Hello friends! I’m back (and exhausted) after a wonderful Austin getaway. Thank you so much to those of you that emailed me with your recommendations. I had a blast!
I absolutely loved Austin. LOVED it. I can confidently say that it is my second favorite city in the United States (with the first being San Francisco, of course). I’m fortunate that I’ve been able to travel a fair amount in my life, and while there are so many places I love visiting, there are very few that I could actually see myself living in. This was not the case with Austin, not at all. Multiple times throughout the weekend my friends and I would look at each other and exclaim “let’s move here!” It really is that great of a city. After looking up real estate prices (just for fun), Kevin even said to me “if we moved here, you could stop working, we could buy a house, and we’d STILL be saving more money!” Which I have to admit is a rather compelling thought (damn you expensive bay area cost of living!) (but I love SF and have no plans of moving).
The weather was glorious, the food was great, the drinks were cold, and the people were awesome. All of them. Seriously. They were all so friendly and good looking it was almost obnoxious.
I also have a new obsession with cowboy boots. I don’t understand how it took me this long to realize just how amazing they are. They look good with dresses. They look good with jeans. They are comfortable and make your legs look skinny. You can dress them up and you can dress them down. I want to wear them every single day. What’s the rule on that? Do I have to be from the south for that to be acceptable? Because I totally want to start rocking cowboy boots. I can pull it off, right? Tell me I’m right.
As usual, most of our time was focused around eating and drinking, and Austin did not disappoint. If ever there was a city to embrace loungey day drinking and stuffing your face, it’s Austin. We stayed in the Travis Heights neighborhood near South Congress (which I quickly learned is not referred to as SoCo by anyone other than tourists. It’s basically like calling San Francisco “Frisco”), and we loved it. Artsy, funky, great food, lots of bars. So perfect.
For those interested, here’s a breakdown of where we ate and drank and whatnot:
Rainey Street Bars – This was, hands down, our favorite set of drinking establishments in Austin. To be honest, it’s probably my favorite street of drinking establishments anywhere. It’s a regular street consisting of houses that have been turned into bars, and it reminded me of party hopping from house to house in college. I am somewhat embarrassed to admit this, but we went to this street three separate times in the four days we were there. THREE! The bars were just that great, and they all had huge patios and great food and live music and it’s just awesome.
The Rainey bars we went to were: Black Heart, Lucille, Clive, Lustre Pearl, and Icenhauer. My personal favorite was Black Heart (dancing! country music!) but the guys were all particularly fond of Lucille’s (which incidentally was the most girly of the bars. Just sayin).
The Broken Spoke – We ended up here on our first night and it couldn’t have been a better way to start off our Texas trip. It was no joke. Serious Texas dancing. People were into it, and if you weren’t, you best get off the dance floor. And apparently it’s not called line dancing, it’s called the two-step. Tell a Texan you want to go Country line dancing and they will make fun of you. I learned this the hard way.
Hotel San Jose – Super cute and trendy boutique hotel right on South Congress. The guys ran into Michael Franti there (I was jealous I missed it).
Jo’s – Right next to Hotel San Jose. A coffee shop that also serves beer and has live music and is cheap. Wins all around!
The Driskill Hotel – This is exactly the kind of hotel and bar I envision when I think of old-world classic Texas. The hotel is rumored to be haunted. The bar is dark and ornate and there are lots of dead animals on the walls. Worth a visit, but when it’s a beautiful day outside the last thing I want to do is sit in a dark bar, so this wasn’t my favorite.
Rattle Inn – Awesome rooftop deck, good drinks.
Star Bar – They have giant life-size jenga!
The White Horse – I did not enjoy. Smelled like vomit. Don’t know why we went here. Not my style.
Home Slice Pizza – The pizza lives up to the hype. So good.
Magnolia Cafe – I’m still dreaming of the bacon buttermilk pancakes I ate. Enough said.
Ranch 616 – Fun atmosphere for a bunch of drunk girls, thus perfect for a bachelorette, but the food was nothing spectacular.
Iron Cactus – Tex Mex. Food was just whatever in my opinion, but the ambiance was great. If you’re looking for great Tex Mex though, I’m sure you can find better.
Easy Tiger – Beer garden/German bakery. Lots of meat and beer.
Salt Lick BBQ – Every single person I talked to said “go to Saltlick!” So we did. It’s about a half hour away in Driftwood, and worth the drive. The property is stunning and it’s exactly what you imagine when you think of Texas BBQ. However… and what I’m about to say might be considered sacrilege by some…. I didn’t think the BBQ was that mind-blowing. Was it good? Most definitely. Is it worth going to? Yes. Was it the best BBQ I’ve ever had? No.
Austin Food Trucks – There are food trucks everywhere. Next to bars. Across from bars. Inside bars. They are all over the place. And in my experience all of them are good. My favorite was the fried chicken and waffles truck.
Things to Do
Barton Springs Pool – Kevin and I spent our last day lounging in the sun and swimming in this gorgeous pool in Zilker Park. A fantastic end to our trip, and a must if you’re not staying at a place with a pool.
And… that’s pretty much all we did. As evident by the above, this was more of an eating, drinking, hanging out with our friends trip as opposed to a sightseeing trip. Although, I think Saltlick BBQ in Driftwood may actually count as a “Thing to Do” as it’s quite the experience.
Oh, and the Whole Foods is 80,000 square feet and basically like Disneyland for adults. We spent a solid two hours there (you know you’re getting old when a visit to Whole Foods elicits glee from all during a bachelor/bachelorette party). They have a million food stations and a walk-in beer cellar and a wine bar. Yes, an actual wine bar, inside of Whole Foods. And the wine was only $5 a glass. I cried tears of joy I was so excited.
Like I said, it was a GREAT trip, and I am completely enamored with Austin. After all, how can you not love a city whose motto is “Keep Austin Weird”?
P.S. Alas, I did not see Taylor Kitsch aka Tim Riggins, but I swear I could feel him there in spirit, whispering “Texas Forever” in my ear.