just visiting

My Yankee New York friends are coming to visit this weekend!  Friday they arrive at noon.  They leave Sunday morning, early (so they’ll miss the Gospel Brunch).  It’s not enough time, but we’re making the most of it.  They’ve never been to Austin, so I’ve got to show it to them proper.  Here’s what I’m thinking:

Off the plane, meet the kids!  Then we jet off to Hula Hut on Lake Austin for some serious margaritas and warm corn chips. 
Next stop Eddie V’s downtown for one hellofa happy hour… $0.35 oysters and cheapo tuna tartar.  Then we’ll walk around downtown, check out the live music on 6th Street.  If we’re still hungry, we’ll hit The Roaring Fork.  I’m desperate to go to a piano bar for some serious singing, but we’ll see what the girls want to do. 

If it rains, we’ll go to Alamo Draft House, with fingers crossed that there’s a decent movie playing.  If it’s nice out, an early round of tennis.  Then off to Lake Travis to tour three homes (not that they’re in the market, but it seems people do this in Austin… mostly to get inspired by the interior decorating) and grab a quick drink or nibble at The Oasis.  If we don’t eat there, we might go to Ski Shores for a light lunch by the lake.  Perhaps a stroll around The Domain.  Then we’re stopping by Nieman Markups… actually Nieman Marcus Last Call.  For dinner we’re either going to Fonda San Miguel or Z Tejas (North location) followed by… drumroll please… some line dancing.  Why not, right? 

Of course we’ll do a drive-by of the Capitol and Town Lake, but other than that, is there anything they simply have to do? And of course I’m sending them home with some roadside Jerky and some Rudy’s moist brisket.  But really, I’m hoping you have some "can’t miss this" suggestions for us.



  1. im a returning visitor after a very, very long hiatus. nice to see your site and your career progressing the way it has miss klien! many congratulations to you!

  2. For you, not necessarily for a out of town visit…There is a delicious breakfast burrito place (we call it the hut.. i dont know what it's actually called) just north of downtown in Georgetown. Seriously, it's a can't miss. HUGE fresh burritos for like a buck.

  3. Well if they're going to Rudy's, they've got to, got to have creamed corn. It's pretty much my main motivation to go there.

    FROM STEPHANIE: Good call, lady. Thanks.

  4. The bats taking flight from underneath the congress bridge at dusk. Always heard about it, never seen it.

    FROM STEPHANIE: I could be wrong, but I don't think they do that yet. I thought it happened during the summer only. Am I wrong?

  5. husband was a grad student in austin and still dreams of returning. we've gone for a trip there now and then–here are some highlights. unsurprisingly, its mostly food
    breakfast tacos at portillo's (in south austin)
    aguas frescas at las manitas
    shiner boch at scholz's beer garden (watering hole to austin's liberal community for more than 50 years)
    amys ice cream (ooh…the dark chocolate with strawberrys or mexican vanilla with just about anything)
    sidetrip to browse waterloo records and/or bookpeople
    ooh… what about browse at central market or the flagship whole foods? (though central market is better in my book)
    wom kims peach pudding at hyde park cafe (i know it might sound odd but it is so amazing my once talked them into handing over the recipe while he was a grad student in austin)
    play around in toyjoy
    and, for a real laugh if you are a real yankee– the texas history museum just can't be missed. i just laughed the entire time i was there much to the dismay of the people around me

  6. My boyfriend who lived in Austin for 3 years (and won't shut up about the place) has this to say:
    1. Nay on the bats.
    2. Salt Lick for barbecue.
    3. Cedar Street for the watermelon martini.
    4. Matt's Famous El Rancho for tex mex.
    5. South Congress for the hookers. (He made me write that.)
    Enjoy the time with your friends! We're visiting for three days in a few weeks and he's got about 15 burger, tex mex and barbecue places that we "must" visit, so it looks like I'll be bringing along my stretchy pants.

  7. Mt. Bonnell might be a good place to have a view and, at the bottom of the hill is the Austin Museum at Laguna Gloria. If you didn't want to take time to stroll the grounds and see the beautifully refurnished house, you could just drive thru the circular driveway. I always take my friends for barbeque (Artz & Iron Works) and drive by UT, but that's because I went to school there. Hope you have a great time. The weather should be perfect.

  8. Go to guero's (in south austin) for really good tacos. The county line for austin BBQ. Go walk on Congress before the bats come out. Texas French Bread for breakfast croissant and coffee (only on campus off of Guadalupe near Milto's).

    For active experiences… Town Lake is a must. The loop is only about 2 miles.

    For cool houses… Get off on Windsor from Mopac. You have gone too far if you hit Lamar.

  9. Went to UT…and go back to Austin at least once a month…go to Dry Creek for a beer- on Mt. Bonnell Rd. How about Cisco's on east 6th for breakfast on Sunday…the best…Willie Nelson is a regular! If you had more time, I would say to take a drive thru the hill country. Shop on South Congress…so many more suggestions!! Austin has so much to offer…they will have to come back for a longer trip!!

  10. Their visit will be complete if they see Leslie. (The homeless, cross-dressing once-mayoral candidate.) The first time I saw him, I almost wrecked. He was walking down SoCo, with hot pink tights, a black tube top, and a leather miniskirt.
    I guess every town and city has a Leslie these days though.

  11. Any time I have friends visit, I make us walk the length of the drag- start at Toy Joy, end at Veggie Heaven for lunch (surprisingly good vegi chinese food). Veggie Heaven might not be for everyone, but you've GOT to go to Toy Joy.

  12. I just want to second (or third!) the RUDY'S!!! I went to Austin for the first time ever last month, and we went to Rudy's and WOW, melt-in-your-mouth best bbq ever. I would go back to Austin just for that.

  13. sounds like you've got a great weekend planned! some other suggestions if you have extra time…shopping in the little boutiques and weird shops on south congress. also, have you ever been to casey's (sno cones)? the sno cone is to austin what the cupcake is to new york, i've found. have fun!

  14. The bats are really neat to see, but I do think it happens later. I think when I saw them, it was in late May, but you may want to check.

    Are they music people? Waterloo Records is always fun.

  15. The bats are probably already there, you can go to batcon.org to find out emergence times. I would recommend it…it's a unique experience.

    This weekend is also the Wiener Dog races in Buda, you know, if you're into that sort of thing. =)

    Lake Travis and a drive through the Hill Country.

  16. What's up with all the Salt Lick recommendations? That place is highly overrated. Kreutz's is MUCH better and Lockhart is a fun town to walk around in.

    I vote Kreutz's!

  17. My favorites in Austin:

    -Chuy's and their blue corn tortillas. just good food…
    -The Continental Club. I saw Alana James perform there and I've been addicted ever since.
    -The dude on the corner around 6th street that sells hotdogs. They don't taste quite as good sober, but they really hit the spot. Does anyone else know who I'm talking about? He wants you to pay him what you think they are worth.

  18. That all sounds fabulous. I've decided I'm officially applying to grad school in Austin next year and even if I don't get in, visiting just to "check it out" anyway. Multiple times. Line dancing is just too fantastic to do only once.

    Have a wonderful time!

    PS. Thanks for the vacation tips for my island jaunt–if only I had been there with someone more romantic, I would have done them all…and far less shots, let me tell you.

    xo, talk soon and best wishes to you, the family and your friends!

  19. If you want a good chance at seeing Leslie, s/he's a regualr at Cafe Caffeine on West Mary (S Austin).

    Magnolia Cafe is the best breakfast, and since they're open 24 hours, may be you can take your friends there Sunday before they depart.

  20. I don't think the bats are out until late summer/ fall sometime, but definitely look to make sure. I have a friend coming into town from Seattle this weekend actually; we're hitting Round Rock Donuts, Rudy's, North by Northwest and Cool River, and heading down to San Antonio for a tour through the Shiner Brewery and to visit the Alamo.

  21. Where did you go for the horse racing? My mom is in town and I bet she'd actually love it!

    The showhouses near the Oaisis are awesome. I like the third one – amazing view, interior and decorating! They have a wine and design event Sat evening.

    PS – today I received a match email from a guy who has YOUR picture in his profile. :)

    FROM STEPHANIE: Yes, that's Scott. He's the reason we moved to Austin, such a good warm guy. Not the type to ever be a dick. You should come join us for BINGO!

  22. What about something on south congress? I'd either suggest brunch somewhere on the strip or a stop off for a bottle of wine and the cheese plater at hotel san jose. Then you could always swing them by Allen's Boots for some Texas footwear.

    Have fun!

  23. Shady Grove for lunch or dinner. And, you must get them breakfast tacos – there's a place in the Barton Springs area that's fabulous, right by the greenspace – I can't remember the name but I know it's super popular so I'm sure a lot of readers/commentators will know the name

  24. shopping at tesoros is always joyous:

    a bit of a trip and probably good for a longer visit, but Luckenbach is the best:

  25. This is really nerdy, but you should take the segway tour if it's nice out. It's a great tour of Austin and doesn't take that long.
    You could do it on Saturday morning instead of driving around everywhere.

  26. Wow, times are different. It doesn't seem like I ever got out of the house when my twins were babies. You must have all your energy back and some pretty good backup! Don't overlook just hanging out at home, eating, drinking, talking and messing with the babies. Someone in your group must know how to cook….

    FROM STEPHANIE: We'll spend plenty of time with the beans and take them out with us during the day. We have a babysitter for the nighttime. But I hear ya about relaxing with my girls. I can't wait!

  27. Sounds like fun! I'm a Cali girl so I have no recommendations – though it looks like your readers have some great ideas for you.

  28. Stephanie – I emailed already this morning with Scott. He seems nice so far. Wow, he must be really nice if he's the reason you guys moved here. You play bingo? Sounds like a blast. You didn't play bingo in NYC did ya?

  29. I have to wholeheartedly disagree with the Rudy's suggestion (there's much better BBQ in Austin, and if you don't want to drive out to Salt Lick, I'd suggest the new, semi-swank but seriously delish Lambert's downtown). I also disagree with all the people recommending Magnolia's for brunch. You're much better off going to Austin Java. The food is bettter, the service is better, there's more patio space … go to the one on Lamar/Enfield. The one on Barton Springs is always too packed. Before you hit the town, go to Cork & Co. or Cru for some wine and cheese or Malaga for wine and tapas.

  30. hip & trendy stores to hit:

    strut on s. lamar
    sola on s. lamar
    emerald's near whole foods & waterloo
    by george across from whole foods
    hem on 12th/lamar (tucked behind the tavern)

    since they're leaving on sunday morning, you'll have to do this on your own/with phil – the roaring fork has a great happy hour on sundays & mondays only. half-off all appetizers, and they have some of the best in town.

  31. As a New Yorker who went to Austin for the first time earlier this year (to visit another NYC transplant), my favorite things were: Fonda San Miguel Sunday brunch, bbq at Smitty's out in Lockhart, Uncommon Objects–great for antiquey tchotckes and for photography, drinks at the Hotel San Jose, and peeks into all of those shops that sell local designer jewelry. I was amazed at all of the great jewelry you could get for very non-NYC prices. I'm sad that the weather wasn't nice enough in February for Town Lake, but I'll definitely be back.

  32. The view from Mt. Bonnell is a must see but skip Dry Creek Saloon further north on Mt. Bonnell road. The owner is no longer working behind the bar so the ambience is not the same (i.e., the guy there now is really nice to everyone) and the trees have all grown up so there's no longer a view of the lake. It's just a run-down beat-up deck with crappy chairs in the trees.

    The food at Magnolia is fine but it's the experience there that really matters. The one on Lake Austin Blvd just west of Mopac is a great place for post-partying noshing and rehashing. So I would suggest going there Saturday night before heading home instead of Sunday morning.

    Hotel San Jose is a great place for drinks on the patio – it really shows what Austin has become the last several years.

    A stop at Antone's is always good for visitors as well since Clifford Antone made Austin the music mecca that it is. The Gourds plan Friday – very Austin – and Gary Clark, Jr. is there Saturday so you can get your Country Music fix without going someplace cheesy. Of course, for good ole boy Country, the Broken Spoke on South Lamar is incredible, as well as the memorabilia display. The Geezinslaws play Saturday night (check out Sammy Alred in the mornings on 98.1 for a taste of part of the Geezinslaws).

    Have a fabulous time with your NYC grrls!!

    For Giada – so sorry to break it to your boyfriend but there's no hookers on South Congress anymore. SoCo is now the hip trendy place to hang.

  33. Your priorites are really screwed up. I feel bad for the twins …. both now, and for the future. And what about Phil?

  34. For the ultimate "weird" Austin party experience go to the annual Eeyore's Birthday Party on Sat. It's at Pease Park on Lamar from 11:00 to dusk. Dress colorfully! I agree with BA above, The Gourds are a great band. I wanna play Bingo!

  35. do a duck tour, they are so much fun you get to relax, sightsee and then the duck truck turns into a boat and you get a liitle tour of lake austin! do this apres drinks while you have a nice buzz!

  36. Yumm, Rudy's! One of your commenters mentioned Salt Lick – that's a great place, too. Why no Chuy's? It sounds like you'll be showing your friends a great time!

    By the way, since you live in Austin and have two adorable little kids now, you should check out KidGenius. My aunt and uncle own two stores, one in SoCo.

  37. I don't know about line dancing, but Dallas night club on Burnet is a good place to see some good dancin'. I always have had fun there. Have fun with your friends.

  38. To , Puleeze…first of all, get a real name; 2nd, why are Stephanie's priorities screwed up? She has every right to be excited that she's spending the weekend w/ her friends. She's including the babies and getting a babysitter at night. Good for her. As for Phil, I'm sure he's happy that Steph is getting to see her girl friends, and whether he's planning to join them or not, he's a big boy. Remember it wasn't that long ago that he was in NY w/ his friends when Stephanie was in Austin delivering her twins by herself. They both deserve time w/ friends and time away from the babies. It shows that they have their priorities in order.

    Stephanie, I know you don't need me or anyone else fighting your battles, but that particular comment just pissed me off, especially after reading all the great suggestions for your weekend. There always has to be one to spoil the fun. Whatever you end up doing, have a great time, and I hope you post pix like you did in the past of you and your friends living the good life!

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