Tuesday, June 7, 2011

2:2:2 AUSTIN

ATX – my relationship with Austin, Texas goes back farther than might seem at first glance. Though I’ve never lived there, and have visited just a handful of times in the past two years, I married into a love for this self-proclaimed weird city in the heart of Texas. My husband lived there for seven years, we still own a home off of South Congress and we continue to maintain relationships with many dear friends who reside there still.

But you’re not here to read about my relationship with Austin – you want to know about 2 places to eat, 2 things to do, and 2 ways to relax in AUSTIN, Texas.


So hard. So, so hard. Austin boasts so many stellar restaurants, that it’s nearly impossible to choose just two. But I trust that if you visit Austin, surely you’ll eat more than twice - in which case you can simply e-mail to ask for more recommendations.

uchi's original location on s. lamar
From the creative mind of James Beard Award-winning Chef Tyson Cole, this modern while at the same time traditionally Japanese sushi restaurant is stunning in its simplicity and elegance. I know - sushi isn't what first comes to mind when you think Austin cuisine. But Uchi isn't to be missed, and now that Chef Cole has opened a sister restaurant, called Uchiko, you have twice the chance of scoring in on a stellar meal. Reservations are a must, however note that at Uchiko it is easier to obtain reservations and they also have a happy hour until 6 p.m. Items to order: the hot rock, the shag roll and the yellowtail sashimi. And if you happen to visit uchiko, try the giant diver's scallops. Unreal

a man & his tex-mex, reunited
While some may knock this Austin staple as a tourist trap, I beg to differ. Two things are a guarantee at Gueros: incredible bitter margaritas, and a jovial atmosphere. The margaritas at Gueros are unique because they aren't too sweet, as if the bartender added too much sour mix. Instead these margs are ever-so-slightly bitter, and with a fine crust of salt around the rim of the glass, the combination is killer. The queso at Gueros is a must-order item (my tip: grab some extra pico de gallo from the salsa bar and dump it right into the queso), and while you really can't go wrong with anything that you order, my dear husband will tell you to nab the chicken al carbon. The burrito is a bit unwieldy and almost too large to really enjoy, so order the Gueros salad with the chicken al carbon on top. You won't be sorry. Most nights also have live music, so be sure to step outside into the beer garden too.


Barton Springs
Barton Springs is an Austin institution. Start with the trail around Town Lake (now called Lady Bird Lake, but always will be Town Lake to locals). The worn, gravelly trails surrounded by water and foliage cause you to forget the city you're in, and offer shade from the hot Austin sun (although you still need to get out there early most of the year to avoid sunstroke). The nearby running stores always stock coolers for thirsty athletes (and their pets), and everyone from the old guy trying to get in shape to star marathoners can be seen out there getting their exercise on (and yes, I really did see Matthew McConaughey running while we were out there in October). Once you're done running or biking, make sure you get to Barton Springs for a dip in the cool-year-round waters. Nearby lockers offer you the ability to change in or out of your swimsuit, and triathletes training for the open water swim take their lunch break at the springs. 

Shop on South Congress!
earrings by a local artist from parts & labour
I do love to shop - and South Congress is where to go for unique treasures that won't be found anywhere else. On my list of favorites: Tesoros Trading Company, for fun gag gifts, rustic housewares and made-in-Mexico goodies; Creatures Boutique for unique garments that fit like a dream but don't bust the budget; Parts & Labour, your one-stop-shop for goods made by local artists; By George for garments that will bust the budget; Stag and/or Service Menswear for the man in your life; and Yard Dog art gallery to view an eclectic collection. Leave an entire day for trolling the shops set off of the sidewalks. If you feel faint before you're done shopping, grab a Belgian Bomber from Jo's to keep you from dropping. 
sipping a beer to keep me happy while shopping for E
beligan bomber & vegan choc muffin

(again, i'm leaving so much out - the live music in Austin is world-reknown, as are obscure activities such as Chicken Shit Bingo. But I was only asked to name two things). 


Hotel San Jose
Book a night at the Hotel San Jose. This old pay-by-the-hour motel turned modern boutique hotel by design genius Liz Lambert boasts private rooms in bungalow-style stucco buildings. The artful landscaping and sparse accommodations encourage a respite from the clutter of everyday life. Enjoy a Michelada at a table in the shade with the eclectic music streaming overhead and fans circulating the arid Texas air. You'll find yourself unwinding involuntarily. 

Away Spa at the W Hotel
The swanky and newly-opened W Hotel has a spa which uses locally-sourced products. I highly recommend booking some type of treatment, be it a facial, a massage or a pedicure. You'll be ushered into a plush women's locker room, where you can slip into a big cozy robe and sip a glass of champagne and flip through a magazine while you wait for your treatment. You'll also be invited to hang around after your treatment, which is a treat in and of itself. The showers have incredible water pressure, and any and every product you could ever need in order to get ready (including disposable toothbrushes and delicious vanilla mint mouthwash in giant apothecary jars - swoon) are there waiting for you to take advantage of them. Give yourself a few hours to take it all in. 

Love and Kisses, 

Your East Coast Muse

1 comment:

  1. I'm sorry. "Chicken Shit Bingo?" You are now in comment land. There is no 2-2-2 in comment land.