Austin, Texas is one of the up and coming U.S. cities that is known for it’s vivacious music scene, unapologetic food concoctions and South Western flare. I spent four days in Austin and savored every moment of it. Below you will find what I did, ate and learned to love in the city.
Magnolia Cafe, on South Congress Ave. is a 24 hour diner loved by locals and visitors alike. For breakfast we ordered: the “Egg-scape” which was an over-medium style egg over home fries and sausage, French Toast and the must try Gingerbread Pancake. The Egg-scape came on a small plate but the over-medium eggs were laid over a mound of home fries and large pieces of savory sausage. The French toast was 4-6 pieces with powdered sugar and syrup (I would also recommend adding strawberries) and the gingerbread pancake was a wonderful whiff of Christmas on a large hot cake. The coffee was sub-par, expected from an American style diner but the OJ was fresh squeezed – I’d go with the OJ.
Moist and decadent cupcakes from a food trailer on South Congress, yes please. I got the “Michael Jackson” a black and white cupcake. ‘Black’ moist chocolate cake on the inside and ‘white’ cream cheese frosting spread on top. Because, how could I not. A friend got the Cream Cheese Ice Cream with red velvet cake that came in a small individual size tub with sweet chunks of red velvet cake in the icecream and rated it highly as well.
Austin City Lemons
Lemonade from a one man shop, in the shape of a lemon. Ordered: the Blueberry Lemonade, it was delightful.
One of the best burgers on South Congress. This place is known for its awesome burgers, fries, shakes and lively atmosphere. Don’t let the long lines deter you, they move quickly and are well worth the wait. Ordered: “The Good Night” with Angus Beef, Tillamook Cheddar, Hickory BBQ Sauce, Caramelized Onions, Sliced Jalapeno, and “Sassy” Sauce with a side of their Truffle Fries. When I asked to order a Nutella shake I was told they were all sold out – so get there early.
Kerbey Lane Cafe
Kerbey Lane Cafe is a Mid-Century Mod style diner that values locally grown and seasonal food items and alters their menu accordingly. Ordered: a tall iced coffee, Fried Green Tomatoes Eggs Benedict with a side of home fries and a Strawberry Lemon Chiffon Pancake that was to die for.
Being that Austin is the capitol of Texas, we headed to the Lone Star State anticipating some great barbecue. We read about the popular spots like “Franklin’s” and “Salt Lick” but didn’t like the idea of the long wait at Franklin’s and wanted something less trendy than Salt Lick. We asked around and heard about Black’s. We ordered a family style platter of pork ribs, beef ribs and brisket with sides of: mac and cheese, green chili and corn casserole with of course a cold glass of sweet tea. The ribs were enormous as you can see. This fed three and we still took home a box of leftovers.
1886 Bakery & Cafe
The 1886 Bakery & Cafe is located in the Driskill Hotel in downtown Austin. Built in 1886 and later made a National Historic Landmark, the 1886 Bakery & Cafe’s Famous Chocolate Cake is listed on “Top 10 things to Try in Austin.” The “Famous Chocolate Cake” has withstood the test of time, and I couldn’t visit the city with out trying it for myself. It was delectable.
Home Slice Pizza
I wouldn’t consider Austin a place to come for an incredible slice of pizza, but I learned other wise. Check out this photo of the sky as we were waiting for our half pepperoni half cheese and white pie pizzas.
Amy’s Ice Cream
I had never heard of Amy’s before getting to Austin. It’s favored by the locals and definitely lives up to the hype. There are a few locations, but we spent a lot of time on South Congress, so we visited the Amy’s on SoCo (South Congress). We ordered: Mexican Vanilla ice cream with cookie dough and hot fudge. Your ice cream mixologist adds your toppings/mix-in’s Cold Stone style right at the window and performs fun tricks like throwing your scoop under their leg and into your cup. The dark chocolate and strawberry flavors were recommended by our mixologist and were excellent. My only question: When and how soon can they get to LA. (Sorry, no photos from Amy’s, too busy eating.)
Consignments and Stores
Uncommon Objects on South Congress Ave. should be considered a mecca for those who cherish consignment shops. It’s pleasantly displayed treasures are truly some of the most uncommon things you will see. Though this shoppe may only have two dollar signs on it’s Yelp page, I would suggest it’s prices reflect a 3-4 dollar sign $$$$. However, most of the items you’ll come across here are arguably priceless.
A trendy, quaint boutique on South Congress with Etsy style party favors, unique gifts and awesome women’s clothes – all that match the South Western vibe of the city. IG: @thegypsywagon_austin
Your one stop shop on South Congress Ave. for any style cowboy/cowgirl boots you may ever need. All their boots are made for walkin’ and the whole store reeks of genuine leather.
The city’s mot popular and extensive collection of new and used CD’s, DVD’s and vinyl records can be found at Waterloo Records. Waterloo regularly hosts in-store performances featuring local and internationally known talent. Purchased: Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.
Sights & Stops:
University of Texas, Austin
Home of the Long Horns, UT at Austin is a gorgeous campus located at the center of the city and is the heart that pumps life into the town. Also home to one of the coveted copies of the Gutenberg Bible, currently on display at the Harry Ransom Center. For a limited time the Harry Ransom Center is also celebrating 150 years of Lewis Caroll’s beloved Alice and Wonderland with a charming exhibit showcasing Alice’s popularity through out the world.
The Greetings from Austin Sign
The popular sign is on it’s way to becoming iconic with the growing popularity of the city. It’s a must see, to of course, send your Greetings from Austin. Located on 1st & Annie Street.
Long Horn Cavern State Park
It’s said to be “A Texas Hill Country Wonder.” The caverns are about an hour and forty five minute drive outside of the city and are a cool escape from the heat and humidity. We did the “Long Horn Cavern State Park Photographic Tour” where we were able to tour the natural underground caverns and learn about the long history behind their existence. The tour starts on the hour until 4pm and cost $16/per person. Personal highlights of the tour were “the Cave of Jewels” and the “Hall of Marble” (the first picture below is the “Hall of Marble”) Tennis shoes, bug spray and bringing your own water bottle are highly recommended.
Jo’s Coffee “I Love You So Much” Sign
I knew about the “I Love You so Much” sign before I knew that it was spray painted to the wall of a coffee shop – rookie mistake. The line for a cup of Jo is just as long as the line for a photo with the sign. Ordered: The Belgium Bomber and Cinnamon bun, both quite possibly my favorite treat of the trip.
Cathedral of Junk
One man turned his back yard into a now must-see site in Austin. “Vince” asks that you call ahead to book an appointment and also for a $10 donation per group, for a tour of his junk. There are three stories of junk to tour and truly is the ultimate setting for a game of Eye Spy. As you get further into the Cathedral you will notice particular sections have a color theme. We came across some Coldplay lyrics in the “Yellow” section. (Pictured below)
Hope Outdoor Galley
This glorified graffiti haven is open to all artists and visitors to enjoy a space that is socially conscious and promotes local talent. Upon arrival you will see visitors trekking up from their parking spots to the gallery. Parking is very limited and you may have to search for parking on the nearby streets. There is a bungalow at the lowest tier of the art gallery where you can purchase framed photographs of the graffiti pieces and smell the aroma of incense wafting by. You may even catch some artists working on a piece while you’re there.
I already can’t wait to go back.