I recently went back to Austin for my sorority's National Board Retreat and got to eat at some of my favorite college spots as well as try some of the new eateries to hit town. Being in Austin reminded me of 5 of the best years of my life. I loved my school (Longhorn pride!) and I loved living in such a vibrant young city. Since I wasn't in town to tour or really see the sights, I thought I would let you guys in on my 2 days of foodie life. One of the few things I do regret about my college career was always pinching pennies and was never really being adventurous in exploring new restaurants. Back then, I preferred to either eat or home or stick to chain restaurants that I was familiar with. It wasn't until towards the end of my college years that I started to fully appreciate what an amazing food city Austin is and that I had a lot to catch up on. Now, every time I visit Austin I take every opportunity I can to try new places to eat and truly explore the Austin food scene. So before I even arrived, I already had an idea of where I wanted to eat and my Sisters were kind enough to let me make all the decisions when it came to meals!
Side Note- This was technically my first weekend trip of the year since my Quebec trip was cancelled. Because of the horrible experience I had (spending 7+ hours at the airport filled with constant false hope only to turn around and go home and pray that my money would be refunded) previously, I was filled with anxiety and panic the few hours before departing for my Austin trip. I was so nervous that something would go wrong with this flight that I constantly checked my weather app for any slight change in good weather and when I noticed that rain was predicted for Austin on the day I was to return to New York I even decided to bring my work laptop with me just in case I couldn't get back home. Even after I had boarded and was just waiting for the plane to push back from the gate, I kept wondering if the flight was even going to take off (I sat on my Delta plane to Canada for 3 hours). What if something was wrong with the plane? Or what if the airport was having issues again? These thoughts just couldn't leave my mind no matter how hard I tried. When my departing flight finally took off on the runway, I breathed a tiny sigh of relief and was able to relax and have fun on my trip until the last day when I began to worry about my returning flight (if the rain would have an impact, whether or not I would make the connecting flight). It just seemed that my memories of my failed trip would never leave my mind and would continue to cause me stress every time I had to prepare for a flight. This type of behavior has honestly never afflicted me before- I generally don't find travel to be a stressful situation otherwise I wouldn't love it so much- so I wasn't sure how to deal with it at first. I know that from all my bright photos it always seems like all I do is have tons of fun when I travel, but I just wanted to be honest with some of the down sides of traveling. That being said, if anything this whole experience has made me want to push forward and keep taking flights and keep going places. The only way to get rid of fear is to confront it head on until it doesn't bother you anymore. I'm not going to let a little bit of anxiety stop me from traveling to far flung places or from completing my 2018 plan!
Now back to my Austin food adventures!
Cafe No Se - My first official Austin meal was at this bright and airy cafe located inside the South Congress Hotel on the touristy South Congress Avenue. I had high expectations for this fan favorite brunch spot, but was sadly disappointed by the dish I chose. I did, however, order takeout instead of dining in their cute restaurant so that potentially could have affected my view on their food. My friend and I both ordered the sausage and egg on a roll with a side of potatoes. We were surprised that "roll" was actually just a hamburger bun as we were expecting something a bit smaller and more unique. Additionally, the sausage patty had a strong similarity to ones that lie in a sausage McMuffin so we felt like the overall sandwich was nothing special. Needless to say, despite the warm and inviting atmosphere, the food wasn't what we were expecting.
Jo's Coffee- What tourist (yes I considered myself a tourist this weekend) can go to Austin and not visit Jo's? If only for the famous graffiti sign, "I love you so much", its a common attraction on South Congress! The iced latte I ordered was what I expected from a tourist place- overpriced and very generic. But Jo's is basically an Austin icon so I'll cut it some slack (aka its a must see regardless of the quality of food). On the plus side, its one of the few places on South Congress that has a relatively large free parking lot so its easy to experience and there is a nice little patio on the side!
Tapioca House - Tap House was my favorite bubble tea cafe in Austin throughout my college years and despite the 3 years that have passed since graduation, it's still one of my favorite spots in town. Over the years, however, it has clearly been renovated and the menu has been extended to include a wider variety of teas and slushies. My strawberry milk tea was delicious! The cafe is located on Guadalupe Street (otherwise known as The Drag by my fellow Longhorns) and is a convenient walk from campus.
East Side Tavern - A bbq spot I was very excited to try out, East Side Tavern is located in East Austin, a once sketchy neighborhood that has in recent years been gentrified and now has many hipster cafes and good restaurants. While I would recommend the brisket and cheddar tater tots (yes its a thing!) as well as many of the other appetizers and meat plates, their main dishes were only alright. I ordered the grilled cheese sandwich with pulled pork and a side of herb fries. The sandwich itself was a little dry, although the fries were decent. The vibe here was of a typical sports bar- loud, dark, and fun.
Spun Ice Cream - Slightly expensive, but delicious! Spun is a liquid nitrogen ice cream cafe- they use nitrogen to freeze their liquid ice cream mix right in front of you. They have a constant rotating list of flavors and a long list of toppings. My salted caramel ice cream with pecan praline topping on it was the perfect way to end my night. Spun is located about a 5 min drive away from East Side so its a great place to grab dessert after dinner.
Grizzelda's - Beyonce ate here! If that doesn't convince you, then just know that Grizzelda's is a Southern brunch buffet complete with a giant queso bowl (who doesn't appreciate unlimited queso) and tons of bowls of Mexican chocolate pudding. The buffet line was filled with fresh guacamole, enchiladas, pulled pork, scrambled eggs, home fries, and many other yummy options to choose from. There's also a cute patio in the back of the restaurant that is awesome for eating in when the weather is nice outside. I loved it here just because I was able to eat to my hearts content for only $20!
Vintage Heart Cafe - Probably very underrated as its located in a small nondescript house, but their iced vanilla latte was so well made. The cafe would have been the perfect place to study had i discovered this place back in college. There were plenty of tables and comfy chairs set up and even a nice outdoor patio. The line for coffee moved slowly as they only had one person working, but it gave me time to enjoy their homey environment. Bonus- they have a variety of syrups that you can add into your coffee!
Have you guys been to any of these Austin eateries or cafes? Are there any other places you would recommend?