If Austin were a person, he or she would be dressed simultaneously in tie-dye and cowboy boots. It's so much of what you don't expect from Texas with an intense amount of Texas pride. There's art. There's delicious food. There's history. There's night life. There are opinions. And there is most certainly music. We were only there for a few days, but here is what I gathered from the first stop on our road trip.
To Eat and Drink //
Our couch surfing host, Paul, was fabulous. He is a jazz musician and music teacher with interesting stories of family history, people that he has hosted, and his many other interests. We went to his favorite bar which he happens to play jazz sets at every Wednesday. It's called The Skylark Lounge and describes itself as part dive bar, part live music lounge. We loved the vibe there and went both Tuesday and Wednesday to see Paul perform. If you're in Austin on a Wednesday night, you should try to catch him, he's there from 8-11 pm.
If you're getting drunk on E. 6th St., head to The Violet Crown Social Club for inexpensive drinks and a great back patio.
Odd Duck is a rather interesting eatery. It's quirky, eclectic, and a little unexpected. Maddie's from Texas and had been before, but this was my first time. What started as a food truck turned into a charming restaurant with a fantastic bar and patio. They use fresh ingredients from local farmers, have a seasonal menu, and a friendly and knowledgeable staff. We got there during happy hour ($2 craft beers!) so we were only able to order off the lunch menu.
Torchy's Tacos - An Austin chain that also started as a food truck. You can find these babies all around the city. They have a huge menu of delicious sounding tacos. Sadly, we only ate here once, at the location on Congress Avenue. I got the shrimp tacos and they were pretty "damn good". I recommend going while you're here, it just seems like the right thing to do.
We stopped at June's on S. Congress Avenue just to get a drink and take a break from shopping. The atmosphere was unexpected, it felt a bit like a cafe in France. We sat on the patio, I had a glass of wine and Maddie had fresh juice. The menu was designed beautifully and sounded absolutely delicious, I wish we would have eaten there. I will say that the waitress was less than thrilled that we were just ordering drinks during lunch, but the place wasn't busy and we didn't linger. Lighten up, lady. I'll still insist on going there the next time I'm in Austin.
To See //
Barton Springs is a manmade swimming hole on Barton Creek. It was described to me as "quintessentially Austin". It's a touch of the outdoors within reach of the city. Take some music and a picnic and escape that Texas heat.
If you like murals and street art, Hope Outdoor Gallery will be an absolute dream. Take some photos, walk around, enjoy the free-spirited "weird" vibes of the city. Check out this site for other street art locations.
To Shop //
Congress Avenue, particularly soco, is a great place to go shopping for vintage and new trendy pieces. If you're looking for antiques, stop at the perfectly curated and styled Uncommon Objects. Bring a little piece of unusual, unique Austin home with you. Strut is excellent for clothes, shoes, and accessories. You can also follow their blog for culture and happenings around the city. Creatures Boutique stands out for their selection of independent designer clothing and friendly staff. The girl that was working was so charming, we lingered even longer than we normally would have chatting with her about some of the items. Feathers was probably my favorite, the reworked vintage pieces and band t's touched my gypsy soul. Shopping there gave me daydreams of sewing lessons and flea markets.
Maybe when I move to Vietnam I'll get a sewing machine. Hmm...
Until next time!