I wrote this for my friend Kat who is visiting Austin with her family. My guide is just a brief glimpse into a city with lots of depth; If you’re reading, I hope my guide enhances your experience of wonderfully weird Austin.
Want to Play Outside?
- Spend a day outside at Barton Springs and Zilkr Park
- Kayak/Paddleboard on LadyBird Lake. Run around the lake if you’re baller!
- Play par 3 golf at Butler Park Pitch & Putt (near auditorium shores/LadyBird Lake).
- Watch the bats come out from under the bridge.
- Visit the Capital. Made of a red stone native to Texas (from Marble Falls I believe) and financed by bartering Austin soil to northerners, the capital is beautiful to behold and full of history. Go on a tour :)
You want BBQ??!
- Franklin’s BBQ, considered the best in the west.
- If you want “all you can eat” with a sprinkling of redneck, go to the Salt Lick
- I ate a lot of free BBQ from Ironworks BBQ during SXSW, it’s also very good.
You also want Tacos!
- Rosita’s: receives the Jerry award for most authentic. Try the al pastor with the home made tortilla. Make sure you get lots of green sauce. The barbacoa and azada are also tasty. Tastiest tacos in Austin and oddly, the cheapest.
- Taco Deli: Jerry award for most popular amongst the gringos. Expensive, hip and lots of variety.
- Izzoz: Jerry award for gourmet but simple. Try the Padre, the Slow Rider and the Bowman. Good God! The Fried avocado also rocks. Love this place. If you go, try Gourdough’s (next to Izzoz) afterwards :)
- Torches: ties Taco Deli for Jerry’s “gringo taco award”. I saw many Austinites order the Trailer Park (fried chicken and green chili) extra “trashy” (extra cheese). Any taco with copious amounts of cheese, queso or sour cream is a “gringo taco” (I should write a blog post on taco types). Overall, Torches has solid Tex Mex tacos. Give them a try.
- The best coffee in Austin… kind of a tie between Medici and Houndstooth. If you go to Medici, go to the downtown location with the island barrista bar.
- I list other great coffee shops in my Austin coffee shop breakdown.
See a Movie?
See a contemporary or old school movie at the Alamo Drafthouse.
See an indy movie at the Violet Crown. Reserve seats in advance for the comfy and badass front row :) You’ll see.
Want to Go Out?
Let me preface this with the fact that I didn’t possess much disposable income in Austin. As a frugal bootstrapper, I don’t spend money on large quantities of drinkey drink. I’ve learned to relax, laugh and have fun without alcohol :) However… Austin does have some awesome places to go out. Here are a couple that I remember:
- Rainey Street. Take a bunch of broken down historic houses, renovate them, turn them into bars and you have Rainey Street! It’s a little dirty, a wee bit hipster and a lot of fun. Check out Garage MaHal for some Indian food in this area of town too. I like Rainey a bit more than “dirty 6th”.
- The Gingerman, an awesome pub with a great selection of craft brews on tap (if you’re into that). Beer fanatics this is your Austin spot.
- Halcyon, known for their espresso cocktails. Also a solid coffee shop
- 6th Street (i.e. Dirty 6th). Crazy. Lots of students and weird people going out and tearing it up. Embrace the weird.
Need a Haircut? I’m pretty random right?
Bird’s. Get your hair cut/hair styled at Bird’s. An Austinite favorite. Grungy, classic video games (Pac Man? hell yes), colorful conversation w barbers and they serve you a Shiner beer or bottle of water.
A note on Austin slang
- San Jacinto St., pronounced “San Jack”.
- Guadalupe St., prounounced “Guaddaloop”.
- Guadalupe near campus, called “the drag”.
- Dirty 6th, Sixth Street. Where people go out! It gets craaazzzaaay! Connor and I lived on 8th and Brazos during our first 2 months so dirty 6 was always two streets over. Enjoy the madness.
- There’s other slang, let me know what you hear.