I fell in love with Austin when I first visited my older brother there during his freshmen year at UT Austin. The city is one of the main reasons why I chose to study at UT Austin the following year. Since then, I’ve spent four years studying at UT and a few sunshine filled summers there. While Austin has a huge diversity problem, which somehow only became obvious to me after a year in South Korea, I still have plenty to love about Austin. Right now, I currently work from home in Dallas. I’m still in the process of getting to love this city, but while I’m doing that, I figured I could take some trips down to Austin to get a piece of that Austin summer. Even though I no longer live there, I can’t stay away.
A couple weekends ago I drove down to Austin and hit up some favorite spots and a few new (to me) locations.
Cheer Up Charlie’s: Let’s get this list started with a place that I didn’t actually visit that weekend, but not for lack of want! Cheer Up’s used to be located on East 6th, but at some point during my year in South Korea, it moved it’s moved to perfectly charming new location at 900 Red River St. I didn’t get a chance to stop by that weekend, but I was there pretty frequently when I was staying with a friend in Austin in April. It’s got a great atmosphere (mostly thanks to the well-lit craggy landscape outside) and almost always has some live music event going on.
Tacos and Tequila: What’s a weekend in Austin without brunch? Austinites love to brunch and I only ever brunch when I’m in Austin. I tried it in Dallas once and it just wasn’t the same. This was my first visit to Tacos and Tequila for brunch and I already know I’ll be back just for their Saturday and Sunday brunch buffet. Try a pineapple (or grapefruit) mimosa while you’re there!
South Congress: There’s always something going happening on South Congress. I remeber driving by one day to discover that a dog parade of some sort was taking place. I saw a dog in a tutu…only in Austin. South Congress is the home of some of Austin’s most popular spots like Homeslice Pizza, Hopdoddy and Hey Cupcake’s trailer. There used to be a lot of land dedicated to food trailers, but population growth in Austin means most of the trailers have moved a street over to make way for a building complex. Still, South Congress is worth a visit, even if it’s just to capture a shot of the road down to the Capitol as you cross the street.
Also on South Congress is Lucy in Disguise, a costume and vintage shop. This place was another first for me. It can be overwhelming at first glance, but it’s pretty well organized and stocked. The staff was friendly, and I think I might have seen Leeloo’s outfit from the 5th Element in there, so I’m sold.
Chinatown Center: My friend posted a couple of articles about non-Vietnamese owned corporations opening up Banh Mi restaurants, claiming to fill a demand for accessible Vietnamese food (looking at you Plucker’s). Since my friends and I were able to get cheap and delicious Banh Mi at Lily’s Sandwich in Chinatown, I wonder exactly what they’re talking about when they say “accessible.”
Bull Creek: This is a natural park located off the Greenbelt. It’s a free, less crowded and warmer alternative to Barton Springs and Hamilton Pool. There are a few sites the creek where you can park and use the restroom. While I was there, I saw families camped out, grilling, and floating in the clear water. It’s a great place to go when you want to relax in the sun with friends, or go exploring the limestone seeps on your own.
Korea House: Not to be confused with Korean Grill in Chinatown. This was the last first of the weekend, but a mandatory stop after a saw pic of friends enjoying Korean BBQ there a while ago. This place is a little tricky to find, since you won’t be able to park in front of the store. I recommend parking next to Chipotle and Goodnight (another place I need to try out) and walking through to the interior of the shopping area where it’s located. The Korean BBQ is worth it.
This story was curated by Doyin Oyeniyi.