Austin in 48 hours
Welcome to Austin, the Melbourne of Texas. This hip city takes its food, drink and coffee pretty seriously. But in all honesty, without an iota of snobbery – just queues – Austinites know good food is worth lining up for.
Below is an all rounder on how to spend 48 hours in Texas' capital, if you’re into BBQ, drinking, unique shopping, good coffee and Mexican Food with a healthy dose of culture – and if you’re not, perhaps second-think ever coming here.
12pm - Hopdoddy’s Burger Bar
This beer (hop) and burgers (doddy) joint popped up on South Congress in 2010, and a day doesn't go by that people aren't lining up to sink their teeth into the quality Black Angus beef patties. They bake the buns from scratch on the premises and cut their own fries – and then do magical things to them, like cover them in parmesan cheese and let you dip them into truffle mayo.
Wash down the salty goodness with a craft beer from a long list of local, small-batch brewers. If you can fit in dessert, the chocolate stout or caramel and sea salt shakes come highly recommended.
1400 South Congress Avenue
2pm - Shopping along South Congress
Nicknamed ‘SoCo’, this downtown strip is the place to be for boutique, vintage and hipster shopping, with a side of people watching.
Check out antiques store Uncommon Objects and rifle though artefacts from yesteryear; be gobsmacked by ye olde candy store and soda shop Big Top Candy Store; stop by Tesoros Trading Company for Latin-inspired gifts and homewares; stop for a coffee (and shoe shopping) at TOMS Roastery; and keep up with the latest trends in men’s fashion at Stag.
South Congress Avenue
3pm - Barber cut at Avenue (particularly for bearded gents)
Guys who could do with a bit of beard grooming (this is Austin after all) or a classic haircut should stop by The Avenue for an old-school barber experience. Avenue is open from 8am until 8pm Monday to Friday and 8am until 2pm Saturdays. Again, expect to queue during peak times. For the ladies, there are plenty of dresses to be tried on within nearby shops.
1710 South Congress Avenue
4pm - Visit Texas State Capitol
Austin is the 'Capital of Texas' and it’s worth checking out the impressive Congress building. It’s hard to miss, standing as a proud icon at the top of Congress Avenue. Here lies the office of the Texas Governor and where law gets picked up and down in Texas. There are also a helluva lot of American flags and stars around the place; challenge yourself to count them.
1100 Congress Ave
5pm - Coffee at Houndstooth
Order a cup of specialty joe and try to refrain from nicking the excellent mug it's served in, which reveals the famous Texas state shape inside the bottom of the cup. If you’re not in the mood for coffee, Houndstooth also serves specialty tea, beer and wine.
401 Congress Ave
7pm - Dinner at La Condesa
There’s plenty of cheap and cheerful Tex Mex around town, but if you’re feeling a little overwhelmed by the shades of the white, starchy staples, head to La Condesa for modern Tex Mex with a fresh approach. Well worth the price tag.
2ND Street District, 400 West 2nd Street
9am - Coffee at Flat Track
You don’t have to go far to find a Starbucks in Austin, but when you’re in a city that takes its coffee pretty seriously, you should as well. Flat Track serves single origin cold brew and seriously good espressos (Flat Whites).
913 East Cesar Chavez Street
10am - La Barbeque
BBQ is on the top of every meat-eater's must-do in Austin. The Franklin’s BBQ queue is an institution – to the point where locals sell beer and hire out umbrellas and chairs, and there’s even a guy who lives within monitoring distance of the line with a Twitter account dedicated to daily tweets about it’s length.
However, some will argue the BBQ at La Barbeque is just as good, if not better, and with a slightly smaller queue. Arrive no later than 10am if you expect sink your teeth into some tender brisket around noon. The best part? The beer is free (and helps keep the line jovial).
The real heroes here are the guys sweating it out inside the hot tin trailer carving up pound upon pound of meats to the carnivorous BBQ enthusiasts, but in true Southern style, they’re nothing but hospitable.
Warning: even through you’ve been standing in a line in the hot sun for over two hours, don’t get over excited when it comes to ordering, a pound of brisket really is more than enough for two.
902 East Cesar Chavez Street
2pm - Barton Springs Pool
Cool off the meat sweats with a dip in the year-round 20 degree Celsius spring-fed swimming ponds at Barton Springs within Zilker Park's 145-hectare nature reserve.
If it’s a hot summer day, expect to wait up to 30 minutes in line to enter, but there’s plenty of space to swim (the pool is 1.2 hectres itself) and cool off inside. No food or alcoholic beverages are permitted inside.
2201 Barton Springs Road
5pm - Dinner and drinks at Weather Up
Hailing from New York City, this well-considered dining room and cocktail bar is the prefect spot to while away the early evening (it stays light until around 8pm in the summer).
Enjoy a meal inside at one of the art-deco-inspired leather booths with marble table tops. When the sun starts to drop, retire outside and soak up the ambient Austin backyard drinking scene.
1808 East Cesar Chavez Street
9pm - Do some two-step at The White Horse
If you’re keen to see a cowboy or two dancing, and you’re not afraid of cheap beer and whiskey shots that will put hair on your chest, a stop in at east-side honky-tonk-dive-bar The White Horse is a real Austin local tip. With live music seven nights a week, it’s open from 3pm until 2am but it’s best to get there before the dancin’ winds down for the evening.
500 Comal Street
11pm - Party on at Rainey Street
Bar after bar has popped up on Rainey Street over the years, with numerous old houses being renovated into a range of watering holes and restaurants.
Check out Half Step for bartenders who know their cocktails; Lucille for a round of Cornhole with friends; The Blackheart for live music and whiskey with a rock and roll vibe; or chill out in the laid-back terrace at The Drafting Room with a nice wine or boutique beer.
Sun 10am - Breakfast tacos
There are a number of places in Austin to get a breakfast taco fix, but if you want the best, head to Tamale House or Juan in a Million. The difference? The line. (What did we say about Austin and queues?)
Juan is somewhat of a local legend, and as the front of the menu quotes: “If the Olympics hosted a handshake event, Juan would be a perennial gold medallist”. So people first come for the tacos, but keep coming back for Juan.
2300 East Cesar Chavez Street