Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Austin City Limits

I'd been looking forward to going to Austin for quite some time and the city did not disappoint. I didn't really have many expectations going into the trip - partially because my soon-to-be brother-in-law, Corey, lives there at the moment and I knew he and my sister Myriah would show us a great time. They totally did with a full itinerary that revolved around eating, drinking and visiting every area of town. It seems life there revolves around BBQ, Tex Mex, music, great cocktails, beautiful views, the lake and a developing downtown area. It's definitely a place I could live for a few years. It's got a bit of the New Orleans charm but it's spread out like San Diego, plus it's got a lot of the cool factor San Francisco is so well known for. Quite the Southern melting pot. Thursday through Sunday gave us the perfect amount of time to explore before our jeans burst from eating a little too much. Read on for a day by day of our holiday...
First stop post-airport was a goat cheese and olive tapenade tartine and mushroom/leek/fontina quiche lunch at Blue Dahlia in East Austin (up and coming hipster area) followed by a nonfat iced latte and homemade French macarons at Hillside Pharmacy. The Pharmacy is in the most adorable old cafe with authentic marble, iron and vintage decor. They use Stumptown Coffee (my favorite, even over Blue Bottle!) meaning every drink has a rich, creamy delicious flavor. They also do afternoon tea which seemed worth a try.
After walking around downtown and checking out 6th street (restaurants, shopping, businesses), we walked down to a nearby bridge at Town Lake to watch the sunset. The lake is really cool...it adds an element of nature to the city and people seem to love kayaking and boating around.
We walked by this miniature bar every day leaving Corey's place and I obviously fell in love. Love a good tiny bar! This was the start of a fun night on Rainey Street, a historic district of Austin that was probably my favorite area. It's a street of historic homes in southeast Austin, most of which have been refurbished in cool bungalow style. There's a mix of bars and restaurants and apparently it's fun day or night. 
After enjoying a homemade sausage dinner at Bangers along with a really good live country band on the patio, we headed a few doors down to Lucille's. It's a really cute, swanky cocktail lounge. My sister and I got Cucumbertinis that were strong but so good. The night ended at Lustre Pearl where we went to the University of Texas MBA 'Think & Drink' happy hour and met some of Corey's friends.
On Friday we woke up  checked out the South Congress area, which reminds me of Melrose Ave. in LA in the 70's or 80's. Everything's a little dated and retro and there are tons of second hand shops along with really good restaurants, fast food stops and food trucks. After an authentic BBQ lunch at Lambert's, we needed a pick-me-up so Myriah and Corey took us to Jo's where they make a special coffee concoction that puts any frappuccino to shame. It's coffee meets chocolate and coconut milk...bingo.
Just down the street is Hotel San Jose, a chic boutique hotel where we stopped for a drink. Myriah and Corey told us that this used to be burlesque house...it's clearly changed a bit since then! The tranquil surroundings were perfect for a bit of relaxing in the sun. 
This beautiful drink from Hotel San Jose is called a 'Champassion.' Super simple to make...start with less than 1/4 of passion fruit puree in the bottom of the glass, fill it up with champagne and top with plump raspberries. Voila! A perfect afternoon (or anytime) cocktail. 
Saturday was filled with yet more exploring. After a Mexican lunch along Lake Austin (think Tahoe style restaurants lined along the water), we drove over to Mount Bonnell where you can see some pretty incredible views of the city. The view stretches for days...so lush and beautiful.
After some nature we headed back over to East Austin for cocktails and one of Myriah and Corey's favorite places called Weather Up. My sister got this blackberry bramble that was pretty darn good. 
This iconic wall in Austin is over on South Congress. Says it all, right? :)
Jim couldn't get enough of Lone Star beer, the 'National Beer of Texas.' It's a lager that I actually found to be pretty light and tasty. Plus I like the bottle design.
And that's all for Austin! I really loved our visit and highly recommend it as a very cool city to visit for a long weekend.

Until next time!

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