Austin made us forget all about our disappointing stopover in Vidor! I need to write an Austin Favorites post, because our activities are starting to repeat themselves. If you’ve read our past Austin posts (here’s #1, #2, and #3), you’ll recognize a lot of the following names and places. Yes, we went out a ton, but it’s hard not to in Austin! And remember that we visited during the pandemic, so only patronized places with outdoor seating.
When we last visited our favorite urban campground, Pecan Grove, in 2018, rumor had it that the park was transitioning to mostly long-term residents, only offering a few less-desirable spots up front to passers-through. But no! The park has since changed hands, and it’s still the same delightful mix of long-term and short-term residents, to our huge relief! We love Pecan Grove.
The neighborhood is changing! Thankfully, P Terry’s and Juliet and Thom’s Market are still there, for late-night burgers, cocktails, and beer and supplies, respectively, and we hit those three every visit. But heading out of the campground in the other direction, where there used to be a brewery (that we didn’t really care for) and a coffee shop (that had been replaced by an Irish pub in the time we were away) there is now a cidery and a beachy burger cafe.
Snooze is a chain restaurant, but it’s reliably healthy and delicious, and the South Lamar location is close to home and has outdoor seating. We breakfasted there our last morning in Austin before packing up the Airstream.
J’s #1 priority in Austin is getting multiple pounds of multiple meats from Franklin Barbecue. On previous Austin trips he had to wait in line for hours for his fix, but now, thanks to Covid, you can order ahead for curbside pickup! Wonder if they’ll keep this much more convenient new system in the post-pandemic world?
J requires Franklin barbecue… and I require fish tacos from Turf n Surf. We tried the grouper and mahi mahi, and liked the mahi mahi better. YUM. The actual name of the place is Turf n Surf Po-Boy, but we’ve never tried their po-boys. It’s hard to order anything but fish tacos, but I’m putting it on the to-do list.
The day we arrived we grabbed a quick lunch a block from the campground at The Picnic food truck park. It’s super convenient, has a range of food choices (and some clothes and jewelry trucks and a dog treat truck!!) and outdoor seating, but our tacos were ho-hum.
Loro, an Asian smokehouse, is the brainchild of Aaron Franklin (of Franklin Barbecue) and Tyson Cole (of Uchi sushi). YES PLEASE. We’d been looking forward to eating there for a year and it was fab. The outdoor space is awesome, and the service, drinks, food, and concept were top-notch. J said my salmon was the best he’s ever had. We’ll be back!
Launderette has been lurking on my to-do list for years and we finally got there. Sitting on the front porch of the converted launderette in a quiet neighborhood felt very homey and again, the service, food, and drinks were great. We especially enjoyed the beet hummus with everything crisps and the birthday cake ice cream sandwiches.
Comedor was new to our eating wish-list. The secret patio downtown is gorgeous, as was the presentation of the food. We were three for three for stellar service and the modern Mexican food was good (the fish tacos were our favorite dish!), but we’d rank the other two restaurants above Comedor.
If you’ve read any of our previous Austin posts, it’s no surprise that we went to Voodoo for a box of donuts. We walked there after Comedor and usually bustling 6th Street was dark and empty and sad. It’s hard to be an indoor establishment during a pandemic.
Beer and Cider and Seltzer
ABGB is one of our usual brewery go-tos. It’s a longish walk from the campground, but doable. In non-Covid times we like to sit at the bar and listen to live music; this time we happily sat on the big dog-friendly beer garden.
Lazarus also has a huge pandemic-friendly patio, and tacos! In the non-Covid past we always thought very highly of their beer; this time the beers we tried were ho-hum. Maybe next time the tap list will be friendlier to our palates.
And we had to check out our new neighbor, Austin Eastciders! They make really interesting ciders and seltzers–and cocktails using those ciders and seltzers–AND they make their own bourbon and vodka. The food menu looks casual and fun (we didn’t try any food this time, too many other places on the eating list) and it seems like a great addition to the neighborhood.
We go to Eberly for a cocktail just about every time we’re in Austin. It’s walkable from the campground, and the cocktails and service are fantastic. They have a small, private patio area that we had all to ourselves.
We also go to Juliet every visit. It’s right next door to Pecan Grove, and has fancy and delicious cocktails. They’ve done an amazing job making the patio pandemic-friendly. And it’s right next door!
After our Eberly outing, we popped across the street into Golden Goose, a cocktail-dive bar hybrid. It wasn’t very friendly to the covid-paranoid set, so we left. Let us know if it’s worth checking out post-pandemic!
The best way to explore Austin is to go for a run around the lake. But everyone agrees with that, and therefore the trail can be quite crowded. You’ll want a mask if there’s still a pandemic when you’re there.
On the long list of reasons Pecan Grove is wonderful is its proximity to Zilker Park, called by the parks department the “most-loved park in Austin.” Just a short walk from the campground, it has rolling meadows, trails, city views, a botanical park, the Barton Springs natural pool, and a disc golf course. We are newly into disc golf and enjoyed the 18-hole Zilker course very much.
For a dog-friendly cultural outing, we walked Bugsy through the sculpture park at Laguna Gloria. The path is pleasant, the sculptures are beautiful/interesting/wacky, and the lake-front property is pretty. Currently, you have to get a ticket in advance as crowd size is very limited, and Thursdays are free.
Our current, kind of strange list:
- see the peacocks at Mayfield Park (no dogs allowed; they are currently closed). We could hear them yelling from Laguna Gloria next door
- have a tiki cocktail on Lake Austin at Hula Hut
- walk through the kooky art in Sparky Pocket Park
- drink coffee on the deck over Lady Bird Lake at Alta’s Cafe at the rowing club
- play the disc golf course at Roy G, recommended to us by a local playing at Zilker
- post Bugsy for a photo under the Tau Ceti mural
- eat healthy food at Picnik on South Lamar
- drink sours at Blue Owl Brewing, which was closed during our visit
- eat a vegan Frito Pie Burger at Arlo’s food truck, a reco from Stephen from No Home Just Roam on our trip planning post
Stay tuned for our next stop in Austin on our way back east. It looked VERY different from this visit.