So, What Does It Mean To Have A True Austin Experience?
What makes Austin unique is Austin’s pride in supporting its people’s dreams, their ideas, and the boldness it takes to realize one’s dream. Others may jest that living the vida local is the result of a people that doesn’t take itself seriously. But, when you enter our city and wander our streets, you can sense that extra something about this town. It’s the sentiment of an at home culture welcoming you to make yourself at home.
Perhaps challenge yourself this visit, and try to avoid the Whataburger, the Taco Bell, the Starbucks, the Dillards…after all, it’s why many of you have taken a vacation – to take a break from what you’re used to. Come taste the things Austin natives bring to the table. The saying is, “Keep Austin weird”. But, that simply translates to, “local”. Looking after your own is no longer a derogatory statement. It simply means, “Shop local, grow native, and support your neighbor”.
A Few of Our Favorites
If you’re staying in one of our short term rentals during your Austin vacation, or you’re just looking for some things to do while you’re in town, here are a few suggestions (and some of these places will even give you a discount if you mention you’re staying in a VacationCake property!)
Austin has become a total foodie town over the last 10 years and we have some of the best cuisine in the entire city right here in our south Austin ‘hood.
You have to have breakfast tacos at least once while you’re here. I know it sounds crazy but trust us. Marias Taco Xpress is probably the best known. There’s also Papalote Taco House, Torchy’s Tacos, and El Tacorrido over in Bouldin Creek.
Now let’s talk Lunch
There’s a million places to enjoy but to me there’s one clear cut best bet: Henri’s Cheese Shop. They only serve lunch from 11-2 every day (3 on Sundays) and they make some of the best sandwiches, soups and salads we have ever had. This is also a great place to enjoy a cheese board and a bottle of wine for happy hour (and any hour!). PLUS, if you mention you’re staying in a VacationCake property, they will give you 10% off the bill!
Before we get to dinner, let’s talk Coffee
First off, we hope you’ll consider some of our amazing local coffee shops before popping into Starbucks! We have some of the best…our #1 favorite is Once Over Coffee Bar, which is located in Bouldin Creek and very close to everything. These guys really care about coffee and the quality shows with every drink they make. Other great spots for a cup of Jo: Jo’s Coffee on South Congress, Houndtooth Coffee in downtown and also Bouldin Creek Cafe if you’re looking for a full service vegetarian restaurant to go with your pick-me-up.
We have to start with Mexican. We try not to brag too much…but there’s a LOT of great Mexican food in Austin. A few of our favorite: Polvos Interior Mexican, El Chile Cafe y Cantina, Matt Famous El Rancho, Guero’s Taco Bar, and Curras Grill.
For non-Mexican: East Side King has a new location on S Lamar, Sway (Thai fusion), Elizabeth Street Cafe (Vietnamese French), Clarks Oyster Bar, Perlas Seafood, Home Slice Pizza (open late and REALLY good), and Olivia (great brunch!).
Obviously there’s a million places to get a drink in and around downtown Austin. There’s a few really cool neighborhood spots that are great for enjoying a drink without having to fight the masses. Gourdoughs Public House (great cocktails and completely incredible doughnuts), The Corner Bar, G&S Lounge (iconic Austin dive bar), OPA Coffee and Wine Bar (and light mediterranean fare), Black Sheep Lodge (great sports bar and actually really good food), Aviary Lounge (furniture and homeware store – also serves beer and wine and cheese), and then the crown dive bar of all Austin dive bars: The Horseshoe Lounge. Don’t gamble with anyone at the shuffleboard table (fair warning).
If you want to pop over to the new, awesome and ever-changing east side (aka “Aust-E”) – don’t miss Eastside Showroom for some of the best cocktails in the city, great farm-to-table dining and fabulous live music.
Obviously Austin has a lot more than just food and booze…there is a lot of fun stuff to in between meals! Rent bikes down at Barton Springs Bike Rentals (mentioned VacationCake and they’ll cut at least 40% off!), Zilker Boat Rentals for kayaks and canoes in Zilker Park (CLICK HERE for coupon), go take a hike up the Barton Creek Greenbelt, check out the new Austin Childrens Museum (Also now known as The Thinkery), and of course during the spring, summer and fall check out the Congress Avenue Bats!
You didn’t think we’d forget Live Music, did you?!
Here’s some great places to catch original artists 7-nights-a-week.
The Saxon Pub
South Austin mainstay venue. Very close to everything and easy to get in and out.
Iconic Austin home of blues and rock and roll!
This new venue is a few minutes south of downtown on Manchaca but it won three “best new…” awards at the Austin Music Awards in March 2014, so there’s something to it! They consistently get a fantastic lineups and great crowds.
Hole In The Wall
Local hole in the wall with great acoustics in “The Drag”, Austin’s UT district.
We hope this collection of links is helpful to your trip planning! If you have any questions or are looking for any other suggestions, just let us know. We love Austin and we also love hearing about fun things you find that maybe we don’t even know about so feel free to keep us filled in and anything else you’d like to pass along that we can share with our future guests…and of course, go check out ourselves!
I should add that if you’re coming into town for a specific show, festival or event, let us know so we can let our other guest and friends know as well. We love spreading the word for cool things to do around town!