Last month, I traveled to Austin, Texas for my sister-in-law’s bachelorette party. The weekend’s festivities were really well mapped out, but, since this would be my first time in the city, I planned to arrive a little early to do some solo exploring. Exploring may be a loose term. When my family plans any sort of trip or vacation, an always important detail is, “where are we going to eat?” So, naturally, as I began to read about the city, my main focus became where to find the best food.
I’m not exactly a frequent flyer. I love the idea of traveling. Seeing new places is thrilling and the whole concept can be really lovely and romantic. Let’s be honest, when you picture a getaway, it’s throwing some stuff in a bag, picking a spot on a map and the jetting into the sunset. Realistically, I usually can’t find my ID and/or boarding pass, I’m wearing the world’s WORST socks when I take off my shoes in the security line, my travel-size face wash ALWAYS leaks, and whatever the hell I (over)packed comes out of the suitcase mangled and wrinkled. I’m sort of a hot mess when I travel. And to top all that off, I have major in-flight anxiety. So, I’ve found ways to help deal—I always make sure I have plenty of distractions: magazines, movies loaded on my iPad, the hot new jams on my phone, and when all else fails, alcohol. (Real talk, if this speaks to you, my friend told me about a great book called Flying Without Fear—it really plays to the whole knowledge is power thing.) Hey, Austin, here I come!
I rented a car once I got there. Since I didn’t know what the cab or public transportation situation would be like, I figured it might be the easiest way to get around. See, instead of looking at pictures of food, these are the things I should have figured out ahead of time. Thank goodness for the Google Maps app. My first stop was for lunch at Perla’s on S. Congress Street. It was a beautiful day, plus anything feels warmer than Chicago in March, so I decided to get a table on the patio. I ordered the lobster roll with fries. It was seriously delicious, y’all. The bun (which you can’t see in the picture) was buttery and slightly toasted, the lobster was fresh, lightly dressed, and served in huge chunks. The fries deserve their own sentence, because they were that good. It was a really interesting experience dining by myself. I had done it before, but never at a sit-down restaurant (with tablecloths). And although I was a little paranoid that my waiter felt sorry for me (it was in the way he tilted his head when he asked, “Can I get you another iced tea?”), I didn’t entirely mind it.
I also read great reviews about Perla’s brunch. So much to eat, so little time! Perla’s menu showcases fresh oysters and seafood. The decor is nautical and beachy—the atmosphere is perfect for gathering with friends, a date night, or even a business lunch.
Next, I stopped at some nearby shops to browse. There’s this great place on S. Congress called Uncommon Objects. This shop reminds me of a place Joanna Gaines, from my favorite HGTV show, Fixer Upper, would shop. The store is filled with rooms upon rooms of unique antiques and various one-of-a-kinds. They’re sort of organized by genre and, in an interesting way, color. There was a no-pictures allowed policy in the shop, but, just because I was feeling adventurous, I snuck this one:
The area along S. Congress (referred to as SoCo) is lined with restaurants and boutiques. If you’re looking for a spot to park and wander, this is definitely a great area to do so. After shopping, I needed a little pick me up. I headed to the most charming spot called Elizabeth Street Cafe and ordered a latte. Located close to the intersection of Elizabeth and Annie Street, this cafe is full of vibrant, warm and inviting colors. Again, I sat outside to enjoy the sunshine. And, although I didn’t order anything to eat, the cafe’s menu boasts an eclectic mix of cuisine with a Vietnamese twist, including banh mi sandwiches and noodle dishes.
Just around the corner from the cafe, alongside Roadhouse Relics, neon artist Todd Sanders’ studio and gallery, is one of Austin’s well-recognized murals—an oversized “Greetings from Austin, Texas” postcard. Austin’s collection of street art is pretty impressive and draws a lot of tourist attention.
Then, it was time for a sweet treat…because I totally believe in dessert after lunch. Or, as I call it, lunch dessert. In this same area lives a fun, converted vintage trailer serving up “Big. Fat. Donuts.” Gourdough’s, or heaven, as I now refer to it, creates the most unique donut combinations. There’s even a donut with fried chicken on it. I know. After much deliberating, I chose the Miss Shortcake. For some reason, in my mind, strawberries equaled healthy. Right? It was so good that I still dream about it. And, yes, I ate it all. A warm, fried donut, smothered in cream cheese icing, covered in freshly cut strawberries. Let’s all just take a minute.
At this point, I was in a minor food coma. I could have easily returned the car and called it a day. But, no, I didn’t stop there. I drove downtown to 4th Street—parking was no problem, which was a refreshing change from Chicago driving. There I found Blenders & Bowls. I love acai—the superfood berry packed with antioxidants. I use it to make a smoothie or bowl almost every day (but, that’s another post for a different time). Anyhow, I had read about Blenders & Bowls, and since it’s pretty impossible to find acai bowls in Chicago, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to go. I ordered the O.G. (partly, because I love the name) and OMG, it was really good. It was so refreshing—blended frozen berries, topped with granola, fresh fruit and a drizzle of honey.
We can all breathe a sigh of relief, because after that, I officially tapped out. I returned my car and took Uber to the rental house, where I met up with the rest of the bachelorette party. I just loved Austin. And to think, I didn’t even get a chance to tap into the very serious BBQ scene—can you imagine? I definitely have plans to go back one day with my husband. To recap the rest of the weekend: we took a yoga class at Wanderlust, got our nails did, dined at La Condesa, a modern Mexican restaurant (I highly recommend the Elotes, Mexican style street corn), and hit the seemingly endless row of bars on 6th Street. Just as a PSA, the people watching game is STRONG on 6th Street. And, they don’t call it the “Live Music Capital of the World” for nothing, almost every place we stopped or passed showcased a singer on a guitar. Also, you have to stop by Allen’s Boots on S. Congress. The endless rows of authentic cowboy boots are quintessentially Texas. That’s where this happened:
Been to Austin? Feel free to comment below with your recommendations.
See you next Friday! xx, Devon