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Austin Rocks

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Yeah, It Rocks
Texas' capital city has become a smokin'-hot cultural mecca. All you need is a weekend to load up on this city's essentials—an indie style scene plus music, margaritas and tacos round the clock. Explore Austin with photos by Jessica Sample and text by Paula Disbrowe.
Heywood Hotel
To check out the newest boutique hotel on the scene, drop your bags at the fetching Heywood Hotel, a laid-back and thoughtfully curated refuge smack in the middle of Austin’s vibrant East Side. To make the most of those twinkling Texas stars, ask for Room 4, which boasts its own private patio.
Easy Tiger
The Heywood is an easy walk to downtown, so head out for a pint at Easy Tiger, a new bake shop and beer garden that’s a modern interpretation of the state’s German tradition of cured meats and brews. This is not your Opa’s beer garden—The Royal Tenenbaums and other quirky pop culture references inspired its modern design. With a motto of “Slow down, stay awhile,” Easy Tiger is both edgy and old school, featuring chef Andrew Curren’s brilliant “boards” of charcuterie. Snack on the “German”: pretzels, bratwurst, beer cheese, punchy dill-flecked potato salad and house-made mustard. The meats are perfect accompaniments to artisan baker David Norman’s chewy pretzels, deeply flavored baguettes and whole-grain loaves. Order a local brew such as Live Oak Pilsner and watch the light soften from the outdoor beer garden (outfitted with ping pong tables along Waller Creek).
Lucy's Fried Chicken
When the neon signs flicker on, grab a bite of Southern goodness at Lucy’s Fried Chicken, a stylish new downtown spot from James Holmes, the acclaimed chef at Olivia (the upscale bistro that was named a top 10 new restaurant by Bon Appétit). Take a seat in the mod garden, under the rattlesnake billboard, and order the Juicy Lucy—a pink margarita flavored with a splash of fresh watermelon juice—and wood-fired grilled oysters before moving on to a basket of perfectly fried chicken topped with house-made pickled vegetables and jalapeños.
Lady Bird Lake
Run or walk the 10-mile trail that circles Lady Bird Lake (technically the Colorado River) or rent a kayak or paddleboard at the Texas Rowing Center (1541 West Cesar Chavez or 512-467-7799; single kayaks $10/hour).
Lady Bird Lake
The view from Congress Bridge at dusk as bats fly over Lady Bird Lake.
Elizabeth Street Café
Austin’s food scene is fueled by a passionate commitment to all things local. Larry McGuire’s new French and Vietnamese concept, Elizabeth Street Café, is a great example. The pho and banh mi are made with local beef, Gulf shrimp and eggs and chickens from a local organic farm. Consider a Mandarin mimosa and the herbaceous pork and shrimp crêpe at a table on the cheery pastel patio overlooking buzzing South First Street.
Elizabeth Street Café
Bún with roasted mushrooms and grilled tofu at Elizabeth Street Café.
Shops of Note

The neighborhood between South First and South Congress makes for great shopping for quirky trinkets that you won’t find elsewhere. Start at Leighelena for leather bracelets with sleek aluminum clasps and slinky exotic skin cuffs made in Austin, then mosey over to great spots such as Stag, which sells clothes and accessories for the kind of hipster who sports ironic facial hair. Expect taxidermy, canvas daypacks, well-worn T-shirts, rum-scented candles and locally designed Helm handmade boots.

Pictured: Joshua Bingaman of Helm.

Shops of Note

Amble over to Austin’s Second Street District for unique shops such as Mercury Design Studio, a clever boutique with an eclectic mix of vintage furniture and accessories; Girl Next Door, a one-stop shop for “wow” party frocks and designer denim; and Eliza Page, which showcases more than 30 independent designers, many from Austin, and plenty of selections under $100.

Pictured: The stylish selection at Girl Next Door.

Papi Tino's
Follow the lively piano music to Papi Tino’s, a favorite of East Side artists and a great spot for a Maria Verde (think green tomatillo bloody mary) and made-to-order guacamole topped with crumbled panela cheese.
Hillside Farmacy
Hillside Farmacy, chef Sonya Cote’s beautifully restored 1950s pharmacy, is complete with vintage cabinets filled with pastries and quiches. Cote’s artisan restaurant and grocery features small plates such as sausage-stuffed cured peppers, homemade gravlax and a raw bar with fresh oysters and peel-and-eat shrimp.
Text by Paula Disbrowe
Photographs by Jessica Sample

Spill It: Tell Us What You Think!

Awesome shot! Random question: when was this picture taken? I think that may be my crew.
5/10/2012 11:45:32 PM

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