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Friday Top Five: Volume 4 – Austin Edition

We just returned from our annual trip to Austin, Texas for South By Southwest. Our purpose of this trip is the music festival, however a huge bonus of being in Austin is the amazing food, people, weather and places to go. We wanted to dedicate this Friday’s Top Five to Austin and SXSW. There are so many great things about this city, it was hard for us to keep it to 5… so we didn’t.

Here are our favorites in no particular order…

1. East Side King. Featured on No Reservations a few years ago, a trip to one of the East Side King locations is a must while in Austin. Making it to two out of the five, I was able to try a few different menu items. My favorite had to the Brussels Sprout Salad from the Hole in the Wall location. Fried sprouts, shredded cabbage, basil, cilantro, jalapenos… how can you go wrong? Also, the Beet Home Fries are not to be missed.

Mohawk - IO Echo performing2. Mohawk. The best music venue in all of Austin. I was fortunate to see 3 shows here this year and it, by far, has the best sound and best viewing out of all the music venues I’ve been to in Austin. Check it out.

3. 24 Hour Diner. Not your typical Diner fare, I would describe this place as classy diner food. Very Vegetarian and Vegan friendly, Breakfast available 24 hours a day and a seasonal menu that supports local businesses and features farm-to-table ingredients. During SXSW the 24 Hour Diner / Waterloo Records parking lot becomes a popular venue for shows.  Years ago it was very small, so small that our no-name group of friends was able to have backstage passes.  However, it has grown to host artists such as Jack White, Tegan & Sara, Macklemore and Alt-J and they even had to close the gates this year because it was so popular. Go for the food, stay for music during SXSW.

24 Hour Diner - Vegan Burger4. Barton Springs Pool. I’m jealous of people who live in Austin for many reasons (this FTF is just a short list), but having access to the Barton Spring Pool comes in right at the top. A natural spring fed pool located in Zilker Park, this is a great place to escape the heat, hangout with the family, or get your fill of vitamin D. A random fact: Topless sunbathing is permitted… so, yeah.

5. Hey Cupcake! A cupcake shop in Austin, however I’ve only been to their trailer on South Congress. They have daily flavors with fun names like “The Michael Jackson” and they always offer 1 or 2 Vegan options. Who doesn’t love cupcakes?

6. SOAP (South Austin People). I’ve come across SOAP a few times while in Austin, and I love their all natural products. They offer a huge selection of different scented soaps and vary in “roughness factors,” which refers to the exfoilation level. All products are made with local ingredients and the majority are organic. I’ve used the Mud Bar and the Peppermint Oatmeal Bar, and can’t wait to try their Coffee Scrub Bar!

7. Barton Spring Bike Rentals. Bikes are our go-to way to get around Austin, and we always rent them from Barton Spring Bikes. Though, some of the hills around Austin can be nasty on a cruiser/hybrid, it is cheaper than taking cabs, and faster than walking to shows that can be happening on the other side of the city. Plus, the extra calorie burn is always a plus!

Elizabeth Street Cafe - Croissant Bread Pudding Blown Out Dessert

8. Elizabeth Street Cafe. I ate here 4 separate times during my 8 day vacation. I was determined to try every item on the menu that could be Veganized. I was successful at trying all Vegan items as well as putting on few LBS. Look forward to a big post about this restaurant.

Tattoo by & Photo courtesy of Steve Byrne

Tattoo by & Photo courtesy of Steve Byrne

9. Rock of Ages Tattoo. Shout out to my super talented brother-in-law, Steve Byrne, Rock of Ages partner and artist. The shop put on one heck of a showcase last Friday at the Yellow Jacket Social Club featuring 7 bands, free drinks, chances to win $250 and $500 towards a tattoo and a HUGE crowd. Ink. Don’t leave Austin without some (and be sure to get it from the crew at Rock of Ages).

10. SFC Farmers Market. There are 4 locations for this market, my sister took me to the one by her house, Sunset Valley. She visits this Farmers Market every Saturday with the kids to get breakfast and to pick up fresh produce. I was “happy” to see the Happy Vegan Baker there and stuffed myself on Vegan tacos and cupcakes. Not to mention I enjoyed a wonderful cup of local coffee and took home some Vegan mac n cheese to enjoy later that night.

Happy Vegan Tacos at the SFC Farmers Market

11. Torchy’s Tacos. The Democrat. Mr. Pink.Trailer Park. Fried Avocado. These are just a few of my favorite tacos at Torchy’s, or so I thought. This year, we discovered the sacred menu… another slew of amazing tacos that are not listed on the regular menu. Ah-mazing. The Hipster and The Matador are now on my list, and were pretty much life changing. Torchy’s, can you please open up a location in Chicago? Pretty please??

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