Austin, TX: Suggestions for interesting things to do/check-out that are not SXSW-related?
March 13, 2007 3:03 AM   Subscribe

Austin, TX: I'm visiting for the next two weeks (with access to a car) and wondering where I can find the following: great coffee, a posh restaurant that is vegetarian-friendly, get-in-touch-with-nature getaways, and the best places to unwind from SXSW mayhem.
posted by krisken to Travel & Transportation around Austin, TX (15 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Great coffee -- it used to be Las Manitas (The Avenue) on Congress. Hope it still is. And the Central American Breakfast (maduros, black beans, over-easy eggs, sour cream, avocado) is to die for.
posted by fourcheesemac at 5:17 AM on March 13, 2007

Barton Springs Pool is open now, so check out Zilker Park, the hike and bike trail, botanical garden and the Umlauf Sculpture garden.

Be sure to check out the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

Little City (near 10th and Congress) is pretty good for coffee, but is likely to be packed during SXSW. You might like Genuine Joe's better, since you have a car.
posted by nightwood at 6:19 AM on March 13, 2007

great coffee: curra's has this amazing oaxacan coffee you can ask for. there are locations in both south and north-central austin.

posh vegetarian-friendly restaurant: the eastside cafe. they have their own organic garden on the premises, and the food is great.
posted by umbĂș at 6:32 AM on March 13, 2007

Enchanted Rock is an easy day trip and well worth it. (Even better if you can stay overnight.)

It's near Fredericksburg, which might be worth a visit, depending on your taste. Not exactly nature-riffic, but not stereotypically Texas either.

A little farther down the road, you'll find Utopia.
posted by vetiver at 6:53 AM on March 13, 2007

As far as nature is concerned, if you're looking for something a little more untamed and less parky, the Barton Creek Greenbelt is probably a good bet, not to mention it's pretty close to downtown, relatively speaking.

I would recommend Mother's on Duval for vegetarian food, but I think it just burned down.

For a super-hippie vegan experience, there's always Casa de Luz. Their grounds are beautiful.

You can unwind pretty much anywhere outside of downtown from SXSW. I would try to stay away from trendy restaurants, because those are going to be packed with hipster douches.

I used to take boys out on dates to Mount Bonnell, and then drive down to go wander around the grounds at Laguna Gloria and then stop for coffee around sunset at Mozart's, which is right on the lake.
posted by mckenney at 6:59 AM on March 13, 2007

Ooh, second on the EastSide Cafe. They were doing fancy vegetarian long before it was cool. They have their own gardens. I used to love that place.

Mother's burned down? Holy crap.
posted by fourcheesemac at 7:24 AM on March 13, 2007

I would recommend a day sunbathing at Hippie Hollow, but that might be more nature than you are looking for.
posted by mds35 at 7:31 AM on March 13, 2007

I would just like to point out that I don't know anyone who goes to Hippie Hollow except to cruise other guys. It sounds nice, like, whee, nude beach, but it is way more of a gay pickup spot than anything else.
posted by mckenney at 7:35 AM on March 13, 2007

Mother's burned down? Holy crap.
Apparently, just the patio burned down. The kitchens are okay. I don't know if they are back in business yet.

I'll second the Wildflower Center and Enchanted Rock for nature getaways.
posted by donajo at 9:38 AM on March 13, 2007

Aquarelle is another posh restaurant that is vegetarian-friendly. I'd also recommend the coffee at Genuine Joe's, but it's not near downtown.
posted by mattbucher at 10:44 AM on March 13, 2007

You can also frolic with Mother Nature (watch the hands, buddy!) at nearby McKinney Falls State Park. A river runs through it, you know. And Wild Basin is close at hand as well. Personally, I found the latter rather uninspiring...the wildness was very well-hidden. Unless you thrill to the prospect of watching the wily grackle or trying to remain hidden behind a larch.

Hamilton Pool is also supposed to be spiffy. Ain't never been there, they tell me it's nice.
posted by Midnight Creeper at 1:01 PM on March 13, 2007

I find it entertaining that all of the Austin questions get asked around SXSW. For (some of) those of us who live here, it is the worst time of the year, what with all of the...sorry. I'll stop now.

For a close in treat, do a little walk on the Barton Creek Greenbelt.
If you decide to park in a neighborhood instead of at Zilker or a road access, nod and say "Hi" to us as you pass. Don't block our driveways. And for the love of pete, don't litter the trails (including dog crap). Also, despite what seems to be conventional wisdom, your badge won't get you special privileges in the Greenbelt.

We may have swimming holes soon with this rain we're getting. Or maybe not, sometimes it is hard to tell and they disappear fast. Gus Fruh access has a great swimming hole when it's full and a great hike when empty. Walking up from Zilker will get you to Campbell's Hole and there are a few more.

For Coffee I sometimes like Ruta Maya, but they've been burning their coffee a bit too much lately. But it can be quite good. Plus it is right around the corner from Opal Divine's if you need a pint.
posted by Seamus at 2:52 PM on March 13, 2007

Somewhat posh vegetarian:

Nu Age Cafe has some tasty and original dishes.

With an Indian flare: Cosmic Cafe

Ararat on North Loop does creative Persian vegetarian (but their website is down).
posted by zonkout at 3:06 PM on March 13, 2007

Umlauf Gardens was my favorite quiet spot when I visited there a couple of years ago. Art and Nature! Perfect!
posted by 1f2frfbf at 9:46 AM on March 14, 2007

Coffee: Epoch Coffee on North Loop is very good, great environment. You'll see artists drawing, people playing chess on the patio. It's nice. For a more scenic view (but with lousy parking), Mozart's on Lake Austin Blvd. is a lovely place to drink coffee, but the parking can be iffy because it's surrounded by several popular restaurants.

Nature getaways: Barton Greenbelt is lovely, as are Enchanted Rock, Hamilton Pool, etc. Zilker Park has the big plus that it's very easy to get to and has parking. You can access the Town Lake hike and bike trails if you want to go running, etc. I'm also quite fond of Wild Basin if you want to do a little hiking but don't feel like driving very far.

Veggie-friendly restaurants: Second Nu Age Cafe. For a more Austin-y experience, however, try Magnolia Cafe or Kerbey Lane, both of which are slackerey Austin-type places and both of which have several tasty veggie-friendly dishes. I second the recommendation for Curra's for the coffee, though I don't know how their menu is for veggie fare.

I am very sad about Mother's.
posted by vraxoin at 2:32 PM on March 14, 2007

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