We cannot wait to welcome our friends and family to Austin! This is where we met, fell in love and spent countless summer nights biking, swimming at Barton Springs, and eating and drinking around the city.
We’ve put together a full checklist for you – hit them all to get the true Austin experience!
- Eat Breakfast Tacos
- Eat Texas Barbecue
- Catch Happy Hour
- Eat the Best Dinner(s)
- Eat more food…
- Imbibe in Cocktails & Beer
- Listen to Live Music
- Get Outdoors and Active
- See the Sights
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1. Eat Breakfast Tacos
Cast your vote in the Torchy’s vs. Tacodeli battle, or try one of our other favorites, Veracruz. Breakfast Tacos > Fancy Brunch in Austin, but if you don’t go for breakfast, go for tacos any time of day!
TORCHY’S TACOS: Torchy’s is known for their “Damn Good Tacos”. Chris’ favorite is the Crossroad’s, and Kristin’s favorite is The Independent. We also highly recommend the Green Chile Pork and the Fried Avocado. Bonus points for ordering off their secret menu.
TACODELI: Tacodeli is another local favorite – try the Migas, Delibelly or the Akaushi Picadillo.
VERACRUZ: We LOVE this family run business and in Kristin’s opinion, Veracruz has the best homemade tortillas in town, with the perfect texture. We love all tacos here, but especially the Migas Poblano, El Sancho, and the Barbacoa. On a hot day, their freshly made agua frescas are at must!
2. Eat Texas Barbecue
To get the best barbecue, go early and stand in line for lunch. How long you want to wait in line is up to you!
FRANKLIN BARBECUE: The most famous barbecue in Austin (and maybe the country), and seen on Anthony Bourdain, Jimmy Kimmel and plenty of other food publications. Doors open at 11am, but you will see people lined up, starting at 8am with lawn chairs and coolers of beer. Chris has done the full experience and waited for 3 hours, and recommends the brisket and pulled pork sandwich! If you don’t want the true experience, you can pre-order online, up to 6 weeks in advance.
LA BARBECUE: Another popular spot with the pitmaster, John Lewis, who came from Franklin. This business has bounced around a few locations via food truck, but now have a brick and mortar in East Austin. You will also find a line here, but can can also pre-order at least 3 days, and up to 8 weeks, in advance.
MICKLETHWAIT CRAFT MEATS: At Micklethwait, you get the food truck and barbecue experience at once! You will find a line, but not nearly as long. They open at 11, and if you arrive at 10:30 or 11, you should be fine. Try to not arrive after 12, as they do sell out. While you wait, you will find FREE beer, and if you’re lucky, live music! This is Kristin’s favorite because of the jalapeno grits :)
3. Catch Happy Hour
We love a good happy hour – there are plenty around town, but here are a few of our favorites!
SALTY SOW: Our most frequented restaurant in Austin, Salty Sow has the BEST happy hour in town (or maybe anywhere). $5 apps – must haves are the Crispy Brussels Sprouts, Truffled Deviled Eggs, and Honey Rosemary Fried Chicken. Our favorite drinks are the Blanche (Blood Orange Marg), Curly Tail (Serrano Spicy Marg) and the Mr. Shaw (Rye Whiskey, Honey, Lemon). Happy hour is every day from 4-6pm, and they take reservations for happy hour. Need we say more?
UCHIKO: This is one of the more popular fine dining restaurants in Austin, and the happy hour (sake social) is a steal. Everything, literally everything, is delicious, you can’t go wrong! Make sure you show up early, even a tad before opening. Sake social is from 4-6:30pm.
PECHE: Péché, meaning ‘sin’ in French, is Austin’s first absinthe bar, showcasing a selection of pre-Prohibition style cocktails and French fare. Happy hour is a steal with select cocktails and food 1/2 off, including their unbelievable Burger Pommes Frites, and Gruyere and Duck Fat Mac and Cheese. Pop by Tues-Fri 5-7pm and all day Sunday and Monday!
LA CONDESA: a long-time favorite modern Mexican restaurant downtown. Half off all alcoholic beverages Wed-Sat from 4-6pm. We highly recommend any of their margaritas and the tuna tostadas.
4. Eat the Best Dinner(s)
Austin’s food scene is ever changing growing! We recommend you look into a few dinner reservations for your visit (outside of Friday, of course!). If you don’t get a reservation, no need to worry, there are plenty of places that will take walk-ins and are delicious.
LORO: Dreams came true when Aaron Franklin (of Franklin Barbecue) and Tyson Cole (of Uchi/Uchiko), two opened an Asian smokehouse together. There are snacks like Texas Sweet Corn and Crispy Potatoes with Yuzu Aioli, and dishes like Smoked Brisket, Malaysian Chicken Bo Ssam, and Char Siu Pork Belly rice bowls. They also have a killer happy hour with Brisket Tostadas, Crispy Smoked Chicken Sandwich and Chicken Karaage.
RED ASH: The star of the Red Ash kitchen is the custom-built wood-burning grill, oven and plancha. Entrée highlights include traditional thick-cut veal osso buco milanese, Gulf red snapper a la plancha, and pappardelle with wild boar bolognese. They also serve large premium cuts like a 42-ounce USDA Prime 50-day dry-aged porterhouse! Don’t even think about leaving without the wood roasted vine tomatoes and burrata, and the octopus a la plancha.
PATRIZI’S: This casual food truck is Kristin’s favorite place for dinner! Order at the truck and enjoy the casual, backyard feel. Patrizi’s has it all – homemade Italian food, p.e.r.f.e.c.t.l.y cooked noodles, housemade sauce and ricotta, outdoor seating, and sangria. Get the Pomodoro, the Cacio e Pepe, and top with a meatball if you’re feeling hungry. Do NOT forget to get red sangria from Butterfly Bar next door. If the weather permits, there’s nothing quite like a night at Patrizi’s.
PEACHED TORTILLA: Another one of our favorite restaurants- Asian fusion with a Texas flare. Try the Kimchi Arancini, Malaysian Laksa, Pork Belly Bowl, Brisket Tacos, and the Charred Brussels. The restaurant is about 7 miles north of downtown (15 min drive), but if you prefer to stay downtown, try their sister location, Bar Peached.
5. Eat more food
Because there is so much to eat, yet so little time…
SOUTH CONGRESS CAFE: Head down bustling and ever-changing South Congress and stop by South Congress Cafe for brunch. Try their Migas, Short Rib Hash and a slice of carrot cake french toast. After brunch, walk and browse the stores along South Congress!
HOMESLICE PIZZA: Also on South Congress, this NY-style pizza has some of the best crusts we’ve ever had. Grab a whole pie, or stop by the window for by the slice!
FRESA’S: Everything you could need is here. Tacos, Queso & Margaritas
6. Imbibe in Cocktails and Beer
COCKTAILS: Whisler’s is our go-to cocktail bar! They have a beautiful bar and a great patio. They also have a Mezcaleria.
Other notable cocktail spots: Salty Sow & Peche (see happy hour), Ah Sing Den, Seven Grand, the Roosevelt Room, and Milonga Room (a speakeasy at Buenos Aires Café. Go to their Facebook page to get the daily password.)
BEER: Most breweries are in North Austin, but we frequent the breweries on the East side too. Our favorite spot is Easy Tiger (East 7th) Other favorite brew spots are: Bangers, Lazarus Brewery, Zilker Brewing, Blue Owl (sour beers) and Central Machine Works. Or make your way out to Jester King (45 min drive) for beer, pizza in beautiful Texas Hill Country
It’s no secret that Austin has quite the nightlife and is a blast. The wildest is ‘dirty 6th’ and you should take a jaunt during the day and evening.
‘DIRTY 6th’: This is the Bourbon Street of Austin. Yes, it is a bit dirty, but it can be very fun. (especially in your 20’s, or so we’re told…) Walk through to listen to the live music, count the dozens of bars, and watch the college kids stumble from bar to bar. Or you can take it head on and dance on the roof at The Blind Pig or Maggie Mae’s, take shots at Cheers Shot Bar, dance to dueling pianos, or do zero reading at The Library Bar.
WEST 6th: If Dirty was too dirty, keep heading west on 6th street and you’ll hear more loud music playing for the young professionals being ‘classy’. Head to The Dogwood, Key Bar, or close your night dancing at Kung Fu Saloon.
RAINEY STREET: Rainey Street is a street with houses that were converted to bars. It’s a perfect spot for day drinking and outdoor patio and games. In 2012, there were only about 5-6 bars on Rainey, but now there are dozens. Check out Lustre Pearl, Bungalow, or Lucille. Don’t forget to join us for the (Day)-After party on Saturday at Anthem!
Fun Fact: Chris and Kristin met at “Bar 96” in 2015, watching the Warriors game, which is today’s The Alibi.
EAST SIDE: Before we moved, this is where you’d typically find Kristin and Chris having a cocktail and a good meal. Check out Whisler’s, Ah Sing Den, Drinks Lounge, Hotel Vegas and Lazarus Brewery. The White Horse is a classic two-stepping bar with live old-style country music.
8. Listen to Live Music
THE CONTINENTAL CLUB – This historic Austin live music destination first opened its doors in 1955 as a swanky private supper club, but in the decades since, it’s become a mecca for roots, rockabilly, country, swing, rock and blues music every night of the week. Check out the calendar here.
THE ELEPHANT ROOM – Open since 1991, this basement jazz club features live jazz every day of the week. Shows begin at approximately 9:30pm.
THE WHITE HORSE – visit this honky tonk on the east side to catch some old-school country music and get your two-steppin’ in on the dance floor. If you’re just in the mood to watch, you’ll be entertained by some great dancers!
SPAZMATICS – If you are in town on Wednesday, head to Cedar Street Courtyard for The Spazmatics, who cover 80s songs and is a blast.
9. Get Outdoors and Active
It’s warm 90% of the year, and Austinites love to be outside and active. Here are some of our favorite activites!
TOWN LAKE TRAIL: Head out on Town Lake Trail in the morning, and you’ll see tons of runners, bikers, walkers, and most importantly… dogs! The entire loops goes for 13 miles, but you can create smaller loops by crossing the bridge at your desired length. Try this 5 mile loop, starting at Alta’s Café.
SUP or KAYAK: Rent stand up paddleboards or kayaks and push yourself along Lake Lady Bird. We like to rent from Texas Rowing Center.
BARTON SPRINGS: Barton Springs is one of the few places to cool down on a hot summer Texas day. The water is fresh underground water, staying 68-70 degrees year round. Go for a dip, or bring your cap and goggles to do some laps.
MOUNT BONNELL: Walk up these steps for a beautiful overlook of downtown Austin and Lake Austin. It’s about 6 miles from downtown, but is one of the best spots to catch sunset.
THE GREENBELT: With about 12 miles of trails, the Greenbelt is a great place for hiking, biking, rock-climbing, swimming and even lazily passing a day perched in a hammock along Barton Creek. Check out this guide for the best access points.
10. Explore the Sights
Okay, so you’re a little full and maybe hungover. That’s okay, it happens to the best. Here are some fun sights around town!
TEXAS CAPITOL: Visit the beautiful Capitol building, and book a free tour online.
CONGRESS BRIDGE BATS: The Congress bridge has the largest urban bat colony in North America. From mid-March to late Oct/early Nov, 750,000-1.5 million bats fly out at dusk. We recommend standing on Congress Bridge right before dusk. Here is a more detailed guide on how to see them!
LBJ LIBRARY: Visit the presidential library of LBJ, the 36th U.S. President. General admission is $10 for adults, $7 for Seniors 62+ with ID, and $3 for children 13-17 and college students with a valid I.D. Admission is free for children 12 and under, active members of the military.
AUSTIN MURALS: Austin has some great street art. Here is more info and a map to see some art like the “I love you so much” or “You are my butter half” art.
Whole Foods Market: The Whole Foods flagship store (which Kristin considers a sight) is right downtown on 5th and Lamar. Wander the prepared food area to be engulfed in food heaven and the beer cooler for some local beers (you can drink while you shop). You can find something for everyone! Headquarters is just upstairs, above the store, where Kristin has done many business calls. Fun fact: next door is REI, where the first Whole Foods store officially was.
We hope you have the best time in Austin and can’t wait to celebrate with you all. Please let us know if you have any questions or want any other specific recommendations!
Also, don’t forget to add this MAP to your google maps!
See you soon! Kristin & Chris