Harris Branch), Shady Hollow, and the area I think that's called Westgate (it's just south of 290 off of Westgate). I'm not sure how schools are, but people flooded the Circle C/Meridian area for that reason initially, so that is probably quite good. Anything in the 78704 area code (South Central) is generally overpriced to me. That said, as overpriced as I think it is, I'd say that it's reasonably safe to say that it will always be one of the hotter real estate areas of town. I'm pretty sure this zip includes what montiac mentioned.
To preemptively hit on what you had mentioned wanting to know about, there's a decent bit of food to choose from S/SW - oddly enough, for Mex/Tex-Mex you actually have to dig a bit. To me, Sazon (S. Lamar) and Habanero Mexican Cafe (S. 1st) are the ones to beat west of 35, but if you're down to go east past the gentrification, there's a cornucopia of awesome Mexican and Tex-Mex. Breakfast tacos are ubiquitous and no 2 are the same, so get ready for stinkers occasionally. BBQ is having a resurgence - the lines at Franklin (Eastside) are out of control, but even on an off day it is really good and out of this world when it's on. J Mueller (S. 1st) is probably about to start having its lines pile up, and I'd say trades blows with Franklin meat-for-meat. Pizza has had a resurgence that's hit-or-miss, but Homeslice (S. Congress) is consistently quite good. Red's Porch (S. Lamar) has excellent views from the upstairs balcony, occasionally a spectacular burger, great beer selection, and is a good take on the trendy "Upscale Bar Food" thing without the implied attitude. This is the tip of the iceberg - trailers are everywhere, and there are tons of good ones. Torchy's (S. 1st) is extremely popular (I like them, but recognize that they're really just OK) but Izzoz Tacos (S. 1st) is just all-around better. The food "scene" is big and getting better, so I'll just stop before I tldr this any more.
Music venues vary drastically depending on the band and sound engineer. I've loved and hated shows at just about every venue in town, but it seems that Stubb's outdoor stage is the hardest to get right. It's also pretty big, so depending on where you are it can either sound fantastic or terrible. La Zona Rosa (Downtown) is supposed to be going away, but that's been generally good for sound. The new Austin Music Hall (Downtown) gets knocked a lot, but the shows I've seen there have generally sounded the very good. Beyond that (beer prices, etc.) I don't really know. Personally, I prefer the smaller venues that don't get too packed, so depending on what you like to see, that will heavily influence your opinion. We generally don't get big acts, but occasionally one comes through. Austin City Limits Festival (Zilker Park) is generally a lot of fun, and since it's in October now the temperatures are a little more tolerable. Plenty of big acts and small acts, great food for a festival, reasonably sane beer prices, and overall kid friendly. That said, depending on where you end up in the crowd, you can either love it or end up wanting to tell everyone around you to shut it! SXSW is its own ball of rubber bands, and you have a year to prepare for next year.
Speaking of beer, we have a disproportionately large craft brewing scene. Every month or 2, we have another brewpub/brewery opening up and they range from decent to spectacular. I'm not an expert by any means, but for me Live Oak (Eastside) absolutely nails traditional German/Czech style brews, while Jester King (SW Hill Country) is pushing out some fairly crazy beer that ranges from interesting to insanely good. Both do tours/open houses. Shiner's near by, but no one takes them seriously any more - Real Ale (Fireman's #4) and Independence (Amber) are the go-to session beers. In the SW, there's Fion Wine Pub (Bee Cave) that has a great beer selection, along with wine.