Top 10 in Austin: Favorites from INK's True Austinite

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  • March 5, 2014
  • Starr Million Baker

Here at INK, we’re proud to call the “little big town” of Austin our home. Whether you’re passing through, staying for awhile, or just need to get out more, these lists are our way of sharing the best of our city with you. Enjoy!

I’m the lone native Austinite here at INK. With that long-term view (insert age joke here), comes great (well, at least some) perspective. Here are my top 10 favorite things about Austin:

  1. There is no dress code. Comfort is king, and flip-flips are a fashion statement (or a bottle opener for the most-prepared beer drinkers). Want to get fancy? Fine. We won’t judge, but it’s not required. Austin is as comfortable as a much-loved pair of jeans, and looks just as good.
  2. The people are nice. When I was 17 I spent the summer in Charlottesville, Virginia. On a trip to the mall, I walked up to the door right behind a woman who not only didn’t hold the door open for me as I approached (I was maybe 2 steps behind her), she practically tugged it shut. This would NEVER happen in Austin. People go out of there way to be nice, polite, dare I say friendly. They hold doors, help you pick stuff up, smile, and make room for you to get by. They aren’t the best at waving to say thanks when another driver lets them in, but you’ll notice “Austin drivers” did not make this list. We don’t hold onto our nice-ness when exposed to Austin traffic.
  3. Mexican food. Or to be totally honest – queso. It is so sad to me that in some parts of the country waiters bring shredded cheese to the table when this is ordered, instead of the melty awesome cheese-y goey-ness it’s intended to be. You’d be hard-pressed to find a bad one, but these are my tops: Torchy’s, Hula Hut and Chuy’s, Z’Tejas (get the Tejas Trio), Polvo’s, Maudie’s… like I said, you almost can’t go wrong.
  4. Meat. Salt Lick. County Line. Green Mesquite. Franklin. And Bangers! Go to Bangers, you’ll be glad you did.
  5. The color burnt orange. You SXSWers don’t get to experience the awesomeness that is Longhorn football, but if you come back for ACL be sure to catch a game. TEXAS. FIGHT.
  6. Town Lake. Best place to get a good run in, hands down. (Says the chick that doesn’t run that much, but I doubt I’ll get much argument on this point.)
  7. The weather. Yes, I write this on the 5th day this year my kids have had a school delay for ice. But yes, it’s already beautiful outside again. And yes, bring on the 100-degree days! I love them. And that’s when #5 feels awesome.
  8. The water.  First, there’s Barton Springs. It’s beautiful. It’s not as cold as they say (I would call it “refreshing” ;-)), and it reminds me of my childhood. And it’s in the middle of town at Zilker Park. What could be better? And besides Barton Springs, we are blessed to be surrounded by many beautiful bodies of water (and even more when this drought isn’t depleting the lakes). Lake Austin and Lake Travis provide much summer fun, but my life’s happy place is the Guadalupe River in New Braunfels.
  9. The hole-in-the-walls. Bars like Deep Eddy, Horseshoe Lounge and Lala’s are where I spent most of my 20’s. And you haven’t lived till you’ve had a beer in an INK koozie (the owner might give you one) on the dilapidated porch at Dry Creek. If you’re a two-stepper, the Broken Spoke is the place to check out. Western swing? White Horse and the Continental Club will keep you moving.
  10. The history. Did you know our downtown is so short because until 2001 buildings could not be so high that they obstructed the view of the Capitol building? A building modeled after (and taller than) the nation’s capitol in DC. Janis Joplin played at Threadgill’s, and my dad worked for the company that tore down the Armadillo World Headquarters and “put up a parking lot.” (He’s still broken up about it.)

After writing this list (seriously, after) I found this great Buzzfeed of the best things in Austin. Check it out too. And tell us – what goes on your Austin favorites list?

Other good stuff in here