Austin, TX

One of the trips I went on this summer was to hipster capital Austin, TX. Officially the capital of Texas, Austin has dubbed itself the ‘live music capital of the world’ and is home to the University of Texas.

This was my first time to Texas and Austin was a great introduction. Southern hospitality is a serious thing and was in abundance there. I didn’t come across one person who wasn’t friendly, helpful and smiling from ear to ear. Not sure if the cheery demenour is due to the sunny weather or the great food, but the people were probably my favourite part of Austin.

A close second was the food. Austin has probably the world’s best selection of food trucks. I wasn’t club hopping at night. I was food truck hopping. Jumping from one truck with tacos in hand, to the next that served hot donuts to another that had yummy Thai food.

If you’re in Austin you have to check out East Side Kings which is the love child of chefs Paul Qui (winner of Top Chef Season 9) and Moto Utsunomiya. The chefs are inspired by “Asian cultures, rock bands and Austin’s laid-back, experimental and fun-loving vibe.”

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Another cherished food truck was Gourdough’s where we stuffed our faces with ‘big fat donuts’ served pipping hot. I can’t even begin to describe the gooey goodness and sticky deliciousness that was Gourdough’s. They had this dipping sauce called ‘honey butter’ which is exactly what it sounds like. Buttery goodness. I really wished they delivered to Toronto.

Other than pick up trucks and cowboy boots, Texas is known for good BBQ. You can’t come to the lone star state without savouring good Texas BBQ. We walked into Rudy’s like deer trapped in headlights. Overwhelmed. There were so many options of meat but thankfully the servers realized we needed help and made us a sample plate to try out the various cuts of meat. It resulted in an amazing meal that led to a worthy state of comatose.

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For me, a day begins with good coffee. Now while on vacation because I can take my time enjoying breakfast, I like to have pancakes along with that coffee. A good breakfast spot is graded on having impeccable coffee, free refills and fluffy pancakes. The best breakfast place we ate at was Magnolia Cafe. Their pancakes were lay-down-and-have-a-nap-on-them worthy. The coffee was so good, I wanted to leave with the pot. The ambiance was true to the South Congress (SoCo) vibe (more on that below) and felt very chill.

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A theme running throughout that city was ‘Keep Austin Weird’ which harks to the the city’s unified stance on avoiding becoming a large commercialized city and wanting to hold onto it’s musical and artistic culture. A cool area to see that eclectic side is South Congress (SoCo), which was lined with funky shops, cool cafes and bustling vintage stores. I could’ve spent days just walking around SoCo taking in all the sights. A cool store to get lost in is Uncommon Objects. Walking through there felt like uncovering lost treasures in your well traveled uncle’s garage.

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One last thing that I got to enjoy in Austin was their natural spring water pools. Helping me deal with the heat was going for a swim in Texas’ oldest man made swimming pool, the Deep Eddy. This pool had cool waters and was not overly populated with swimmers in the mornings. Getting a bit of a workout in helped me rationalize all the over eating throughout the day.

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If you ever get a chance to travel to Austin, check out some of the places I’ve listed and I hope you have as much fun as I did. If you’ve already been, what were some of the cool places you saw and enjoyed?

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