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Austin Restaurants & Bars

I don’t consider myself a foodie, even though I enjoy new recipes. I’d heard that Austin was a foodie destination, and I guess I now understand why. Everything we ate was scrumptious and worth returning for. Normally The Kid and I split plates, but not in Austin. We had appetizers, separate entrees, desserts and cocktails at every opportunity. Everyone in our group tasted from every plate, and we all agreed that we didn’t have a single complaint.

What made the food so good? I think it’s the love. I like to imagine that Southerners really do take pride with the way they season, cook and serve a dish. We had crispy fried green tomatoes and chicken at Gus’s Famous Chicken, all served hot and fresh on a paper plate with a cold beer. We had tender, succulent brisket and ribs at Terry Black’s Barbecue, where I realized that my own impressive BBQ skills still have room for improvement. And did I really eat steak and cheesy corn grits for breakfast at Moonshine Grill? Oh yes, I did. It was so good we went back for dinner and tried a fried grit cake with crawfish, among the many other things we enjoyed there. Even the hotel restaurants featured menus with variety and great flavor. Living on the west coast, we’ve all been to Seattle, but found it amusing to try our first Voodoo Donut in Austin, and it certainly made for a fun afternoon snack in Austin.

…and the bars…

Maybe it’s not fair to call it a bar, but the patio at Moonshine is absolutely irresistible to a laid-back California girl like myself. I just felt so much like a Southern belle, sitting on the verandah, with ceiling fans cooling above us and an icy cold drink in my hand.

Our first real bar-stop was at the Yeti Cooler Bar, because coolers make me really happy. A packed cooler always means a good time is coming. Up a steep little flight of wooden stairs, people gather on a large deck and sip beers while sitting on coolers. It’s a great spot to people watch, plus I love sitting on coolers. (If only they’d open-up a pickup truck bar, where I can dangle my feet from the back of a tailgate!)

All of the big hotels have wonderful lounge areas with really nice cocktails. It’s also a great spot to people-watch, because so many racers and teams eat their dinners in the hotel, you can see them walk by. One of the fun features of the hotel bar was the to-go cups; you’re able to take your drinks up to the pool in the evening.

Later in the evening calls for a walk down 6th street, where all the live music and bars call out to you to stop by and have a drink. Most are two-storied, open-door buildings with ceiling fans, wooden floors and several bars for serving. As I sat in the downstairs window of one-such establishment, Gigi Di’Galigna walked by and gave me a high-five. After such a long weekend it didn’t seem necessary to imbibe in proper cocktails, but cold bottles of beer quenched our thirst. I recalled reading the journalists’ reviews of the downtown piano bar, so we popped in for a drink and sure enough, the entire Dorna and independent journalist and social media crews were there singing along cheerfully to awful hits of the 80s and 90s. They happily returned our greetings, but were obviously there to let loose after their hard work.


Near our hotel was a winetasting room that featured local wines, but we ran short of time- so we’ll save that spot for next time.

Night flight of the bats
Ladybird Johnson Gardens
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