I have been meaning to write about part two of our fantastic time in Austin for several days, but the truth is, I’ve been having too much fun to sit down and bust out a new post. However, if I get any further behind, it will be 2014 before I finish writing about the cross-country road trip! So back on task: here she is…
Waking up to tropical storm-like heavy rain on a Friday in Austin, swimming and most outdoor activities were out of the question, or at least for the morning. So we lunched at Home Slice Pizzeria on South Congress, and then returned to our rental apartment where we played a few rounds of Battleship on the patio area. I told you the rental owners thought of everything. We had about 6 or 7 board games to choose from. Pretty certain Andrew won all three matches, but I’d like to think my Battleship game is still rather solid.
While I was afternoon napping after such strenuous board game effort, Andrew ventured out to fetch the naughtiest thing we ate in Austin: specialty donut creations from Gourdough’s. I am not sure my words or photographs will do this place and the food justice. The donuts are made to order right in the vintage Airstream trailer, which means they are incredibly fresh ((if you can consider a fried heap of dough “fresh”)). It is probably ideal that I was napping, because it would have taken me a solid hour just to make a selection from their two dozen unbelievable options. Andrew went with the Fat Elvis ((subbed cream cheese frosting instead of peanut butter, with grilled bananas, bacon and a drizzle of honey)) AND a Razzle Dazzle ((raspberry filling with a chocolate fudge icing and chocolate chips)). Is your mouth watering yet? Gluttony at its finest, my friends. Melt in your mouth gluttony actually. It has been a couple of weeks since we left Austin, and we are still talking about Gourdough’s.
Here are some other food places we tried in Austin:
1. Salt Lick – this place is an experience, especially if you venture a short distance from Austin to their massive flagship property in Driftwood. Bring your own booze, cash and definitely bring your appetite for bbq and homemade sides like a unique potato salad not gooped with mayo, but instead flavored with light vinegar and their own delicious secret recipe bbq sauce. I would say we enjoyed the experience of a real Texas bbq place more so over the food. I’d recommend sticking to one of their “plates” versus the all you can eat family style meal. It was way too much food even for our large appetites.
2. JuiceLand – Looking for a fresh juice to bring some healthfulness to your horrible road trip diet? This place had an abundant selection of juices, smoothies, and they have several locations around Austin. We stopped by the Barton Springs JuiceLand near our Studio rental. Select the Tigerlily juice and add apple. Soooo yummy.
3. Chi’Lantro Korean-Mex Taco Cart – Sometimes after a night of drinking and riding a mechanical bull, you need to treat yourself to some late night food cart grub. Austin is famous for their numerous food carts serving up some of the best food this hip city has to offer, and Chi’Lantro is certainly one of them. I chose the tofu tacos, and while their salsa was a bit spicy for me, the Korean/Mex flavors were a party in my mouth. Check out this useful website on all things related to where the various food carts are located and offering.
4. Bouldin Creek Cafe – This serene cafe off the beaten path of busy South Congress was recommended by a local after we mentioned we were in search of a good sandwich. I chose the Chickpea Salad Sandwich ((veg version of chicken salad)) on perfectly toasted bread, with a side house salad dressed with garlic tahini, while Andrew went with grilled cheese and potato chips. This was more than just a good sandwich. It was one of the best sandwiches I’ve ever had. And that garlic tahini dressing on my salad was incredible. The food was so flavorful and fresh as anything. Such a great find in Bouldin Creek Cafe.
5. Amy’s Ice Creams – You scream? Amy’s Ice Creams are pretty special, and most likely flavors you haven’t tasted ((black velvet, honey graham)). Pick your favorite topping or one of their suggested combinations. Thirteen locations in Austin to serve you creamy, delicious ice cream with a smile.
To balance out all the food we consumed, there was plenty of walking, drinking, and other activities. We returned to Key Bar on 6th for some booze before hitting up Rebels Honky Tonk to experience the country side of Austin. It is at Rebels where I decided it would be a great idea to take a ride on their mechanical bull, with the enthusiastic encouragement of my husband. There is video and photographic evidence that suggests I did not last long on two attempts at my first rodeo. But hey, when in Texas, right?
During our last night in Texas, after a recommendation from a friend, we wandered around quaint Rainey Street. Unfortunately it was after we had eaten a mediocre dinner just off 6th Street, because the places around Rainey were so incredibly cute and inviting. Especially when Andrew spotted a place called Bangers Sausage House which serves his all-time favorite meal of bangers & mash. The bars are all located in old houses with small yards or patios. Rainey Street is one of the many top reasons to return to Austin, when I will visit this adorable area before a night of heavy drinking and mechanical bull riding. I would love to spend time hanging out like a regular in each of the bars.
^^have I mentioned we love Car2Go?! cruised around Austin in these bad boys.
One of the best outdoor activities ((besides eating and drinking)) in Austin is cooling off at Barton Springs Pool on a warm sunny day. We grabbed beach towels from the Studio rental and walked the short distance to the pool, paid our $3 admission, and hopped in to the chilly water. This “pool” is three acres in size, and is about 70 degrees Fahrenheit year round, fed from underground springs. The bottom is made up of slimy mossy rocks which can take a little bit to get used to on your feet. The water felt rather cold at first, but after a few minutes of swimming, more like incredibly refreshing. There were people showing their best tricks off the diving board, swimming laps, and sun bathing on the hills on either side of the pool. I can only imagine how popular the pool is during the hot summer months! Such a carefree last afternoon in Austin was spent at Barton Springs Pool.
It is likely that I will never stop gushing about Austin, or planning my next visit to such a fantastic city. It has won me over and was better than I ever expected. If you are looking for a metropolitan area with original, local flavor, lots of options and activities – Austin should most certainly be the place you select.
Next stop is the Crescent City!