Austin (Part 2) - Places to see, eat & drink
SO excited to share part 2 of my LONG Austin post, which is all about where and what Mr. P and I ate & drank and places we knew we had to see.
A bit about the logistics, because Austin doesn't have Uber or Lyft, we hopped in a cab from the airport it was a quick ~15 mins ride before we arrived at our hotel in the center of the city, the Omni Austin Downtown (on San Jacinto Blvd). We did not rent a car because there were sufficient rideshare apps (we downloaded Fasten, Ride Austin, and Fare) to get us around town if walking was not feasible. That being said, we tried to walk as much as possible.
We did a significant amount of research on all the best food spots from Eater, The Thrillist, Austin food blogs, and recommendations from friends. The restaurants that need reservations are noted below with an asterisk*. Since it was storming & bad weather in Austin the weekend we were there, we knew our agenda would revolve around food.
Our first stop after dropping off our luggage was of course Tex-Mex! Having lived in Dallas a couple of years, Mr. P was super excited about Tex-Mex.
Juan in a Million - 2300 E Cesar Chavez St. Juan in a Million is open from 7 AM till 3 PM in the afternoon and serves breakfast all day during open hours. I got the Huevos a la Mexicana (scrambled eggs with jalapenos and chili sauce, house potatoes, and refried beans), it was perfectly spicy, and Mr. P tried the Don Juan El Taco Grande (he said it was the BEST breakfast ever). Our stomachs were so happy and we were already talking about going back to Juan in a Million for a second meal at some point during our trip.
Capital grounds - 5 min walk on Congress Ave from our hotel. The Capital grounds contain a lot of history and we enjoyed viewing and reading about the history of Texas etc. The Capital building is free to visitors, how awesome is that? The architecture is stunning; the inside was 3 stories tall and all made from marble (or some sort of marble-like material!). We saw the House of Representatives, the Senate, and the Texas Supreme Court. It was a history filled afternoon!
Lenoir* - 1807 S 1st St. We came here for dinner and had high expectations because this place was highly recommended from all of our sources! I made reservations about a month in advance, and there were plenty of open spots available when I booked our table. Lenoir was a cozy romantic little spot with a few 4 person tables, a long-shared table in the middle, and some bar seating. Lenoir offers a three-course prix-fixe menu in the categories of Field, Sea, Land, and Dream (dessert). My favorite would have to be the butternut squash chawanmushi; I've never had anything like it before. Below are pictures of what Mr. P and I tried! Great spot for date night or girls’ night!
Péché on 4th street for a night cap post dinner. My first thought was this is a super mad-men-esque spot. The drink menu was separated by liquor type. I will say though, cocktails at Péché are a bit more expensive ($15 for an old fashioned, which is what I'm used to for Chicago prices, didn't think Austin would charge the same).
Hillside Farmacy - 1209 E 11th St. First stop on the agenda for Sunday was brunch! Hillside Farmacy doesn’t take reservations so we had to wait 20 mins for a table. It was unfortunately gloomy and rainy on Sunday so we couldn’t sit outside; on a nice sunny day, though, the patio would have been perfect! Once seated, we got a carafe of grapefruit Mimosas (that came out in a beaker), and I ordered the Sunny Coast (w/o cheese, w/ avocado and scrambled eggs added), and Mr. P ordered the Blueberry Pancakes (they were soooo fluffy). Mr. P has a huge sweet tooth and he kept saying how he had been craving pancakes for the past TWO months (I swear I haven't been telling him he can't eat pancakes!!!!!).
Looking back, maybe the carafe of mimosas wasn’t the best idea….oops! I may or may not have taken a 2 hour nap and woken up at 4 pm. The good news was that it stopped raining and the forecast said it wasn’t supposed to storm until 9 pm now! No rain in sight, we headed to the Hope Outdoor Gallery (high on my to-see list) at 11th & Baylor, which was a 25 min walk from our hotel. The Hope Outdoor Gallery is a paint park consisted of street art and graffiti from many contributors.
Daruma Ramen - 612 E 6th St B. We both were craving ramen after walking past Daruma earlier in the day and it was nice and close to the hotel! Daruma Ramen doesn’t take reservations either and when we got there around 7 pm (right after the Packers vs. Cowboys game), there was already a line. The inside was pretty small, maybe a large studio sized apartment. There were 2 communal tables of 8 seats in the middle, and some more individual seating alongside the walls and bar area. Mr. P loved that they were playing Seinfield on TV while we were waiting for our food…it’s one of his favorite shows! Daruma Ramen offered chicken broth and veggie broth, which was perfect for me since I’m a vegetarian :). My suggestion is to pay the extra 50 cents for the spicy chili sauce. While the ramen was delicious, it could have used more flavor that the spicy chili sauce would have added.
Dessert took us to Voodoo Donut - 212 E 6th St, open 24 hours!!! A must try. They have so many creative varieties of cake and yeast donuts. I got an oreo yeast donut that was probably 3,000 calories but worth every bit of it. Mr. P got a fritter, but mine was 100% better :). I'm craving a Voodoo Donut right now as we speak.
What’s a vacation without a good workout…am I right?! I do barre two days a week, so obviously had to find a studio that was within walking distance from our hotel. Barre3 ended up only being a 25 min walk (and we got to check out another area of Austin) so I made a reservation for 11 AM Monday morning! I’m usually a Pure Barre girl, but the closet Pure Barre was a 25 min drive. After barre and very hungry, we met up with some family friends that I haven’t seen in 10 years at the County Line BBQ! It was a very scenic drive (NOT walking distance) from downtown to the County Line BBQ—I didn’t realize Austin had so many hills! County Line BBQ was a quick 5 min drive from another must-see on our list, Mount Bonnell, so our family friends drove us there for a quick hike and a few pictures at the peak. Mount Bonnell isn't exactly a tall mountain, it's more of a hill, but regardless still a gorgeous view at the peak and we enjoyed it very much!
The weather was still holding up after Mount Bonnell so we walked to the historic district of Rainey Street. Many bars and restaurants, from beer gardens to Indian food, and the atmosphere was great! If we had more time we definitely would have gone back to Rainey Street at night. It was pretty quiet during the day when we went in the afternoon around 4 pm on a Monday afternoon.
Uchi*- 801 South Lamar Boulevard. Dinner at this place was also highly anticipated because it was another highly recommended spot on our list. We did have to make reservations for the spot but ended up going an hour early because were were hungry and were seated within 5 mins; this was a Monday night though so not sure if we would have been seated so early w/o the earlier reservation on the weekend. Uchi is a trendy Asian fusion restaurant. The menu consisted of cold tasting, hot tastings, greens, fried, and then sashimi, rolls, and special chef’s tastings. The brussels sprout was my favorite dish and I could have gotten 3 more orders of it just for myself. It was crispy and caramelized to perfection! Pictures below!
Lick Ice Cream - 100 S Lamar Blvd #1135. We came here for dessert post Uchi since it was a 5 min walk and I'm so glad we did! They have so many unique flavors! Mr. P and I got one to share, and I totally wish I got my own ;). The flavors we choose were Honey & Vanilla Bean, PB Chocolate Chip Brownie, and Salted Caramel.
Mr. P and I are sleepy people so we really didn’t make it past midnight any of the nights. We like to explore the city during the day and get a nice dinner at night. Can’t stay awake for the parties late at night anymore! We wanted to explore Rainey Street and 4th street some more after dinner but again, too sleepy. There was awesome live music next door to Péché, so it was cool listening to that when we were there for a night cap. Austin, we had an amazing time, thank you for offering all that amazing food & drinks! We can’t wait to come back for more!
Other restaurants and places to check out that were on our list but we didn’t end up going:
Café No Sé*- 1603 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704 (takes reservations via Opentable)
Franklin Barbeque (do not take reservations...the line to this place was insane!) - 900 E 11th St, Austin, TX 78702
The Alamo Drafthouse – Ritz (they have a special viewing some nights; one specialty show they do is to have a comedian give commentary during a silly movie) - 320 E 6th St, Austin, TX 78701
Esther's Follies (comedy club) - 525 E 6th St, Austin, TX 78701
Thanks for reading! Sorry for making ya a little hungry! All this reminiscing about the food we ate definitely made me hungry :). Hope you get some good suggestions for you next trip to Austin!!!