Happy New Year! Hope everyone had a great holiday season and wishing you all the best in 2017! With a new year, comes new adventures. Hopefully you’re already planning some amazing trips but if you’re still contemplating on where to explore next, highly consider Austin! Last October, I was able to explore Austin for 4 days and I can say with confidence that it has become one of my favorite cities. The city has so many quirks, the food is diverse and top notch, and most importantly, the people are incredibly friendly. As a little #FBF, here are my top 3 food picks from my trip (along with some honorable mentions and bonus sightseeing recommendations).
#1 La Barbecue
1906 E Cesar Chavez, Austin, TX 78702
Variety of Barbecue / Brisket, beef ribs, pork ribs, sausage, potato salad, and slaw
- Texas is serious about their barbecue. We arrived right at opening and still ended up waiting 3 hours but man, was it well worth it. You haven’t had barbecue until you’ve had Austin BBQ. We got a little of everything but the stars of the show are definitely the brisket and beef ribs. Melt in your mouth, perfectly seasoned … I’d go as far as to say eating here was a near religious experience.
#2 Ramen Tatsu-ya
1234 S Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78703
Tsukemen / Condensed pork bone dipping broth, chashu, ajitama, nori, lime, and added wok-fired corn
Tonkotsu Original / Pork bone broth, chashu, ajitama, woodear mushroom, scallion
- I’ve had my fair share of ramen over the years and Ramen Tatsu-ya has easily planted itself at the top. I know, I know. Austin of all places? I was surprised too but what I quickly learned is that ATX has really nailed it in all types of cuisines. The Tsukemen was my favorite (rich and flavorful, not overly salty, perfectly cooked chashu and egg, noodles with a little bite to them) but the Tonkotsu sure as hell put up a good fight.
#3 Jo’s Coffee
1300 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704
Iced Turbo / Chocolate, hazelnut, coffee, and cream mixed together served over crushed ice
Belgian Bomber / Half Turbo and half cold brewed iced coffee
Breakfast Taco / Potato, egg, and cheese
- Jo’s Coffee is widely known for its Iced Turbos and “I love you so much” mural on the side of the building. The mural has almost become a city symbol but it was the coffee that really left a lasting impression on me. I had started that morning sharing a Turbo and Bomber with my friend, paired with a couple breakfast tacos. To be honest, the tacos were okay but the coffee is a must.
1201 S Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78704
Seasonal Menu / Green Tomato & Masa Fritters, Blue Crab Dip, Pork Belly
- Given that Odd Duck’s menu changes every month, it’s hard to recommend certain dishes but if you’re looking for a more upscale (but definitely not stuffy and pretentious) dining experience, Odd Duck is the way to go. They value quality over everything and make a conscious effort to keep their ingredients local and seasonal.
Served at Austin City Limits 2016, multiple locations
Scallywag Taco / Coconut and Captain Crunch battered fried shrimp, bacon, green chiles, pickled onions, cheese, cilantro, and served with homemade habanero peach jam
- I’ll be honest. Seeing “Captain Crunch” on the menu was what really drew me to Torchy’s. At first you’d think it’s a gimmick but after tasting it, I was immediately converted. Torchy’s has dozens of options when it comes to tacos so you’ll find one that fits your tastes, no doubt.
East Side King
Served at Austin City Limits 2016, multiple locations
Brussels Sprouts Salad / Fried Brussels sprouts, sweet and spicy sauce, cabbage, basil, cilantro, mint, onion, and jalapeño (price)
- East Side King perfectly embodies Asian-fusion with dishes like their Fried Chicken Sandwich (green curry and buttermilk fried chicken thigh, Kewpie mayo, kimchi pickles on a Martin’s potato roll) or the Brussels Sprouts Salad which was an interesting twist on a traditional Asian salad. And yes, this essentially fried salad was our attempt at eating “healthy” at the festival.
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Besides food, Austin has so much more to offer:
- 6th Street – Live music is a must in Austin. If you can’t go to Austin City Limits, do yourself a favor and catch a show at one of many amazing venues on 6th!
- Hope Outdoor Gallery – Street art is everywhere in this city but Hope reflects a vibe of acceptance, diversity, and community. Plus, you get a great view of the city at the top.
- Texas State Capitol – The oldest state office building in Texas…and a stunner to say the least. Get your history on!
- Whole Foods Flagship store – Everything’s bigger in Texas. Including the Whole Foods. Here you’ll find EVERYTHING you could possibly want. Think of it as a Whole Foods on steroids. I’m talking a sit-down restaurant, bar, bakery, cooking classes, plus all that comes with a normal grocery store. Did I mention that the company’s HQ is right next door?
- Twin Falls & Sculpture Falls – Texas has plenty of swimming holes but if you’re on a time crunch and are looking for an easy hike, Twin/Sculpture Falls is the way to go. The terrain is mostly flat and shaded, but the best part is obviously dipping into the refreshing water.
- Mount Bonnell – Just a quick walk up a few dozen stairs and you get the most amazing view of Lake Austin and the city. Highly suggest going around sunrise/sunset.
- Cathedral of Junk – Quite possibly one of the most unique art installations I’ve ever seen and it’s located at the artist’s home! Don’t forget to call ahead for an appointment!
I hope this post has inspired you to go out there and explore all there is to see (and eat)! If you have any recommendations for us, whether it’s in Austin or somewhere else, we’d love to hear from you in the comments below!
– Linh Linh