Out-of-Town Visitors’ Austin Recommendations: Part 2
Our wedding guests sent in some great recommendations for me to pass on to other visitors to Austin. Here’s part two of the series.
From an out of towner/former local, my favorites:
- Yummy brunch at Olivia– especially their fried chicken
- Getting Upper Crust cinnamon rolls and coffee at Flipnotics on the way to Barton Springs
- Green chile queso from Torchy’s
- Pimento cheese sandwich and Tom’s Fudge from Wheatsville Co-op
- Ice cream at Lick
When time is tight, it’s never too late (or early) to get your Texas fix– 9 a.m. Salt Lick BBQ breakfast tacos and Amy’s ice cream at the Austin airport Monday morning certainly did the trick! We even took some Salt Lick BBQ sauce back to China with us.
- Laguna Gloria was a fine place to take a walk
- Eastside Café on Manor was probably the best meal we had in Austin–well almost–the BBQ on Friday night was really special
- Blue Dahlia on 11th St. makes a wonderful breakfast, excellent open-faced sandwiches and a lovely cup of Café au Lait
- Loved the soups and udon at Whole Foods
- The bar at the Driskill Hotel has great ambiance
- Callahan’s General Store was fun
- We did the capitol tour and loved it, particularly the fact that all the materials in its building are from the area
We loved Barton Springs and had really great brunch at Moonshine.
Marni and Mel Cappe:
Allen's, Blacks, blue dahlia, curra's, eastside cafe, flipnotics, food truck, franklin barbecue, Laguna Gloria, lick, moonshine, olivia, torchy's, Wheatsville, Whole Foods
Curra’s: Mel and I ate there on our last evening in Austin, seeking our final tex-mex fix before heading back to Canada. The waiter, who sensed that we were overwhelmed by choice, recommended first of all that we take our time studying the menu in order not to make a hasty decision. This, in turn, gave him time to prepare a sampler plate of sauces for us (mole, creamy chipotle, hot chipotle, avocado etc etc). By the time we finished sampling (made easier by the big bowl of tortilla chips and oh, yeah, margaritas), we were pretty full. But of course, this didn’t stop us from ordering enchiladas. They were delicious!
Franklin Barbecue: All we got to sample there was the line-up. This was a big disappointment, particularly after reading about the legendary BBQ and having received just that morning, an email from Danny (in Toronto) reminding us to eat there. We arrived at 12:30 (OK; I know, a rookie mistake) and was told that there was a 2 hour wait , but worse yet, they would have run out of brisket well before then. Maybe they’d still have chopped beef (or something much less exciting). We left – rejected and dejected. Walking back across the bridge, we caught up with a young man armed with two bags of Franklin BBQ making his way back to the Hilton to his friends. He told us that he got there at 9:00 am and waited THREE hours to order his food, which after sampling, he pronounced well worth it! When we praised his dedication, he told us that he was a competitive BBQ’er back home in DC, so this was a true pilgrimage for him.
Blacks in Lockhart had recently been featured on the “Diners, Drive Ins and Dives” TV show and it didn’t disappoint. We loved the whole atmosphere inside and out. Lockhart is the picture postcard Western saloon town. Being there on Sunday (empty empty streets!) only seemed to reinforce the sort of 1800’s frontier image.
Austin food trucks: We loved the scene – the trucks, the signage, the picnic tables; in fact, all of South Congress was pretty fun. Sadly by the time we checked out the food trucks, I had eaten lunch so I can’t attest to the food personally, but Mel and John seemed pretty satisfied.
Allen’s Boots: Well, I never intended to buy anything really. But I got caught up in the atmosphere. I mean, really, where else can I go and find a whole wall the length of the room with size 7 shoes, let alone cowboy boots? Just for fun, I tried on a pair of boots and before I knew it, I had tried on pair after pair. By then, I knew I was committed. Even though I chose a conservative black pair of boots, I felt pretty cool! And by the way, you probably don’t know my sister owns a horse and is really into Western wear, so when I proudly told her I bought some cowboy boots, she said: “at Allen’s?”
So what advice would I give friends coming to Austin?
- First of all, come hungry… But if you are a vegetarian, it may not be so exciting.
- Bring clothes for any kind of weather [ed. note: this recommendation is for October]
- Go to Barton Springs (what an amazing place and I can imagine it’s a fabulous oasis on a 90 degree day
- Read Jodi’s Tasting Touring blog
- Tour the Capitol – it’s well worth it, even though I was a little skeptical at first
- Walk or cycle on the path beside the river/Lady Bird Lake
- If you’re young, take in the night music!
My only disappointment or perhaps more, it was a curiosity, was how empty Congress was during the daytime (and I mean Congress from South of the Capitol to the river). I had expected a bit more retail activity, a bit more funky stores etc and mostly I just saw places to eat. Where do all the civil servants go to shop on their lunch hour? For me the hallmark of a vibrant city is activity: where are the crowds? Aha, at the football game, of course! (I was blown away by the commitment to UT football!)
I like that Austin is a bit idiosyncratic and unpolished – it shows a city that has grown organically and not over-planned (and this coming from an urban planner!)