I thought I'd share some highlights from our recent Austin trip!
Places we ate, part 1:
BBQ, BBQ, & more BBQ:
This was the first place we went to eat in Austin. I got the cabritos (smoked goat). It was supposed to be ribs, but with my knowledge of anatomy, I know that what they cut off for me was a goat spine, haha. It was delicious! I just wish there was more of it. For some reason I got really excited about the free beans, and it was really good when we put the included sauce on them (and everything, really).
The location is kind of in an unassuming strip mall. I found out that it was actually the first shopping center in Austin, and has gone through many changes over the years. We got lucky and the line to order food inside wasn't too long (which is good because I am always hungry!). I got the beef rib. It was delicious. It was ginormous. And I loved it. The leftovers were perfect for breakfast the next day. I still dream about this place and would love to go back and try out some other items! Follow them on instagram to see some ridiculously tasty meals and some cool behind-the-scenes shots--and if you're in the area, check out their second location they just opened in Dripping Springs!
Now this place is unique! It opens at 8:30am on Saturday mornings and closes when they run out, and that's the only day they're open. We were able to connect with my hubby's friends to visit here together, and luckily, they let us ride with them--it is over an hour from where we were staying in the city, and we left before 6:30am, armed with folding chairs. The pit master is an 83 year old lady named Tootsie, who has spent a long career in the maintenance department of the local school district during the weekdays, and also just happens to have a JAMES BEARD AWARD for what she does on the weekends.
The restaurant itself has been named Best BBQ in Texas by Texas Monthly Magazine, and Best Texas-Style BBQ in the World by The New Yorker. We got there before they opened and there were already over 50 people in front of us, so we waited in line for about 2 hours. We were prepared for the wait and catching up with friends, so it really flew by! The ladies inside let us try whatever we wanted which was nice! We got the brisket, ribs and smoked sausage. It was good. Like going to Times Square for New Years Eve, I wouldn't do it again, but I'm glad I had the experience!
Other places we ate:
Oh wait, we had barbecue every meal...just kidding, but really, this is almost true.
We visited the Domain NORTHSIDE and my hubby was adamant we have a meal here. I love thai food, but like many things in my life, I need to be in the mood for it. I really wasn't at the time, but walking in, reading the menu, and smelling the smells, I was ready for the traditional and spicy food! We had the larb, beef panang curry, crab rice, and papaya salad. It was all delicious! The dishes are served at predetermined spice levels, as you'd get them in Thailand, and it was enough to make us sweat more than the 107 degree temps outside. Of course my husband enjoyed a jelly beer-how can you pass that up! It is a beer that is chilled at just the right temperature, when they open it and tap the glass, it turns into a slushie before your eyes! So weird and cool!
To cool off our mouths while we were still in the Rock Rose area, we popped in here. I would not normally be tempted by something like this, but we were on vacation and honestly, they looked divine! I got a buttermilk pop (buttermilk, organic cane sugar, cream, sour cream, water, vanilla bean, sea salt) with a diagonal chocolate dip. I was so pleasantly surprised by their minimal ingredients and local ingredient sourcing. I would go back here in a heartbeat!
Honestly, for quick, relatively healthy food (meat, guac, lettuce, peppers--I didn't eat the taco shells), they were both good. I think it's a matter of which you are closer to when you are hungry!
I found out about Fresa's from Jane aka A Taste of KoKo (thanks!). I am so glad we had a chance to check this place out! Just a note, there are two locations relatively close. The drive-up does NOT sell their margaritas. Lucky for us, there was an Uber nearby to take us to their sit down restaurant. We ate outside but made it just in time for happy hour. We grabbed our drinks at the bar. I had to try the prickly pear margarita. It was SO good! The food was really good too, slightly pricey, but isn't everything nowadays? I will definitely head back here on my next trip!
Places we drank:
I am still obsessed with these wood-fired coffee shops. We went to at least four of their locations, and some of them multiple times. I am sure their secret ingredient moon milk (vegan version is also available) wouldn't pass my ingredient test--but IT WAS AMAZING and I think I'd still have it every day (except not really after seeing my food sensitivity test results, haha). My order was a Half Moon. Besides the moon milk, their coffee is down right delicious! The wood-fired taste comes through in the perfect way making each sip divine! I tried to get one of their awesome t-shirts but even with all the locations we went to, I couldn't find my perfect color and size. Maybe for Christmas?! ::wink, wink:: I truly appreciate their small, family owned business filled with love.
Luckily/unluckily, this place was literally a two minute walk from our hotel. Luckily, because it was so close. Unluckily because well, let's just say Google street view does not show you everything. I am always surprised (and of course saddened) by the homeless populations when we vacation... Austin, San Diego, Denver. This area is much more intense than anything I have experienced like that before. During the day, although it put me a little on edge, it was fine. At night, as the bar closing time approached, even the security urged us to get out of there. This is just being real about our visit. That being said, I would still make a point to visit these two (one?) bars, but our hotel would definitely be in a different location. Saving twenty dollars per night is not worth it, and now I know. Anyways...
Las Perlas Mezcaleria has the largest selection of Mezcal's I have ever experienced! They were all amazing (we went here two different times). I didn't get to try sotol, but I will the next time I see it! On our first visit here, we were honestly just stalling until we went to a concert. I love the vibe in there! We asked if they had a food menu, the bartender casually said no, but to check what the guys are cooking out back. Through a back door, there is a patio the width of Las Perlas and its neighbor, Seven Grand. The patio has a door to enter that place, too (more on them later). In a corner under a tent outside, there was a two man team making the most delicious tacos!!! I don't know their name, but I will search them out next time I am here! It was the perfect way to pass some time and have a surprisingly great and affordable meal and drinks! They had several meat and veggie tacos, as well as fresh chips, salsa, and guacamole. The salsa was all so fresh and REAL, and the brisket tacos melted in our mouths.
Seven Grand has a separate front entrance than Las Perlas, but has a door to enter from the same shared, back patio. This place is super fancy, library-like with wood everything, pool tables and scotch and whiskey galore! They have a great selection and I had the opportunity to enjoy a rare Ardbeg (super peaty scotch) in this classy bar, with friends who happened to also be in Austin at the same time!
We went under the bridge so my hubby could get better bat footage and pictures. It was a neat experience--there were so many of them that just kept coming! I was surprised by the bat smell, FYI. During the summer and into the fall, an estimated 1.5 million bats reside under the Congress Avenue Bridge, in the largest urban bat colony in the world.
This was by far my absolute favorite experience on our Austin trip! The springs are natural--like we saw a giant turtle swimming in the "pool" area! No chlorine! It was perfectly chilled for the hot Texan day, even for a girl who adores the heat. The temperature was just under brain freeze/ice cream headache degrees. I forgot to grab my bathing suit from the drying rack and pack it up before we left.
Luckily, on the far side of the pool on the hill, topless sunbathing is widely accepted. I had on some organic cotton panties and voila-- pool ready! I can't believe I did it, but it was so natural, and I was definitely not the only one! How nice and freeing! As you know, I don't wear bras, so it's not like that was even an option. I would definitely go back here, but have since found out about some other springs that I think I'd like to try out, too! You know, just doing my part to #keepAustinweird. lol.
We climbed up this lookout, supposedly the highest point in the Austin area, for an awesome view over the water! I climbed up barefoot well, because it's hard to hike in flip flops. Can we say grounding?!
I refuse to see movies with my hubby unless they have the reclining seats. I would honestly rather sit on the floor than have to say in an upright chair for 2-3 hours...but this was an exception. At this theater, you will be kicked out if you have your cell phone out or talk to your seatmate, like really. They also come and serve snacks to your seat! They even checked the ingredients for me on their popcorn--heirloom corn with real butter. Yum! And how refreshing they offer real food! We saw Mission Impossible: Fall Out at the Ritz location, which is now the primary downtown location of the Draft House chain, and the theater itself has been around since 1926--the first theater in Austin to specifically be built for movies with sound.
The hubby saw folk singer Lera Lynn was going to be performing and purchased tickets right away. Good thing, because the show was sold out! It was so entertaining and heartwarming to hear her music. We got to meet her after and she is really sweet. I honestly don't remember what was so funny in the second pic!
I was reluctant to go out to what had been described as an overpopulated college bar scene area. However, it was so unique with quaint houses made into restaurants and bars and the food truck area. It was great but I'm glad we headed out before midnight.
I cannot do a post on Austin without mentioning their awesome grocery store, Central Market. WOW! I had so much fun in there (if you know how much I love grocery stores)! I got to try so many new kombucha brands and see some products I've never seen before! I stocked up our hotel room fridge. Also, my favorite sparkling water was everywhere I looked (not just in the grocery stores)!
Just writing this post makes me miss the places we visited more than I realized, and I know there is even more to discover and try than we got to do there on our whirlwind long weekend. What do you do to keep Austin weird? Any places we should check out next time we go? Be sure to let me know in the comments below!