Tunes and Tacos in Austin, Texas

As some of you might remember, we were able to squeeze in a quick weekend getaway for June!  This past Sunday night, we landed safely back in Boston after just 52 hours in the beautiful capital city of Austin, Texas.

But before we get into the trip itself, I think I owe you folks an apology.  I haven’t posted anything in 3 weeks!  I’ll give you the typical excuses:  work, family, general laziness.  Take your pick.  Regardless, I’m humbled that people have still been stopping by to check in, and I hope you enjoy reading about our short excursion to the Lone Star State.

I’m sure you’re getting used to my travel style by now – busy.  We packed a ton of stuff into our trip to Austin!  Planning started way back in February, when we realized we’d have a weekend without the kiddo.  Parents, I’m sure you’ll agree with me…time to take an adults-only trip!  Even for only 3 days, my girlfriend and I were happy to do some travel on our own.  (The funny thing is, we were reminded how much the kiddo would have liked to see the town at every turn.  I mean, he likes tacos and music too!)

I decided to break Austin into two posts:  I’ll talk about some of the food and fun in this first write-up, and then later this week we’ll get into the trip itself.

Alamo Drafthouse

Talk about cool experiences!  Arguably my favorite night this trip, we spent Saturday evening at the Alamo Drafthouse.  We opted for the “Ritz” location on 6th St location, and the Drafthouse also has a southern location along S Lamar Boulevard.  The Drafthouse showcases an interesting mix of movies and comedy.  Trust me, the place has something for everyone!

Black’s BBQ

Before you ask, yes, we did try to get into Franklin BBQ.  And no, we couldn’t get in.  I had no idea the line was that long!  We’re big fans of Anthony Bourdain, and we were really looking forward to getting some Grade A barbecue.  His recommendations don’t come easy.  Apparently, neither does the food at Franklin!  Folks had set up camp just to wait for lunch – the earliest of which showed up at 6AM!  They had the whole set up, camp chairs, coolers…and here we were, waltzing on over an hour before the joint opened.  Shortly after our arrival, one of the employees came out and cut off the line, just a few people ahead of us!  She suggested trying to come back around 2PM (they’re only open 11AM-3PM).

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Though we couldn’t get into Franklin, Black’s BBQ didn’t disappoint either!

With hunger setting in, we decided to cut our losses and head up to the north side of the city to sample Black’s BBQ.  Boston has a decent food scene, but nothing like this!  We ordered a bit of everything – a beef rib, a quarter pound each of lean and fatty brisket, a sausage, some potato salad, macaroni and cheese, and Mexican street corn.  The rib won, hands down.  The crust along the outside was absolutely delicious and the meat fell right off the bone.  I wasn’t a fan of the fatty brisket, but it was more flavorful than the lean.  Every dish was tasty, and by the time moved on, we were fat and happy!

6th Street

Bourbon St in Texas?  Come on down to the Dirty 6!  6th Street is lined with bars, clubs, and the aforementioned Alamo Drafthouse.  By day, it’s just any other street in the city.  A few shops and restaurants, but nothing out of the ordinary.  Once the sun starts to go down, 6th Street’s alternate ego emerges, calling out to all the UT students, partygoers, and music-lovers in Austin.  The city blocks off the road for pedestrians (not even bikes allowed), and things get a little crazy!  We stopped into a few places along the route, mostly lured by the music and the atmosphere.

Bat Bar

I’m assuming this spot is affectionately named after the bat colony hiding under the Congress Avenue bridge (more on that later).  We walked in to check out the rock music , and the $4 drinks kept us there for a bit.  Austin has plenty of cheap drinks, so if you’re in the mood to go out, don’t let your wallet scare you off!  It’s also a very walkable city, so you’ll be able to get home safe.

The Library

Another spot that lured us in for the music – The Library, just a bit farther down the street.  This time, the tune was more of a singer/songwriter type.  I tapped my foot along as we listened to the music  and sipped some of Austin’s own Deep Eddy.

Easy Tiger

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After soaking up the music, we walked a bit further east.  Logically known as East 6th, the bustling party saunters over to this end of the street for some more interesting restaurants, tasteful bars, and a generally quieter scene.  Easy Tiger is right at home here.  Boasting an interesting location, you’ll need to walk down a flight of stairs from the sidewalk and take the footbridge over the Waller Creek.  This beer garden has plenty of options on tap and a great ambiance for catching up with friends or enjoying the evening air.

Hoek’s Death Metal Pizza

Weird.  Looking for actual pizza?  Skip this spot and head to South Congress for Homeslice.  Looking for late night snacks in between bars?  Ok, then I guess you can stop in Hoek’s.

South Congress Ave

I’m not a big shopper, but South Congress offers plenty of interesting doors for everyone.  We only actually purchased from a few, otherwise we enjoyed wandering around and taking advantage of the air conditioning.

Uncommon Objects

You have to check out Uncommon Objects!  Very cool vibe, classic antique market with an eye to the weird.  Wander through it, and see if anything catches your eye.

Parts & Labour

At 1704 South Congress, walk through the door to find any random souvenir you might need.  Some tourist trap items, but a lot of really neat local crafts, or small items that reflect the city.  She picked up a few odds and ends that were just small enough to fit in our bags.  We try to travel light!

Amy’s Ice Cream

Ubiquitous in Austin, Amy’s Ice Cream all over the place for good reason.  Naturally, we stopped for some summer ice cream as we strolled up South Congress Ave.  They offer a great selection of rotating, homemade flavors.  Try some of the fan favorites, like Mexican Vanilla, The Dude, or Mojito.  Great way to cool off on a hot day, and they’ll mix some toppings right into the ice cream if you’re into that.

Taco Time

Veracruz All Natural

Lucky for us, the original Veracruz location was only a 10 minute walk from our AirBnB in East Austin, because this place was absolutely delicious!  Without a doubt the best tacos I’ve ever had.  The truck has plenty of options to choose from, and we’d both recommend the Migas Poblanas – a deep combination of eggs, poblanos peppers, chips, onions, beans, avocado, and cheese.  The secret?  The crunch brought by the tortilla chips gives these delicious handhelds an excellent bite and depth of texture.  Veracruz also whips up an refreshing smoothie to cool you off on those hot days, or if you put a little too much picante on your lunch!

Güero’s Taco Bar

This one is located right on South Congress Ave, in the middle of all the action.  Skip the restaurant, and check out the outdoor bar next door when there’s live music.  The outdoor taco bar is paired with an outdoor real bar (you know, with the drinks) as well as a stage from Texas’s Sun Radio with live broadcast music.  The experience was classic.  Who doesn’t like fresh air, delicious tacos, cold beer, and live music?  Order a tamale for that classic Mexican flavor.

Torchy’s Tacos

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Torchy’s seems to get all the love around Austin.  Anytime we told people we were going, the cheeky taco joint was at the top of the list.  Don’t get me wrong, it was great!  I guess Veracruz’s more laid back style just got to me.  Try both, and let me know what you think!  Torchy’s has a few locations throughout the American southwest, and a whopping 13 in Austin!  Before we went, I honestly didn’t know it was that big.

 

We stopped by the Trailer Park location on our journey from Barton Springs down to South Congress Ave.  Ask for the secret menu, it opens up plenty of options for everyone.  Pair with a fresh smoothie or frozen hot chocolate from their friendly food truck neighbors, and you’re good to go!  I should mention as well, free water out by the truck.  This is important if you plan on backpacking through Austin in record setting high temperatures.  We didn’t plan on that, but it kind of happened.

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Honorable Mention

Hanger Lounge

One of the newer places downtown, we met up with a friend over at Hanger while we were Austin.  The kind of bar that would be right at home in Boston’s Seaport, or anywhere for that matter, Hanger offers drinks and a sunny roof deck for sipping on them.

Frank

If you’re tired of tacos, and you’re not a BBQ kind of gal, feel free to check out Frank.  We walked over after Hanger for some early dinner, and found some interesting combinations.  As you may have guessed, these guys specialize in hot dogs, sausages, really all tube-shaped meats.  Throwing anything from rabbit to alligator in the hot dog bun, you’re definitely going to find something new to try here.  Food and prices were good – put this somewhere near the middle of your list for Austin.  Plenty of draft options from the bar.

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Like I mentioned earlier, I’ll get into more of the trip itself in a few days.  Check back on Friday for the second Austin installment!

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