WHERE TO STAY
Over the 4th of July weekend, Kohl and I found ourselves in Austin, Texas. It was a bit of a last minute trip as our original flight was actually booked for San Diego just 5 short days shy of the 4th [and admittedly, after a few of our favorite beers from a local brewery, Heavy Riff]. We woke up the next morning to find every Airbnb booked [unless we wanted to stay in Tijuana, Mexico — which we didn’t]. SO, we spent the next 2 hours deciding our next destination [this time checking Airbnb prior to booking our flight]. We were SOLD on Austin the moment we found Shasta, a 1961 re-make Airflyte for only $57/night. This was our first time staying in a camper and we loved it — everything from the vintage look and feel to the simplicity of such a tiny space. If our Shasta happens to be booked, here are few others I found: Vintage Airstream (East Austin), Happy Camper (East Austin), Motel Camper (North Austin - only a few blocks from the Nation’s first fully sustainable green community, Mueller).
WHERE TO EAT & DRINK
Before every trip, we obsessively look up restaurants, coffee shops, and breweries by scanning Instagram, Thrillest, Blogs, menus, — you name it. Our favorite coffee shops were Merit Coffee, Cafe Medici, and Mozart’s Coffee. Merit Coffee because the two baristas were super cool and gave us a discount for using our reusable glasses, Cafe Medici because their cold brew was the best and they had our favorite brand of oat milk, Oatly and lastly, Mozart’s for the draft latte and outdoor deck overlooking the lake.
Our favorite meal was at Lucky Robot - a sustainable, Japanese sushi restaurant. When we stopped outside of Lucky Robot to scan the menu, we noticed a brief description on their sustainability efforts. I will be honest, as a pescatarian I still eat fish and seafood — and looking into whether or not my fish sources are “responsible” or “sustainable” isn’t something I had previously done. Fact: “one-third of global fish populations are overexploited and dangerously depleted” according to the NRDC. Check out their Smart Seafood Buying Guide - it’s an easy read and great resource for learning more about what it means to eat fish/seafood sustainably/responsibly.
Our second favorite was at Fareground, Austin’s first food hall. We had the best migas tacos at Dai Due, so good that Kohl went online and purchased Masa from Masienda and we made tortillas ourselves earlier this week. This summer, a local market opened in St. Louis, AO&CO. It’s owned by one of our favorite Chefs, Ben Poremba — where much of the food is inspired by his native country, Israel. This is all to say, we have been on a huge Labne, Baba Ganoush, Burrata kick lately. So, of course we got a Jerusalem Bagel with Labne & Zatar from TLV, an Israeli street food restaurant.
A few other restaurants we made it to while in Austin… Better Half Coffee & Cocktails - the cauliflower tots were the most amazing, ever; the granola bowl was also great. Veracruz All Natural - street tacos, we had 3 different Uber drivers tell us to go here, so clearly a must. Monger’s - one thing we like to do when traveling is find Oyster Happy Hours, Monger’s had a great Happy Hour from 4:00pm-6:00pm Tuesdays-Fridays. We also got the smoked fish dip - another thing we have been making ourselves all summer (smoked trout and caramelized onion dip).
We are also that couple who rates our beer on Untapped, but we also use it to explore new breweries - especially in new areas. Which is how we found, Jester King Brewery. Think of this place as vineyard meets brewery - farmhouse, string lights, outdoor seating. I can say that the best beer I have ever had is from this brewery, Moderne Dansk - a sour ale made with Danish cherries. Our only regret is that we visited Jester King on our last night in Austin [or I am most certain we would have went back]. Oh, they also had burrata (win!).
Another one of our favorites was Blue Owl Brewing. The concept is super neat and something we haven’t experienced before - instead of getting a new glass with each beer, you purchase your own glass [you can choose from 4 sizes] and then it gets refilled 4x. The best part, you get to keep the glass! They also had some really good prints/art for sale.
WHERE TO SHOP
While there are a ton of good places, I am going to chat about two — Marine Layer and Parts & Labour. Marine Layer, A. has the softest clothes. B. [and most importantly] they have an entire re-spun line! They have taken over 70,000 old, donated t-shirts and recycled them into something new - without the addition of water, added dies, or the use of any new materials. For every tee donated, you can earn $5 store credit, up to $25. Parts & Labour is a consignment store featuring work by local artist and makers in Texas. This store is worth checking out, a ton of fun little things. While we didn’t purchase anything, we did leave the store following Jon Michael Frank on Instagram - he draws these little comics that are too real, yet hysterical.
WHAT TO DO
Even though Austin was extremely hot and humid, we did not let that stop us from getting outdoors. One of our favorites was kayaking Lady Bird Lake. In fact, we did this twice — once in the morning and once in the afternoon. We rented kayaks from Texas Rowing Center and the Rocking Dock. If you kayak from either of those places, head toward the city and be sure to turn into the little canal on your right. This will take you to the start of Barton Springs - the water is around 68 degrees, bright blue and filled with little turtles. Surrounding Lady Bird Lake is the Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail, we walked this one day and biked it the next.
I mentioned earlier that we like to find the best oyster happy hours while traveling, we also always visit the local botanical garden. Which is actually ironic given I have not yet made it our very own here in St. Louis. The Zilker Park Botanical Garden is one of my favorites yet. Not only is the entire thing magical [they even had a faerie trail], they have an awesome composting demonstration that shows different methods of recycling yard clippings and vegetable scraps into rich, organic material. They have several different types of composting bins with additional information on who to contact/how to purchase if interested.
On our last day, we made our way to Mount Bonnell. We had initially thought we would make it there one during sunrise or sunset, and it never happened. Even mid-morning, Mount Bonnell still provided great views of the city. Don’t let the name fool you, there isn’t much hiking you need to do - in fact, there are stairs.
Although Austin wasn’t our first choice, I am so glad we went. It was so clear the city and people of Austin are taking steps to drive sustainability. With a goal to achieve zero waste by 2040, it's no surprise we loved this city.