GREETINGS FROM AUSTIN 1 year, 11 months ago , by
Kari Lee Miller
We may live on the coolest block in America, but I would like to suggest that Austin is the coolest city in America.
Being married to an Austinite means I get to spend a lot of time there, and the rapid growth of the city means there’s always something new to see. Or eat. From the legendary breakfast tacos to world-class sushi (shocking, considering the nearest ocean is more than 200 miles away), there are some serious eats in this town. Let’s not even get started on the barbecue….
Put it this way: I just returned from a week there, I’m afraid to even try on pants that don’t have an elastic waist. Thank the fashion gods for this athleisure trend….
Now, if like gazillions of others this week you’re heading there for SXSW, you may never get to see just how cool it is through the hordes of tech bros and gridlocked traffic (though this year you will get to see the President and First Lady give keynotes, so there’s that…); in fact, any local will tell you to most definitely not come for “south by,” as it’s called in the local parlance.
So even if you are there for SX, do yourself a favor and go back another time. If for no other reason than to eat your face off. And when you do, here are our suggestions of what to do….
My favorite place in Austin. Outside, under the market lights, with a bottle of wine is about as magical as it gets. Get the steak tartare—hands down the best I’ve ever had.
Fantastic new interior Mexican spot. Try the carnitas tacos. Actually, try everything.
I’ll admit it: as a diehard fan of LA underground favorite Sanamluang, I was a bit skeptical about trying this upscale Thai place, but jetlag and proxemics won out. Glad they did. Sit outside and order the tom kha gai.
My favorite brunch in Austin. Also an excellent bloody mary. Go with the crab eggs benedict or/and the house-made pop tart.
You’ve heard about it by now, and yep, it is all that. So prepare yourself for the 2-4 hour wait. Or buy Aaron Franklin’s Franklin Barbecue cookbook, co-written with our friend Jordan Mackay.
Always our first stop from the airport. Sit on the patio, order the queso and a perfecto margarita. Best people watching in Austin.
I fancy myself something of a bloody mary connoisseur. This is the best one I’ve ever had. And that’s saying something….
Fancy a late night beautifully handcrafted cocktail? This is your place.
Our favorite place to stay in town. Captures the essence of Austin with a perfect mix of minimalist chic and hippy eccentricity. Spring for one of the balcony suites if you can—it’s worth it. If you don’t stay, at least drop in for happy hour on the terrace to observe the hippest of the hipsters in their native habitat. I mean that in a good way. The location can’t be beat.
The new kid on the block. If you’re a fan of Gjelina in Venice (as we are), you’ll appreciate the modern rustic slightly beachy vibe of the common spaces, perfect for enjoying a glass of white on a Sunday afternoon.
There are plenty of cool new hipster joints around town, but that’s not what you came to Austin for. This is the real deal, old school, authentic rickety floorboards and all, with live music every night. Don’t miss the two-step lessons, Wednesdays through Saturdays at 8:30—you’ll want to know what you’re doing when the band comes on at 9:30, because the gentlemen cowboys will ask you to dance.
I’ve written before of my adulation of Stag, an incredibly well curated men’s store featuring brands like Red Wing, Saturdays Surf NYC and Penfields, as well as a lust-inducing collection of accessories, books, and other “provisions for men.” So just go there. It’s right across from Guero’s, so have a margarita then go buy your guy something nice.
With brands like Vetements, Opening Ceremony and Acne Studios, By George offers a tightly edited point of view in an open, easy to shop space. I am obsessed with their shoe assortment (I have a soft spot for brands like Marsèll and Coclico). Don’t miss the home goods and gifts…you’ll leave with something you didn’t know you needed but suddenly can’t live without.