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Tony and I ate our weight in breakfast tacos, barbecue and ice cream this weekend, and it was worth every additional pound gained. (Don’t know how many pounds, specifically. Scared to step on a scale. Having trouble zipping my jeans though, so I know it’s serious.) I wrote about our adventures befriending alpacas and luxuriating in a tub tub during a rainstorm yesterday, but there was simply too much to say about all the glorious food we shoveled into our faces. It deserved a blog of its own. So, if you’re heading to South by Southwest this weekend or to Austin anytime ever, here is our guide to our new favorite city. (Special thanks are owed to Tony’s bosses at School of Rock, who are native Texans, food aficionados and music experts. Thanks for the hot tips, Jim and Steve! I blame you for my weight gain and current state of pure happiness.)

FOOD & DRINKS

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Radio Coffee & Beer: Otherwise known as Tony’s Happy Place. They had Stumptown nitro brew on tap, so we visited this place three times to get Tony his cold brew fix. They also have beer and wine, and their menu consists solely of pizza and tacos sourced from delicious nearby trucks, because what more could you possibly want to eat? There was live music, couples on dates, families catching up with kids running around and dogs are allowed! (We got to hug a very sweet Great Dane celebrating his birthday there one night.) It’s got a cozy vibe inside and string lights over the homey outdoor patio. (Side note: Anyone know if it’s possible for a regular person to purchase a nitro brew tap? I want to make Tony’s dreams come true and get him one as a wedding gift, to remind him of his favorite spot in Austin.)

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Torchy’s Tacos: Their slogan is “Damn Good Tacos,” which is entirely accurate. We shared the Fried Avocado taco, Trailer Park taco (with fried chicken), Baja Shrimp taco, Kingpin taco and green chile queso dip. You can get anything “trashy style,” which means getting queso sauce instead of lettuce. We were too full to order the street corn or deep-fried chocolate chip cookies, so please order them when you go and let me know how good they are.

Veracruz All Natural: Insanely good tacos (this is where Radio Coffee & Beer’s tacos are from). We only tried their breakfast tacos, but that was enough to tell you they are spectacular.

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Tacodeli: Our breakfast tacos of choice while staying at Hotel Saint Cecilia. They serve them at Jo’s on Congress until they run out. My favorite was the one with egg, mashed potato and cheese, but the black bean and avocado taco was super delish, too.

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{This sign lights up when the tacos are sold out}

Jo’s Hot Coffee Good Food: Their name says it all. I recommend the iced almond milk lattes. Just a stand with an outdoor patio and awesome beverage and food offerings. We saw local guys who work at nearby music venues here every time we went, and anytime a place is validated by locals, that gives it street cred in my book.

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{Post-Las Trancas at The Continental Club with Tony, his brother Nick, and sister-in-law Nikki}

Las Trancas: Totally unassuming truck with mouth-watering tacos. Plus, I asked for a side of avocado and the guy hooked me up with a full plate of an entire sliced avocado. My favorite was the chicken quesadilla. Tony’s favorite was the chicharones quesadilla. Tony’s brother loved the cow tongue and fried cow intestines tacos. So obviously, you can’t go wrong with anything. (As evidenced by the fact that this is famous chef Paul Qui’s favorite truck.)

 

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{Our first time at Amy’s Ice Creams}

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{Our last time at the airport’s Amy’s Ice Creams}

Amy’s Ice Creams: This place was our downfall. We went at least once a day, and always got the Mexican Vanilla ice cream with fresh cookie dough, sea salt and peanut butter mixed in. The taste will live on in my dreams.

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Uchiko: We first went here a few years ago when visiting my Uncle Paul (who is lucky enough to live in Austin), and since have always included that dinner in our top 3 meals of all time ever. We ordered pretty much everything on the menu, and two orders of brussels sprouts, because they’re simply too good to share.

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{Me + my bestie from freshman year at SMU at Perla’s}

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{Lobster roll. That’s butter sauce in that cup, yo.}

Perla’s: Incredible seafood with an awesome outdoor patio. We shared corn biscuits, oysters, a Crab Louie salad with fried green tomatoes, salt & jalapeno pepper fried calamari and a lobster roll with fries. I did not share my sage martini. All was so good.

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Gourdough’s: DONUT HEAVEN. Next time someone wants to play the “What’s the best way to die?” game, my death of choice will be Overeating at Gourdough’s (which Tony and I came dangerously close to this weekend). They’re famous for the Mother Clucker, which is basically fried chicken and honey butter poured on top of a glazed donut. You can even get bacon-wrapped meatloaf on top of a donut, if that’s your bag. Tony ordered the Fat Elvis (bananas, bacon, peanut butter frosting and honey), we shared the donut special which was simply cream cheese frosting doused in cinnamon butter, and I asked them to make me something with peanut butter and chocolate… They gave me a donut with peanut butter frosting, brownie hunks, chocolate chips, all soaked in chocolate sauce.

Terry Black’s Barbecue: Everyone told us Franklin was the best barbecue in Austin, but we also heard you have to line up by 8 or 9am in order to eat there, because when they run out, they run out. (My friend Kirby, who lives in Austin, says it’s worth it – just bring a cooler of beer and pretend you’re tailgating!) We didn’t have time to wait in line for half a day, though, so on the recommendation of our Uber driver, we tried Terry Black’s. And I don’t see how Franklin could be any better. Barbecue is Tony’s favorite food, and he gave this one a massive seal of approval. We went for the brisket, mac & cheese, corn and green beans and all were legit. It’s served cafeteria style, and Tony went back for three helpings of brisket (and ate 2/3 of Kirby’s brisket sandwich).

Stubb’s BBQ: We buy Stubb’s sauce here in L.A. and love it; however, Terry Black’s was hard to beat. Still, the food was awesome. It’s also supposed to be one of the best music venues in town; we went for lunch so we didn’t get to see any bands play, but we explored the outdoor space (complete with a huge stage and several bars), and could tell we really missed out.

MUSIC

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The Broken Spoke: This throwback honky-tonk bar is not amazing just because it is walking distance from Torchy’s Tacos and mere blocks from Amy’s Ice Creams and Radio Coffee & Beer… It’s also amazing because it’s a legendary Austin institution and lives up to the hype. Willie Nelson reportedly frequents the place, and I believe it. We’re not as good at two-stepping as the Texas locals there for a date night, but we had just as much fun.

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{Planet Casper rocking out}

The Continental Club: We went here twice, and loved it both times. We saw Planet Casper and the Peterson Brothers Band perform, (the latter being comprised of 16-and-18-year-old brothers and music prodigies) and I’ll never forget either night. Both times, it was a happy eclectic crowd ranging from people our age to people my parents’ age to a little old lady in a floral hat dancing harder than anybody in the joint. Everyone had a blast together. It was the coolest vibe with the coolest music.

HOTELS

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Hotel Saint Cecilia: If you follow me on Instagram, you know I am in the midst of a deep, unforgettable love affair with this place. The price is steep but, in my opinion, worth it. Tony treated me to our last night there as an early birthday present, and we will forever be obsessed with it. It’s a small boutique hotel with just 14 rooms, walking distance to South Congress and some of the best food, music and shopping in the city. It rained the entire weekend so we weren’t able to test the glam pool (although we did stage a pretty epic photo shoot next to it). And American Airlines screwing up our travel plans turned out to be a blessing in disguise, because the kind folks who work at this gorgeous hotel upgraded us to the dopest suite of all time, complete with two porches, an outdoor shower and the interior decor of my dream home. Plus, it doubles as a private club for Austinites (sort of like a Texas Soho House), so you can stalk famous people while sipping their delicious cocktails.

Hotel San Jose: We didn’t stay here, but it’s owned by the group as Hotel Saint Cecilia and is located right around the corner on Congress, so from what we could tell peering in from the street, it is also awesome. (It’s also a much more affordable option.)

OTHER GREAT AUSTIN GUIDES

The Wall Street Journal Insider’s Guide to Austin

Domaine Home’s The Locals-Only Guide to Austin

Domaine Home’s 9 Top Musicians and Insiders Share Their Expert SXSW Tips

bon appétit’s Taco Town USA: Where To Find The Best Tacos In Austin

Travel + Leisure Locals’ Guide To Austin, Texas

Travel + Leisure Top 5 Austin Food Trucks


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