Our vacation quickly came and went, and I immediately hit the ground running once I got back to work. It’s only now that I’ve managed to carve out some time to sit down and blog about our trip. Hurray for four day weekends!
I will admit, being back in Austin was a little weird. It was both exactly the way I remembered and incredibly different, all at once. It’s grown significantly since I moved away, but I was glad to see some of my favorite places were still around and doing well. I feel like the best way to break down this trip is talk about the highlights from each day:
Our first day in town involved getting lunch at Torchy’s (man, did I miss those fried avocado tacos) and talking around South Congress before checking in at our Airbnb in East Austin. We then made our way out to the Alamo Drafthouse at Slaughter Lane for dinner and beers while watching the new X-Men movie. Alex says that he would move to Austin for the Drafthouse alone and I kinda don’t blame him; it’s easily the best way to watch a movie.
On our 2nd day, we had lunch at Frank and watched a World Cup game. It was a little before noon, but that definitely didn’t stop us from getting drinks with our meal. My cocktail was called La Sandia, which is watermelon puree and mezcal with a chili salt rim. It’s easily the best think I drank during this vacation and I’ll probably spend the majority of the summer trying to replicate it. Alex also had his first Frito pie ever and was a big fan; I told my sister later on that day that he had never had one before and she was surprised/horrified. Not everyone grows up eating chili and cheese in a bag of Fritos, but she still seem baffled.
One of the things I always loved about Austin was the awesome street art. We stopped by the HOPE Outdoor Art Gallery at my suggestion (I had read about it randomly before our trip) and it was pretty amazing. It’s an abandoned condo development turned art gallery, with layers upon layers of graffiti and art pieces spread throughout the cement walls.
Of course, no trip to Austin would be complete without stopping by my favorite cupcake shop of all time: Sugar Mama’s. The red velvet cupcake is awesome as I remember it.
Our third day in town was a day of beer. We drove out to Jester King Brewery, a good 40 minutes outside of Austin proper. If you haven’t heard about this brewery, this Good Beer Hunting article is really great. We sampled all of the beers that they had on tap (which are on rotation every week) and got to enjoy the gorgeous weather with their outdoor seating. Afterwards, we headed to the Draughthouse, a great beer bar near my old apartment on 45th St. My favorite beer there was the Guadalupe Brewing Texas Honey Ale; not too sweet or light with a decent ABV.
East Austin has expanded so much over the last few years; we spent our Sunday walking around and exploring the neighborhood. I wish I could start every day with breakfast tacos from Tamale House East, because that’s how amazing they were. We also ended the day at my old favorite bar on the east side, Rio Rita.
But in-between the beginning and the end of that Sunday, we headed to the Rainey Street to check out Bangers for beer and sausages (veggie sausage for me, of course) before heading over to the Mohawk to catch the last half of the US vs Portugal game before seeing the Mountain Goats. The only other time I’ve seen them live was in Austin, so maybe I’ll only ever see them perform in Texas.
Last but not least, on our last morning in Austin, Alex and I went to Gourdough’s Public House for breakfast in the form of giant doughnuts. I had the Freebird, a doughnut topped with cream cheese, fresh fruit, and graham cracker crumbs. So, so good.
So yes, we had lots of food and beer on this trip. I got to see my college buddy Steve and hang out with my family for an evening. It was nice to be in Austin again, but somehow, it also reminded me why I left. Say what you will about Chicago, but I have a lot of love for this city. I’ll always be a Texan at heart, but I’m going to be a Chicagoan for the long haul.
Even though it feels like we just got back from this trip, today is day one of my four day weekend. This is me not complaining though. Over the next few days, we’ll enjoy the beautiful weather, grill with Alex’s folks, and say goodbye to a dear friend of mine. But that’s for another blog post.