||AMY’S ICE CREAM
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.
||BARTON SPRINGS AND
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.
||DOWN HOME COOKING
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.