Purple Dot in the International District in Seattle has excellent Dim Sum and lively atmosphere. What it lacks in fanciness it makes up for in flavor.
Austin City Guide
With its live music, thriving food scene and proximity to the gorgeous Hill County, Austin is must-visit city. It’s no wonder people are moving here in droves from tech companies to chefs to those fleeing colder climates and high rents.
This list is by no means exhaustive and unfortunately light on food trucks but a few highlights from my trip.
Banger’s Sausage House & Beer Garden for the Big Band Brunch every Sunday. 30 house made sausages + 100 beers on tap to enjoy in the beer garden + live music + surprisingly mellow crowd = perfect Sunday. Get there before 10:30am to avoid the line.
Torchy’s Tacos began as a food truck and is now an Austin institution with over 30 stores throughout Texas. Breakfast tacos are a must-try, particularly the Migas, packed with scrambled eggs, crisp corn tortilla strips and green chiles. Brisket is quintessential Texas and the smoked beef brisket with grilled onions and jalapeños will not let you down.
Juice Austin truck on South Congress is delicious antidote to meat-heavy meals. Fruit and vegetable juices as well as a satisfying kale salad in honey lime vinaigrette, avocado,carrots, sesame & sunflower seeds. Burro Cheese Kitchen sandwich truck is next door and will make your grilled cheese dreams come true. Build your own or try one of the favorites: Waylon & Willie sour dough, aged cheddar, gouda, carmelized onions, pepperocinis, spicy maple and bacon sauce.
Serving a proper Italian gelato in cute shop lined with plants, rustic white wood walls and bright yellow chairs, Dolce Neve has 18 handcrafted flavors made daily. Enjoy flavors like ricotta & pistachio, salted caramel & pretzel, and fromage blanc with strawberry while lounging on the patio. The newly moved Lick has unique pairings like orange and Texas fennel, grapefruit and champagne marshmallows, and roasted beet and mint ice-cream all made from local family owned dairy in Texas and the waffle cones are made in-house. Vegan options as well.
Grab a Stumptown coffee and croissant from the French bakery or take a seat on the garden patio and settle into a breakfast Bánh Mì at Elizabeth St. Don’t be surprised if you have the urge to stay through lunch with a delicious bowl of phở.
Live music, festivals and events check out Austin Insider Blog.
Watch the largest Mexican free-tailed bat colony in North America emerge from the Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridge just before sunset every night for their feeding. Cold weather and rain keep the bats in but the warmer months draw more bats, up to 1.5 million. Get to the bridge early to secure a spot, About Austin has tips on peak bat time and sunset times throughout the year. You don’t want to miss this!
Enjoy the 10 miles of hiking and biking trails on the Ladybird Lake.
Since 1984 the Mexic-Arte Museum has been exhibiting Latino/a art on Congress Avenue with the current exhibit, “Obra Gráfica: Selections from the Mexic-Arte Museum Print Collection features the Museum’s growing contemporary print collection including new works by Alejandra Almuelle and Michael Menchaca.”
Hamilton Pool – A favorite Austin swimming hole with a majestic 50-foot limestone waterfall about 45 minutes drive from the city. Make sure you get there before 11am as they fill up quickly, $15/car. Reservations will be taken soon for mid-May and presumably through the summer.
The good news if you are turned away from Hamilton Pool you have Hill Country to explore. A mile up the road is Westcave with hiking trails, field trips and group canyon tours. Thirsty? Another mile up the road is Westcave Cellars. Reimers Ranch is perfect for swimming, fishing, biking and rock climbing.
AO Austin has “Austin + Hill Country in 90 Minutes” tour that is a great way to see and learn history of Austin neighborhoods as well as get a sense of what Hill County has to offer, all in a very comfortable 14-passenger Mercedes van.
Hotel Van Zandt is a beautiful ode to music, from the record bird installation in the lobby to live music Monday through Saturday at Geraldine’s. The rooftop pool has incredible views and fire-place to keep you cozy in the evenings. The many restaurant and bars on Rainey Street are a block away.
The newly built JW Marriott is close to Rainey Street, 6th Street, Ladybird Lake path, and South Congress Avenue. A block away you can catch the 100 bus to the airport ($1.75) and you only have to walk two blocks away to the Congress Avenue bridge to jockey for space to watch the bats come out every night.
The historic and luxurious Driskill Hotel is on the famous 6th street (on the west-end of “dirty sixth”). Come for a drink in the lobby at the Driskill Bar to see the stained-glass dome and marble floors without having to splurge for a room.
Quiet and cozy boutique Hotel Saint Cecilla with a view of downtown and close to South Congress but is so pretty and relaxing you might find it hard to leave this urban oasis.
Bluebonnets in Reimers Ranch Park in Hill Country near Austin, Texas.
Look at those yolks! Yonder Way Farm eggs atop pulled pork and french fries. This is what breakfast looks like at Banger’s in Austin, Texas.
Built in 1890 as an athletic club, now a popular hotel and home to one of the best rooftop terrace views at Cindy’s, Cherry Circle Room restaurant, a huge game room and 8-seat bar Milk Room there is no shortage of things to do. Shake Shack is on the first floor as well.
Chiltern Firehouse, once the Marylebone Fire Station built in 1889, has been transformed into a luxury hotel and restaurant by André Balazs (The Mercer, Chateau Marmont) and is favored by celebs and posh Londoners.
The proper doorman will guide you past the gates, through the patio and into the plush dining room with red leather booths, cream and red patterned fabric ceiling and bustling wait staff attending to all of the beautiful people’s needs.
Go for the scene and drinks. For food, breakfast or lunch is your best bet price-wise – sit at the bar along side the kitchen to see all of the action.
My favorite part of lunch: Dark Chocolate Tart with clementines and whipped ricotta.
Rest of lunch:
Arienzo beach in Positano, Italy is one of the most beautiful beaches on the Amalfi Coast. Not only is it surrounded by cliffs and clear blue water the Bagni d’Arienzo beach club has excellent food and a full bar. Saluti!
If cocktails served in a secret-ish underground station with a 1940s vibe in London sounds intriguing – stay tuned for more on this hush-hush experience.
For now I leave you with the Gracie Fields: Vodka, rose liqueur, homemade rhubarb-rose-pepper syrup with Prosecco foam. Cheers!
Modeled after the Irani cafés in Bombay, Dishoom is full of tiled floors, brick, bentwood style chairs, old-timey photographs and delivers great Indian and Irani flavors in a bustling atmosphere.
Need to Know:
- Get here before 6:30pm to avoid a long line, sorry, queue
- Reservations available for 6 or more
- Tented patio is a bit mellower, inside dining room is lively and basement is absolutely buzzing with the extra activity, sounds and smells the kitchen provides.
- Make sure you check out the cocktail list – Hunterwali’s Julep is tasty
- Near the Shoreditch High Street Station
- 8am – 11pm – Good for dates and groups
- Pau Phaji – Bowl of mashed vegetables with hot buttered pau bun, Chowpatty Beach style. “No food is more Bombay.”
- Chicken Ruby – “A good and proper curry redolent with spice and flavour. Tender chicken in a rich silky ‘makhani’ sauce, best mopped up with a Roomali Roti.”
- Garlic Naan with coriander sprinkle.
- Spicy Lamb Chops had good flavor but were a bit too charred, so many other options I’d skip this one.
I will be back to try their breakfast. If this picture doesn’t do it for you, the promise of bottomless Chai should.
Spending New Year’s Eve on a plane wasn’t that bad – traveling west gave me an opportunity to see an extended sunset over the ocean with the sun dipping below the horizon as we hit beautiful Greenland.
Minutes before this picture was taken the plane was filled with gorgeous violet light.