Austin. Is. Awesome. The cat’s been out of the bag on that one for a while now, but over the past few years Austin has become not only one of the best places to live, but also quite the hot and hip travel destination. Ask any Austonian about it and they’ll act like they’re not 100% clear on why, but for those of us who love and appreciate dining, doing things, and experiencing a little culture, Austin has more to offer than they’re letting on. With a self professed motto like “keep Austin weird”, what’s already not to love? There’s got to be excellent reasoning as to why 126 new people move in to the city each day, my guess is it probably has something to do with the tech startups, the growing economy, the people, the dining/drinking/music scene, and the big city yet soulful vibe. Just a guess. Whether you’re passing thorough due to work, visiting to attend one of Austin’s many incredible music festivals, or just heading to the neon sign city for the heck of it, here are 10 things to consider during your stay. *This is in addition to the 10 things I suggest you do in Austin that I wrote last year! Still totally on point, if I do say so myself.*
I’d only heard excellent things about this trailer BBQ joint via the internet, but the minute I’d hit Austin soil and spoke to the natives the positive feedback was only solidified. Most places that have a wait, like La Barbecue for example are totally worth it, don’t get me wrong, but Micklethwait seems to be the locals “hidden gem”, where the BBQ is equally up to snuff just not as crazed over – yet. I loved that it was a lot easier to order than at the other BBQ joints; at Micklethwait you can order “plates” and that is definitely the way to go because you will not want to miss out on their sides!
Yes that would mean “frozen rosé”. How this isn’t a thing in LA is BEYOND me, but it’s a thing in Austin and you need to be a part of it. Take your whole “rosé all day” / “yes way rosé” vibes to a whole new level with Hotel San José’s famous blended drink. It’s an adult slushy and it’s just as delicious and refreshing as it sounds. Not to mention the uber hip boutique hotel ain’t to shabby neither.
It’s not every day you have the opportunity to swim in a natural springs pool that is 70 degrees year round… so when in Austin, swim at Barton Springs! 70 degrees is like ice water during the Summer, which could be a bad or a good thing depending on how hot you are, but during the Winter I’m told it’s quite comfortable. After testing the waters myself I’d probably beg to differ but once you get used it it it’s pretty dang great. Bonus: they’ve got a diving board.
Olamaie is beautiful Southern inspired restaurant located inside of what was once a single story home, and truth be told it was my favorite meal of the entire trip. EVERYTHING, was working for me from the design, decor, cocktails, wait staff, to especially the food, Olamaie is A+ work in my book. Highlights for me were their infamous biscuits (that took 18 months to perfect and come with the main dishes), the chicken (trust me, it’s insane), the Gulf Crab, the Hush Puppies, and the Texas Shrimp & Red Rice. Tip: make a reservation.
Ask the locals and you shall receive! I’d already been to La Condesa and loved it, so in honor of keeping things fresh I decided to check out local fav, Fresas. The original Fresas location on 9th and Lamar is drive thru or walk up only, but the new South First location has the option to dine in *and drink adult beverages*. Fresas is a totally cool, cute, and casual joint so if you’re looking for something quick, affordable, and downright delicious this is the place to go. Fresas is famous for their chicken al carbón so it’s highly recommended you order the La Fresa tacos. Tip: don’t skip the homemade ice cream either!
Last years list instructed visitors to head to Rainey Street for their amazing and eclectic bars all conveniently located on one street, this year I’ve got some updates. The new reason to go to Rainey Street is to have dinner at Emmer & Rye; a fantastic seasonally inspired farm to table restaurant with some of the most beautiful men you’ll ever see working in the kitchen. Nope not joking. Sit at the chefs counter ladies – just trust me. Outside of the um, people watching, the dim sum cart concept is so fun and certainly not to be missed! When you’re done with dinner be sure to find Little Lucy’s Mini Donuts to go with your post dinner cocktail and thank me later.
If there were ever a bar in Austin that felt kindred to the LA spirit it’s Small Victory Bar. It’s a bit tricky to find, it’s small, the wallpaper is on point, they chip their own ice blocks, and the cocktails *all complete with their very own glasses* are outstanding. Small Victory cares deeply about their craft, therefore I care deeply for Small Victory.
Need I say more? I don’t but I will. Whisler’s is in a really great part of East Austin within walking distance of some great bars and restaurants (Stay Gold, Chicon, etc.) but it was arguably my favorite spot to sit, sip, and hang in the area. Whisler’s is the perfect balance between cozy/spacious, and old/new. The inside of the bar is intimate, dimly lit, kind of feels like a corridor from some old fort (but in the coolest way possible), whilst the outside is a big gorgeous patio with plenty of picnic table style seating. If you’re as lucky as I was you’ll get to sip on your classic cocktail and listen to the tunes of a great local live band. The odds are in your favor – it’s Austin.
I was actually born in Austin, and watching the bats fly out from under the South Congress Bridge is one of my earliest (and only) childhood memories of Austin. It might sound like a silly activity to some, but trust me, you need to see this shit. You have the opportunity to witness upwards of 2 million, TWO MILLION, bats fly out from under a bridge – for free. I recommend staking your spot on the bridge a little early if you plan on watching it from there, otherwise there are about 101 different boat tours that will take you to watch the nightly blessed event from the river. If you’d like to read everything you’ll ever need to know about the Austin bats, when to see them, who offers tours, and so much more…. read this fabulous “Guide to Bat Season in Austin” article.
Maybe you’re thinking, “why would I go to Austin to see a movie?” And you’ve got a point, but when weather strikes and you’re bored out of your mind you’ll thank me. And you won’t be seeing any ol’ movie just any where, you’ll be watching it at “the #1 theater in America” according to Entertainment Weekly, “the coolest movie theater in the world” according to Wired.com, and “one of the best theaters in the country” according to Fandango.com. So there’s that. But also there’s, “cold beer, hot movies, and delicious snacks and meals; The Alamo Drafthouse is dinner, drinks, movies and events, all under one roof.” – Alamo Drafthouse. They’re known for screening classics and new movies all the time, and since it’s become quite the primo movie-going experience, I’ll have you know that they’re expanding their business to the West Coast and opening up an Alamo Drafthouse in DTLA soon!!! So stay tuned.
oh. and the robes at Hotel San José are everything.