Austin for the weekend
November 19, 2009 12:08 PM   Subscribe

Fun in Austin, TX for a young couple with 2 days to spend, one of which is Black Friday?

We are in our mid-twenties. We like comics and toys, art, science, and books . Seafood's the only meat I eat but he's down with everything. We're staying at the Stephen Austin Intercontinental downtown and would love to find places in walking distance, but we will have a car if we need to drive somewhere. Good coffee near the hotel is a must for me. Help us find other fun, interesting, non-touristy places. Or tourist attractions really worth seeing. I've seen previous askme threads on quirky Austin things, but most of them were asked during warmer months. We're going to be there next Friday and Saturday, so we also wanted to know if there's anything fun going on that weekend or anyplace to avoid on black Friday.

We're driving from Ft. Worth (which we're also unfamiliar with) so we're open to anything fun or delicious between those two places, too.

Thanks in advance!
posted by a.steele to Travel & Transportation around Austin, TX (14 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Be sure to stop at the Czech Stop in West, TX. It's about 20 miles north of Waco and has great kolaches. Tons of live music within walking distance on 6th st, Red River, and in the Warehouse district. Book Woman at 6th and Lamar might interest you. South Congress has quite a few interesting antique/junk stores. There's a Starbuck's at 6th & Congress, as well as local independent coffee places within short walking distance from your hotel. Ask the concierge for a recommendation. Get some Texas BBQ (beef!) while you're here. Green Mesquite at Barton Springs & Lamar is OK and has free live music too. Terra Toys and ToyJoy are very cool, but you will have to drive. If you want to see a wild animal stampede, be at Wal-Mart at opening time on Friday morning, but stand well back.
posted by Daddy-O at 12:51 PM on November 19, 2009 [2 favorites]

For coffee, you're in luck, Little City is just two blocks away.
You'll definitely want to hit up South Congress, which since the hotel is on Congress, could be a good walk. You would just take the bridge across the river and down to where there are tons of shops, including Monkey See, Monkey Do, a toy store.
Honestly other than maybe swimming, anything suggested to do during warmer months (also known as hell) is probably way, way BETTER during November. The weather is forecasted to be clear and highs in the mid/high 60s.

On the way from Ft. Worth, you may want to stop on I-35 in West, TX, just north of Waco, at the Czech Stop. Kitschy rest stop with many varieties of kolaches.

There is also Toy Joy a 15 min drive or so from your hotel, which is kind of an Austin landmark, just off the "Drag." I would not bother visiting the Drag itself since it mostly sucks now and is mostly chain stores and fast food.

For comics, Austin Books & Comics is supposed to be great, but I don't know much about comics myself.

I could probably go on and on about things to do, but I'm sure plenty of other people will have great suggestions.
posted by ishotjr at 12:58 PM on November 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

- Stop at Little Ginny's Longhorn Saloon for a beer in a real texas bar (and go across the street to the Poodle Dog Lounge for some shuffleboard).

- If you want to spend some money on some good food, go to Lambert's

- My favorite brunch in town was at Mulberry. Their eggs benedict is the bomb, and they'll make you a Radler (basically beer and sprite).

- Walk around Zilker Park

- Go to Emo's for a show, but skip the bars on sixth street (except Jackalope)




- Get the migas at Chapala, and thank me later
posted by CharlesV42 at 1:22 PM on November 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

Oh, and if you don't really eat meat, we have some great vegetarian/vegan places such as Mother's Cafe & Garden, which is maybe 15-20 mins from your hotel. We're not really known for our seafood in Austin, but we are known for BBQ in Texas, and for your guy, I would suggest Rudy's if you want to stay in town, or even Salt Lick if you want to venture out further, but keep in mind that all you'll get to eat is coleslaw and potatoes. ;-)
posted by ishotjr at 1:23 PM on November 19, 2009

Thirding that you must stop in West for kolaches. It's been a while since I made that drive, but there used to be a smaller bakery on the town square in West that had kolaches that were even better than the Czech Stop's. It's about a mile east of I-35 -- just take the main road into town and you'll find the square. Buy kolaches at both places and compare/contrast.

A beautiful late fall/early winter day in Austin beats the hell out of being there in summer. Don't discount the outdoor stuff if the weather is to be like ishotjr says. Take a walk down by Barton Springs and through the Barton Creek Greenbelt. Or, closer to your hotel, take a walk around Town Lake.
posted by mudpuppie at 1:42 PM on November 19, 2009

Seconding the Austin Comics & Books rec for comics. For locally owned bookstores, I love Bookpeople, which I'm sure has already been recommended in one of the previous threads, best.

Have fun!
posted by immlass at 1:44 PM on November 19, 2009

I'm gonna veto P. Terry's. Their burgers are just alright to me. Way more hype than substance. You want a good burger in Austin, go for either the Burger-Tex on Airport, Hill-Bert's, Dirty Martin's, or Mighty Fine. Lotsa folks swear by Hut's, too.

The 6th street bars are pretty lame, in general. My favorite place to grab a drink is Rio Rita, over on the East side... but your mileage may vary. It's somewhat of a niche place. Jukebox full of old French pop and garage rock, that sort of thing. Best bloody mary ever, though.

If you like beer, be sure to check out the Draught House on Medical (Burnet).

Both Toy Joy and Terra Toys can slate your toylust.

You must have tacos from either Torchy's or Taco Deli. Most people I host in town seem to enjoy Torchy's more.

Austin Books & Comics has a *fantastic* selection of comics and graphic novels... from your latest super-hero comic to Chris Ware and Archer Prewitt. They do not, however, have much in the way of games, if that is your thing. For gaming geekery, go to Dragon's Lair.

Opal Divine's on lower 6th (near Whole Foods) is a nice bar to sit and chill at, and sample some scotch.

If you like records, I suggest End of an Ear on South First.

Polvo's, also on S. 1st, is some great Mexican food.

For interesting local shops (vintage, etc) without the annoying crowd of SoCo, hit up the North Loop strip of shops, over on (you guessed it) North Loop.

Blue Dahlia on E. 11th has FANTASTIC brunch.

You must see a movie at Alamo Drafthouse. Bonus points for catching one of their house events. If you go, get the green chili mac & cheese and a midnight espresso shake for me. ;)

For non-comic books, you can't beat Book People on Lamar at 6th.

It's not on the menu, but if you ask, Amy's Ice Cream will make you a "Frosty Dr. Pepper"...think of a shake with vanilla ice cream and Dr. Pepper. It's good.
posted by kaseijin at 1:52 PM on November 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

Oh, forgot Top Notch for burgers. Thin burgers, sorta in the style of a Sonic... but they're totally iconic and worth a visit.
posted by kaseijin at 1:55 PM on November 19, 2009

P Terry's is better than Mighty Fine, which I thought was Mighty Disappointing after all the raving people do about it. P Terry's is cheaper too, and there's one at Lamar & 32nd not too far from ToyJoy. Hut's left me cold too. For Mexican food, you can't go wrong with Juan in a Million, but they are only open from 7am to 3pm, no dinner there.

Here are some museums in Austin.

In my first comment I said Book Women, but it is Book People like others have said in their comments. Sorry to dis all of the Book Men out there.
posted by Daddy-O at 3:44 PM on November 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

Thanks to everyone who has commented so far! It looks like we're going to have more than our fair share of things to do for two days. We've only been to Austin once (drove a long way from Memphis, TN in a cramped car to see Quentin Tarantino introduce Kill Bill 1&2 at the Alamo--sat next to Kurt Russell!!--and literally drove right back to Memphis). The Alamo Drafthouse ALONE was enough to make us want to move there.

I'm so excited to get to check out all these places, and totally jealous of any of you who live there.

Feel free to keep commenting if there are any more suggestions!
posted by a.steele at 3:54 PM on November 19, 2009

Shady Grove is fun. Maybe a little touristy, but fun. It's the only place I've had a Frito Pie.
posted by tenaciousd at 4:47 PM on November 19, 2009

Some other bars downtown, but not on 6th to check out are Side Bar and Creekside Lounge on 7th by Red River, they are more divey. Be sure to check out the Gingerman at 3rd & Lavaca if you like beer - they have a million on tap.

I agree with kaseijin about Rio Rita's Bloody Mary's - awesome. Also, they have a bunch of infused vodkas, mmm.

You must have some breakfast tacos, that is a very Austin thing to do. Torchy's is good - mmm fried avocado.

Mexican Martini's at Trudy's are pretty standard, too. They are strong, only 2 per person. There's a Trudy's within walking distance from Toy Joy if you end up going there.

Oh, and if you do have a car and want to do some driving, check out Austin west of Mopac, that's where the hills start, it's completely unexpected when you spend most of your time in central Austin, and then venture west on 2222 - bam - hills. And rich people houses.

I, too, am a non-meater, so I don't know anything about BBQ, but, oh, Mother's isn't very good in my opinion .. it's pretty easy to find veg things everywhere, so I don't find it necessary to go to a full veg restaurant. Check out Whole Foods, if you can - they have tons of awesome premade/ made to order things to eat there, and it's the flagship, so it's huge.

Ok, that's all I can think of for now ...
posted by theRussian at 7:22 PM on November 19, 2009

Green Mesquite on Barton Springs, a half-block west of Lamar has pretty good BBQ. From there, you can walk on over to House Wine and have a glass and listen to whomever is playing. There's a P Terry's right there, too. I find P Terry's to be average, but others disagree.

Your hotel has an EXCELLENT bar with an outdoor, second-floor balcony.

You can also hoof it a block or so to the Driskill and hang out in their bar - oldest bar in Austin, I believe. Supposedly it's where the Texas Rangers decided how to deal with Bonnie And Clyde. I'm pretty sure Sean the bartender was at the original meeting.

Nthing breakfast tacos. Anywhere.

Mother's *is* a very good place to eat - I'm not a vegetarian and I like going there. Right across the street is a great little Italian place called Asti, and right next to that is Dolce Vita (coffeehouse/bar/dessert/lunch) and Hyde Park Bar and Grill.

I'd really recommend parking the car and using cabs to get around the immediate area. Austin cabs are cheap, and the drivers GENERALLY tend to be friendly and helpful. Not always, but usually.
posted by Thistledown at 7:41 PM on November 19, 2009

Also... for the trip down... just before you get to Austin, in Georgetown, there is a cave tour right off I-35. Inner Space Caverns.

It's fun and dorky, and you can totally feel each other up during the brief "lights out SPOOKY!" portion.
posted by kaseijin at 10:21 PM on November 19, 2009

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