I don't think I have ever gone to a city where people have been so passionate and responsive in terms of recommendations. I mean it. Seriously, who doesn't love Austin? Apparently nobody, because I was getting so much animated and enthusiastic feedback on my blog, instagram, and email over the best spots to see and places to eat. I was blown away with how many people have such an unrestrained passion for this city. And now I am one of them!
Going into this knowing Austin was a big foodie city, I didn't mess around. I followed all your suggestions religiously. After landing at the airport (an airport where conveyer belts are lined with massive guitar statues, and live music is played in the TSA lines) I headed straight to some good Texas BBQ, The Salt Lick. My first adventure to say the least, I had no idea where I was going out on these old country roads, a good 30 minutes outside the city. After a close call with a deer in the road, I found the huge compound in the middle of what seemed to be nowhere. And lets just say, you were all not kidding one bit, it was SO worth the drive. I went all out with the pork ribs, beef brisket and blackberry cobbler. How could I not love Texas already?
The next morning, I checked into SXSW and attended some different key note speakers and panels at the interactive portion of the festival. I managed to squeeze in a quick breakfast at 24 Diner, the restaurant was flooded with SXSW attendees so I am not sure I got the true feeling of the vibe there, but the food was incredible. I would almost call it "progressive-texan" country with a modern twist. Saturday night I attended an agency event at Franklin BBQ, which I am nervous to say this but I think I loved even more than Salt Lick (although I loved the SL experience outside the city). Don't worry that I managed to snag 2 BBQ sauce bottles from both stops to let my husband be the judge.
Sunday was filled with marketing lectures and digital classes downtown. Although, I took an afternoon breather and wandered up to South Congress and fell in love. From the vintage airstreams on every corner to the gourmet food trucks, timeworn candy and ice-cream soda shops, antique markets, and charming restaurants with live music - I realized if I lived in Austin, that would be my place! (Whenever I am in a new city, I like to figure out where I would live and where would be my place).
While in the neighborhood, I took my colleagues from the Netherlands to Hopdoddy Burger Bar. It was a 45 minute wait, and although my Dutch friends had never heard of the concept of waiting in line for food, I asked them "Do you want the American experience?" Ha! Well, turns out they did because they topped off their delicious burgers with queso-fries and creamy shake. That's America boys! There were no complaints.
Along with South Congress, I managed to do some driving around Tarry Town and Westlake hills and found beautiful tree line streets with old homes (another one of my favorite things to do). I stopped off at Lady Bird lake, and wished I had time for a bike ride but instead watch young families picnic and couples jog.
My last night of the trip, I attended a dinner party hosted by Paige Denim and Immaculate & Infatuation at Foreign & Domestic - about a 15 minute drive outside downtown Austin. Who could resist a tasty meal with denim lovers and foodies at SXSW!
Don't think I skipped out on the legendary sixth street, I jumped right in the madness. It was bittersweet enjoying all the live music from bar to bar, because I know that Joel would have died to be there. Even if it is for a work trip, it's hard to entirely enjoy a place without him. Especially Austin, a city that is so Joel. He flips for live music, incredible food, the nicest of people, unique shopping and outdoorsy activities (biking and hiking that I didn't even get to tap into).
So this just means, we will back!