What to do in Austin
September 7, 2007 6:06 PM   Subscribe

What should I do in Austin, TX? I'm there for one week for a conference...

...which pretty much means I'm on vacation. What are the best music spots for blues & jazz? Good local "dive" restaurants? Places within car rental 1/2 day distance?
posted by unccivil to Travel & Transportation around Austin, TX (22 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Eat at Guero's. My favorite Mexican restaurant ever.

Elephant Room for jazz. It's a basement bar downtown, on Congress, near the intersection with Second Street, with terrific jazz 365 days a year. If you have a chance to see Blaze play there, don't miss them.

I love Texas Chili Parlor. The hottest thing I have ever eaten, which had me crying for at least an hour, was their hottest chili. It's a dive, near downtown.
posted by jayder at 6:26 PM on September 7, 2007

Also --

Visit Sixth Street. I prefer Sixth Street on weeknights over weekends because the bars were too packed and crazy on the weekends. On weeknights things are quieter, and there are better drink specials and no cover charges. There's a bar for everybody on sixth street.

Check out Alamo Drafthouse downtown, a movie theater that shows interesting independent films and has a full food and alcohol menu.

If you like swimming ---

Swim at Barton Springs. It's a natural, spring-fed swimming pool in downtown Austin, cold as hell, but wonderful. It's called "the crown jewel of Austin" for a reason.

Swim at Hamilton Pool (I think that's what it's called). It's an isolated swimming hole, not far from Austin (half hour drive) that is under a dramatic rock overhang, with water dripping over the overhang, that is quite nice.
posted by jayder at 6:39 PM on September 7, 2007

who knows?
posted by caddis at 6:50 PM on September 7, 2007

blues: Antone's. It's THE place for blue's in the south that's not in the Mississippi Delta.
posted by Pants! at 6:55 PM on September 7, 2007

Going to NACAC by any chance?

...meet up with me!
posted by wildeepdotorg at 6:56 PM on September 7, 2007

Within an hour's drive of Austin, you can find the world's best BBQ. I have been trying as many as possible, and listing them here:

posted by popechunk at 7:39 PM on September 7, 2007 [2 favorites]

if you do make it to 6th street, make sure to stop at a hot dog stand called "the best wurst." grab some extra moist brisket from rudy's bbq. if you're going to make the drive out to hamilton pool (which is beautiful, by the way), please call ahead to see if they're open. i've been burnt twice going and them not being open. mozart's is a great place for coffee and desserts lake-side.
posted by MyDocuments at 7:52 PM on September 7, 2007

(pssst: alamo drafthouse downtown is closed while they move it to its new location, also downtown. try one of the other locations.)
posted by bluishorange at 8:00 PM on September 7, 2007

Every time I'm in Austin I get breakfast burritos at El Sol y La Luna.
posted by booth at 8:10 PM on September 7, 2007

My former band has gigs everywhere. Check them out if you like authentic 40's lounge w/crooner. 50% originals 50% covers.

If I were in Austin, I'd go to Sam's BBQ on East 12th. For the full effect, do it at 2 AM.

If you like museums, the Harry Ransom Center has some good stuff. A Gutenberg bible, and Charles Dicken's dinner plates are two things I recall.

The LBJ Library is cool too, if you're into politics/history.

Both of those are on the UT campus. If you plan to stroll it, read this.
posted by nonmyopicdave at 9:22 PM on September 7, 2007

Best answer: Antone's has stopped being "the place for blues" a long time ago. Good Blues is hard enough to find in Austin, let alone Antone's (not trying to be a snob, but I miss the old days). I have seen some of the best newer music at The Mohawk and even at Club Deville next door.

You may want to ask again right before you come down to Austin. We can look in The Chronicle (local small-form weekly) for you and make some better recommendations.

As for food, my personal favorite dives are:

Mexican: Arandas and Taco Deli.
Vietnamese: Tam Deli - sandwiches are unfreakinbelievable
Japanese/Sushi: Maru

Ask again about a week before your conference.
posted by yehaskel at 9:38 PM on September 7, 2007

Eat breakfast tacos at Mi Madre's. Go swimming at Hamilton Pool. Eat BBQ at Salt Lick.
posted by apetpsychic at 11:12 PM on September 7, 2007

Best answer: Jazz: Elephant Room
Blues: Continental Club

Dive Bars: Lala's, Poodle Dog Lounge, Carousel Lounge, Ginny's Little Longhorn*

Barton Springs for swimming if you don't want to make the drive to Hamilton Pool.

* If you're here on a Sunday, you MUST go to Ginny's. Great music and chicken shit bingo. Get there before 4:00 or so if you want to sit.
posted by sanko at 11:40 PM on September 7, 2007

Drive to Lockhart and compare Kreuz's brisket with Smitty's (two siblings inherited the business, two inherited the building). Go to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower center. Nthing the Texas Chili Parlor--but their degrees of heat are exponentially more than what the rest of the US thinks. You can also tour the LBJ ranch near Johnson City, but the house isn't open to the public.
posted by brujita at 12:04 AM on September 8, 2007

Visit the Bastrop State Park in Bastrop County just a half an hour east of Austin. If it isn't sweltering. If lots of pine trees are your thing. Bastrop itself has become a bit more developed over the years; its main BBQ attraction is Cartwright's. Used to be on Main Street, but now it's off highway 71 and a bit more commercialized now. That's speaking for my hometown. McKinney Falls State Park is in south Austin and is quite beautiful. There is a good Mexican restaurant near going west on Burleson after intersection of Burleson and Montopolis Drive. Can't remember the name though I was there about a month ago.
posted by Mister Cheese at 2:11 AM on September 8, 2007

get on one of the boats on the former Town Lake and check out the bats in the evening. You should probably make reservations. It's about an hour tour of the lake and they get you to Congress St. bridge to see the bats flying out.
posted by busboy789 at 4:59 AM on September 8, 2007

Check out The Oasis. It's a restaurant that overlooks Lake Travis, with lots of outdoor deck seating and makes for some great sunset shots. I grabbed a few 2 weeks ago. They had a fire out there a while ago that destroyed their indoor seating, but it wasn't a problem. The food and drinks were pretty good too.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 6:30 AM on September 8, 2007

Hit up Antones for sure, and the Elephant Room if you're into jazz. There's always a good show going on at either place.

Seconding eating at The Oasis - the wife and I always enjoy watching the sunset over Lake Travis.

No one has mentioned my personal favorite bbq place - Rudy's! Actually, I go there just for their sauce. I think about half of the plastic cups in our cupboard are take-home cups from Rudy's. There is also a Rudy's outside of Austin, in Round Rock.
posted by n2linux at 9:52 AM on September 8, 2007

Seconding Rudys. I suggest the brisket.
posted by caddis at 2:41 PM on September 8, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks to everyone!!! Great answers! I'm here now, so I'm making my lists!
posted by unccivil at 5:40 PM on September 9, 2007

For real barbeque, go to Sam's on E. 12th street. Fo' serious.
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:35 AM on September 11, 2007 [1 favorite]

Sullivan's for lunch burgers. Eddy V's for upscale seafood. Roy's for weird seafood. Ruth's Chris for steak. Ruby's for in-town BBQ (much better options out of town). Dirty's for in-town burgers (again, much better options out of town), though Casino el Camino downtown has the best burgers, hands-down. Guero's, pollos for Tex-mex. The Whole Foods mothership is worth investigating.
posted by spiderwire at 4:16 AM on July 20, 2008

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