Austin: The Good, the Badass, the Divey
You can take the girl out of Texas, but you can't take a love of BBQs and dive bars out of the girl. Austin native, DailyCandy editor, and stylish gadabout Jordan Blumberg shows us the ropes back home.
Time spent: I'd say I've spent right around 85 percent of my days in Texas. Since moving to New York, that percentage is shrinking. But I make it back for a weekend several times a year.
On being a Texan outside of the Lone Star State: I'll never stop saying "y'all." My New York friends tell me that my hair and football knowledge are Texan giveaways.
Homecoming routine: I usually get in late and head to my brother's house in East Austin. He makes amazing infused spirits, and we catch up over a drink and leftovers. In the morning, I'll go for a long run around Town/Lady Bird Lake followed by breakfast tacos at Torchy's, Mi Madres, or an off-the-menu horchata latte at El Chilito. If I still need more of a buzz, I go to Texas Coffee Traders or a boozy brunch with friends at Maudie's.
Perfect vintage shopping day in the city: It encompasses enough for its own itinerary.
Snack break: When on SoCo, try Coat & Thai food truck, Home Slice, or Hopdoddy for a tasty pick-me-up, and Guero's for a margarita. Further south, stop at newcomer Lucy's Fried Chicken for wood-grilled oysters topped with wild boar chorizo or drenched in ginger, lemon, and fish sauce. On South Lamar, grab a quick sweet at Gourdough's (not healthy) before rolling to The Highball bowling alley/watering hole. The frozen custard and hot dogs at Sandy's Hamburgers on the corner of South 1st and Barton Springs Road cure all.
At the end of the day, I can be found asking about tattoos at the East Side Showroom, sipping mescal from a gourd at Clive Bar's backyard stone hut Bar Illegal, or enjoying an artisanal hot dog and Austin Beerworks IPA at Frank downtown. The town lives for happy hour. Follow the noise, and you'll be set.
Best place for people-watching other fashionable folks: People-watching in Austin (and everywhere else) is best done with a cold drink. Micheladas at the Hotel San Jose define chill, but for a little more action find a perch on Perla's oak-shaded patio. Second has a nice vantage point for scoping out shoppers headed to the growing Second Street district. I always get a kick out of Sixth Street's cast of nighttime revelers, though "fashionable" might not be an appropriate word to describe them. I usually escape to Swan Dive or Kung Fu Saloon when I've had my fill.
Best place to take pictures for the scrapbook: Austin is a good-looking city throughout but for picture purposes I'd head to Mt. Bonnell, The Blanton Museum of Art on UT's campus, the Capitol building, Eastside Drive-In, the Isamu Taniguchi Japanese Garden at Zilker Park, or any of the street murals around town.
Good to know: Austin's culinary scene has grown up over the past four years. While cheap Tex-Mex and BBQ are still supreme, the city welcomes more complex flavors like small plates at Uchiko, the local pork belly at Barley Swine, and fried chicken at Olivia. Vespaio is older but still deserves a spot on this list for its cioppino and lasagna. Speaking of BBQ, the best is at Franklin. If you have any doubt, the line for lunch is full by 10 a.m. every day.
A last word on dives: I find that they reach new heights (lows?) in Austin. Dry Creek (4812 Mt. Bonnell Rd.), a two-story beer shack atop Mt. Bonnell is the best place to drink suds and listen to Johnny Cash on the jukebox until sundown (when they shut down). It's open seasonally and I don't believe the telephone works, so you'll have to make the drive to scope it out. Yellow Jacket Social Club in East Austin and Donn's Depot on West 5th are more reliable — though not as seedy — as Barfly's off Airport or Crow Bar across from St. Edwards on South Congress.
Finally, if you walk down a certain alleyway off Rainey Street towards IH-35 you'll find a green two-story house with a wrap-around porch and laminated wood furniture. It's right on the access road, two doors down from a tattoo parlor, and you'll know it's a bar when they charge you for cervezas.
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Check out our guide to Austin.
Photos, from top right: Jordan Blumberg, with camera; courtesy of Lucy's Fried Chickenl; courtesy of Franklin.