Get acquainted with Austin and the food mecca that it is. To do so, start with a stroll down one of the coolest streets, South Congress. South Congress is a wide boulevard that runs from the Texas State Capitol Building through numerous neighborhoods all the way to the part where you want to eat, drink and shop your fill located between Barton Springs and Elizabeth Street!
This area is filled with vintage and antique stores, food trucks, costume shops and of course foodie highlights such as Hopdoddy Burger Bar, Guero's (in the movie Chef) and Torchy's Tacos (Texas taco chain).
To get your morning coffee fix, first head to South Congress Cafe. It has a super cute interior, great coffee, a bar and even a hidden patio! After filling up on much needed caffeine, peruse through the shops like Big Top (a fun gift and T-shirt shop), Lucy in Disguise with Diamonds (costume store) and Allen's Boots (makes famous leather boots). Once you work up an appetite, grab a snack at Home Slice Pizza which has options for full NY style pizza's or quick by-the-slice options. Slice's vary in price, but you won't pay more than $4.00!
Lunch should always be followed by dessert which is perfect because Amy's Ice Cream is just down the street. Started in Austin, Amy's Ice Cream mission is to make people's day! As you can see from the photo above, there is a huge line waiting to get a scoop of creamy ice cream. It's most well known for it's Mexican Vanilla Ice Cream which is the flavor I ended up getting! It's basically a creamier Vanilla ice cream than normal - more like a gelato than ice cream! You can always "spice" up your ice cream by adding the various chrush'ns or toppings. A definitely "must-do" on your Austin list!
Right across the street from Amy's Ice Cream is Jo's Coffee where the infamous "I love you so much" mural is located. Why? Well, one of Jo's Coffee's owner is Liz Lambert and her then-girlfriend, musician Amy Cook, spray painted it for her! Pretty freakin' cute. Especially, since this act of love went viral. There is literally a sign that direct people where to start the line to wait for a chance to take a picture with the mural. It's been printed on t-shirts, hats and all sort of other Austin goodies now.
Give your legs a rest after wandering SoCo and start your evening with a beautiful sunset view atop Mt. Bonnell. Mt. Bonnel is the highest point in Austin at 775 ft and overlooks the Colorado River. It's a very short "hike" to the top with 102 steps. Once at the top, a short walk to the left provides views of downtown Austin, while a walk to the right is an unobstructed view of the river and the sun setting behind the hills.
After sunset, enjoy drinks, tacos and a lively vibe on Sixth Street (the hipster side!). Apparently Sixth Street is divided into three sections - the hipster section is farthest away from downtown. Start your night at Lazarus Brewing Company where you can enjoy flights of beers and delicious tacos.
Hop across the street to Whisler's to enjoy outdoor seating, two beer rooms and a hidden mezcal tasting room upstairs! It's just $10 per person to taste the huge variety of mezcal's they have available. Our bartender was also incredibly knowledgeable and just from telling her our general drink preferences (think whiskey, blonde beer, IPA etc) she was able to select a mezcal that was perfect for each of our taste buds.
Heading towards downtown, you'll pass many bars including White Horse and several food truck options for those late night munchies. I would suggest trying Poke Me Long Time for a poke bowl or Rollin Smoke BBQ for a hearty brisket sandwich!
Each day needs to start off with delicious food. On day two, head to Banger's Sausage House & Beer Garden! Although having “hot dogs” for breakfast doesn’t always sound appealing, this place is usually packed. They have a huge inside and outside area, but there's still a line out the door. They have a large variety of bangers, from traditional sausages to exotic meats such as rabbit mushroom and south Texas antelope. For the vegetarian, there are also veggie sausages. The sides are incredible as well - fried cheese curds (I don’t know why that name is so unappealing, but boy these were delicious), jalapeño mac and cheese and creamed corn with onion gratin. Plus there are over 100 beers on tap - this is definitely a place I’d like to be at during Oktoberfest!
Sunday Brunch is their most popular day since they have live music so be prepared for a potentially multiple hour wait or try to come early! If you do end up having to wait for seating, head over to the Lustre Pearl to play games such as ping pong, foursquare, hula hooping and more! The area around these brunch places is also great for day drinking and nightlife - many places don’t even open until 1 or 2pm!
After brunch, take time to explore the political and historical views of the city by visiting the Texas State Capitol building for a free tour. The tours run every half hour for approximately 30-45 minutes. It takes you through the House of Representatives Chamber, the Senate Chamber and a spot where you can view the dome through a glass ceiling. Tours run Monday through Friday: 8:30am to 4:30pm; Saturday: 9:30am to 3:30pm; Sunday: Noon to 3:30pm.
Now, time to get cultured! Head over to Hope Outdoor Gallery to explore years and years of street art. The gallery was started seven years ago by artist Shepard Fairey and a non-profit, Hope Events to create a space for art classes, educational programs and community events. In the process it became a place for locals and visitors to take artsy photos, a place for marriage proposals and birthday parties. Recently, the city passed a permit to demolish this space as the Hope Gallery moves farther outside the city to a specially designated six-acre plot called Carson Creek Ranch. They will close their current location on Baylor Street in June of 2018 so if this is on your list of things to visit, you have a couple more months to do so!
Climbing up hills, over concrete structures and posing for model-esque Instagram photos can get tiring so head over to Hula Hut for dinner. The type of food you'll find here is a mix between Hawaiian and Mexican - an interesting combo, but it works! The minute you sit down you're brought a large basket of fresh tortilla chips and a bowl of salsa. The portions are large - enough for two people to share or to save half for later! The other great thing about Hula Hut is that it's located on the Colorado River or as the locals call it, Lake Austin. It's a nice spot to sit outside with a slight breeze on your face, sipping a margarita ($4.00 on happy hour!) and watching the sun go down.
If you muster up the energy to experience the nightlife after a Hula Hut food coma, head to "dirty sixth"! There's plenty of fun bars with live music and drink deals on this strip. I recommend starting at Shakespeare Pub. When you walk in, head straight for the second floor! Here the pub will open up to an outdoor patio with large windows that look out to Sixth Street. You can get $11 pitchers of drinks and enjoy the music, pool tables and arcade games.
After so many activities, day three definitely needs to start with a caffeine kick. Head over to Pour & Press, a coffee trailer located on East 11th street. This little spot has big plans though. The coffee trailer started off as kickstarter in 2016 and raised $15,000 to build their trailer which I can tell you first-hand looks awesome. I highly recommend getting an iced lavender coffee and trying one of the hand-made pastries by the owner, Kyle Buttram who is also a pastry chef. In addition to providing great coffee though, the other founder Steve Flores has a degree in Social Work which led them to a deeper mission rooted in helping foster children gain stability in their lives. They donate a percentage to LifeWorks Austin which helps those transitioning out of foster care get to work.
Just down the street from Pour & Press, is Franklin Barbecue. This place has been voted as one of the best bbq places in America by New York Post, Business Insider, Thrillist and many more. Big names have come through its doors as well such a Anthony Bourdain, Barack Obama and Jimmy Kimmel. You can imagine with this much press, the line is out the door, down the street and around the corner!
The wait can be multiple hours (we waited for almost 2 hours) and they sell out. Quick. Doors opened at 11am - we arrived at 11:45 and we were already told to expect the brisket and ribs to be sold out by the time we got to the front! Thankfully, they still had everything but just as we finished eating, around 1:30pm, they put up signs on their door that they were sold out! When you visit, make sure it's at the start of the day.
This was definitely one of my favorite experiences and waiting in line made it feel like an event! (P.S We liked it so much that my boyfriend and I ended up buying their t-shirts!!)
You will most likely need a nap or a long walk after stuffing your face with pounds of bbq meat, potato salad, baked beans and coleslaw. You can relax on 350 acres of Zilker Park! A great spot to hang out (if you're a dog person) is at the off-leash dog park. It's the largest one I've ever seen and there are so many puppies! This part of the park is right next to the river so you can enjoy views of downtown as well. You can also take the track that runs parallel to the river which is usually full of walkers and joggers. Zilker Park also has a beautiful botanical garden and a place to rent paddle board and kayaks to take out on the river.
Hopefully most of that juicy brisket has digested by the time dinner rolls around so head to Moonshine Patio Bar & Grill for some Southern comfort food! While you're waiting for your table, order a Hard Lemonade from the bar - it's delicious and has more alcohol than you think! All the food is very rich and delicious, but if there's one thing I can recommend it's the Green Chile Macaroni. The portions here are also large and great for sharing.
Moonshine Grill is close to Sixth Street so head over for a drink at Pete's Dueling Piano Bar after dinner. They claim they are the original Texas Rock 'N Roll Piano Bar! There's several locations across Texas, but I can tell you the one in Austin was incredibly fun. There was a $7.00 cover charge to enter, but it was well worth the entertainment we received. The players changed instruments every couple songs and were exceptional at engaging the audience. If you enjoy dancing, laughing and singing at the top of your lungs this is the place to be.
There you go - a perfect three day plan for your next trip to Austin, Texas! Which activity sounds most exciting to you? Let me know in the comments.