Getting out of a nice comfortable bed is the last thing I want to do at 1:30 in the morning. However, I was thirsty, and that problem needed attention, stat. So out of bed I rolled, and down the stairs I trudged. Apparently, my roommate had a similar late night plan and here we met in our kitchen on a random midweek night, when I blurted out a spontaneous idea.
“Hey man, you wanna go to Texas? I’ve heard Austin is really cool and I wanna go check it out soon.”
“That’s random,” Matt laughed, “But uh… yeah! I’ve heard it’s really cool too!”
That was easy, I thought! I’d asked around to some of my more common travel buddies to see if any of them were available to go with me, but they weren’t. But after stopping and thinking if this guy’s a good roommate, he can’t be too terrible of a travel buddy, right? Matt seemed like a good fit to make the trip with.
“Alright!” I exclaimed, remembering the need to keep my voice low so as to not be too disruptive during the late hour. “I’ll check out some flights and see what deals I can find!”
It was a plan! I had a place to go and I had someone to go with.
I’ll fast forward a bit through the less-than-exciting logistics of scoping out a flight on Google flights, finagling my way into any potential exit row seating with my 6 foot, 7 inch body, and scarfing down overpriced tacos at LAX. But after a solid day, Matt and I finally made it to Texas.
Our trip, which began on a Thursday with a Monday return date, began in Dallas. Here, we took our hotel’s reception advice to check out a few places…
18th and Vine BBQ
- Trendy, LA kind of vibe
- Delicious BBQ, but not massive, Texas-sized portions
- Great happy hour beers
- Our server took SO much time with us, since it was a slow time of day. Really giving us good advice on what to see in Dallas, and what to order
- Came here for a pitcher of beer, and shot around on their BASKETBALL court in the back patio area. Super cool way to spend part of the afternoon.
We were able to meet up with some people from the area that my friend Andrea had set us up to meet with. We joined them for a cocktail at Parliament downtown, which had a great menu of drinks (skewed especially toward whiskey, my favorite). It was nice being able to make instant friends on our first night in another state.
Our time in Dallas was short-lived, as Matt and I hopped on a Greyhound that we’d reserved and took a 3 and a half hour ride into Austin, our primary destination. Here began a three day journey of eating and drinking and drinking and eating some more. It was a vicious, never-ending cycle, but incredibly satisfying. We got around the city using an app called Fasten, as Uber and Lyft had left the city due to restrictive regulations. It worked like a charm!
As I use my iPhone camera roll and (very active) credit card statement to piece together the highlights of bars and restaurants we went to, I’ll name some of my favorite spots, and things I’d recommend seeing if you’re ever able to make it to the INCREDIBLE city that is Austin, Texas.
After finally getting settled into our Airbnb, we headed to downtown ATX, which is known for its active nightlife down on its (in?)famous Sixth Street. On Friday and Saturday nights it’s shut down to traffic, as the streets are jam packed with people (often college-aged) out ready to have a good time.
We were ready to have a good time. Sure, we had taken time to plan ahead. We did our research, chose where we wanted to go, and had a solid game plan together. Said game plan involved spending just that one night, Friday, on Sixth Street.
That Friday night turned into Friday and Saturday.
That Friday and Saturday turned into Friday, Saturday AND Sunday.
Sixth Street was just THAT good. I don’t know how we somehow gravitated to that place
every night, but we did. And it was well worth it.
Here are some of the highlights…
- A dive-y bar that, unlike most dives, has GREAT food. We both tore through the Chipotle Bacon Cheeseburger
- Our server was in training, but SO helpful. She was fun, funny, easy on the eyes, and knew her liquor left and right. (This was a theme throughout the trip. AMAZING service from the servers. Everyone really. Texans are incredibly nice people. The whole “Southern Hospitality” thing is not a myth.)
- The Lonestar beers here were ice cold and dirt cheap. (Lonestars became another theme throughout the trip. Because most things that are ice cold and dirt cheap are good, right?)
- Maggie Mae’s
- OH MAN. This place was RAD!
- Multiple bars and areas within. One had a blues singer, another had a small speakeasy-feel to it.
- The MOST fun, was upstairs on the rooftop. Top-40 was spinning and drinks were flowing. Grab a cocktail and cruise out to the dance floor. A combination for a super fun night.
- Just go.
- Voodoo Doughtnuts
- A legendary experience. I’m not a big donut person in general, but these were game changers. We went twice during the weekend.
- I got the same two donuts both times.
- Open 24 hours. So it’s literally always a good idea. Any time of day.
- The Dizzy Rooster
- We ended up here on Sunday night and it was awesome. A combination of an obnoxious lady who was giving out brutal high fives to everyone who entered, and the killer blues music being performed live.
- Another highlight was a homeless man who came in and did an insane sketch of a couple watching the blues show at the bar. You wouldn’t look at him and assume he had that unbelievable level of talent.
- This is a bit farther down 6th Street (past that hub affectionately referred to as “Dirty Sixth” where most of the bars are). We began the longer walk, as I’d heard about this place’s legendary pizza. At one point I stopped at a pizza truck that was still part of Dirty Sixth and said to Matt, “You know man, I’ll just grab a slice of pizza here.” I was getting over the idea of making that jaunt and figured if we’re here, pizza is pizza right?
No. Pizza is NOT pizza. And fortunately, something in my gut told me that. “You know what, we’re here in Austin, let’s just keep going to Via313.”
Arguably few decisions in my life have been better.
- Might be the pizza I’ve ever, yes EVER had. And what did I order? The Detroiter, which is simply a square shaped double pepperoni pizza.
- I think it was the crust that made it especially good. But WOW. It was worth the walk and worth the wait.
Austin had plenty more to offer than just Sixth Street, though.
- Check out Amped bar next door and have a beer while you wait for your table
- The Shrimp & Grits were spicy and hearty. I completed them with a biscuit.
- We asked our server on suggestions on what to do. He took 5 minutes and hand wrote a list out for us. Incredible!
- A really cool park with graffiti all over the walls
- It changes every day, as any graffiti artist can head up to make more designs on the walls
- There are multiple of these taco trucks, but I went to the one near Barton Springs
- The award winning tacos are insanely good!
- A definite highlight. These springs were full of people kicking back with music, beer and friends.
- Like a small river, great to cool off in the heat.
- Definitely the best BBQ of the trip (we didn’t end up going to the famous, wait-in-line-for-hours Franklin BBQ)
- Ribs, brisket… get in my belly! Melts off the bone!
- A small, cool brewery with rotating food trucks, a good beer selection
- The beer comes with four pours and a keeper glass for only 10 bucks! I got a shirt there too.
- Here are the “classier” bars. It’s a small area to walk around in with a residential feel and plenty of spots to dip into and grab a drink.
These are just a few of the highlights of things I especially enjoyed during my time in ATX. The people in Texas were consistently kind, helpful, talented, welcoming; just about any positive adjective you could ascribe to these people would be fitting. Matt and I had the best time exploring that booming city. I list Austin as one of my top 3 favorite cities to visit in the whole country.
If you have the opportunity…