Texas has a lot to offer. The Hill Country alone, a region of 25 counties in the south-central region of the state, lays claim to the second most popular wine tourism region in the U.S., booming local food movements, world-renowned barbecue joints and an increasingly influential music scene. At its heart is Austin, the state’s capital. The city of 930,000 is both quirky (yes, the “Keep Austin Weird” slogan holds true) and welcoming. Home to everything from unmissable breakfast tacos to iconic music venues, you’d be wise to explore with an open mind and a hungry stomach. Here’s where to start.
What to Eat
From Taco Trucks to Farm-To-Table Dim Sum Carts
1. Veracruz All Natural
With two food trucks and a brick-and-mortar on the way, Veracruz All Natural churns out some of the city’s best breakfast tacos. Eggs, potato, meat and more are coddled by homemade tortillas and topped with fiery salsas. Don’t skip the migas — they’re borderline transcendent.
2. Magnolia Cafe South
There’s queso, and then there’s Mag Mud, Magnolia Cafe South’s bowl of melty cheese, black beans and pico de gallo, topped with avocado for good measure. Because in Austin, Tex-Mex is obligatory.
3. Pinthouse Pizza
This up-and-coming brewery, best known for its Electric Jellyfish IPA, has a knack for firing up pizzas made with organic, locally sourced ingredients. It’s the best of both worlds.
4. Easy Tiger
Part bake shop, part beer garden, Easy Tiger is home to the city’s best baguettes and an impressive lineup of bottles and cans. Come for breakfast or dinner — or both.
5. Shangri-La and Baton Creole
One of Austin’s most novel thrills is the marriage of outdoor bars and food trucks. The Shangri-La bar is divey but not dirty, and the Baton Creole trailer, parked in the bar’s backyard patio, serves up top-notch Cajun classics.
6. Emmer & Rye
Emmer & Rye mills heirloom grains in-house, including its namesakes, emmer and rye; relies on locally sourced, seasonal ingredients; and practices nose-to-tail butchery. Don’t overlook the dim sum-style carts that roll around the space — the restaurant’s smaller dishes are among its most creative and have made it one of Austin’s most in-demand reservations.
7. Cuvée Coffee
Cuvée, Austin’s preeminent roastery, serves up espressos, pour-overs and a turbocharged nitro cold brew.
What to Do
Menswear, Music and American History
8. Stag Provisions for Men
Equal parts vintage and contemporary, with a Western edge, Stag is one of the U.S.’s leading menswear and homeware destinations, stocking pieces from brands like Hamilton Shirt Co., RRL and Pendleton, among others.
9. Waterloo Records
Austin’s legendary record shop, with aisles to get lost in and free in-store performances from leading contemporary artists across a range of genres, like Japandroids and Real Estate.
10. Saxon Pub
The renowned music venue hosts local bands and legendary artists alike and is made all the more enjoyable by its intimate, 168-person capacity. Be sure to take a spin through South Austin Music, located next door, for a gawk at its collection of vintage guitars.
11. LBJ Presidential Library
About 70 miles west of President Lyndon Baines Johnson’s hometown of Stonewall, Texas, the LBJ Presidential Library is dedicated to the biography, influence and legacy of the 36th president of the United States. Its permanent collection –– home to more than 45 million pages of historical documents, 5,000 hours of audio recordings and 650,000 photographs — contextualizes the aftermath of the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War.
Where to Stay
From the Mid-Century to the Ultra-Modern
12. The Westin Austin Downtown
You’d be hard pressed to find a location more accessible than the Westin, surrounded by bars, restaurants and iconic music venues like Antone’s. Home to the tallest rooftop bar and lounge in the city, it’s a destination unto itself.
13. Austin Motel
The newly remodeled Austin Motel is a cleverly designed throwback riffing on ‘30s moldings, ‘50s color trends and ‘80s decor. Today, it’s an icon of South Congress Ave, and one of the city’s best budget-friendly boutique options.
14. South Congress Hotel
South Congress Hotel checks all the boxes: minimal mid-century-inspired interiors, bike and motorcycle rentals, a rooftop pool, a cocktail bar, three restaurants and a coffee shop.