It seems that my visits to Austin, TX are destined to be filled with days of food coma close encounters. It’s not my fault, Austin is just that kind of town. I mean, yes, its got that whole hipster, artsy, music thing going for it, but the food. Oh, the food. It’s just so, so good.
Unlike my first visit to Austin a few years ago, when we dared to venture to this city in the middle of summer during temperatures of 100 degrees and up, this visit was pleasant and at times even a bit cool. This made it easier to go on long walks and hikes, and see a bit more than just eateries.
Nevertheless, my list of favorite food stops got longer with this visit, but I also have a short list of what to do to walk it all off.
What We Ate
Kerbey Lane Cafe is a popular eatery in Texas, especially for brunch. It might have something to do with their huge portions, reasonable prices, and locally sourced food items. For us, it was the first stop in our eating journey through Austin, and we loved the relaxed, welcoming, family friendly feel of the place. I especially love that their kids menu doesn’t list a chicken finger anywhere on it, but instead a good ol’ taste of Texas. Come early (I mean, really early) for brunch or risk standing on long lines for a table. Either way, it’s totally worth it. And come hungry, because with menu items such as the Wild Boar & Bison Frito Pie (Broken Arrow Ranch wild boar and all-natural bison chili atop Fritos, garnished with sour cream and cheese. Served with a side of pickled jalapeños and red onion), Migas (scrambled eggs with pico de gallo, tortilla chips and cheddarjack. Served with black beans, Mexican rice, tortillas and choice of sauce) and Lamb Picadillo Enchiladas (Lamb picadillo topped with cheddarjack), you’ll need all the belly room you have.
Muellers Farmers Market is open every Sunday from 10am to 2pm, rain or shine. Its sister market, Cedar Park Farmers Market is open on Saturdays from 9pm to 1pm. I love visiting farmers market during my travels because it is a wonderful way to get a feel for the local community, but also a wonderful way to taste all the produce and foods and meet local farmers. Because the weather was so pleasant in Texas this time of year it was easy to leisurely walk around, while listening to local musicians entertain market goers and watching children thrill over the creations by the balloon man. Beside the produce booths and bakery booths throughout the market, visitors get to enjoy the goodies sold from local food trucks. The food truck culture is huge in Austin, with each vendor comfortable operating side-by-side with the other and consciously working together to complement each other with their varied offerings – so the coffee truck works well with the sandwich truck which works well with the juice truck which works well with the dessert truck and so on. Whatever you choose to eat or purchase, this is a fun market to help kick-start your day.
Speaking of food trucks, an absolute must is a stop at the Mellizoz Tacos truck for some of the best tacos this side of the border. The B.A.T (Big Azz Taco) is just that and delicious, but my favorite is the Shrimp tacos (Tempura Shrimp, Slaw, Pickled Red Onion & Cilantro Lime Aioli). Yum.
Follow that baby up (if you dare) with a visit to Gourdoughs. Their slogan, “Big. Fat. Donuts.” doesn’t lie. But because we didn’t believe them, we went ahead a bought a donut for each of us. The sight was Whoa-inspiring, as they are in fact, big. fat. donuts. and choosing one is not easy, but is enough to share among friends. My favorite? The Flying Pig (Bacon with Maple Syrup Icing). I know. I know. It’s too much.
If you like a good sausage, and really, who doesn’t, you have to try one of Austin’s newest in the rocking food scene, Banger’s Sausage House and Beer Garden in the hip and happening Rainey St., known for being the place where the cool kids come for beer and good food. Banger’s is all the awesome we love about beer gardens: it’s open, casual, communal, and family friendly (at one point one of the boys accidentally spilled water on the table which made its way on the area where a big tattooed biker dude was sitting. I cringed and apologized, waiting for the wrath and evil stare, instead, I got a reassuring smile, as did the kid, and help whipping it all up – sure don’t see much of that in NYC!). But the food is also good with sausages ranging from smoked mushroom asparagus to jalapeno bacon cheddar to cajun boudin. Wash it down with anyone of their beers, from ale to lager to wheat to gluten-free beverages (or sweet tea for the kiddos) and you, my friend, are good to go. Oh, and don’t leave without purchasing one of their kick-ass t-shirts designed by my super awesome, wicked talented brother-in-law Curtis Jinkins.
Where We Walked It Off
Zilker Metropolitan Park offers 351-acres to walk, run, bike, hike, kayak, or swim off all the good eating. It’s where one of our favorite spots, Barton Springs, is located, as well as the Austin Nature and Science Center and the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center. Take a short train ride around the park or relax atop Rock Island and take in the park views.
Hamilton Pool Nature Preserve wasn’t in the best shape when we visited. A storm had just hit and the Dripping Springs, which normally are a beautiful sight, were a little muddy and yucky. But go on a good day and it is truly one of Austin’s favorite swimming holes and best spots to hang out after a long hike. If you are looking for a nice place to stop into on your way to or from dripping springs, check out Thyme and Dough, a cute cafe off the highway with a nice selection of vegetarian and gluten-free pastries and sandwiches, as well as soups, salads, cold beverages and coffee.
Perdernales Falls State Park is a wonderful spot for nature lovers to swim, kayak, camp, hike, fish, horseback ride, and more. The views are pretty stunning and though some of the terrain can be tricky with little ones in tow, it is worth the trip just to take in the water views and wildlife (the boys were fascinated by a water snake slithering around during our visit). I think, as far as outdoor spots in Austin, this was by far my favorite.
Most of what we hear about Austin rarely appeals to families, and though I found San Antonio to have even more to offer traveling families, I do have to say visiting Austin is always fun for us. Of course, a lot of that has to do with moments like these:
but also with the fact that we discover something new every time we go to, which, especially before the summer temps hit and right after all the insanity of SXSW has left town, make for many perfects days.
Read more about our adventures in Austin, TX!
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