What to See and Eat in Austin

We recently took a short vacation to Texas! It was our first time visiting and we took plenty of recommendations from our friends on what to see and eat in Austin. Given the city’s extraordinary foodie culture, I’ll be totally honest – I did not make the healthiest of food choices while I was there. However, with a partner in crime to share delicious treats with and countless miles walked each day, I tried to achieve the best balance possible. Below is a summary of our 72-hour getaway captured via Instagram. what to do and see in austin

Day 1

  • Damura Ramen – Upon our arrival Saturday evening, we wandered down 6th street for a bite to eat. Once we saw the crowd packed into this restaurant waiting for a table, we knew we had to join them. So we embraced the crowd at a cozy communal table and slurped down a delicious bowl of steamy ramen.
  • Mohawk – We happened to be in town during a free live music week, so we headed over to Mohawk to check out the scene. With a local beer in hand, we joined the crowd gathered around the chilly outdoor stage and took in the vibe as the musicians complained about the 40 degree temperatures. Austinites would never make it through a Chicago winter. 🙂
  • Esther’s Follies – A late night viewing of this modern-day vaudeville production proved well worth the advance ticket purchase. Acts incorporated sketch comedy, musical numbers, magic and more. The small theater reminded me of Second City and we laughed the night away feeling right at home.
  • 6th Street – Saturday night on 6th street was definitely a site to see. Among people watching, we hit up Voodoo Doughnuts (you don’t have to ask me twice to eat a doughnut at midnight) and Bar-B-Q Haven (because Texas barbeque). The vibe along the street reminded me of Bourbon Street, but much cleaner!

what to see and do in Austin

Day 2

  • Blenders & Bowls – There’s nothing like Texas barbeque and doughnuts before bed to make you crave a fresh fruit smoothie the next morning! This cute café came highly recommended from a couple of our friends and the acai bowls did not disappoint! If only I could have joined a class in the combined yoga studio next door to fully detox…next time.
  • South Congress Street – We trekked down to the SoCo District about 1.5 miles south from downtown for some early afternoon shopping at Uncommon Objects (antiques and vintage treasures), Allen’s Boots (you guessed it – cowboy boots), and a stop at Jo’s Coffee for a photo op in front of the infamous I Love you So Much wall.
  • Austin Detours – Because you aren’t officially a tourist until you get on a tour bus. After our shopping escapades, we grabbed an Uber (yep, Austin has Uber) to the Austin Visitors Center where we were greeted by our tour guide gearing up for our 2 hour afternoon tour. We loaded into a trendy Mercedes tour van and hit the road. The tour made stops at the Texas State Capitol, the Hope Outdoor Gallery, the Austin Postcard Mural and drove through a few scenic Austin neighborhoods. I’m not sure if it was my tired legs, our friendly tour guide, or the Holy Cacao cake pop at the end, but this tour was truly a great way to spend the afternoon.
  • Gourdough’s Public House – Ok, I am not proud to say that I ate dinner at a restaurant where everything is served on a doughnut, but I ATE DINNER AT A RESTAURANT THAT SERVES EVERYTHING ON A DOUGHNUT. And did I mention we happen to be there on trivia night?! Win. Win. Dinner at Gourdough’s proved to be a historic foodie feat in my dietitian life. All of the entrees were served on the best fresh cake donuts I’ve ever had…and I might have taken a Mama’s Cake doughnut home for dessert. This is why I can’t be around doughnuts.

traveling to Austin

Day 3

  • Veracruz – Day 3 and several pounds heavier, we decided it was time to “walk it off”. We hiked through what our tour guide called “a rough neighborhood turned hipster” over to Veracruz All Natural Food Truck and enjoyed the tastiest authentic breakfast tacos. So. Damn. Good. I could really go for one of those tacos right about now.
  • The Boardwalk– Ahh the boardwalk. In the heart of the city, the Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail and Boardwalk at Lady Bird Lake feature a scenic trail with beautiful views of the city skyline. Fueled by breakfast tacos, we strolled along the 10-mile trail taking in the scene. Had we been visiting earlier in the year, we could have watched the world’s largest urban bat colony emerge from underneath the Congress Avenue Bridge. Unfortunately this time of year they are enjoying warm weather and margarita’s down in Mexico.
  • Flagship Whole Foods Market – As a former Whole Foods Market employee, I couldn’t resist stopping in to the Whole Foods headquarters and flagship store on Lamar. While we were there, I instinctively grabbed a kombucha and my very first Chameleon Cold-Brew coffee as refreshments after our long hike.
  • Alamo Drafthouse Ritz Cinema – After walking over 10 miles, it was time to take a seat – at the movie theater. Knowing this was Quentin Terantino’s favorite theater, we couldn’t help but stop in for a showing of The Hateful Eight. This dinner-and-a-movie experience was just what we needed after a busy afternoon; except, it wasn’t dinner time, so we settled for popcorn.
  • Rainy Street – Later that night, we walked down to Rainy Street for a bite to eat. Serving up Detroit-style pizza on the Craft Pride patio, Via 313 food truck cooked us pizza as we enjoyed craft beer while watching the locals play Mario Kart on a community projector. I could really get used to this picnic-style life.

traveling to Austin

Day 4

  • Mount Bonnell – For our last morning in Austin, it was time to take in the best view in town from up top Mount Bonnell. We had ambitions of biking up there, but given our time crunch, we called an Uber instead. The short hike took about 45 minutes in total and after taking in the sites and views of the Colorado River, it was back to the city to enjoy lunch in the South Lamar neighborhood.
  • Torchy’s Tacos – Yep, you guessed it, more tacos. I had a vegetarian taco with hand-battered Portobello mushrooms, black beans, roasted street corn, pickled carrots, queso fresco, cilantro, avocado and a drizzle of ancho aioli. If I can’t recreate this at home, I will need to go back next week. Torchy’s served up THE best food we had during our entire trip!
  • Amy’s Ice Cream – Because every meal in Austin needs dessert. I’ll have the Mexican vanilla with oatmeal cookie crumbles please. Now you know why I’ve been hitting the gym twice a day since I’ve returned home…

 

It goes without saying that the food scene in Austin isn’t for the faint of heart. But there are plenty of outdoor activities to help you balance out the calorie overload. Not to mention there is always the hotel gym for a little extra burn!

Austin postcard mural

Unfortunately there are only so many meals in a day and we were unable to make it every place on our list. Here are a few places we missed: Whistler’s, Container Bar, La Barbecue, Franklin Barbecue, Elizabeth St. Cafe, Sway, and Odd Duck. Next time Austin, next time.

 

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