[Travel Advice] Austin, Texas

Random Observation/Comment #535: Everything is bigger in Texas. Hook ’em!

austin

I love long weekend trips and this one to Austin was exceptionally excellent and well-balanced. The wife and I flew out Thursday night and back Sunday night through one of those awesome JetBlue winter wanderland deals, and just had a wonderful time. Austin is one of those super kind cities with a lot growing and happening for a very affordable price.

Things Austin does well

  • Courtesy – Everyone is so nice and welcoming. If we had more time, I think we could have met a random stranger one night and been invited over for Thanksgiving dinner the next.
  • Random conversations – There’s a level of caution and cynicism in most cities that doesn’t exist in Austin. When getting a beer, I wound up joining a random crew and getting asked to attend a basketball game.
  • Watering holes – There’s no shortage of bars and good times in downtown and east Austin. I felt very certain I could get a great local brew at a moment’s notice.
  • Great local beers – If you’re a beer fan, I highly recommend Austin local brews. The real ale and IPAs were all so different, yet on point.
  • Food – I’m still drooling and completely stuffed. Not only is the BBQ orgasmic, but so are the food truck selections and taco stands. Breakfast tacos and Migas will always have my vote.
  • Music (so I hear – pun intended) – we heard a few bands, but we didn’t get a chance to explore east 6th St at night. I think a bar crawl would have really been fun (if we had the energy to do it).
  • Transportation – Driving is pretty easy and the city is pretty small. I think you can drive 5-10 minutes to everywhere without too many problems. 5 min outside of town also has 85 mph speed limits…. So that’s a thing.
  • Biking friendly – Austin is very bikeable to most places of interest. I’m not sure how the bike parking works, but I’m sure they have something in place for it.

Things Austin can improve

  • Drivers – I think they’re all very nice, but they really can’t drive. Or maybe it’s just me. I think people just keep the rage within (or taxis/ubers are less aggressive).
  • Poorly lit side streets at night – all main roads are fine, but one block out and you’re pretty much in the dark. I don’t think it’s dangerous where you’d get robbed or mugged, but it’s something we noticed.
  • Scalability – There are some “Austin city limits” I find come from infrastructure that wasn’t built to support more than a college town. I think if Austin keeps growing, traffic and parking will definitely get worse and worse.
  • Parking – The popular areas to visit get flooded with cars. It’s probably nowhere as bad as NYC parking, but you’ll definitely have spillage into residential areas. Watch out for tricky signs that protect residential parking spots.
  • Segregated communities – While Austin is diverse for Texas, it’s not a mecca melting pot and especially not for real estate considerations. As gentrification continues in the market, minorities are pushed further into the outskirts from overpriced growth.
  • Large bugs (flying roaches) – The place we stayed had a huge roach (that we later heard could fly) and it didn’t happen again, but I think this goes with the “Everything is bigger in Texas” saying.

Our 52 hours

(flew in Thurs night)
Fri – Random adventures and acclamation

  • Tamale House breakfast tacos – Migas and Mexican coffee (with horchata) changed my life
  • UT campus tour – hook ’em horns
  • Quick drive around major areas of development from James
  • Picked up a car rental
  • Torchy’s tacos more tex-mex deliciousness – a must visit. Get the queso and splurge on the tacos

queso

  • Roadhouse Relics Random cool artwork that we can’t afford (it’s just a 10 min stop)

roadhouse relics

  • Texas Capitol tour – a touch of history and sassy tour guides (30 min guide)

republic of texas

  • Graffiti wall obligatory photos – bring a can of paint for some legal graf (30 min)

graf wall

  • Great BBQ at Stiles Switch (without the line)
  • A few episodes of Nathan For You to fight off the food coma
  • Drinks at The Side Bar – great beer and awesome people

Sat – search for bbq in Lockhart 

  • Breakfast donut at Gourdoughs
  • Drive to Lockhart (40 min or so)
  • Huge $30 bbq lunch at Kreuz Market
  • Found a random arcade with $6 per person with all you can free play (Yay street fighter 2 and barely functioning driving games)
  • Drive back to Austin for Amy’s Ice Cream on 6th Street (because we weren’t fat enough)
  • Walk around Waterloo records (since it was nearby)
  • Quick nap
  • Alamo Drafthouse to watch Mockingjay part 2 and eat delicious Mac and cheese with queso and bottomless popcorn. Great IPA selection. (it’s like nitehawk, but with reserved seating, bigger theater, and less niche movies)

Sun – keeping it local and last minute shopping

  • Brunch at Counter Cafe – excellent hollandaise sauce from the eggs benedict and delicious biscuits and gravy.
  • Mandatory visit to HEB to search for horchata mix and yellowbird hot sauce
  • Coffee at Figure 8 – cute local coffee shop with a lot of laptops and studying (and great coffee). Say hello to James.
  • Shopping by South Congress near stag and cowboy boots. Also check out uncommon objects for random overpriced Hipster stuff
  • Last minute taco before the flight
  • Sky pivo

Some other highly recommended eats (we didn’t have time to visit)

  • Juan in a million – Juan won the lottery and now makes awesome breakfast tacos
  • Lamberts bbq – I heard the sides are amazing, but the portions are smaller. Still great eating
  • Franklin bbq – the line is pretty long and things sell out by 4pm, but probably for good reason. I think driving out to Lockhart gave us a similar experience with a road trip and without the wait
  • Valentinas tex mex bbq near star bar – apparently taco heaven

There was also a huge push for us to find the music scene, but I don’t think we had enough time to really dive into it. Austin definitely deserves a second trip and many more yelp reviews.

Overall, Austin is a beautiful place that made us fall in love with it, but at the same time appreciate Brooklyn much more. It felt like the Brooklyn of Texas without the subway and much less expensive real estate. The pale blue dot in the sea of red welcomed us with open arms, and we can’t wait to see what summer is like when we come back to feel the heat and partake in some outdoor adventures.

~See Lemons Love Austin

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