Let me add my name to the endless list of travel writers telling you about the greatness of Austin, TX. With so much wonderful food, so many delicious drinks, and an endless supply of activities to enjoy, bragging on Austin has become a cliché.
I’m about to cliché away.
If you visit Austin and fail to have a good time, the failure is on you. Kristi and I visited in October of 2017 for a long weekend; we left already anticipating our return.
We began our trip Thursday night diving headlong into a quintessential Austin experience. The outdoor beer garden and live music at Banger’s Sausage House and Beer Garden seems pulled out of the Austin of your imagination. Homemade sausage compliments an endless supply of local craft beer on tap and Waylon Jennings music in the air.
I had the duck, bacon and fig sausage with a Saint Arnold Brewery root beer (it’s a long story – and was totally worth it) while Kristi tried the jalapeno cheddar bratwurst with a Liliko’I Kepolo Belgian-style white ale with passionfruit from Avery Brewing Co.
Do people who live in Austin have this much fun every Thursday night? If this is Thursday, what does Friday look like? Would this ever become routine?
Neither Kristi nor I are late-night, go-out people, but it felt like we could be after spending a couple hours at Bangers.
A walk up and down Rainey St., where Banger’s is located, found hundreds of other people having just as much fun as we were at over a dozen restaurants, bars and food trucks.
Speaking of food trucks, Austin, TX surely must be the nation’s capital. Everywhere you go you’ll find them. We found our fair share – more on them later.
Friday morning, work responsibilities forced us to split up. Kristi visited the University of Texas Golf Club outside of Austin on an athletics facilities tour at the University, while I stayed at the hotel writing.
A quick Google search by me for nearby “taco restaurants” brought back numerous results, the most interesting being Tyson’s Tacos. On a section of road no tourist would ever find without looking sits Tyson’ Tacos.
In a dirt and gravel parking lot, lacking even a whiff of pretense, you’ll find what appears to be a taco stand with an awning and covered patio attached to it. A fantastic selection of tacos with enough beer selection to get by greets visitors who regularly wait in line to order – as I did for a few minutes which provided welcome time to process the highly unusual offerings on the menu.
I had a Robinsonian (migas (scrambled eggs with corn tortillas), bacon, avocado and cheese), a Queen Barret (migas, queso, avocado, house sausage and fresh jalapenos) and a Burnt Ends without onion rings. All were exceptional.
Together again, Kristi and I joined a friend of her’s for dinner at Matt’s El Ranchero, right next to the UT campus.
A lively happy hour crowd greeted us around 6:00. Again, I ask, “is Austin like this every Friday night at 6:00? What does this place look like at 10:30? Would this ever become routine?”
In short order – and it’s easy to understand why – you realize most people in Austin really love living in Austin. We spoke with probably a dozen people who we’d never met before our trip, asking all of them about living there, and without hesitation, they went on and on about how wonderful it is. While we tend to receive that response wherever we go from people who know we’re travel writers, the folks we spoke to in Austin had no idea who we were when freely offering up their reviews.
After leaving Bangers on Thursday, I felt as though we had already experienced the highlight of our trip after only three hours on the ground. Midway through breakfast at Cannon + Belle inside the Hilton Austin Hotel Saturday morning, I wasn’t so sure.
Where to begin? How about the cold-pressed juices that explode in your mouth like the grand finale of the Macy’s Fourth of July fireworks show in New York? The outrageously savory and flavorful brisket and smoked gouda frittata? The homemade granola bar – not granola pressed into a bar, but a bar to make your own granola like a salad bar?
After eating all I could – I mean I really pushed myself here – I gave serious consideration to purging in order to do it all over again. Because we infrequently eat a full, sit-down breakfast, when we do, the experience tends to stand out. Cannon + Belle goes into our all-time Top 5 breakfasts from around the world in our seven years of traveling together. Hell, it might be No. 1.
Although it would be tempting to try, you can’t just eat and drink on a visit to Austin.
As home to the University of Texas Longhorns, you can almost always find a high-level college sporting event to attend September through May, as we did with the team’s football game against Oklahoma State.
Austin’s art scene has also been well-documented. Art on 5th (which isn’t on 5th), with its unique collection of works by Dr. Seuss, along with the art galleries and antiques shops along 6th Street are worth your time. You could spend a full day inside Fortney’s West End which displays an overwhelming amount of antiques fitting every description.
Outdoor recreational opportunities are limitless at nearby Lake Travis and the surrounding hill country.
Austin fights to defend its “live music capitol of the world” slogan every day.
Too full to eat a proper dinner, Saturday evening took us to Celis Brewery and Taproom. Celis has a fascinating backstory which begins in Hoegaarden, Belgium. That name will be familiar to beer connoisseurs.
Celis specializes in Belgian-style ales which just so happen to be my favorite. Their original witbier was originally brewed back in Hoegaarden by Celis’ founder. It’s as good today as it was then and my favorite.
The Celis taproom does not serve food, but a food truck is always parked outside. On the day we visited, Sudakas, serving Latin American Fusion, was on premise. Outstanding. I had the Lechon Asado Grilled Cheese which was gooey, savory and delicious.
Obviously, we didn’t begin to scratch the surface of what there is to eat and drink and see and do in Austin, but that’s what our next trip is for.