BRIKA's Best: Guide to Austin

BRIKA's best Makers travel

81e1156fe1eaf90d3cf6e4579d93b97dIt wouldn't be an overstatement to say that we adore our community of talented Makers for their authenticity, uniqueness and dedication to quality. In addition to the commitment they demonstrate toward their craft, we love that both individually and collectively, they are a storehouse of great information – from their tricks of the trade in our Behind the Goods series to even their thoughts on familial love. As part of our travel guide series, we mined Austin Makers Lizzi and Mary of colorful infinity scarf line Little Minnow for their take on the best of their city. Austin, Texas: Live music capital of the world, a hub for young techies, artisans and designers, and home to 150 new people every day. This is our city, and we are pumped to be able to share it with y’all. This guide is just a small glimpse into the hundreds of activities, eateries and entertainment Austin has in store. PLACES TO SEE
  • Zilker Park – This Austin favorite stretches over 350 acres and is the perfect open space for a soccer game with friends, a round of fetch with your dog, or even a nap in the sun.  Zilker has it all – sand volleyball courts, an 18-hole disc golf course, grills, picnic tables, trails, a giant lake, a pool, even an outdoor theater that hosts different musicals each summer! And let’s not forget the enormous Austin City Limits Music Festival hosted at this very park once a year!  Zilker Park is one Austin destination you definitely don’t want to miss.
  • Barton Springs Pool – Barton Springs Pool, located in Zilker Park, is fed with fresh water from Main Barton Spring, making the pool’s water a crisp 68° Fahrenheit year-round. This is the perfect place to cool off after a day at the park, or to get your tan on while lounging on one of the adjacent grassy slopes.  While you’re there, impress your friends with a crazy jump off of the pool’s extra-springy diving board!
  • Lady Bird Lake and Trail – Lady Bird Lake, a reservoir of the Colorado River, is the number one place to go in Austin if you want to run, bike, walk, or get out on the water and at the same time get a great view of the city.  The trail circling the lake is flat and non-strenuous so we recommend this place for people of all ages.  Multiple water craft rental sites can be found along the lake, and the entire area is dog friendly so don’t forget to bring Fido along for the adventure.
  • HOPE Outdoor Gallery – Colloquially referred to as “The Graffiti Park,” the HOPE Outdoor Gallery is located on a hill at 11th and Baylor Street. The gallery features a series of terraced concrete walls, each covered with layer upon layer of graffiti paintings done by muralists, street artists, art education classes and community groups.  You can register to add your own masterpiece to one of the walls at The top of HOPE Outdoor Gallery hill gives the visitor an excellent view of the Austin city skyline, and the entire place is a fun and colorful art landscape at which to take fun pictures with friends and family.
  • ACL Live at The Moody Theater, Stubb’s Bar-B-Q Restaurant, or C-Boys Heart & Soul – If you’re into live music, these three venues are the places to go.  If you decide to visit Stubb’s Bar-B-Q Restaurant or C-Boys, come with an appetite! Besides having a variety of incredible live music, Stubb’s Bar-B-Q Restaurant is known for its beer, brisket and Sunday gospel brunch featuring live gospel music and a brunch buffet to die for.  C-Boys Heart & Soul’s gourmet soul food and its Japanese-American bar located upstairs are both parts of this swanky place you don’t want to miss.
  • Blanton Museum of Art & Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum – Austin summer heat got you tuckered out?  Try visiting these two incredible museums. The Blanton Museum of Art is located at the University of Texas and is home to almost 18,000 works of modern and contemporary art, Latin American art, Old Master paintings, and prints and drawings from Europe, the United States and Latin America. Learn more about the 36th president of the United States at the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum, one of only 13 presidential libraries administered by the National Archives and Record Administration.  You won’t be disappointed!
  • Mount Bonnell – The highest point in Austin at 775 feet above sea level (yeah, we know, Austin is no Colorado), Mount Bonnell is a romantic spot to have a picnic and watch the sunset with your beloved or to take some pretty pictures with your best friend.  Be forewarned though, it gets really cold up there in the winter on windy days!
Screen Shot 2016-07-07 at 4.36.19 PM PLACES TO EAT
  • Homeslice & Via 313 – If you’ve got a hankering for some incredible pizza, look no further than Homeslice and Via 313.  Located on South Congress, Homeslice has both a walk-up window and a sit-down restaurant with indoor seating as well as a back patio. The walk-up window’s menu is limited compared to the full menu at the restaurant, but it’s a great option if you want to take your pizza to go, or if you simply want to get your pizza more quickly than you would inside. Via 313 has three different locations – two food trucks, and a brick-and-mortar.  Here you can find delicious Detroit-style pizza that’s sure to please everyone, young and old. Family friendly and relatively inexpensive, these two restaurants are Austin “musts” for pizza lovers.
  • Joe’s Bakery and Coffee Shop, Torchy’s, Veracruz All Natural, and Juan in a Million – We take tacos pretty seriously in Austin.  This might be the hottest debate topic in these parts, so we’re sure to get some criticism from the more “refined” taco snobs out there, but we are personally huge fans of the breakfast tacos at Joe’s Bakery and Coffee Shop, the Don Juan at Juan in a Million (featured on the TV show Man vs. Food) the fried avocado tacos at Torchy’s (you have to get the queso, it will change your life), and the fish tacos at Veracruz All Natural, a well-known food truck around here.  Okay, so we know you’ve heard of barhopping, but what about taco hopping?! We might have made that up, but if it were a thing, Austin would definitely be the place to do it with tacos on almost every corner!  Try it sometime and let us know which taco gets your vote.
  • East Side King – This Asian-fusion food truck is a must.  Their fried Brussels sprouts salad is one of our favorite dishes in Austin, and their wacky, colorful truck is hard to miss.  Portions are small so we recommend going with friends, that way everyone can order a couple different items and you can sample a little bit of everything!
  • Contigo, Uchi, Easy Tiger and BBQ – Okay, full disclosure, Mary and I are both pescetarian, so we aren’t great resources when it comes to where to get great barbeque in Austin. But, from what we hear from our meat loving friends - Franklin’s, John Mueller Meat Co and La Barbeque are the go to places. (Be prepared to wait in long lines for most of these spots, they sell until they run out.) On a night when the weather is nice, head out to Contigo for cool outdoor seating and delicious farm-to-table fare. Don’t let the pricy menu at Uchi dissuade you from going – this sushi restaurant has one of the best happy hours in Austin from 5-6:30 p.m. daily with samples at a fraction of regular cost. For a more laid back atmosphere, we recommend Easy Tiger. It’s a bakery and beer garden located just on the outskirts of the infamous “dirty sixth” street. Their homemade pretzels and beer cheese are a great snack! Of course, there are hundreds of places to eat in Austin and we’re sure you’ll find something that suits your specific tastes; we just wanted to share some of our favorites with you!
Screen Shot 2016-07-07 at 4.56.13 PM PLACES TO GET DESSERT
  • Lick Ice Creams – Ever wondered what goat cheese, honey, and thyme ice cream tastes like?  Or maybe cilantro-lime ice cream?  Then Lick Ice Creams is the place for you. With locally sourced eccentric flavors that change with the seasons, Lick Ice Creams is an Austin classic.  The ice cream is absolutely delicious (even the weirdest sounding flavors, we promise!), and the atmosphere is fun and family friendly.  There are two different locations in different parts of town.  We definitely recommend getting your ice cream in one of their delectable homemade waffle cones when you go!
  • Amy’s Ice Creams – It’s hard to find an Austinite who doesn’t like Amy’s Ice Creams – with flavors like sweet cream and white chocolate, it’s hard to beat. There are 12 different locations and at each, you will find fun, upbeat employees who might even do a trick and throw a scoop of ice cream up in the air if you’re lucky.  Go with friends or bring your kids on a hot summer day for a sweet, refreshing treat.
  • Gordough’s – There’s nothing quite like Gordough’s – giant, melt-in-your mouth donuts heaped with toppings like peach filling, cinnamon, sugar and cake mix. Get your sweet fix at the Gordough’s food truck, or try a donut-y meal at one of the two brick-and-mortars like their bacon, egg and cheese sandwich with donuts in place of the bread.  We can’t, in good conscience, recommend you eat here too much though – let’s be honest, it’d probably kill ya.
Screen Shot 2016-07-07 at 4.14.03 PM PLACES TO DRINK
  • Juiceland - This is our go-to juice/smoothie place in Austin. Mary’s favorite is the Peachy Green and Lizzi’s is the Tatonka. A great healthy way to start your day (or cure your hangover)!
  • The White Horse – This place has it all – two stepping, whiskey on tap, live country music seven days a week, and a taco truck outside! (Did we mention Austin has a lot of tacos?) Bring your sweetheart or a few good friends and dance the night away.
  • Whisler’s – Rustic and chic, Whisler’s serves handcrafted cocktails and offers patio seating with frequent live music shows.
  • Lucille Patio Lounge – Lucille Patio Lounge is located on Rainey Street and has a large, shaded, dog-friendly patio – the perfect hangout spot for one of those cooler summer nights.  Rainey Street is filled with bars and restaurants, so be sure check out some other neat places while you’re down there!
  • Geraldine’s – Also located on Rainey Street, inside the Hotel Van Zandt, Geraldine’s features include cocktails, food and live music. And if you are visiting Austin when the bats are flying (from March to November, 1.5 million bats emerge at dusk from the South Congress bridge – it’s a pretty spectacular site!) they have a great view from the bar/lounge area.
  • Buzzmill – Open 24 hours, Buzzmill serves coffee, beer and cider around the clock as well as a Sunday brunch from 10-3pm.  Both indoor and outdoor seating are available in this general-store modeled joint.
  • Midnight Cowboy – You have to make an online reservation to visit this bar, and when you do, you’ll receive a password for the door.  Midnight Cowboy is meant to feel like an old speakeasy, and this bar does the job well with its intimate interior and old-school cocktail menu.
  • Thunderbird Coffee – Thunderbird Coffee has two different locations and serves coffee and sandwiches along with several beers on tap. The southern location feels hip and eccentric, with mismatched furniture and different colors everywhere, whereas the northern location has a more classy and chic vibe, with dimmer lighting and a sleek interior.  A fair warning to all you college students cramming for finals – the northern Thunderbird, located on Koenig, has no wall outlets, so if you plan on going for a day of studying, make sure to come prepared with a fully-charged computer! While you’re there, be sure to try their signature Honey Nut Latte for a sweet treat.
  • Epoch Coffee – Epoch Coffee’s two locations have very different vibes, similar to the two Thunderbird locations – one mismatched and funky, the other mellow and sophisticated.  This coffee shop is famous for its iced Mojo, a sweet, cold, coffee-based beverage made of secret ingredients (we think it tastes like hazelnut). The patio on the right hand side of the North Loop location allows smoking, so if you are sensitive to smoke, the outdoor seating on the left hand side, or the indoor seating are other options for you.  While you’re at the North Loop location, check out Blue Velvet, a vintage clothing store next door, or Breakaway Records a few doors down.  The Anderson Lane location is a great place to visit before a movie at the next-door Alamo Drafthouse Cinema.
  • Houndstooth Coffee – Houndstooth Coffee is the perfect spot for coffee “purists” – with a classic Italian menu, this coffee shop simply has excellent coffee.  Stop by after a grocery-shopping trip or meal at Central Market across the street and enjoy Houndstooth Coffee’s comfortable interior and friendly baristas.
Screen Shot 2016-07-07 at 4.10.14 PM PLACES TO SHOP
  • Parts & Labour, Allens Boots and Uncommon Objects – These, along with many other local shops are located on South Congress, one of Austin’s most popular tourist destinations.  At Parts & Labour you will find a variety of things, including t-shirts, jewelry and handmade goods, all made by Texas artists.  Allens Boots is your go-to store for western wear here in Austin with boots, hats, shirts and jeans galore.  Uncommon Objects is a giant maze of an antique store, with nooks and crannies stuffed with gadgets and trinkets from the past.  You may find an odd thing or two as you explore the store, including skeletons, taxidermy and several anatomical paintings of the body’s different muscles and bones.
  • Luxe Apothetique – Shop cute clothes, skincare and much more at this cute little boutique with two different locations (the one on 2nd street is one of our favorite places down there). Luxe Apothetique is the perfect place to find a unique gift!
  • Weathered Coalition – Located on Rock Rose Street at The Domain, Weathered Coalition is the premier spot for American made men’s clothing and dry goods. When you enter the store, the staff are sure to offer you a complimentary glass of whiskey or a cold brew from local coffee shop Seventh Flag Coffee.  The store, which stocks brands like Wolverine, 3Sixteen and Corridor, even has a lounge area and a small barbershop in one corner.  While you’re on Rock Rose Street, be sure to check out the many other stores, coffee shops and bars in this newly developed area of The Domain.
Photo in main image courtesy of Beth Wilson   Related posts BRIKA’s Best: Guide to Brooklyn  BRIKA's Best: Guide to Mexico City BRIKA’s Best: Guide to Palm Springs BRIKA's Best: Guide to Seattle

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