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 by avoiding the McDonalds, 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, “support 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.
The obvious place to start is 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 Caffe Medici, which is located in Zilker right off S Lamar and very close to everything. These guys really care about coffee and the quality shows with every drink they make. Other great spots: Radio Coffee and Beer on Manchaca, Once Over on S 1st St, Jo’s Coffee on South Congress, Houndstooth Coffee downtown and Patika on South Lamar.
Now on to breakfast!
You have to have breakfast tacos at least once while you’re here. It's a must. I know it sounds crazy, but trust us. Marias Taco X-press is probably the best known off S. Lamar. There’s also Taco Deli, Papalote Taco House, Torchy’s Tacos, and El Tacorrido over in Bouldin Creek. If you want a more traditional diner style breakfast, Kerbey Lane Cafe on S Lamar is open 24 hours and is always a great meal!
Time to talk lunch...
Lunch - there's a million places to enjoy but to me there's one clear cut best bet: Austin Java on Barton Springs Rd. If you're into food trucks there are tons of options, but closest to Zilker is The Picnic, which features various food and drink options!
Ready for dinner?
For dinner, I 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 my favorite: Polvos Interior Mexican, Matt Famous El Rancho, El Alma, Guero's Taco Bar, and Curras Grill (try the avocado margarita...trust me).
For non-mexican meals we recommend the famous UCHI (sushi), East Side King on S Lamar, Sway (Thai fusion), Elizabeth Street Cafe (Vietnamese/French), Lamberts BBQ, Perlas Seafood, and Home Slice Pizza (open late and REALLY good).
Vegetarian fare for you veggie-heads (like me): Casa del Luz (macrobiotic vegan fixed menus for breakfast lunch and dinner), Bouldin Creek Cafe (100% vegetarian), and most everywhere in town is very vegetarian friendly. For fresh juices and smoothies: JuiceLand and Soup Peddler and Juice Box (S. Lamar location) are the two favorites. Are you into Ayurvedic super duper vegan food? You must try Curcuma - which a locally owned and operated food truck that does 100% plant-based food inspured by Ayurveda.
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 downtown masses. Lavaca Street Bar (South Lamar location), Gourdoughs Public House (great cocktails and incredibly decadent 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 with surprisingly good food), Aviary Wine & Kitchen (for the wine loving foodies), The Golden Goose (open till 2). Looking for live music, pizza, craft brew and a tree-filled patio? Look no further than Austin Beer Garden Brewery (ABGB) on Oltorf.
You've probably heard of Rainey Street - my favorite spot down there is Icenhaur's. Another new location for drinks and dancing: Sellers Underground on 4th street.
If you want to pop over to the new and ever-changing east side - don't miss Ah Sing Den for some of the best cocktails in the city, great farm-to-table asian themed dining.
You didn't think I'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.
One 2 One Bar - another staple south Austin music joint, also on South Lamar.
Continental Club - inconic Austin home of blues and rock and roll (there's also an upstairs jazz club called The Gallery that is awesome) located on South Congress (SoCo).
Beyond food and drink...
Clearly Austin has more than just food and booze; there is a lot of fun stuff to in between meals too! Rent bikes down at Barton Springs Bike Rentals (mention VacationCake and they'll cut 10% 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 Austin Children's Museum (also known as The Thinkery), and of course during the spring, summer and fall check out the Congress Avenue Bats! And don't forget to take a swim at Barton Springs Pool and explore Zilker Park.
Want to get some yoga in while you're in town: Sukha Yoga is the best in 78704. They offer class passes and friendly drop in rates.
Rainy day? Catch a movie at Alamo Draft House right on South Lamar - very close by! They have awesome food and drinks and there's also several great restaurants in the same complex - along with a Medici Coffee/Beer/Wine that is totally great.
We hope this collection of suggestions is helpful to your trip planning. If you have any questions or are looking for any additional ideas, just let us know! We love and intimately know Austin, but we also love hearing about the fun things YOU find during your stay! So... please feel free share your Austin adventures with us and anything else you feel would help our future guests...and if it's new-to-us, you can bet we can't wait to go check out for ourselves!!