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OK. We have to do a disclaimer right up front: Rob and Scott (founders of Austin Grill) also co-founded Amy's with Amy Miller in 1984 and still own stock in the company. But don't take our word that Amy's is a must stop on your trip to Austin. Ask anyone! For twelve years Amy's has been THE ice cream of Austin. Fun, creative stores, great homemade flavors, custom "crush'ns" and, best of all, Amy's wacky staff. With five locations in Austin (and two in Houston). The hot West Sixth Street location is convenient to Austin's best record store, Waterloo, and a great clothing store, Emeralds.
Take a dip in the nation's most famous natural swimmin' hole. (It’s got its own endangered species of salamander.) Regain your body temperature sunning on the lawn. Then you'll be thirsty for Austin's best frozen Margarita at Chuy's. Then stroll down Barton Springs Road and do dinner on the patio at Mike Young's other kitsch masterpiece, Shady Grove. And when it’s time to drain your potatoes be sure to visit the Airstream trailer bathrooms.
The nation's largest bat colony flies sorties in formation from underneath the Congress Avenue bridge over Town Lake every night at sunset. The bats are good reason to splurge on a cocktail on the patio of the Four Seasons Hotel or Shoreline Grill.
In Austin people worshipped sunsets before anyone even noticed how cool the bats were. Ask a local to draw you a map to the base of Mt. Bonnell. Wear tough shoes and take the ankle express for the hundred step climb to the top. Bring a cooler and relax and enjoy this spectacular non-commercial 360° view spot. Also, the Oasis on Lake Travis bills itself as sunset capital of the world. It is. Find a seat on the huge terraces perched hundreds of feet up from the lake and sip a cold beer.
No trip to Austin is complete without a hill country barbecue feast (beef brisket, ribs, & sausage). In town, the Ironworks (1st and Red River) is our favorite. Flintstone-size beef ribs -- although all the BBQ is good, even the chicken! The Salt Lick (20 minutes out of town in Driftwood) still makes for a great excursion. Don't forget to bring your own beer and ask specially for "burnt ends! "Although the feel is a bit corporate, Austinites and visitors alike swear by the County Line.
San Antonio may be the spiritual home of Tex Mex cooking, but Austin made it rock! There are hundreds of places-- most are decent, some are taste Meccas. Breakfast or lunch at Las Manitas on Congress Avenue. Order everything, eat it all, then take a nap! Randy Ramierez's Pato's Tacos on East 38th Street is a birthplace of many Austin Grill recipes (Randy let us hang out in his kitchen nine years ago and his Mexican ladies taught us the secrets). Our staff's current hot spot is Guëro's in South Austin, but ask any local where their favorites are in East or South Austin and you can't go wrong.
Take an afternoon cruise south to the town of Gruene ("green"), just off I-35. In years with rain, you can rent an inner tube right in town for a short or long float down the Guadeloupe River (yes, there are some rapids, but they shouldn't spill your beer). Pull out the tubes, make a call, and a truck picks you up. There are dozens of tubing outfitters on the river, but only Gruene has Gruene Hall for apres-float. This authentic old wooden hill country dance hall features the best in current Texas country (i.e. Lyle and Jerry Jeff).
Austin is the self-billed "Live Music Capital of the World." Over a hundred venues to pick from. Country or Reggae? Grunge or Tejano? Blues or Rockabilly? If there is no specific act you want to see, pick the club instead of the band. Try to spend at least one night outdoors. If there is one of the many festivals at Auditorium shores, go there! Try Liberty Lunch, home of the Austin Reggae Society. The Backyard is a bit of a drive, but gets top national acts. For great live local licks, happy hour or dinner on Thursday Night at Shady Grove on Barton Springs.
The other end of the atmosphere spectrum -- the smoky bar. Antone's is world famous for Blues. As Rob recalls, "My first week in Austin in 1984, I left a Roomful of Blues show early and missed a wild guest appearance by Stevie Ray Vaughn. I haven't left early since!" The Continental Club is a classic small club on South Congress -- killer Rockabilly and all kinds of different roots-rock.
Dive into a plate of Chicken Fried anything (steak or that upstart, chicken) with cream gravy and mashed potatoes! Legendary down home food and atmosphere at Threadgill's, a former service station and home to many Janis Joplin performances. Good Eat's Cafe, Waterloo Ice House, or the Nighthawk diner are other good bets for Texas cooking-- or for modern upscale versions try Castle Hill or Zoot.

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