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TONANNIE's Guide To Austin

We are back home in L.A. after LIVING IT UP + LOVING IT in Austin!!!!!! (And by this, I mean we ate our weight in everything that we read tastes good on the internet, learned about video games at DreamHack and ate some more.) My brother Billy CRUSHED IT in the Hearthstone competition, making it down to the final 4 out of hundreds – and he is not even sponsored or on a team. A dark horse underdog story for the ages! I AM SO PROUD. And also in awe. I’ve never been so successful at anything in my life, except for maybe forcing my husband to photograph me. (Did you see our shoot on some painted ropes yesterday?)

SO PROUD!

Do you see my mom’s face? She was legitimately happier than on my wedding day. Watching my brother Billy and his girlfriend Kelsi compete in DreamHack was the entire purpose of our trip to Austin… From what I understand, it’s basically the biggest video game competition on the planet, and this is the first time it’s been hosted on American soil. People traveled from all over the world in hopes of making their dreams come true, and winning tons of hot cash moneeeey. (The costume contest alone had a $10K prize. Wish Tony and I had brought a suitcase full of our wigs. Next time.) A lot of the people competing play full-time professionally. My brother regularly works 12+ hour days at his job, and still beat out hundreds of these guys… By the end of it, he was being approached by sponsors, team managers, and even a Hollywood agent. HOLLYWOOD AGENT! I don’t even have a Hollywood agent!

TONANNIE's Guide To Austin

TONANNIE's Guide To Austin

{ Baby bro being interviewed }

Tony and I screwed up and didn’t buy tickets, thinking we could just snag them day-of. WRONG. It was sold out! THOUSANDS of people were jammed into the convention center to watch this magic. So, we live-streamed my brother’s games, which were played from a stage, in our hotel room on Twitch along with over 50,000 other people. We were jumping on the bed, yelling at Tony’s phone like it was the Super Bowl (despite the fact that we had absolutely zero idea of what was happening or what the rules were. Lucky for us, there were commentators, one from SWEDEN, who could help us keep track of how Billy was doing). I’m surprised our neighbors didn’t complain about us for screaming so loud.

TONANNIE's Guide To Austin

{ costume contest }

TONANNIE's Guide To Austin

{ Tony, enjoying the unlimited refreshments + mug that reminded him of his Civil War reenactment days }

Finally, on the last day, we were able to land some tickets and gain entrance to one of the wildest experience of my life: People were in cosplay everywhere. Mesh shorts were on pretty much every male, who all looked like extras from Role Models. Hundreds of computers were set up, like it was the CIA. Everyone was cheering and screaming at games I’ve never heard of. Tony strutted in in a muscle tee with his flowing luscious blonde locks, and kept getting nervous side-eye from these guys, like someone had let the jock in to hang them from their lockers by their underpants. When it was time for my brother to compete in the qualifying match for the finals, his opponent HAD A JERSEY WITH HIS NAME ON IT and like 30 people with matching jerseys with their own names on it, with these blow-up sticks that they would beat together while screaming, trying to throw my brother off. (At that point, I was ready for Tony to actually hang these guys from their lockers by their panties for real.) While he ultimately didn’t win the championship, I think he really did win. He was asked to do all sorts of live interviews, and everyone complimented him on his positive attitude and sportsmanship, saying what a good role model he was (from reading comments in the chat room and on Twitter, I would have to agree – pretty much everyone else appears to be a super mean troll who never learned how to spell). He got farther than anyone imagined a “non-pro” could, and now he’s getting crazy offers. Tony and I feel so lucky we got to be there to watch his dreams come true.

TONANNIE's Guide To Austin

If you’re a regular on this blog, you know that Austin is one of our favorite cities in the world and we try to get there a few times a year. I’ve written about our favorite spots on an earlier Austin city guide, all of which I still stand by, but wanted to update it with a few of our new favorites from this trip. Here’s how we spent our time when we weren’t trying to understand how Hearthstone works:

STAY

TONANNIE's Guide To Austin

TONANNIE's Guide To Austin

Hotel Van Zandt

Not gonna lie, my heart broke a little (like the spoiled snob of a diva I am), when I learned we would not be staying at our old haunt, the Hotel Saint Cecilia. But Tony and I talked it over and decided we wanted to be wherever the family was (especially, if I’m being 100% honest, because my dad said he would pay for our room if we stayed with them. I know, I am awful.) I ate all of my misgivings (I also ate pretty much everything else in Austin, but more on that later), as soon as we rolled up. It’s a gorgeous new hotel walking distance to the convention center for Billy and his girlfriend, and walking distance to the bars and food trucks of Rainey Street for Tony and me. They had a gorgeous rooftop pool overlooking the river that we ran along every morning, live music every night and COMPLIMENTARY HAPPY HOUR every afternoon. They would’ve had me at free booze and food truck proximity, but on top of that, it’s also a really stylish hotel. We loved it.

EAT

TONANNIE's Guide To Austin

Tacodeli

Okay, this is the only one I’m including from the previous guide. Because it is so good it requires repeating. Best breakfast tacos in all of the land. THEY PUT MASHED POTATOES IN THEM.

TONANNIE's Guide To Austin

Launderette

BEST BURGER I’VE EVER HAD IN MY LIFE. (They mix bacon into it, and it does not have any vegetables on it, just the gooey good stuff that clogs your arteries and fills your heart with bliss.) Tony and I split one and, one bite in, flagged the waiter down to order a second. Also highly recommend the watermelon shrub, frites and zucchini bread. It’s housed in an old converted laundromat (hence the name), and you will feel very cool eating there.

TONANNIE's Guide To Austin

Via 313

Detroit-style pizza, which means deep-dish, sauce on top and tons of cheese cooked all the way to the edge of the crust. I’m salivating from the memories. We went to the truck on Rainey Street, tucked in the corner of the outdoor patio of Craft Pride. This was the most casual of all of our dinners, and probably my favorite night of the trip; music was blaring, everyone had their dogs with them and delicious wine and beer was flowing. We all shared The Herbivore, The Hawaiian and The Rocket pizzas, and considered going back for more every day after.

TONANNIE's Guide To Austin

TONANNIE's Guide To Austin

TONANNIE's Guide To Austin

TONANNIE's Guide To Austin

Little Lucy’s Mini Donuts

Otherwise known as heaven on Earth. When we were told that the pizza at Via 313 would take 45 minutes, it occurred to Tony that my mom gets as hangry as I do and we would probably murder each other, so he suggested we wander down Rainey street to get some donut appetizers. Best call ever. They are made to order and come piping hot and fresh in a bag with your choice of dipping sauce. We went for 3 bags: Strawberry, chocolate hazelnut and peanut butter banana, with rasberry, caramel and nutella sauces. SO GOOD. They also accept Bitcoin as a method of payment, if you are a hipster or computer genius who knows how to do that.

Moonshine Grill

There was a line around this place always, and I’m a basic B who thinks anything that has a line must be good (except for nightclubs. The fact that I even used the word “nightclub” should tell you I don’t belong anywhere near a club.) It was worth the hype. Tony and I recommend loading up on appetizers (specifically, the free popcorn, pretzels & pimento cheese, shoestring fries with rosemary salt and shrimp corn dogs), then going straight to the peanut butter mousse pie.

TONANNIE's Guide To Austin

{ Geraldine’s G+T with strawberries and lavender }

Geraldine’s

We happened to be staying at the hotel hosting one of Austin’s hottest restaurants, and lucky for us they save tables to accommodate hotel guests. After my brother finished his last round of the day, we called for an impromptu late night reservation for a party of 6 and, despite it being packed with a line out around the pool, they sat us almost immediately. It’s all small plates, each delicious, but everyone unanimously agreed that if we ever go back, we’re ordering 2 raclettes per person.

TONANNIE's Guide To Austin

The Hightower

I make a point of ordering pimento cheese anytime I see it on a menu because it reminds me of the homemade stuff my GrandBettye and GranddaddyJoe used to make (and we’d all eat by the spoonful) in Corpus Christi, Texas. We used their recipe for our wedding, it’s such a delicious and nostalgic part of my childhood. And my grandparents would have loved the pimento cheese here. I also ordered the kale salad with buttermilk dressing and fried chicken because I felt like being healthy for once; Tony tried one bite of the chicken and asked if they could bring him a “bowl” of it. They accommodated his request and did, in fact, bring him a bowl of chicken. This place is wonderful, and had the nicest staff of any we visited.

TONANNIE's Guide To Austin

TONANNIE's Guide To Austin

{ Homemade tofu }

TONANNIE's Guide To Austin

{ FRIED MILK }

TONANNIE's Guide To Austin

Uchiko

Okay I lied, I’m including one more from my previous list… UCHIKO. It’s our favorite restaurant in Austin. I’m almost positive the crispy brussels sprouts have crack in them. Probably the gyutoro nigiri, too. And the nama hotate… And, well, everything else on the menu. We always go here (at least) once per trip, and it’s always better than we remembered.

DO

bustier blues

Sunroom

I read about this boutique in Conde Nast Traveler and bought these No.6 clogs I am obsessed with, along with a few other dresses I’m super excited to share on the blog soon. Everything they sell is the cutest of all time ever, and I would like Bethany, the sweet girl who helped me, to be my best friend. Both for her personality, and also so I could share her wardrobe.

TONANNIE's Guide To Austin

TONANNIE's Guide To Austin

Lady Bird Lake

No one could really give me a definitive answer as to whether this is a lake or river; it says lake in the name, but everyone calls it a river. Whatever it is, it is truly the best thing about Austin. There’s a gorgeous trail along the waterfront, and Tony and I would hit it every morning (me running, Tony biking). A few of the days, we would go a second time for a walk with my parents. It is sosososo beautiful, and I’m jealous that we don’t have something like that in L.A. (unless you have the $$$$$$ to live in Santa Monica or Manhattan Beach.) We always started from the Rainey Street entrance, but it runs for miles and miles and is accessible from several neighborhoods.

Live Music at Geraldine’s

In addition to hosting an amazing restaurant, our hotel also featured some of the best live music we’ve heard in Austin. We went almost every night, and loved being able to sip cocktails inside or out by the pool and listen to insane talents who should (and probably will) be famous.

Have you been to Austin? Are you one of the luckiest people alive, who gets to live in Austin? Where do you like to eat and go?

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  • Carol Aceves

    So proud of Billy and so excited to try all the good eatin’ you’ve recommended if I ever get to Austin. Sounds scrumptious!

    • Annie

      Thank you so much, Carol!! He was AMAZING. And I hope you do get to go to Austin! Lots of love, thank you again!!


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