austin city limits

just got back from a trip to texas, y’all.

the verdict?  dallas: meh.  austin: is the ish.

we did have a fun time hanging with friends, and at one of my besties’ wedding in dallas, so i can’t totally knock it.  SMU campus is pretty to walk around.  i mean, there’s THIS bad boy…

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and we stayed at the luxurious adolphus hotel, an historic downtown landmark, which is a prime reception venue.

also, i’m currently reading [as in literally-currently-reading-aka-can't-put-it-down] 11/22/63, by stephen king.  it’s loosely about the JFK assassination, so it was cool to be down by the parade route and see the texas school book depository where lee harvey oswald was perched.

FF>>  k, i’ve done my dallas due diligence.

on to austin. it’s the BOMB.

top 10 austin faves (in no particular order):

1.  exploring a new place with the hubs.  always top fave.  i mean, look how cute he is reading a map.

austin map

2.  the oasis

thanks to a friend, travis, who told me about this spot that overlooks lake travis, we rang in our first eve with a fab view at the oasis (thanks travis).   (i think this post wins superlative for “most travises”).  i’ve really never been anywhere like this.  a 2500-seat tex mex restaurant built into a cliff overlooking the lake.  go watch a sunset, eat queso (oh, my darling queso).  and order the perfect margarita.    travis.

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3.  alamo drafthouse

amazeballs.  it’s a must-go if you’re in austin.  we’d heard about it, and thought it might be just like any other dine-in theater, but it’s not.  it has a distinct quirky personality.  we saw the great and powerful oz (meh), and the highlight was the 20 minutes leading up to the movie as they played trailers from all the sequels and knock-offs of wizard of oz movies from around the world and throughout time. the homemade popcorn with real butter wasn’t too shabby either.

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4.  water bikes on lady bird lake

if you haven’t heard, ALL the austin locals travel by water bike.  really.  nobody walks or drives cars.  so, when in rome, right?

ok, so maybe we were the only water bikers, but whatever.  we were cool, you guys.  on a hot sunny day there’s no better view of the downtown city skyline than from on the water at lady bird lake.  they were so much fun and a great way to enjoy the water, get some exercise, and not get wet.  an hour was just the right amount of time.

there was a yelp deal when we went, so check there if you go.

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5.  congress avenue bridge bats

while you’re down at the lake, stick around to see the hundreds of thousands of congress ave. bridge bats.  they. are. disgusting.

get there at 7:30pm.  the best viewing area is on the bridge, overlooking the east side.  meet up with a guy named randy who wears a bat hat–you won’t be sorry.  and after you do this, circle back and let me know if you thought the guano smelled as much like old corn tortillas as i did.  woof.

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6.  the salt lick

picture this…it’s 8:59, we’re starving.  salt lick closes at 9pm, so we slo-mo burst through the doors screaming “noooooooo” wringing our hands.  but then they said “sure we can seat you” so we got to eat there, hooray!

if you watch top chef, you’ll recognize this from the texas season.  it’s furreal texas bbq, y’all.  i’m seriously making brisket this week in honor of their original sauce (that i bought and lovingly carried home with me).  there are no pictures.  just sauce.

7.  whole foods HQ

the whole foods flagship store is in austin and it’s frickin awesome.  think of a normal whole foods + more of a food court, plus wine and beer bar.  we ate yummy breakfast tacos, which everyone recommended and bought a pretty growler from bar lamar.  i think it will look nice on my future bar cart (diy project heads up).

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8.  LBJ presidential library + museum

newly renovated, cool video, declassified phone conversation recordings,  actual-sized oval office, and creepy animatronic LBJ.  need i say more?  we had a great time here, and got worn out towards the end.  if you have more time, you could spend two separate half days touring the museum.  they also have a current exhibit about photojournalism and the presidency that is worth seeing.

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9. SoCo

south of congress ave.  this was by far our favorite area of town. some people like 6th street, but it’s a little college-town meets venice beach, ifyouknowwhatimean.  SoCo reminds me a lot of main street in santa monica.  lots of cute boutiques and local restaurants.  

we even added to our photobooth photo collection with this gem (from a retro photobooth that totally psyche’d! us):

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10.  midnight cowboy

i don’t want to give too much away, because a lot of the appeal of this bar is it’s alluring speakeasy presentation.  it’s not quite what it seems.  check out the website and make a reservation.  you won’t regret it.

some honorable mentions:

  • parts + labour: souvenirs that don’t suck, in SoCo.  case in point: THIS card, and THIS jewelry
  • texas state capitol: we totally nerded out at the red granite capitol building + grounds, and took a docent-led free tour where we learned that original texans were BA.  THIS about sums them up.
  • mellow mushroom: our favorite pizza ever!  after we moved back to LA we regularly cry because we can’t have it once a week.  if you live near one, please eat it.
  • royal blue grocery: a cute and yummy pit stop
  • tacodeli and/or torchy’s tacos: all kind of tacos + queso, of course
  • my DIY boho headband: because hey, i’m proud of it.  i’m sure there’s a pinterest tutorial, but really just cut up a t-shirt and braid it. thanks ali for the shirt.

for next time, we want to hit up:

  • barton springs
  • jo’s coffee
  • sxsw
  • gourdough’s donuts
  • g’raj mahal indian food
  • and a ton of other restaurants

Posted on March 25, 2013 and filed under travel.