{City Guide} I Left My Heart in Austin

Last Thursday I left for Austin City Limits for a long, Texas weekend with the ONEHOPE Wine team (wine sponsor of this year’s festivities).  I was hoping for a relaxing few days of music, wine and sleep following a treacherous week of finals, but I was in for a little surprise.  I FELL IN LOVE with Austin.  Every moment that wasn’t spent enduring the 104 degree heat in Zilker Park (watching the likes of Coldplay, Arcade Fire and Foster The People – can we say best music festival ever?) was spent scouring every inch of the Texas city I’m just dying to get back to.  Future home?  Yes please!  Check out a few of my favorites below:

Disclaimer: Our trip was overly food-filled so scroll down and get hungry… and then book a trip to Austin – STAT!

FOOD

{Located on South Congress, Home Slice Pizza offers some of the best pies I’ve ever tasted.  As a Chicago style deep-dish girl, I thought there was no way I’d fall for their famed New York style, but I was so, so wrong.  Something else to love?  Check out their menu for the perfect beer and wine pairings for each of their ‘zzas.  Home Slice knew the path straight to my heart}

{Home Slice: White Pie with Spinach: Olive oil, garlic, mozzarella, ricotta, provolone and romano.  This particular pizza came highly recommended by several Austin friends so I just had to give it a try.  SO. GREAT.  I was worried that the ricotta would weigh down the thin crust (and the flavor), but every bite was just as fresh and bursting with Italian zest as the bite before.  The garlic absolutely makes this pizza.  My ‘chef’ father always says, “when in doubt, throw in another clove of garlic” so I’m a huge fan of the stuff and this picture is making me seriously hungry all over again}

{Home Slice: Italian Meatball and Bell Pepper: Italian meatballs, bell peppers, mozzarella. This was one of their Pizza by the Slice options (that change daily).  With a sprinkle of red pepper flakes, this pizza has everything you could ever want… Savory meat, crisp peppers, a perfectly balanced sauce and a tiny bit of spice.  The flavor was so amazing that we ordered another slice to split.  Hey!  It’s thin crust.  Less carbs.  Right?}

{I’m the world’s biggest shameless female burger fan…  and I’m not kidding.  I make an honest attempt to try burgers at the locally famous joints in every city we travel to, but hopdoddy Burger Bar might have just won my lifetime award for BEST burger EVER this past weekend – twice over.  Created to “honor the perfect union of beer and burgers” hopdoddy offers several craft beers (including my new favorite: Bucket Head IPA) to pair perfectly with their all natural, daily ground, hormone and antibiotic free Black Angus.  Does life really get any better than this?  Umm… try one of their milkshakes and you’ll see}

{hopdoddy: The Prime Time: Perfectly prepared Kobe beef, slightly sweet caramelized onions, a touch of horseradish to give it just enough kick and a mouthwatering homemade steak sauce.  The scent reminded me of Christmas Eve at my parents’ house with a prime rib roast in the oven.  Simply amazing.  No “Prime Time” knockoff will ever compare}

{hopdoddy: Buffalo Bill: Bison, Blue Cheese, Frank’s Hot Sauce, Apple-Smoked Bacon, Sassy Saucy.  I think I bit into this burger and said, “is this a joke?”  The flavor was so incredible that we finished the entire thing before I could even snap a shot.  I’m usually a little leery of bacon on burgers simply because if it isn’t prepared perfectly, it has the potential to ruin the entire meal.  Obviously, hopdoddy pulled through with perfect prep in every way.  Perfect zing with the perfect level of rich blue cheese (not overpowering) to create a perfectly balanced burger. Perfection}

{hopdoddy: Oreo Shake: Homemade spun custard with real whipped cream and Oreos.  HEAVEN.  This was the single best milkshake I’ve ever had in my life.  I’m pretty sure the homemade spun custard is the secret, but I’ve never tasted anything like it}

{Snack Bar was a fun, little retro restaurant we dropped into for breakfast one morning.  They describe their cuisine as “globally inspired, locally sourced, chef-driven and made with organic, raised-right & natural ingredients.”  Love it already.  The menu offers everything from Avocado Quinoa to Egg and Gravy Biscuits so there is a bit of something for everyone.  The casual environment is super inviting with a kind, hospitable staff.  Awesome spot!  Why the Michigan map you might ask?  Every table had a map of a different state under the glass and we happened to sit with Lady Mitten that morning.  I’m definitely taking it as a sign of Austin welcoming yours truly with open arms}

{Snack Bar: Egg & Gravy Biscuit:  Housemade buttermilk biscuit, two farm eggs any style, meat-free dirty cream gravy.  Don’t judge.  This was a Texas weekend and I was going to eat like a Texan.  I’d never had meat-free gravy before and was a little worried it would be lacking flavor, but I was pleasantly surprised.  GREAT dish (if you’re a fan of biscuits and gravy, of course)}

{Snack Bar: OhM Sandwich: 2 over-medium farm eggs, cheddar, bacon or avocado (get both!), lettuce, tomato & onion, sourdough.  My perfect breakfast, right there.  Unreal sandwich.  Mouth. Watering.  Get it}

{W Hotel/TRACE: Grilled Cheese Sandwich: Deep fried in pig fat and sliced into perfect bite size pieces.  Can’t say that I’ve ever had someone offer me something “fried in pig fat”, but one piece wasn’t going to kill me.  Absolutely incredible. Creamy inside with a perfectly crisp outside…  It isn’t offered on the restaurant menu, but was part of the VIP section food at ACL on day one.  We were all really hoping it was going to be there on day two and three but it’s probably better that it wasn’t ;-)}

Other eateries to visit: Franklin Barbeque (World Famous BBQ), The Salt Lick Driftwood (BYOB)

SHOPS

{I’ve been looking for blue mason jars EVERYWHERE at a reasonable price and have had the hardest time.  I finally found some at this amazing antique/thrift store, Uncommon Objects.  I could have taken home a million other vintage finds, but sadly my suitcase (and bank account) just weren’t big enough}

{Uncommon Objects: I can just picture a wildflower centerpiece in these vintage glass medicine bottles}

{Uncommon Objects: Wire baskets = LOVE. Vintage Edison bulbs, chemical jars and candlesticks.  As much as animal head/skull decor freaks me out, I could have definitely brought home a pair of antlers (or two).  Getting them on the plane would have been a nightmare, however.  TSA had a Ball with my mason jars… no pun intended}

{Uncommon Objects: Vintage costume jewelry.  Gorgeous green!}

{I can’t help it… I just really love West Elm.  And after hearing about their Austin store a TON over the course of the last few weeks in the blog world, I had to drop by.  Out of all of their stores, this one is my favorite – complete with a super friendly staff}

{I think my shelves might need a revamp ;-)}

Other shops: Anything on South Congress… tons of little boutiques with great clothing and decor.  I could have spent an entire day on that street but sadly we only had an afternoon.

SITES

{We took a stroll around the state capital.  It was beautiful to say the least and there is just so much state pride in Austin and throughout Texas – It’s contagious}

{Gorgeous}

{I came across this old, deserted florist during one of our walks to the festival.  It still had the original glass and paint and the inside was covered with dead plants hanging along the rafters that had long been left to wilt away.  It was as though someone packed their bags and left town one day and this is all that remains.  I would just love to fix that place up and call it my own}

Other sites: University of Texas (what a FUN school), Lake Travis (I’ve heard it’s beautiful, but we were unable to make it), the downtown Austin bar scene (hundreds of bars – old and new – line the streets near UT).

Unfortunately, we couldn’t see EVERYTHING in Austin, but we will definitely be back for more.  I was blown away by the friendliness of the people, the sense of welcome that I received and the overall lifestyle which is a world of difference from LA.  I’m very lucky to live where I do, but I’ve got to say, I left my heart in Austin.

xoxo
Meg

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One thought on “{City Guide} I Left My Heart in Austin

  1. Such a great article! I love Austin, too! The only thing missing from your pictures was one of the UT tower and the Congress bridge, where hundreds of thousands of bats fly out at dusk. What does that mean? You have to go back next year, if not sooner! Try Flip Happy next time and….heck, Jane and I will just go with you and explore:-)

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