City Spotlight: Austin, Texas
“Keep Austin Weird”
Haven to a fascinating blend of eclectic cultures, grassroots politics and infectiously funky vibes, Austin is one amazing destination. Despite being the capital of Texas, home to a major university, and one of the fastest growing U.S. cities, Austin somehow manages to retain its small-town feel. Check out our series of suggested places to eat, drink, and do.
James Beard Award-winning chef Aaron Franklin and his meats have become famous all over the country, attracting tourists and locals alike to happily wait in line for a taste of the magic. Franklin’s smoked meats are the most tender, juicy, and flavorful around, and taste especially great after four hours of beer drinking and chatting in line! Try the brisket (duh), pulled pork, and ribs for the holy trinity of Franklin’s smoked meats.
Tamale House East
The spirit of Austin institution Tamale House lives on with the colorful east side Texas 38 restaurant, which is run by the fourth generation of the Vasquez family. The migas are plentiful, tamales are abundant, the patio is lush, and yes, there are cocktails and beer.
Predictably, the lines run long longer — up to two to three hours on the weekends — but on weekdays, it’s still possible to have a casual lunch of world-class barbecue. Go for the brisket and sausages. The barbecue joint is from LeAnn Mueller of the legendary Texas barbecue family.
Valentina's Tex Mex BBQ
Pitmaster Miguel Vidal melds the best of what Austin has to offer — smoked meats and tacos — down in far South Austin. There is a new brick-and-mortar to look forward to, but until then, head to the trailer for barbecue, tacos, and sandwiches, along with changing specials like burgers, pastrami, and more. Mornings are dedicated to excellent breakfast tacos, especially the Real Deal Holyfield.
Quality Seafood Market
The longtime Hyde Park marketplace up in Hyde Park makes use of its fresh seafood supply for its counter-service restaurant. The menu boasts fresh oysters (both raw and grilled), grilled or blackened fish, and po’ boys. The blackboard highlight catches of the day for one-off specials.
Better Half Coffee & Cocktails
From the team behind Flat Track and Wright Bros. Brew & Brew comes the all-day restaurant and cafe off West 5th Street with an outstanding coffee menu.
Los Angeles’ favorite coffee shop Alfred made its way to Austin for its first out-of-California location in the Line Austin Hotel. The menu consists of a variety of coffees made with its own blend of Stumptown beans, along with the Alfred’s own matcha and alternative milks, including coconut and oat.
Hot L Coffee
The Carpenter Hotel’s coffee shop is led by former Sister Coffee’s Amanda Farris, which means the same thoughtful approach to the caffeinated drink plus bites from the hotel’s chef Grae Nonas (kolaches, tacos, sandwiches) in a very stylish, comfortable space.
The North Loop favorite fills up fast, but it’s worth standing to grab one of the craft cocktails.
King Bee Lounge
King Bee has everything a person could want from a neighborhood bar: friendly service, excellent cocktails, which includes that magnificent frozen King Bee, pizza. Even better: the bar donates money to a different nonprofit each month.
The Texas State Capitol, recognized as a National Historic Landmark, is a remarkable building and one not to miss when visiting Austin. With 17 surrounding monuments to admire, together with wonderfully landscaped gardens and a great free guided tour to take advantage of in which the family can hear all about the history and stories of Texas from friendly, well informed guides, a visit here is a definite must-see!
Austin Street Art
Instagram feed feeling a little light? Check out some of Austin’s most iconic murals -- jumping, human pyramid, the sky's the limit! Go for lovey-dovey with “i love you so much” at Jo’s Coffee or “You’re My Butter Half” on East MLK; go classic at South First’s “Greetings from Austin” or the “Hi, How Are You?” mural by iconic musician Daniel Johnston near campus; or get emo with East Seventh’s “Till Death Do Us Part” stenciled spray paint art, (conveniently located across the street from Texas State Cemetery, bonus!)