What to do in Austin, TX

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steadyeddy
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What to do in Austin, TX

Post by steadyeddy » Mon Feb 17, 2014 9:54 am

My wife and I are in our mid-20's and visiting Austin, TX from 3/14 to 3/19. I read the earlier thread (http://www.bogleheads.org/forum/viewtop ... =1&t=92694), and hoped for some updated ideas.

I know we'll be there for the tail end of SXSW, and we'll probably spend Friday or Saturday night near the action. Our interests are food (both upscale and hole-in-wall welcome), natural and urban scenery, and hopefully getting a small taste of the local culture. We will have a rental car and are also open to using public transportation.

Valuethinker
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Re: What to do in Austin, TX

Post by Valuethinker » Mon Feb 17, 2014 10:14 am

steadyeddy wrote:My wife and I are in our mid-20's and visiting Austin, TX from 3/14 to 3/19. I read the earlier thread (http://www.bogleheads.org/forum/viewtop ... =1&t=92694), and hoped for some updated ideas.

I know we'll be there for the tail end of SXSW, and we'll probably spend Friday or Saturday night near the action. Our interests are food (both upscale and hole-in-wall welcome), natural and urban scenery, and hopefully getting a small taste of the local culture. We will have a rental car and are also open to using public transportation.
As a total outsider (never been there) it did have a more than half decent reputation for music (of the popular, rather than classical, kind). So trying to catch a gig.

Jack FFR1846
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Re: What to do in Austin, TX

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Mon Feb 17, 2014 10:44 am

If you happen to be a guitar enthusiast, tour the Collings plant. There are also a phenominal amount of used guitar shops in Austin. (I'm a guitar enthusiast, player and amature builder)
Bogle: Smart Beta is stupid

Luke Duke
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Re: What to do in Austin, TX

Post by Luke Duke » Mon Feb 17, 2014 12:49 pm

A visit to John Mueller Meat Co is a must. They are closed on Wed.

http://www.johnmuellermeatco.com/

hoopy
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Re: What to do in Austin, TX

Post by hoopy » Mon Feb 17, 2014 1:44 pm

Since you have a rental car, you should go to the Salt Lick for barbeque, just outside Austin. It's worth it. Bring an appetite.

There are a lot of food trucks around Austin, you could try some of those.

If you like jazz, the Elephant Room is a good, casual spot with live jazz bands almost every night.

It'll probably be warm enough that you could rent a canoe or kayak and spend some time on Lake Austin (which is actually a river), right in downtown Austin.

There is a cluster of interesting, eclectic, very local shops on South Congress. Good for browsing. Find Allan's Boots, it's around there.

adamallstar
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Re: What to do in Austin, TX

Post by adamallstar » Mon Feb 17, 2014 1:57 pm

Eat some breakfast tacos. The breakfast taco is a food staple in Austin, you can find them anywhere and everywhere. Here are two of my favorite places, hard to beat.
http://torchystacos.com/
http://www.tacodeli.com/

Austintatious
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Re: What to do in Austin, TX

Post by Austintatious » Mon Feb 17, 2014 2:46 pm

The Austin Chronicle can be a good source for info re music and food:

http://www.austinchronicle.com/

If you should hear that a band called ShineyRibs is playing anywhere within reasonable driving distance, it definitely would be worth the time and effort. I've heard them. They're serious musicians. Warning - it's impossible to stay seated while they're playing because they make you move. Guaranteed. My daughter and her husband reside in Austin. They keep up with the music scene and it's ShineyRibs. If you can't make that happen, there'll be plenty of venues and acts to choose from.
Last edited by Austintatious on Mon Feb 17, 2014 3:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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JupiterJones
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Re: What to do in Austin, TX

Post by JupiterJones » Mon Feb 17, 2014 2:53 pm

Get an Iced Turbo from Jo's.

Man, I could for one right now... :(
Stay on target...

Hilda
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Re: What to do in Austin, TX

Post by Hilda » Mon Feb 17, 2014 2:57 pm

Before I moved to Austin in 1978, my piano professor said and I quote: "If you have to live in Texas, Austin is the Mecca of the southwest." (No offense to any native Texans... )

Boy. No kidding. I didn't know a soul, but I knew I had arrived in the promised land.

Five days won't be enough to do it justice, but you have to hit the music/ bar scene. Pick up a copy of the Austin Chronicle magazine (free copies everywhere, mostly restaurants or news stands) for a listing of who is playing where. During SXSW, it'll be a little crazy.

Amazing town for the number of quality restaurants also. Check out Castle Hill (which now has a new moniker, but Castle Hill is still part of the name.)

My husband (native Austinite) and I live in the hill country now and a late night for us is 10:00. We're way past our cool days, but I'm pretty sure Austin is just as cool as it ever was. I got into a lot of trouble there (some of which I remember) and had a lot of fun and was never arrested for anything. A small miracle.

Check out the hike and bike trail on Town Lake which I guess is now called Lady Bird Lake. Watch the birds, bats, and people. Sometimes it's hard to tell which is which.

Please report back and tell us how much fun you had.

dotnet
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Re: What to do in Austin, TX

Post by dotnet » Mon Feb 17, 2014 3:09 pm

I agree on Salt Lick. There are actuall numerous excellent bbq places in Austin.

I don't live in Austin so its hard to remember what the current cool food trucks are... but they always have excellent ones.

Kirby Lane and Magnolia are excellent breakfast places (that can have long waits).

Austin isn't Houston as far as Tex Mex... but it has plenty of quality places.

There are tons of good bars/music places... those should be the easiest to find.

dickenjb
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Re: What to do in Austin, TX

Post by dickenjb » Mon Feb 17, 2014 4:04 pm

There is a bridge where something like 2 million Mexican brown bats live.

Every evening at dusk they come flying out. Quite the sight to see.

jlawrence01
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Re: What to do in Austin, TX

Post by jlawrence01 » Mon Feb 17, 2014 4:11 pm

Personally, if I was in Austin and was craving BBQ, I would head to the meccas of Luling and Lockhart, TX. Or to Southside Market in Elgin for their sausage.

XXX Chili is another great place to try.

BlckhwkPlt
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Re: What to do in Austin, TX

Post by BlckhwkPlt » Mon Feb 17, 2014 4:27 pm

Torchy's Tacos

Watch the bats at the Congress Street bridge

Ziliker park usually has something going on.

rent a kayak/canoe and go out on lady bird lake

Salt Lick is ok. Lockhart has better BBQ IMHO. Kreutz Market is the one my family has gone to for years and years.

Head up to Round Rock bakery for donuts

Krause Springs is neat, but make sure you can climb steep steps

Stubbs for a concert

The Oasis - cruddy food and expensive, but the best view around.

Matt's El Rancho for TexMex

Broken Spoke (where a lot of country greats have played) for a concert

Austintatious
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Re: What to do in Austin, TX

Post by Austintatious » Mon Feb 17, 2014 5:14 pm

jlawrence01 wrote:Personally, if I was in Austin and was craving BBQ, I would head to the meccas of Luling and Lockhart, TX. Or to Southside Market in Elgin for their sausage.

XXX Chili is another great place to try.

Lawrence has it right, as far as it goes. But speaking of BBQ "meccas", we wouldn't want to slight the 4 BBQ joints in Taylor, in the opposite direction and closer than Lockhart and Luling. They're just plain hard to beat. Muellers is my personal favorite, well worth the trip and the waiting in line. Skip breakfast, get there early (they can run out of some items), and forego the sides. Meat's the name of the game.

lws6772
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Re: What to do in Austin, TX

Post by lws6772 » Mon Feb 17, 2014 5:22 pm

Go to the Habanero Mexican Cafe. As Macho Man used to say, "Oh yeah!". :D

stoptothink
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Re: What to do in Austin, TX

Post by stoptothink » Mon Feb 17, 2014 5:43 pm

BlckhwkPlt wrote:
Salt Lick is ok. Lockhart has better BBQ IMHO. Kreutz Market is the one my family has gone to for years and years.

Head up to Round Rock bakery for donuts
This. Salt Lick is OK, but without a doubt the most overrated BBQ joint I've ever been to. Numerous better BBQ places in the area that you won't have to wait in line all day for(because of out-of-towners who saw it on some TV show) . Oh, and Round Rock Bakery, you can smell the donuts from the freeway; best donuts I've ever put in my mouth.

I always rent a kayak and spend a few hours in Ladybird as well.

tigermilk
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Re: What to do in Austin, TX

Post by tigermilk » Mon Feb 17, 2014 5:46 pm

Not a meat eater, but for BBQ, just google "best bbq in america" and get your pick. Texas is home to a ton of top BBQ joints in the country. In general Austin is pretty good for food. The food truck craze is in full swing there. Haven't been to Uchi or Uchiko there (or the one here in Houston), but the chef won the James Beard award in 2011 and spent several years in Japan honing his craft. It's not traditional Japanese (a shame, as having been to Japan numerous times, I know and love the cuisine), but it's one of the top restaurants in Austin.

Get on youtube and search for clips from Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations episode about Austin.

Do you like outdoors stuff? Hopefully so as (and I'm about to probably upset a ton of Austin residents), aside from the local club music scene, Austin is pretty much bottom rung of the big Texas cities in terms of "the finer" cultural activities. Lackluster museums, poor fine arts scene, etc. Nonetheless, it is a fun place to visit. Since you have a car, don't isolate yourself to Austin. Head to San Antonio for a day and visit the Alamo.

newbogleb
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Re: What to do in Austin, TX

Post by newbogleb » Mon Feb 17, 2014 6:18 pm

1. Do you get a nice souvenir on the tour the Collings plant? Do they let you strum a guitar or give lessons/coupons?

2. Is part of the Austin river shaped into a lake which is why they call it lake Austin? Really :confused Is there a Ladybird lake?

3. What makes visiting the John Mueller Meat Co so great? I like eating cow. Do they teach me how to skin an animal or ride a bull? :D

4. Which bridge is this?

There is a bridge where something like 2 million Mexican brown bats live.

Every evening at dusk they come flying out. Quite the sight to see.

lws6772
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Re: What to do in Austin, TX

Post by lws6772 » Mon Feb 17, 2014 7:03 pm

newbogleb wrote:1. Do you get a nice souvenir on the tour the Collings plant? Do they let you strum a guitar or give lessons/coupons?

2. Is part of the Austin river shaped into a lake which is why they call it lake Austin? Really :confused Is there a Ladybird lake?

3. What makes visiting the John Mueller Meat Co so great? I like eating cow. Do they teach me how to skin an animal or ride a bull? :D

4. Which bridge is this?

There is a bridge where something like 2 million Mexican brown bats live.

Every evening at dusk they come flying out. Quite the sight to see.
That would be the South Congress Ave.(SoCo) bridge. Used to be you could stand under it. I always enjoyed watching the tourists run away after they soon figured out they were standing a tad too close as the bats started "raining" on them.

mss
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Re: What to do in Austin, TX

Post by mss » Mon Feb 17, 2014 8:13 pm

Here is some more info on the bats. It really is worth the effort. And it is in downtown Austin... more than a million bats.

http://blog.chron.com/leonhale/2011/06/ ... in-austin/

hq38sq43
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Re: What to do in Austin, TX

Post by hq38sq43 » Mon Feb 17, 2014 8:48 pm

The LBJ Presidential Library. Wife and I visited a couple of years ago and were stunned by our ignorance of what President Johnson accomplished during his time as President, despite the Vietnam debacle. We lived through it and thought we knew, but we didn't. Rather than beer, barbecue, and such, ingest some riveting knowledge of our nation's history.

Best regards,
Harry at Bradenton

Downtown
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Re: What to do in Austin, TX

Post by Downtown » Mon Feb 17, 2014 8:52 pm

Well, there are many favorites, but here are a few suggestions:

-Walk around Lady Bird Lake. Get some time outdoors, enjoy the weather, and do some people watching. Even better, grab a canoe, kayak, or stand-up paddle board and explore the lake! Take a dip in Barton Springs pool. It's a little chilly, but the water temps are constant year-round.
-Hang out on South Congress (SoCo) and explore the shops and eateries. For a kick, check-out Lucy in Disguise, a costume store that is super fun to visit. If you need a haircut, go to Avenue Barbershop. I just went there today -- they always do a great job.
-Climb the steps to the top of Mount Bonnell. Fabulous views of the lake and The Texas Hill Country. Savor one of our splashy sunsets -- they just seem to be a little bit bigger and bolder in Texas.
-Eat BBQ, wash down with Shiner Bock, repeat. :sharebeer The Salt Lick, Rudy's, Franklin's, Stubbs, etc....it's hard to go wrong. Here's another list of BBQ places: http://www.austinchronicle.com/food/201 ... ue-joints/
-If you are looking for an upscale restaurant for a great meal with fresh ingredients, try TRIO, in The Four Seasons. Went there last night -- it was excellent! Alternatively, try Barley Swine. Every dish has pork in it -- it's outstanding and stretches your palette! For amazing sushi, try Uchi or, it's sister restaurant, Uchiko. They fill-up, but you can always eat at the sushi bar if you can't get a table.
-At some point you should visit the flagship Whole Foods Market at 5th and Lamar -- it's their world headquarters location and you will be suitably impressed with every foodstuff you can possibly imagine (that's organic, of course).
-BookPeople is right across the street. I saw a list online today that called it the 4th best independent bookstore in the world. Who knew?
-Oh yeah, and Hut's is near there. Classic burgers since 1939. I like the Bison burger with hickory sauce. Ate one last week.

I don't think the Congress Avenue bats are back just yet (they go to a warmer shelter for the winter).

In case you can't tell, those of us who live in Austin are having a love affair. Have a great time, y'all!

random_walker_77
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Re: What to do in Austin, TX

Post by random_walker_77 » Mon Feb 17, 2014 10:00 pm

+1 on kayaking at lady bird lake. I like rowingdock.com, which has the bonus of convenient free parking. Row east for the city or row west for nature. Note the many many turtles lounging near shore. Since you've got over a month, keep an eye out on livingsocial/groupon, as there are frequently specials on kayaking.

+1 on Mt Bonnell -- it's very scenic

A hidden gem is Mayfield park . A nice cottage, some koi ponds, but the real star is the many peacocks on the property. Be wary of weekend afternoons; on your timeframe, they are frequently booked for weddings. But even so, there's also some short hikes, including one trail that will take you down to the water.

davebarnes
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Some ideas

Post by davebarnes » Mon Feb 17, 2014 10:02 pm

A nerd living in Denver

jlawrence01
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Re: What to do in Austin, TX

Post by jlawrence01 » Mon Feb 17, 2014 10:21 pm

hq38sq43 wrote:The LBJ Presidential Library. Wife and I visited a couple of years ago and were stunned by our ignorance of what President Johnson accomplished during his time as President, despite the Vietnam debacle. We lived through it and thought we knew, but we didn't. Rather than beer, barbecue, and such, ingest some riveting knowledge of our nation's history.

Best regards,

Or take the 90 minute drive out to the LBJ Ranch in Johnson City, TX. Now that Lady Bird Johnson is gone, you have full access to the Texas White Hous4

ourbrooks
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Re: What to do in Austin, TX

Post by ourbrooks » Mon Feb 17, 2014 10:29 pm

Take a plane to Dallas and visit Dallas instead.

The end of SXSW? Hope you're either staying with relatives or have a hotel room in San Antonio. $100 hotel rooms in Austin go to $500 during SXSW because large entertainment corporations have bought out all the rooms to house all the people who've flown in on the corporate 787. Tickets will have long since sold out for the SXSW venues, but it shouldn't be more than a two or three mile walk from your parking space to the 6th Street entertainment district.

Before you go, listen to the Prairie Home Companion show from Austin which has the monologue about the real estate agent who sells Austin real estate at inflated prices during SXSW and buys it back in August for one tenth the price. It's not far from the truth. The only worse time to visit Austin than during SXSW is during the Grand Prix race. If you want to see the Congress Street bridge bats, be prepared to claim your place 2 or 3 hours before sun set; everyone else coming to town will be there to see the bats, too. Natives who can afford to have started to leave town during SXSW.

If you are forced to be in the Austin area and have your own car, you might consider visiting Big Bend National Park, which is real close by, at least by west Texas standards. Even closer is Enchanted Rock State Park; granite from nearby quarries was used both for the Galveston seawall and the Texas capitol. If you want to go somewhere really unusual, try Colorado Bend State Park. There's nothing quite like Gorman Falls anywhere else in the world. Longhorn Cavern State Park is good too, not only for the cave but for the Civilian Conservation Corps buildings. Aquarena Springs in San Marcos is also well worth spending some time.

rocksindex
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Re: What to do in Austin, TX

Post by rocksindex » Mon Feb 17, 2014 11:48 pm

This must see list comes from my Austin visit a couple weeks ago:

Salt Lick - unique if you've never visited a Texas BBQ compound before. Bring your own beer. My server was awesome and we ordered the all you can eat family plates: http://www.saltlickbbq.com/

Graffiti wall - strange and fascinating, assuming you have any interest in non-mainstream art: http://www.yelp.com/biz/austins-graffiti-park-austin

Whole foods headquarters - largest whole foods that I've ever seen: http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/stores/lamar

Franklin BBQ - frequently named the best in top 10 lists. While waiting for the shop to open, you can rent a lawn chair for $5 from the guy across the street and an employee will walk out to the line to sell you reasonably priced beers. Note that you should show up around 10AM to get food when they open around noon. They do have the best brisket that I've ever tasted: http://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_R ... Texas.html

Bonnell hike when the sky is clear - skip the stairs and walk around the trail further up the road to get the best city view: http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_R ... Texas.html

aceoperations
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Re: What to do in Austin, TX

Post by aceoperations » Tue Feb 18, 2014 9:17 am

Grab a coffee by Lake Travis at Mozarts!

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midareff
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Re: What to do in Austin, TX

Post by midareff » Tue Feb 18, 2014 9:22 am

Reputed to be the best live music anywhere.... definitely hit the main drag both nights for a couple cold ones and live entertainment. Also known for excellent Tex-Mex food. Should be good art store and music store browsing as well during the day. As I recall there is a bridge behind the convention center known for the huge bat colony which comes out at a certain time each night. Was not able to see that myself but have heard it is special. Enjoy... it's a great college town.

buckstar
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Re: What to do in Austin, TX

Post by buckstar » Tue Feb 18, 2014 10:07 am

Try Hop Doddy on south congress - great burgers! Big Bend is about a 6-7 hour drive, not very close. Enchanted Rock is very close, but at that time of year if you're not there by 8:30 or so in the morning, it will be closed to new visitors. Lake Travis is drying up, so I wouldn't bother visiting.Lots of people watching to do during SXSW, celebrities and otherwise. Have fun (shouldn't be too hard!)!

Luke Duke
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Re: What to do in Austin, TX

Post by Luke Duke » Tue Feb 18, 2014 10:45 am

hoopy wrote:Since you have a rental car, you should go to the Salt Lick for barbeque, just outside Austin. It's worth it. Bring an appetite.
There's probably 5-6 better BBQ places in Austin. The only thing that Salt Lick has going for it is the atmosphere and the all-you-can-eat option.

Mr Grumpy
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Re: What to do in Austin, TX

Post by Mr Grumpy » Tue Feb 18, 2014 10:50 am

My wife and I just returned from Austin three days ago. It was to be a 4 day trip, but turned into six (North Carolina, East Coast snowstorm.)
We're in our mid-sixties so our "likes" may not jibe too well with yours. My idea of aerobics is stapling two pieces of paper together - plus I'm an alcoholic so I'm not an information booth on the downtown bars. I did read in the local paper that the police has increased their walking patrols on 6th St/Congress to cut down on late night "incidents" - I also got the sense most bars' live entertainments have passed. You wanna pay for an overprices beer looking at a picture of Willie Nelson, be my guest. My advice would be to check the music scene on the internet.
I'll stay away from the best denomination in the barbeque theology. We went to The Salt Lick in Driftwood (30 minutes away) and then went back the second night. The best is supposed to be Franklins BBQ s, downtown, but I had no desire to wait the 2 hrs plus in line that's required.
We took a "city tour" from the Visitors' Center (hard to find - adjacent to the Driskill Hotel - can park behind the Center, $6.00 per 3 hrs). The tour is a mile wide and and inch deep, but it gives you some geographical boundaries and places you may want to go back to. You mentioned you like to eat. The tour guide was very free with advice when drove by restaurants so bring something to make notes on. $25.00 pp for 2 hours.
We went to the State Capital tour (surprisingly good-every 15 minutes most days), LBJ Library and then a day trip to the hill country and the LBJ ranch. I've been to two other presidential libraries and they are similar. They masquerade as museums - the LBJ ranch was much, much, better and I re-remembered a lot about LBJ. Any adjective you can think of would apply to him. I'm not sure, but the blue bells may be in bloom in mid-March ...if you go to hill country.
You mentioned you're a foodie - the "birthplace" of Whole Foods is downtown. Decent food - or you can just go in the door and genuflect.
We did the steam train to Barnett-not a high point on our trip, but we sat across from a 30 something married couple and had 4 hours of quiet conversation - no cell phones, distractions, or baloney. Can't remember the last time that happened. In fact the people are the nicest thing about Austin - honest, straightforward, courteous...authentic.
Didn't see anyone jaywalking so watch out (except the students at UT) and the drivers are exceptionally courteous.
Enjoy

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gatorman
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Re: What to do in Austin, TX

Post by gatorman » Tue Feb 18, 2014 3:43 pm

rocksindex wrote:
Franklin BBQ - frequently named the best in top 10 lists. While waiting for the shop to open, you can rent a lawn chair for $5 from the guy across the street and an employee will walk out to the line to sell you reasonably priced beers. Note that you should show up around 10AM to get food when they open around noon. They do have the best brisket that I've ever tasted: http://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_R ... Texas.html
^^^^^^^This!!^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Best brisket by far, excellent sausages too.
gatorman

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matjen
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Re: What to do in Austin, TX

Post by matjen » Tue Feb 18, 2014 6:33 pm

Visit Dimensional Fund Advisors! :P
A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone.

ourbrooks
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Re: What to do in Austin, TX

Post by ourbrooks » Tue Feb 18, 2014 8:35 pm

matjen wrote:Visit Dimensional Fund Advisors! :P
How much should I expect to pay to get in?

From the outside, the building is pretty obnoxious; it sits on top of a cliff and looms over the highway below. Maybe I'd find it more appealing if that's where my money was being managed.

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TxAg
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Re: What to do in Austin, TX

Post by TxAg » Tue Feb 18, 2014 10:27 pm

Drink free keg beer while you stand in line at the La Barbecue food truck. Fun experience and some of the best brisket in Texas.

darth_sidious
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Re: What to do in Austin, TX

Post by darth_sidious » Wed Feb 19, 2014 12:37 am

First things,

As many people have mentioned, anything during sxsw will be a challenge. Make sure you have your accommodation and travel squared away, as downtown is basically a zoo. If you're music people at all, it's a great time as you can basically go crazy listening to music( quite a bit of it free or cheap) even without a pass. It's a great chance to catch random bands from around the world that you'd never get access to otherwise. For example, one year the restaurant below my office had a showcase of 5 Taiwanese girl rock bands one evening. When else are you going to get a chance to do that? So I'd devote all your energy to sxsw the first couple of days. Popular Restaurants will either have long waits, or you'll need a reservation in advance.

Food wise, I'm going to make a few random assumptions that may or may not be valid. I'll assume that you live in(or have reasonably regular access to) a major east or west coast city. Relative to most big cities, austin has decidedly mediocre ethnic food options. Also I'd avoid most upscale /new American dining here; much better value in places like San Fran and even New York. Possible exceptions are barley swine and odd duck IMHO. Locally driven food by bryce gilmore that time and again manages to nail the fine balance between simplicity and flavor fullness. Odd duck is more casual, barley swine is a tasting menu kind of place. Uchi/uchiko gets a lot of praise. The sushi is competent but terrible value. The cooked section is much more interesting, but again beaten handily for value in other cities. what Austin does best is BBQ , food trucks and Mexican-ish food. It used to be that the best BBQ was outside city limits, but the last few years have seen an explosion of places in town that are generally thought to have equalled/eclipsed the Lockhart/luling/Taylor joints.franklins is the undisputed king, but la BBQ, John muller meat co, micklewraith, stiles switch, etc are all pretty damm good as well with far smaller waits,your pick. During sxsw craziness though, it might not be a bad idea to drive out a bit and escape it during the day by going to one of the out of town places.

Austin's food truck scene is stellar and growing by the day. I can't really list them all, just google around, and you'll get multiple lists and recommendations. Breakfast tacos are another local specialty with many opinions on the best places; I'm partial to el primo. Lots of tex mex and more "authentic" Mexican places as well. Polvos and flores are my tex mex favourites. El alma, la condesa and especially el naranjo are my pics for more interiorish Mexican food( think Rick bayless ish).

As far as imbibing, Austin punches above its weight in cocktails, beers and coffee. Good local coffee bars are houndstooth, medici,and once over( they can guide you to others). Good cocktail places are bar congress, midnight cowboy, drink well, peche, tigress, whistlers, etc. the beer scene has exploded with tons of local breweries; I can't keep track of them any more. The draught house and ginger mans are good places to catch a pint. A fun day trip is to a farmhouse brewery called jester king. They serve a bunch of farmhouse style beers( with wild yeast inoculations) in a barn/ meadowy atmosphere. Great weekend afternoon spot to kick back and relax. Pretty popular with locals in the area.

As far as other cultural things to do, as someone mentioned, Austin is sorely lacking in high quality museums, theatre, etc. I'd not spend time on those, with the possible exception of a quick trip to the Harry ransom center if you're a photo buff. They have the world first photograph ever taken and the Gutenberg bible on permanent display. They have a huge photo collection as well, including the entire magnum photo archive.


If you reply with some other details( any particular interests aversions, where you're visiting from, etc), I can probably give some more targeted advice.

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TxAg
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Re: What to do in Austin, TX

Post by TxAg » Wed Feb 19, 2014 11:59 am

^^^ You are correct...Franklin's is terrific. The wait is killer, though. Man, I'm hungry now.

Luke Duke
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Re: What to do in Austin, TX

Post by Luke Duke » Wed Feb 19, 2014 12:33 pm

There's also a new restaurant called The Hightower that's pretty good. They're dinner only right now, but I think that they are going to begin lunch service in the next week or two.

amoeba
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Re: What to do in Austin, TX

Post by amoeba » Wed Feb 19, 2014 12:59 pm

Thats such a coincidence. I just went to The Hightower last week and posted a favorable review of it on another food forum. I think its a great example of a gastropub and I am glad they opened.

Having lived in Austin for 14 years now and being a fairly active diner out, I would like to give a small personal breakdown.

BBQ - 5 years ago, you probably would have to drive out to Lockhart or Taylor or Luling to get your BBQ fix but these days Austin turns out smoked meat as good if not better. Even if you don't want to brave the lines at Franklin's, you have LA BBQ, John Mueller Meat Co., Stiles Switch, Micklewait Craft Meats, Freedmen's, Live Oak BBQ in town. LA BBQ, John Mueller, Micklewait are as good as Franklin's and on any given day given the finicky nature of brisket/beef ribs, any of these 4 places can be the best. LA BBQ probably has the best sausage around, handground and cured in house, and gives free Lone Stars to those who wait in line. Stiles Switch is the place least likely to have to deal with a line and you can eat inside. John Mueller probably has the best beef ribs. Freedmen's is more dressed up and has a nice cocktails/whisky menu.

There is nothing wrong with Salt Lick in DRIFTWOOD but you will be going more for the atmosphere and the BYOB. The BBQ will be good but you will not get that first taste that blows your mind.

Fine Dining : Uchi/Uchiko - Both great inventive restaurants but don't make the mistake of going for primarily sushi here. The sushi is good but nothing you can't get at any other major city. Get the cooked dishes that are meat based. oh yes, also get the foie gras nigiri at Uchi (not available at Uchiko). Try to get there right when they open.

Congress - The definition of formal fine dining. Very elegant and inventive cuisine from long time chef David Bull. Reserve.

Barley Swine - Very fun seasonal, inventive menu in a small dining room with communal seating. Its going to be hard to get in so try to get there right when they open.

Lenoir - inventive menu at a affordable price point ($40 pp for 3 courses). Small romantic dining room, try to reserve early.

Mexican :

(Street tacos)
La Fruta Feliz - fresh squeezed fruit juices, fresh made tortillas, goat barbacoa. not the nicest part of town, go during the day.

El Taco Rico - Fresh made tortillas, wonderful beef barbacoa. trailer outside a laundromat in not the nicest part of town, go during the day.

Will make another post on things to do.

edit - should have read darth_sidious' post. Basically echo his food recomendations.

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steadyeddy
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Re: What to do in Austin, TX

Post by steadyeddy » Wed Feb 19, 2014 11:08 pm

Wow, thank you all very much! I am so grateful for both the quality and quantity of suggestions. I am compiling all your suggestions into a menu of options so we can plan some activities and decide on others later based on weather and mood. Please do continue to post if you have input, and don't be scared to repeat others since that helps us prioritize.

I'll be sure to post some highlights when we come back. :sharebeer

clast
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Re: What to do in Austin, TX

Post by clast » Thu Feb 20, 2014 8:30 pm

Uchi, arguably the best restaurant in Austin (unless you don't like sushi, although it is more than just sushi). Make your reservation now if you can, trust me (they accept walk-ins, but the wait can be 1-2 hours). Save room for the desserts. If you like foie gras, get the foie nigiri, and order them early because they run out sometimes.

http://uchiaustin.com/

brainstem
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Re: What to do in Austin, TX

Post by brainstem » Thu Feb 20, 2014 9:10 pm

Two words:
Continental club

ESP the upstairs venue ... Wonderful local talent doing acoustic

Hot club of cowtown, Kelly Willis, James McMurtry ........

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Re: What to do in Austin, TX

Post by amoeba » Sun Feb 23, 2014 4:26 pm

I just enjoyed the new restaurant Licha's Cantina quite a bit. Its what I would call upscale Mexican without ridiculous prices. Nothing over $14 and I would say 3 dishes for 2 people are probably about the right proportions. Lovely cocktails and a really nice setting on East 6th.

Right now, I would rather go to East Austin or the Rainey Street Area for the bar scene instead of west 6th as west 6th has gotten a bit sketchy.

During the day, I might take a drive out to the hill country, maybe even visit some of the surrounding wineries if you have time.

The Austin Botanical Gardens is also a good place to spend 1.5 hours or so. Its quite expansive.

Some people watching, vintage clothing/books shopping on South Congress combined with some brunch at one of the many restaurants or food trucks in that area.

If you are in to food trucks, my favorite is 3 Little Pigs in East Austin. Get yourself a bottle of wine at retail prices at East End Wines and enjoy it with some pork belly sliders.

As an aside, Alan Richman of GQ just named QUI the #1 new restaurant in the country (QUI is run by Paul Qui, former Uchiko chef and Top Chef winner). I found my meal at QUI to be a bit uneven with some very high highs and some fairly low lows but if you want to go to The "Hot" restaurant, QUI is it.

The article also listed LA BBQ as the #13 new restaurant in the country.

http://www.sacbee.com/2014/02/20/617425 ... -most.html

http://www.gq.com/life/eat-and-drink/20 ... n#slide=13

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steadyeddy
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Re: What to do in Austin, TX

Post by steadyeddy » Fri Mar 21, 2014 10:56 am

Thanks again to everyone for your great suggestions! The trip was unforgettable, and we really benefitted from having a local perspective.

Some highlights were catching a few phenomenal free concerts down on South Congress, canoeing the river, indulging in way too much tex-mex, and getting my wife some new cowboy boots that make her light up every time she sees them.

Flights to Vancouver, Barcelona, and Dublin are booked for trips later this year, so I’ll need to come back and get some advice on those as they approach!

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Re: What to do in Austin, TX

Post by moshe » Thu Mar 17, 2016 6:59 pm

Has anyone ever done a tour of Dell's computer manufacturing facilities in the Austin area (rolling rock perhaps) ? Any ideas how to arrange such a tour?

~Moshe
My money has no emotions. ~Moshe | | I'm the world's greatest expert on my own opinion. ~Bruce Williams

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TXJuice
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Re: What to do in Austin, TX

Post by TXJuice » Thu Mar 17, 2016 7:40 pm

hoopy wrote:Since you have a rental car, you should go to the Salt Lick for barbeque, just outside Austin. It's worth it. Bring an appetite.
I was about to say "Go to Salt Lick." So +1 to hoopy's recommendation.

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Re: What to do in Austin, TX

Post by hoopy » Fri Apr 01, 2016 7:02 am

moshe wrote:Has anyone ever done a tour of Dell's computer manufacturing facilities in the Austin area (rolling rock perhaps) ? Any ideas how to arrange such a tour?

~Moshe
I did a tour of their facilities several years ago. My understanding is that these tours are only open to school or university groups, and serve as a recruiting tool. At least back then, that's how it was.

moshe
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Re: What to do in Austin, TX

Post by moshe » Fri Apr 01, 2016 7:43 am

Thank you. I am a Dell "partner" so going to try and work that angle when we decide to go.

~Moshe
My money has no emotions. ~Moshe | | I'm the world's greatest expert on my own opinion. ~Bruce Williams

stoptothink
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Re: What to do in Austin, TX

Post by stoptothink » Fri Apr 01, 2016 10:12 am

I've seen a few people recommend Salt Lick. IMO it is the single most overrated restaurant I've ever been to. It is decent BBQ, but not worth the wait unlike others in the area (ie. Franklin's).

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