Issue 2: Austin

Discover a locally curated guide to the city's finest experiences

    • ISSUE 2: auston


      No matter what sort of transportation you choose here—bike, car or your own two feet—pay careful attention to street art as you meander through town. Austin has some of the best in the nation, from the sprawling Austintatious mural (dates back to the early 1970s) at the 23rd Street Artists’ Market, to the more modern art all around town. Half the fun is in the discovery of murals in unexpected places, but here are a few for which we’d keep an eye peeled.

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        Built in 1886, the Driskill is a downtown landmark as welcoming as it is stunning. Splurge for a night or two—décor touches are rustic without being cloying, like wrought-iron bed frames and plush cow-print pillows—or simply stop into the bar. Order something classic like an Old Fashioned, check out the live music, look for the impressive taxidermied bull head, and chat with the barkeeps. They’re very friendly here (this is Texas, after all).

        Lady Bird Lake. Photograph by Pableaux Johnson
        Part of the tequila collection at Guero's. Photographs by Pableaux Johnson
        A potent margarita.
        Tacos al pastor.
        Decor detail.
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          hotel saint cecilia

          Named after the patron saint of music and poetry, the Saint Cecilia is where you can expect to bump into visiting rock stars when you’re in town—or just live like one. Rooms take inspiration from the Rolling Stones and Hunter S. Thompson, William Burroughs and Bob Dylan, and yours might contain an original artwork, an upright piano or a record player (the library is stocked with vintage vinyl). Stay in the main house or ask for a poolside bungalow, and take advantage of the free bicycle borrowing while you’re here. (Austin is super-bikeable.) 

        • Wine at Crú. Photograph by Pableaux Johnson

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          Take a break from the city’s ubiquitous margaritas at Crú, a pretty little wine bar nestled into a sprawling outdoor mall. Its patio is an ideal spot for people-watching, sampling flights of wines, and tasting surprisingly hearty small plates such as croque madames and three-cheese fondues spiked with truffle oil. If only all shopping outings could be this elegant!

          Alamo Drafthouse at the Ritz. Photograph by Pableaux Johnson
          Fried chicken biscuit with romaine slaw and lemon jam. Photographs by Pableaux Johnson
          Open for business.
          Coconut cake with blood orange sherbet.
          Chef Ned Elliott.
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            HOTEL SAN JOSÉ

            Don’t let the concrete floors and minimalist design aesthetic at the San José fool you: this slickly designed boutique hotel has a soft touch. Expect kimono bathrobes, handmade furniture, southwestern charm, a 1960s soul night every Wednesday, and luxe Malin & Goetz products. The minibar here is specially curated, including delicious local Topo Chico fizzy water and TCHO chocolate. Don’t leave without trying the Michelada; it’s renowned for good reason!

            Beef and pork ribs, beef brisket and hot links. Photograph by Mike Sutter
            Ditch rush hour and opt to take the Chicago Water Taxi. Photograph by Derek Richmond.
          • Skulls and pickles at Barley Swine. Photograph by Pableaux Johnson

            ISSUE 2: austin


            It’s rare to see a restaurant website that features its farmers alongside its menu and staff bios, but Barley Swine does, and it’s no surprise: locally sourced produce and meats are treated with great esteem here. Look for precisely plated, powerfully flavorful dishes like Wagyu beef loin with radish, corn pudding and grilled radicchio, and a dessert of corn custard with lime, goat’s milk sorbet, and a masa crumble. Reserve in advance; although this place isn’t yet three years old, it’s already mighty popular.

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              blanton museum

              Yet another world-class museum right here in Austin, the Blanton has one of the largest, oldest collections of Latin-American art in the world (2,000 works strong). Its European paintings are stunning—from Monet to Rubens—and even the atrium is lovely to behold, thanks to Teresita Fernández’s shimmering aquamarine piece “Stacked Waters.” Most enticing of all? Thursdays at the Blanton are free.

              A lounge at the W Hotel. Photograph by Pableaux Johnson
              Fried chicken and waffles. Photographs by Pableaux Johnson
              Dining at Moonshine.
              Cornbread-crusted chicken salad.
              Moonshine Patio Bar & Grill.
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                Don’t be fooled by its modest exterior: This North Loop gem’s cocktails are some of the finest in the city. Come for happy hour to snag $6 cocktails from 4:00 pm until 6:00 pm, or brave the hubbub a little later in the evening. The menu is divided into swizzled, stirred, floral and vermouth-based. We’re partial to the classics: Vieux Carré, a stirred New Orleans favorite, mingles rye, cognac, vermouth and three types of bitters for a wonderful effect. Don’t sleep on the Queen’s Park Swizzle, either, a refreshing mix of lime, rum, mint and bitters.

              • The Possum Posse at the Whip In. Photograph by Pableaux Johnson

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                see live music

                From honky-tonk to jazz, soul to rock ’n roll, Austin is as good a music town as New Orleans or New York City—if not better. Although 6th Street is lined with live music venues and karaoke possibilities, be sure to drift away from the main drag to check out local favorites like the Whip In (pictured), the Continental Club and the White Horse. Only in Austin for the night? The Rattle Inn is a solid bet.

                The courtyard of the Kimber. Photographs by Pableaux Johnson
                M&Ms in the kitchen.
                Each room features work by local artists.
                A modern tea set.
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                  As is true of its more formal sibling eatery, Uchi, Tyson Cole’s Uchiko features gorgeous Japanese cuisine and some of the most delightful service in town. We like to splurge on an omakase—a prix-fixe menu the chef selects—but you can’t go wrong with Cole’s inventive sushi and sashimi combinations. Look for madai, super-fresh sea bream with shiso, Meyer lemon zest and olive oil. And don’t skip dessert: “fried milk” is as fun as it sounds, and a gorgeous Kalamata olive gelato plated with crunchy almond toffee and a swirl of lemon curd is unforgettably good.

                  East Side King food truck. Photographs by Pableaux Johnson
                  Hoover's Texa Mexi Cue.
                  Fried Brussels sprouts at East Side King.
                  Tip jar at East Side King.
                  • Kothmir salmon spiced with ginger, garlic and yellow curry. Photograph by Pableaux Johnson
                  • Stuffed naan, paneer Bahuna (spiced homemade cheese), rice. Photograph by Pableaux Johnson
                  • Interior of Clay Pit. Photograph by Pableaux Johnson
                  • Malai kebob (chicken marinated in a creamy garlic sauce). Photograph by Pableaux Johnson
                  • Mango, ginger and chili-infused vodka (the Bengaltini). Photograph by Pableaux Johnson

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                    clay pit

                    After a few days in this town—with all its barbecue and pork, cocktails and patios—you might crave a cool, cavernous space for dinner. We’d go here. Clay Pit has solid air-conditioning, pale brick-lined walls, and a vast menu of vegetarian and carnivore-friendly options that are a refreshing change from other indulgences. We like the homemade cheeses (paneer), the curried salmon, and anything out of the giant tandoor oven. Try to save room for dessert; the mango cheesecake is outstanding. Bright and sweet as the city itself, it would make a fitting end to your adventures in Austin.