The stories are true – everything really is bigger in Texas. Portion sizes, pickup trucks… even the state’s capitol building is huge (14 feet taller than our nation’s capitol building in D.C.!).
Last month, part of our team got the chance to visit Austin and see what all of the fuss was about, and we want to share some of our favorite spots with you! Our mouths are watering just thinking back to that delicious Texas BBQ…
PLACES TO EAT
Skip the insanely long lines at Franklin‘s, and try this foodie heaven instead. The photo above pretty much speaks for itself. Creamy mac n’ cheese was the perfect complement to the melt-in-your-mouth tender brisket. If this restaurant opened a location in Sacramento, we’d be in trouble.
An adorable place that fits right in with the city’s motto: “Keep Austin Weird.” It’s a pastry/coffee shop and deli that also sells candles, succulents, and an assortment of odd little knickknacks. They also happen to have one of the most delicious breakfast sandwiches we’ve ever tasted.
This food truck’s no joke. The donuts are so big and so fresh, they serve them up with a knife an fork! We recommend the Naughty & Nice – a sugar and cinnamon-coated donut with a side of honey butter.
For the adventurous eaters: a cross between Japanese Izakaya and Tex-Mex. We know… Mind. Blown. Our favorite dish, hands down, was the Texas Ramen; a beef broth with brisket, soft-boiled egg, bamboo, scallion, seaweed and sprouts. Sounds strange, tastes phenomenal. (P.S. Pair your meal with their yummy tiki drink – the Puff Puff Pass – for added novelty.)
PLACES TO DRINK
A bar inside a literal parking garage (pictured above). We thought we were in the wrong place for about a minute, and then we found the sign that read “cocktails”. The moody, romantic interior was a dramatic contrast to the dingy parking lot outside, and the drinks were absolutely delicious. 10/10, would recommend.
A casual, inviting wine bar with plenty of patio seating. They have an extensive wine (and beer) list, and delicious trays of artisan cheese and crackers to snack on. It’s a bit outside of the main tourist zones, so the atmosphere is pleasantly relaxed – the perfect way to end a day in the Texas sun (it was 85 degrees while we were there… in FEBRUARY).
A quaint, pedestrian-only street lined with historical houses-turned-bars. Our advice: skip the craziness of “Dirty Sixth,” and head here instead. This little street has something for everyone – from beer gardens to cocktail bars with live music, and everything in between.
THINGS TO SEE
Large and impressively beautiful, not unlike our own capitol building in Sacramento. While there aren’t many exhibits to look at, it’s worth wandering the halls to admire the architecture, and climbing up the grand stair cases to get a better look at the stunning detail inside the rotunda.
A strangely beautiful cluster of concrete walls covered in graffiti. It’s managed by a non-profit organization that encourages street artists to express themselves in a positive way. The result is inspiring and refreshing. Pick up a can of spray paint before heading over and add your contribution!
Stroll down one of Austin’s main streets and allow yourself to wander in and out of its quaint little shops. Our favorite, by far, was the antique shop called Uncommon Objects. It’s full of strange trinkets, many of them unique to Texas and its history.
Ann and Roy Butler Hike & Bike Trail
Though most Austin travel guides recommend Zilker Park, we found it a little underwhelming. Instead, take a walk along this gorgeous, riverside trail, and get the best views the city has to offer. If you come at the right time of year, come to the trail at dusk to see Austin’s impressive colony of 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats!
Unlike the vast majority of cities in America, Austin no longer allows its residents and visitors to use Uber and Lyft. Be sure to download Fasten if you’re planning a trip to Texas’s capitol. It works just as well as the apps we all know and love, but a small portion of the fees go to the City of Austin to keep them satisfied.