AUSTIN, TEXAS

CITY GUIDE

By Rhiannon Taylor, September 2017


Austin has soul, there's no doubt about it and it's the kind of city that gets under your skin. After one visit you'll want to include it as a must-stop on every visit you plan to the USA as you would Los Angeles or New York. Despite being able to drive from one end of town to the other in about 15 minutes, there's an abundance of food, music, local artisans and Texan hospitality that makes it feel like one of the USA's most culturally rich cities. It's the kind of city where having no plans can be magic as you'll no doubt meet locals and end up finding hidden gems. However, here are our picks on how to do Austin.

 

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EAT & DRINK

 

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La Barbecue - Ask any Texan and they'll say the know where the "best" barbecue is. However in Austin, publications and public opinion hold La Barbecue in the highest esteem. And for good reason - the ribs and brisket here have the perfect balance of smoke, sweetness and tenderness. The local supermarket takes your drink orders while you wait in the queue (expect 1.5 hours during lunch time), so it's makes the wait bearable. https://www.labarbecue.com

Franklin Barbecue - Probably the most famous barbecue joint from Texas known around the globe. The queues here can start at 6am to be served by lunchtime. It's one of those places you need to do just once. https://franklinbbq.com

Terry Black's - If you don't want to queue up at some of the more hip barbecue joints, head to Terry Black's. We had some of our favourite barbecue meat here, especially the ribs. It's served canteen style where you help yourself to bread, pickles and salad and you can even pop out back for a pit tour. It's reasonably priced too. http://www.terryblacksbbq.com

Hillside Farmacy - You could come here just for the decor - brass cabinets filled with vintage apothecary bottles and knick knacks line the cafe while diner stools sit aptly along a mirrored bar. The food is good too - classics like mac and cheese and battered fish and chips are real winners and check out their happy hour for half price entrees. http://hillsidefarmacy.com

Mattie's - Located in a swoon-worth 19th century home surrounded by plush gardens, Mattie's is a gorgeous restaurant serving up comfort-food favourites. Fried chicken, pancakes and french toast are all home-style and really wickedly-good. http://mattiesaustin.com

Ranch 616 - This is an Austin institution serving up ranch-style food that is a local secret. You're guaranteed to have a good time, seven days a week with tequila specials and a vibey outdoor terrace with great music. The menu is designed for sharing with dishes such as overflowing vegetable platters served with moorish house-made ranch dressing and quail and lamb chops grilled to succulent perfection. Save room for dessert - the pies here are to die for. http://theranch616.com

Junes All Day - This swanky cafe is located in Austin's trendy South Congress district and has a Parisian-style interior with a classic menu featuring favourites such as Nicoise Salad and Matzo Ball Caldo (soup). This is a great spot for lunch, with street-side dining along South Congress. http://junesallday.com

My Name is Joe - Hidden in a garage, this coffee stop is served out of a parked airstream. My Name is Joe helps those in the community who are reforming their lives from drug and alcohol addiction by employing and giving them a skill. It's a great initiative and they serve up great coffee and small bites. http://mynameisjoe.com 

Rainey Street - This is quite possibly the coolest strip in Austin. Quaint houses-turned-bars line the street with twinkling lights and it really starts buzzing after 8pm. There's plenty of food trucks dotted about and of course, live music. http://www.raineystreetbars.com

 

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SEE & DO

 

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6th Street - This may seem the obvious thing to do in Austin, but don't confuse it's touristy fame with being a tourist trap. 6th Street is always buzzing and it's a great way to see live music from both household names (Adele played a set unannounced recently) and undiscovered talent. Strolling along from the top end of the street to the bottom is bound to having yous stopping along the way, indulging in an evening tipple and stumbling across some great tunes. https://6street.com

South Congress Avenue - We could list all the boutique cafes and stores along SoCo but there's just too many. Set aside an afternoon and stroll the street. You'll find bespoke made jewelry, vintage western shirts, candy stores, Allen's infamous boot store and plenty of hip food joints - it's one of our favourite parts in Austin. https://www.austintexas.org/listings/south-congress-avenue-(soco)/4359/

Barton Springs Pool - If you're visiting in Summer cool off at Barton Springs Pool. This natural pool has an average temperature of 68-70 degrees Fahrenheit all year round and is pretty much open from sunrise to sunset.  https://austintexas.gov/department/barton-springs-pool

The Contemporary - The Laguna Gloria location of The Contemporary has some great public art and views overlooking Austin. Stroll around in the gardens for a relaxing afternoon. https://www.thecontemporaryaustin.org

The Texas State Capitol Building - Not many know Austin is the capitol of Texas, so pop in to the Capitol Building and have a wander. The attention to detail is incredible and there's a lot of history to the space, including some original portraiture of the Bush family.

Lady Bird Lake and Hike Trail - If you're keen to get outside and get active this trail has ten miles of running and bike tracks around Ladybird Lake. It's a go-to for local fitness enthusiasts. https://www.austintexas.org/listings/ann-and-roy-butler-hike-and-bike-trail-and-boardwalk-at-lady-bird-lake/4369/ 

 

STAY

 

Hotel Saint Cecilia - This place is so hip, even the locals flock to Hotel Saint Cecilia for stay-cations. The space is cool, the service is charming and there's an exclusive private pool for those hot Summer days. http://hotelsaintcecilia.com

Hotel Van Zandt - Kimpton really got this property right when they set up on the uber-cool area of Rainey Street. The hotel is modern with small touches like vintage vinyl's on the wall throughout the hotel to remind you that you're in Austin. There's a slick rooftop pool which is a great spot to catch sunset before heading out. http://www.hotelvanzandt.com

South Congress Hotel - This is a dreamy hotel that is light filled and always buzzing. Located on South Congress Avenue, it's location is stella and has a fab in-house cafe with artisan baked goods and comfort food. https://southcongresshotel.com

 

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