Guess who’s back, back again! Three months away from the blog is a very long time—but I’m grateful that two friends and all of my family noticed. I’m also back from Austin, Texas, which just might be my new favorite city. Here’s my guide to Austin, but disclaimer: try and visit with your most favorite people who make it easy to have fun.
Where to Eat in Austin
Sure, everyone’s heard of Franklin Barbeque. I’ve never eaten it (yet) but if you want some meat and don’t want to line up at 9 a.m., head to La Barbeque in East Austin. They went from barbeque truck to an air-conditioned and high-end convenience store. You can also order a beer while you wait, so this just might be the best line you’ll ever wait in. Get the brisket, spicy sausage, pulled pork and plenty of potato salad.
My new version of a perfect summer night now consists of eating fiery Vietnamese food on a 90-degree night in Texas. The #millenialpink neon lights wooed me in, but things quickly got serious once the food arrived. Their menu’s split into appetizers, bánh mì, pho, bún and specialties that rotate out. Spring for something on the specialties section (or you’ll miss it) and be sure to pair it with a carafe of whatever cocktail you’re drinking to wash it down.
June’s – South Congress
If you know me at all, you know that I will always want to visit a BA best new restaurant of whatever year it is. June’s is a wine bar that feels like the love child between a diner and sexy French restaurant (with a lot less smoke). Grab a glass of wine or brunch while you’re in town—they have it all.
You apparently can’t travel to the American Southwest without eating a taco, so you might as well eat one at Guero’s. Your tacos come with a hefty side of Mexican restaurant kitsch, plus an unlimited salsa bar and strong margaritas.
What to See in Austin
When it’s over 100 degrees outside, there really is no excuse to skip out on a trip to Barton Springs. Just 15 minutes max from downtown is a natural spring full of living organisms (like the Barton Springs salamander) and very cool water. It’s free after 9 p.m. and only $8 if you’re not a local.
Have you ever listened to honky tonk funk? Nope, neither have I—until I hit up The Continental Club. If you have a couple of hours to spare on a weekday (or weekend) night in Austin, catch a show (it’ll probably be under $10) from a local band.
South Congress Bridge Bats
When’s the last time you saw 1.5 million bats fly right over you? If the answer is never, then block off at least one night just before sunset to plant yourself on the east side of the South Congress bridge to watch the bats take off at dusk. And I swear, it’s not like that one scene from The Office.
Shopping – South Congress & East 11th Street
Let’s be real, no vacation of mine is ever complete without a little bit of shopping. While in Austin, I fell in love with two main drags: South Congress and East 11th. South Congress is famously known for their small shops, but my favorite was Feathers Boutique, for their highly curated items ranging from DVF dresses and Gap skirts from the 90s. East 11th street also had some great hits like Charm School Vintage, Olive (for contemporary cool-girl clothing) and take heart (for tiny, minimalist wares).
I swear, I purposefully did not map us to this mural! Just take one stroll down 1st Street (on the south side of town) and walk north. You’ll hit up spots like the Austin postcard mural and attached art gallery, Gourdough’s doughnuts (could eat these everyday) and the aforementioned Elizabeth Street Café. According to insider info from a Lyft driver, 1st street is the place to be if you want to blend in with the locals.
Where to Drink in Austin
Great beer, air conditioning and a stained glass mural of Jesus are all to be found at Lazarus. If you’re in need of a craft beer break, a visit to East Austin is worth it.
I. Love. Sours. So I am a little bummed that I didn’t actually get to check out this brewery in person, but I am being held over by the single taster I had at a coffee shop. Head to Blue Owl for me, won’t you?
This hotel looked hip as hell, which of course means that they were serving the summer drink of the year: Frosé. The poor thing melted in less than 20 minutes (like me).
Other important things:
Where to Stay
If you’re looking to be where it’s at, stay somewhere near (or on) South Congress Avenue, whether it’s an Airbnb or at the Austin Motel. If you’re okay with being a little farther out from the hustle and bustle, a few nights in Zilker Park or Bouldin are fine too.
How to Get Around
Bus, bike, Lyft or Uber—Austin really has it all now. Renting a car might have its perks too since you’d be able to travel a little farther outside the city to find a no-wait barbeque joint.
When to Go
Skip a mid-August trip since we learned that it’s the hottest time of the year. Early fall and late spring are prime time.