When it comes to exploring a new city, I want to see and do everything possible. Lucky for me, I was able to explore Austin twice in one month, both for work and fun. After a total of 10 days in this amazing city, reality set in and I sadly came to the conclusion that PTO does not grow on trees and I had to go back to Chicago at some point. Similar to my Napa trip, my boyfriend and I set out to explore Austin like a “local” would, while also experiencing “touristy” things like this.
During my two trips, I was able to stay in different areas of Austin for each. For work, we stayed downtown at the JW Marriott (2nd and Congress) to utilize several of their meeting room spaces. From a guest’s perspective, the service was absolutely wonderful. The hotel decor and pool area added to the appeal of the hotel itself. I would highly recommend staying here if you’re looking for a centrally located, downtown hotel.
For my second trip, my boyfriend and I stayed at Hotel Van Zandt (a Kimpton Hotel property). You can’t beat the customer service at both of these properties. I loved that Hotel Van Zandt was RIGHT on Rainey Street (more on Rainey Street to come) and was absolutely gorgeous. Their concierge and front desk staff went out of their way to make us feel at home during our entire stay. I fully intend on staying here again for my next trip back to Austin. Anyone want to join?
Austin is DEFINITELY a city where you are going to indulge. Whether you are eating or drinking your calories, there is good food and drinks at every corner. With some research leading up to my trip, and recommendations from friends that live in Austin (Hi Natalie!), I was prepared to explore the Austin food scene.
Here are some of my favorites –
Perla’s: A South Congress favorite of mine! I’m not embarrassed to admit that between both of my trips to Austin, I ate here twice (well, technically three times if you count a quick appetizer and drink before a late dinner – don’t judge). If you like seafood and/or oysters, Perla’s is a must! Even if you don’t like seafood, their drinks and outdoor patio make it worth the trip. Between their shrimp po’boy, seafood tower and gazpacho – I could eat here every day! Tip: make sure to make a reservation but arrive early to see if you can be seated outside!
Launderette: Launderette would absolutely be a PERFECT addition to Chicago’s food scene; but since it’s not, I was so happy we were able to go here for dinner and sit outside (one of the many perks of Austin’s warm weather, endless outdoor seating availability at most bars/restaurants). Everything on Launderette’s menu was delicious. Some personal favorites were the fried oysters, burrata, crab toast, frites (obviously) and their whole branzino. If you read anything in this paragraph, this is a must! You have to save room for their birthday cake ice cream sandwich (shown below). Literally HEAVEN in a dessert. Tip: they do not take reservations. Get there a little bit early and get drinks at the bar while you wait.
Clark’s Oyster Bar: Clark’s is another great oyster bar with outdoor seating located in West Austin. Some of my favorite menu items were the oven-roasted oysters, mussels, and mac & cheese with crab! I loved the dinner vibe here and the drinks were delicious too!
La Condesa: For my client outing we utilized La Condesa’s event space, Malverde. I instantly fell in love with the decor throughout the restaurant and the food/drinks could not have been more delicious! I highly recommend Malverde if you’re in need of an event space for a larger group. Not only was the service great, but you’re in your own private space away from the restaurant.
Other favorites worth a visit:
- Hillside Farmacy
- No Va
- Salt & Time
Like I mentioned earlier, you can’t go to Austin and not indulge in the abundance of bars and restaurants around you. These were some of my favorite activities while visiting Austin that of course, in some way still involve food and drinks.
Franklin Barbecue: Hi, I’m Justine and I waited in the Franklin Barbecue line for 3 hours on my visit to Austin. If you’re asking yourself, “is it really worth it?” Yes, it is. I’m not sure I can say this was one of my favorite things I did on my trip to Austin, but it was definitely one of the most memorable. I can’t speak for anyone else, but in our experience, we got there just a few minutes before 8:00 a.m. and we sat down to eat by 11:30 (they open at 11:00 a.m.). Call me crazy, but the waiting part was just as fun! We made friends with our neighbors in line, played games, drank beer and even the Franklin staff came out around 9:30 to serve drinks, take orders, etc.
Torchy’s: A goal of mine on the trip was to find a food truck for breakfast tacos. After some research, I found that Torchy’s was nearby several Instagram-worthy spots I wanted to check out and that they did indeed have breakfast tacos. I’m sad to say that I wasn’t able to try the queso that so many friends recommended from Torchy’s.
“Greetings from Austin”: I love the Greetings Tour murals that are located all across the United States. It took me forever to see the Chicago one so I knew I couldn’t miss the opportunity to check out the Austin mural a block away from Torchy’s! The exact location is at 1st & Annie.
Jester King Brewery: I am in no way a beer connoisseur, but give me sunshine and a cold drink, and I’m good to go. After our Franklin Barbecue adventure, we made our way 30 minutes outside of Austin to Jester King Brewery. When we arrived, there were at least a hundred or more people also looking to enjoy the sunshine and good beer. On the Jester King Property they have an awesome outdoor pizza place, Stanley’s Farmhouse Pizza. Who doesn’t love beer and pizza, especially together?
South Congress: The entire South Congress area is definitely worth a visit if you plan on visiting Austin anytime soon! Make sure to stop at the “I love you so much” sign located at Jo’s Coffee, where you will most likely see at least 3-5 other groups/couples doing the same thing. Take a couple of minutes to check out the unique boutiques up and down the street. My two favorites were The Gypsy Wagon and Strut. This is also where you’ll find Perla’s, Hopdoddy for burgers, and Amy’s for ice cream!
Rainey Street: Container Bar and Bangers are two my absolute favorite bars on Rainey Street! Make sure you go to Bangers on a Sunday for their Sunday brunch and order a manmosa! Bangers has live music, great people watching and lots of dogs that definitely made me wish I had one of my own.
Easy Tiger: Located on sixth street, Easy Tiger is a really cool cafe/bakery that has a fun creek-side beer garden that serves simple snacks and cheeses. We ended up going here twice and loved it both times!
Other bars to check out:
- Star Bar
- Rattle Inn
- Market Bar
So long, Austin! I hope to see you very soon!