God Bless Texas: Austin
After a month of non-stop travel, I am finally able to write about my trips over the past few weeks. Whew! Starting with my weekend in Austin, Texas with my great friend and fellow travel foodie/writer Bridget Stangland. Do yourself a favor and follow her mouth-watering instagram account, Sips & Snacks chronicling food & drinks in San Francisco & beyond.
Austin is a city many friends and family members have disclosed as boisterous and without a doubt the most fun to visit any time of year. Our pre plans consisted mainly of binge drinking, eating BBQ & dancing until we absolutely had to purchase a pizza. Bridget and I were able to meet at the Austin airport (landing at 11pm!) and immediately sought out the boozy streets of downtown to see what the nightlife in Austin had to offer. Spoiler alert: it was vodka shots that tasted like gasoline. Miraculous, I know.
You realize you really have a passion for something when you cannot seem to flush away that happy tingle of the airplane gradually lifting into the air and taking off somewhere new. I've done this 9 times in the last 3 weeks and could do it every weekend until the end of the year. When myself and Bridget landed in Austin, the airport terminal was small and it was easy to access a taxi. Fore warning, Uber is non existent in Austin, so make sure to download the ever so helpful app Fasten before landing as it emulates every task that Uber will offer.
So we made some friends and who supplied many drinks. Bridget and I opted to not book a hotel in advance as we were arriving incredibly late. I recommend using the app Hotel Tonight for last minute hotel rooms and extreme deals! The Hyatt in downtown Austin was a great last minute choice and extremely close to 6th street and lots of local restaurants. The bags were quickly dropped in the room and we briskly headed to East 6th street.
For those of you who are approaching their mid 20's like myself, you'll find yourself in this exact situation where you head to an appropriately deemed "college" area of town and really say to yourself "wow, I am too old for this shit." Enter East 6th Street.
If you do venture to East 6th Street, The Blind Pig was a great choice for rooftop drinks and college boys aggressively asking you what your major is, even as a 24 year old (high praise). Other options? Jackalope, Iron Cactus, Pete's Dueling Piano Bar, & Midnight Cowboy.
Normally this would be a photo snapped candidly of myself while driving in Bay Area traffic, but a few shots in Austin will do the trick. After much (little) deliberation our rag tag team headed to Rainey Street, which I would recommend more for post graduate, mid to late 20's goers. With all the debauchery of dirty 6th street nestled into a classy string of spacious & enjoyable bars, Rainey was much more enjoyable.
I recommend visiting the Bungalow for late night drinks, the lovely sign displayed above, and some corn hole. Can I also say that the art of corn hole is not appreciated nearly as much in California?
The Container Bar is pretty literal to it's name, as the second story is entirely made of containers which we found entertaining, The Blackheart was a more mellow atmosphere with some great live music, & Bar 96 for similar vibes to Bungalow, but more of a sports bar atmosphere.
One advantage I find with living in California is our time change is always a few hours backward, so when going out on a Friday night I am alert. The drawback? Waking up. Travel hack: set an alarm when you are in the airport or on the plane for the next day. It's an easy way to ensure you are ready for the next day of exploring with no time wasted! As for me, I set 3 alarms minimum because I sleep like I've been injected with a horse tranquilizer.
Luckily we only slept until 9am, which is a miracle. After slowly getting ready and packing up our stuff for our next hotel (woof), we were off to explore Austin.
Are you really in Austin if you don't start your day with tacos? With several friends who have visited, explored and lived in Austin, Bridget and I had a fair share of ground to cover to accomplish everything on our eating bucket list. We opted for Taco Deli, with several locations around the Austin area including food trucks. We made it just in time as there was a torrential downpour as we sat to eat our tacos. Other tex mex options? Juan in a Million (name is the personal best), Paco's Tacos, or Veracruz Taco Truck.
The iconic "I love you so much" sign was next. The easiest way to get here is to pull up your Fasten app and type in Jo's Hot Coffee. The sign is located on the wall and you'll feel really not-tourist-like asking your driver "can you take us to the i love you so much sign" boom. The more you know.
Across the street, if you're craving some healthy food post tex mex, BBQ, any product that has grease in the description, there is a CHEAP juice shop called Juice Austin. I'm serious, $5 juice. That would get you half a shot of wheat grass in the bay area and you'll probably throw it up afterwards. Additionally, there is a cute patio area to sit outside and think about how healthy asf you are.
If you are following my route to a T, this is a pretty good jumping off point to explore a good amount of south congress. If you continue walking up the street, you'll find two fantastic aspects of Austin: drinking and shopping. There are some really amazing outdoor places to grab some apps/drinks: Perlas, South Congress Cafe & Hopdoddy Burger Bar are just a couple to chose from.
We opted for some fancier, frothier drinks at Hotel San Jose. If I had a money tree, I would have certainly stayed at this quaint boutique hotel in the heart of South Congress. Order the frose, as displayed in these photos. The outdoor area was gorgeous, quiet and gave Bridget and I the opportunity to laugh until we cried.
Mantra: You cannot get a hangover if you stop drinking. So after challenging ourselves to finish our frose, we continued our journey with some boutique shopping, just about .2 miles up the street. There are so many great places to chose from, but I definitely recommend stopping into Maya Star and charging your credit card aggressive amounts. Other unique clothing options are Blackmail or Alien Boots for some signature Texas cowboy boots.
If you have room in your suitcase, make sure to check out one of the many vintage/antique shops in the area, as I wanted to purchase a new travel case for items found at Uncommon Objects.
You will see from a great amount of my travels that I love seeking out street art or murals. For picture purposes? Sure. Because I'm an artist? Hell no. I really love to see things that I couldn't create myself. I have zero artistic ability, but find diamond in the rough murals to be so beautiful, especially if they are challenging to get to.
I can't take full credit for finding this, as this comes from a recommendation from fellow traveler and friend Liz King. If anything SHE is the best at finding these things. And she's creative. They go hand in hand. To find the "Welcome to Austin" mural, type in Roadhouse Relics into your GPS or simply walk from South Congress, it was about .8 miles and a great opportunity to walk through some neighborhoods.
Although we just snapped photos, South First street is another great place to check out food trucks and coffee shops.
Now, to address something incredibly important. Maybe even the most pinnacle part of your trip to Texas: the Barbecue. An iconic staple when visiting the Lone Star State you will run into so many recommendations and options for picking the best BBQ joint.
Do you like waiting in lines? Franklins or Saltlick is for you. For the impatient soul like myself? Terry Blacks (where we went), Blacks, or Stiles Switch. You walk in, grab some delicious sides including mac n cheese, coleslaw, & cornbread, & they will slice off pieces of meat for you. Hello, this is heaven.
After slipping into a steep meat & alcohol coma, it was time for a long nap before getting ready for the evening and gearing up for a late night dinner.
For pre dinner drinks, I recommend visiting the JW Marriot for a classy affair as well as the Four Seasons lobby to drink some dirty martinis and talk about your 401K.
Dinner was spent at La Condesa, which on a warm day I recommend eating upstairs outdoors. The setting is naturally electric and the upscale Mexican selection is something you'll be talking about for weeks. Not to mention the fun staff (our waitress did a tequila shot with us) and great bar selection. The spicy margarita was a favorite of mine!
After dinner, Rainey street was on the agenda once again with dancing, late night slices of pizza, and impromptu bike rides back to our hotel.
The next morning, we packed our bags and headed to a fancier brunch spot on the outskirts of town. This place is well worth the Fasten ride for the food alone. Also, did I start a trend? Are you downloading Fasten? It just sounds weird to say..
Launderette symbolizes a lot of the fresh style the Austin restaurant scene inhibits, including a "homey" appearance from the front as if you are going to dine in someone's home. Which we considering doing as we scanned the affordable housing and apartment options in the area. Also, I'm pretty sure this restaurant officially put wallpaper back on the map again because I'm officially wanting it in my future house. No longer feeling scarred from the Hawaiian print one I had in my childhood bedroom. I loved the seafood breakfast paella here as well as the blueberry pancake stack that I could only justify 2 bites of. And just get the french fries. Don't fight it. Just do it.
Although the rest of the day came with severe weather, horrifically delayed flights and a familiarity with the Austin airport I didn't want or need, this trip was a fantastic piece of the crazy Austin, Texas. I cannot wait for my next visit!