I spent a fair amount of time in the Lonestar State growing up, but Austin was never somewhere I was able to explore. Zach and I both had it on our radar as one of our top US cities to visit, so we packed our bags and headed south for Memorial Day weekend. The city was full of great food and drink, live music and saturated with southern culture. We fell in love, and I am confident this wasn't our last time in this lively city!
W H E R E T O E A T .
1. Veracruz Tacos
If you are looking for some breakfast tacos and are willing to wait up to an hour, head on over to Veracruz. These were some of the best tacos I've ever had, no joke and so worth the wait! Order at least two to three tacos (depending on how hungry you are) and make sure at least one of them is a Megas taco! Try all their sauces and order your choice of fresca! The strawberry fresca was BOMB.
Austin is chopped full of food trucks. You can find pretty much any genre of food being served, and breakfast is no exception. Paperboy had a great outdoor seating area and had a small menu which ranged from potato hash to french toast. We enjoyed our flavorful breakfasts as we read from the local newspaper. To our surprise, we stumbled across an article about the Texas heat featuring a photo of Zach and I from the day before! You know you're vacationing right when you are featured in their newspaper!
We wanted to try Forthright for breakfast, but arrived as they were switching to their lunch menu. We ordered a hand-crafted latte and gourmet sandwiches that didn't disappoint! The ingredients were fresh and the latte was amazing! They had a super cute interior as well as an outdoor seating area right in the heart of downtown Austin.
People, you have not had a taco; you have not had guacamole; until you have been to Torchy's. I was super hesitant when I found out that it is one of Austin's chain restaurants, but Torchy's blew me away. They have multiple locations throughout the city, but I would recommend visiting the South Congress location. We tried both their lunch and breakfast menus, and liked the lunch tacos the best. 100%, 10/10 recommend this little devil.
3. Salt Lick
What's a trip to Texas if you don't have some salty southern BBQ? We had a list of 4-5 different BBQ places we wanted to try, but quickly found out most were impossible to get in - unless you have 3 hours to wait in line. We didn't want to waste the time we had there in a line, so we decided on Salt Lick. Their reviews didn't have as many intimidating wait times listed, so we headed 25 minutes out of the city for some country cookin'. The location was huge, and the meat was even bigger. Go with an empty stomach and get ready to eat your body weight in BBQ. YUM YUM YUM!
*If you miss making the trek out to the grounds, there is a smaller, less tasty version of Salt Lick in the airport.
We had Tex Mex on our minds for our first dinner in the city. Takoba was just down the street from our Airbnb in East Austin, making it the perfect spot. Their tacos and margaritas were super tasty and it was close to a ton of other bars and shops.
2. Emmer and Rye
For our last dinner, we met up with our friends/cousins at Emmer and Rye. This was by far the most expensive meal we had during our stay, and the plates were small - but the food was good and the drinks were even better. I would recommend getting the brisket! It was by far the best plate at the table.
3. Food trucks
When you're out on Rainey Street, make sure to hit up the food truck row for a wide selection of late night foods. We ordered some chicken from Ms P's Electric Cock, which was one of the best decisions we made all trip. Spicy, crispy goodness!
W H E R E T O D R I N K .
1. Hotel San Jose
One word: FROZÉ. When you're walking around on a hot day in South Congress, stop by the South Congress Hotel for a cold, frozen drink. I had never had a frozé before, and it was one of the best things I had ever tried! I'll be trying to make this at home this summer!
2. Parlor Room
Another fun find on Rainey Street. The Parlor Room bar has live music, bar games and arcade games. So fun with your better half or a group of friends! Play the hook game in the back! I hooked it on my 5th try. ;)
*visit the Parlor Room in the day light to snap a pic with their huge DRINK UP sign!
3. Iron Cactus
If you are wanting the best margarita in the city, look no further than the Iron Cactus. Expect to wait if you don't have a reservation, but seating is open in the bar. Order the table side guac as an appetizer!
1. Jo's Coffee
Located in South Congress, Jo's Coffee is the most popular walk-up coffee spot in the city. The "I love you so much" mural is on its side and there is plenty of outdoor seating. Order the Turbo on a hot day!
There are a couple Houndstooth locations sprinkled throughout Austin. We visited the one downtown, located pretty close to 6th street. This location had a cute interior, friendly baristas and tasty lattes!
3. Flat Track
After our Veracruz taco breakfast, we walked down the street to get some iced coffees from Flat Track. This coffee shop is half bike repair shop, half coffee shop and the branding is so good! Zach has a motorcycle of his own, so you can only imagine how much he loved this place!
1. Zilker brewing
After our Tex Mex from Takoba, we wandered down to Zilker brewery. It is located in an industrial building with outdoor and indoor seating. There are a ton of food trucks around this spot if you are looking to grab dinner and bring it to the brewery!
2. Austin Beerworks
This was the coolest brewery I had ever been to in my life. If the giant "BEERWORKS" sign out front wasn't enough, the branding on their glasses, indoor lighting and huge brew kettle in the back all matched the blue, yellow and red theme. It was packed, but there was plenty of seating inside and out. It's a bit of a drive, but totally worth it!
Rainey street is probably my favorite spot in Austin, and for good reason. There are so many places with plenty of outdoor seating, live music and good food and drink. Bangers was somewhere we originally wanted to go for sausage, but when we stumbled across it after dinner we just had to stop in for live music and a beer. They have one of the largest beer selections in Austin and didn't disappoint.
4. Austin Eastciders
We didn't make it to the cider house, but picking up a can of our own was the next best thing. We just had to see the iconic Austin Eastciders cans and labels first hand!
W H A T T O D O .
1. Rowing Dock
Another dribbble-worthy brand, Rowing Dock was the perfect spot to cool down on a hot summer day. We rented a double kayak and kayaked toward downtown Austin. We made it all the way to the bat bridge, and were met by some of the most amazing views of the city. There were tons of other kayakers and stand up paddle boarders and renting was super affordable. This is an Austin city must!
2. Barton Springs
After you're done rowing or SUP'ing, walk on over to Barton Springs to cool down some more. The park is huge and so beautiful. I honestly had no idea there was so much green and water in the city! On your walk over you'll most likely see giant kites being flown. Once you arrive you will walk through a kids park and arrive at a paid pool area. There is also free spots to swim down the river if you do not want to enter the pool. Bring a towel and jump in!
Stumble upon city murals
1. Postcard Mural
6th street, downtown
2. I love you so much
Jo's Coffee, South Congress
3. This is Not A Test (Looks like the giphy screen)
Bird's Barbershop, South Congress
4. Willie For President
STAG, South Congress (go in the store and pick something out for your man!
5. Shop Small Aliens
Across from Takoba, East Austin
6. Love from Austin,
Down the street from Torchy's, South Congress
And so many more! Try to find as many as you can!
You have to do dirty 6th, just to say you did it! Walk the street and find yourself in a random bar, meeting locals and talking about what to do around the city. Make sure one of your stops includes the rooftop of the Blind Pig to listen to some live music! If you are looking for a more low-key night on 6th, see a movie at the Alamo Drifthouse where you can order dinner or drinks and watch whatever crazy previews the staff has selected for the night! It is definitely an experience!
I've already mentioned it, but Rainey Street is seriously the best spot for good food, drinks, and a good time. It is more clean than 6th, and the bars aren't as crazy. On our last night in Austin we went out to Rainey for dinner at Emmer and Rye, corn hole at Lucille's, and a little dancing at the Container bar. Make a night of it and check out all the amazing spots!
South Congress - Walk and shop
One of my favorite things about Austin was all the succulents and cacti that lined the streets. Everywhere I went I stumbled upon some of my favorite plants. I was stopping every five minutes to take photos as we walked from store to store in South Congress. On top of the food, murals, succulents and coffee shops; South Congress has some of the best boutiques. You will be sure to find clothing, a keepsake or plant to take home with you!
Day trip to San Antonio
Located about an hour and a half south of Austin, is the city of San Antonio. It is full of U.S. history, beauty and emotion. I hadn't visited since I was twelve and Zach had never been; so I was excited to show him what I had explored so long ago. On our way out of town, we stopped at Salt Lick for lunch and were on our way. It made a nice little getaway from the city for a bit and we were back by dinner.
1. The Alamo
Visiting the Alamo on Memorial Day weekend was both emotional and unforgettable. Men and women in military outfits lined the streets with their families, which made the story of the Alamo come to life. Taking the time to drive to San Antonio to see this bit of history was worth it in itself. It was better than I remembered!
2. The Riverwalk
Located just across the street from the Alamo, down a couple sets of stairs, is the Riverwalk. Restaurants, shops and the iconic colored umbrellas line the river as hundreds of tourist walk around. For how hot and dry San Antonio is, it is amazing to see this river running through the middle of the city! Take a guided tour or eat dinner on one of the boats as they take you down the river!
Hikes are a lot different in Texas than they are in the PNW. "Hiking" Mount Bonnel was more like walking up a few flights of stairs and looking out over the city. I would recommend seeing the views of downtown Austin and then heading over to Austin Beerworks after you are done! Walking around at the top only takes about 20 minutes.
W H E R E T O S T A Y.
Hotel San Jose
Home of the Frozé in South Congress. Hotel San Jose is a boutique hotel that I plan on staying in at least once in my life. It is on the pricey side, but you're paying for what you get!
We absolutely loved our Airbnb in East Austin. It is located in an up and coming area with plenty of shops nearby to walk to, and just a few minutes cab ride from downtown. We loved how modern Michael's place was and how nice the amenities were. He had a Tuft and Needle mattress in the upper loft and soft Amazon basics sheets! There is also a upper patio for you to enjoy some sun! You can rent the upper loft upstairs, or rent the entire house with the pool for your stay. Rent his amazing house here!
We did so much on this trip but had so much more we didn't get to do! We can't wait to go back and experience more of the city's culture! What are some of your favorite things to do in Austin?