WOC is just a month away! If you're planning to spend a few days in Austin before or after WOC, here are some great tips from Austin local and WOC attendee TJ Griffin!
There are tons of great venues all around town. I recommend perusing the Austin Chronicle for the listings. I find their website irritating, so pick up a free copy pretty much anywhere. If you're a random music goer/non-planner here are some venues where you probably can't go wrong if you just show up:
The Continental Club (south)- generally speaking, you'll find texas infused rock, rockabilly and an occasional bluegrass acts here.
The Saxon Pub (south) - a mix of local and travelling acts, skews to the singer songwriter, but definitely not exclusively.
Rattlesnake Inn (w. 6th) - Willie's bar, no cover for live music and I have yet to see a bad act. Go easy on the ranch water.
Strange Brew (south) - combination coffee shop, bar, live music venue. They have one of the few listening rooms in town (sssshhhh), but that's what attracts the acts to it. Skews to the singer songwriter.
Drinking With Hipsters
It's probably unavoidable, but if you want to maximize your hipster drinking, stay east of I-35 between 1st and Manor and you'll be in the sweet spot. I tend to gravitate to East 6th street usually around the following locations:
East Side Showroom (e. 6th) - I wouldn't bother eating here, but the cocktails are pretty damned good.
Liberty (e. 6th) - My favorite dive for three reasons: the booze selection, the jukebox and the East Side King's trailer in the back. Also, there's a pool table if that's your thing.
Grackle (e. 6th) - get your beer on people. Right around the corner from Liberty and there's a second ESK trailer here.
Drinking with Douches
Pretty much anywhere on 6th street between I-35 and Lamar. If that's your thing go for it. There are a couple of non douchey spots tucked in there (I'm looking at you Casino El Camino), but for the most part this is douche central.
Undeniably Austin Drinking
Mean Eyed Cat (w. 5th) - God bless mean eyed cat.
Carousel (middle of nowhere) - there are pink elephants. you bring the booze and buy the set ups.
Freddie's place (south) - washers, playground, bad food, cheap beer outdoor patio. Bring the kids and get drunk while they play.
Ginny's Little Longhorn (north) - Sundays = chickenshit bingo. If you're not leaving until Monday you'll want to check it out.
Posse East and/or Crown and Anchor (near campus) - Saturday is a game day (Kansas State, hook 'em). Get your burnt orange on and head to one of these bars pre/post/during the game. If you don't have any burnt orange gear, stop by the Co-op which is conveniently located right nearby these bars.
The food scene in Austin has exploded in the last 5 years, eating here can be a religious experience.
BBQ - Franklin is by far the hands down best in town. That said, expect to arrive there 2 hours before they open and wait for another 2 hours before you're eating. There is a cottage industry of chair and umbrella rentals right outside their restaurant. Personally, I don't like waiting. Other places where isn't a wait: Stile's Switch, Lamberts (fancy bbq). I sorta like the Iron works bbq downtown for convenience sake.
Trailers, there are many but they are not made equal:
East Side King (many places, but I recommend the one at the Liberty on e. 6th) - Paul Qi, local chef hero famous for putting out high end asian food and winning top chef also happens to have several trailer outposts where for $7 you can get some delicious asian inspired grub. The brussel sprouts are not to be missed.
There's a trailer food park next to East Side Show Room/Cheer Up Charlie's on east 6th where you can also get some decent grub. Also, plenty of options south on Lamar, Congress and First.
Polvo's (south) - A dive-y, tequila and cheese mecca.
Chuy's (south) - yes it's a chain, but this is the original and it's delicious so why not?
Torchy's (several locations) - really great tacos. Seriously. The best in town.
Taco Deli (several locations) - If you can't get to Torchy's, go here.
Ramen Tatsuya - one word: delicious.
Claypit - kind of americanized Indian food, but I like it for it's ambience and proximity to the dog and duck pub. Also, their korma sauce is unique and I find it be tasty (though not really korma-y)
Burgers - P. Terry's, Hat Creek, Mighty Fine. Can't go wrong with those.
Mi Madre, El Chilito, Juan in a Million are a few notables for breakfast tacos.
Fancy Pants Dining
Break out your fanciest of pants and bring your wallet.
Barley/Swine - My favorite restaurant in town. There will be a wait (no rezzie's) but they take your cell phone and you can get a cocktail at any one of a number of places nearby. They'll call you with enough time for you to settle up and walk back over to eat. Small plates, all good. Be sure to contribute to the beer fund.
Uchiko - This will be an experience, but also expensive. I recommend doing the chef's tasting menu, but be prepared to drop $200-300 on dinner for two if you do so.
Sway Thai - Fancy thai food? Sure.
Justine's - Way the hell east, nothing else around it and I think that's what makes it so great. Outdoor/indoor dining options, an interesting take on French cuisine and the ambience is great. Much more affordable than some of the others.
Foreign and Domestic - Again, probably more affordable but in some ways more interesting than some of the other options. They typically have menu items you won't find anywhere else. There's also a bar across the street if you want to grab a post meal cocktail.
Olive and June - great drinks, great food.
Steaks - If this is your thing, you could do the Vince Young Steakhouse and bask in the former glory of a UT star/NFL washout. I'd probably stick some of the other options. You can go to a steakhouse anywhere.
Other Stuff To Do
When you're not meeting, eating, drinking or sleeping there are plenty of other things to do:
Stevie Ray Vaughn statue - pay your respects.
Bats - they fly out from the Congress street bridge at sunset. There are millions of them. It's a little surreal.
Barton Springs - THE cure for 100+ degree heat. You gotta jump in people, it's the only way.
Mt. Bonnell - the foothills of the Texas Hill Country, beautiful views to be had from the peak.
BookPeople - the largest independent bookstore in Texas (and maybe anywhere). Gotta pick up that book for the flight home.
Waterloo Records - an institution, you might even catch an in store performance.
Yoga - so many places to get your yoga on, but my wife says Wanderlust is the place to go.
Running/Biking/Walking - along town lake (which by the way is a river) is a great way to get sweaty while taking in the sights.
Cowboy Boots - get 'em at Allen's on South Congress.
Longhorn Football - you can get your tickets from scalpers on the way to the stadium. 9/21 is K-State vs. UT.