Travelogue Austin, TX 2003
Friday April 18, 2003
Uneventful flight from Denver to Austin on United.
Talkative taxi driver knows everything about Austin.
Amazing rate at Hyatt Regency Town Lake.
Good room, but I cant have it because maintenance is fixing the TV.
Room #2 is a great room, but it is a smoking room and smells so strongly I cant stand it. Would have been OK if you could just throw open the windows and let the place air out.
Room #3 is good enough. Aircon/heat has an insanely loud fan.
Walk up Congress St., stop for coffee at Little City Café (916 Congress St, near the state house.) Very cool space, upholstered chairs outside.
Walk up and down 6th street during the day – looks like it will be fun at night
Dinner with my friend Andi at Zoot: a pre-appetizer of beet and croutons with truffle oil. Good and inventive.
Appetizer: Wild mushroom and duck confit crepe with candied figs. Wow. Best thing of the whole evening. Main: pork medallions on asparagus and morel mushrooms. The pork was good, but the sauce was a kind of odd mustard seed based sauce. I really don’t think the sauce worked well at all. Andi had duck served with duck-confit raviolis. Hers was a better dish overall. The restaurant is very noisy, a very bright room. Overall: good, but not as good as it should have been.
Wonderful sorbet at Dolce Vita Gelato & Espresso – amazing selection of aperitifs (4222 Duval St., (512) 323-2686)
Walk around 6th street. Reminiscent of the Buckhead district of Atlanta, or a very tame Bourbon St.
Saturday April 19, 2003
Very good included breakfast at hotel.
Spent day at Andi’s goat farm. Fun.
Watch bats – best from below.
Dinner at El Sol Y La Luna – Tacos de Puerco. Good, not great.
Went to see a show at a club called Carousel.
Drove around warehouse district. More adult and upscale than 6th street, but not up for it.
Sunday April 20, 2003
Included breakfast at hotel. No fresh omelets because the omelet station is busy at a special Easter brunch.
Zilker Botanical Gardens – noisy due to the freeway.
Umlauf sculpture gardens – nice, but no threat to Viegland.
Taxi to Ruby’s Bar-b-que, great collard greens and coleslaw (29th at Guadalupe, 512-477-1651.) Good brisket. It appears that the “Texas bbq” thing is all about how they smoke the meat, and not about the sauce. Interesting, but I think I prefer southeastern style pulled-pork sorta bar-b-que where its all about the sauce.
Coffee and pastry at a super-cool café called Spider House Coffee (around the corner from Ruby’s.)
Walk around “The Drag” – pretty quiet due to Easter holiday. Walk around University of Texas – also very quiet. Bus back to hotel.
Dinner at Shady Grove. Food was OK, atmosphere was great, margarita was OK.
Monday April 21, 2003
Included breakfast at hotel
Lady Bird Johnson National Wildflower Center – great, but quite far out of town and no public transportation.
Lunch at The Ironworks. Pork cutlet BBQ. Better sauce than at Ruby’s, not as good sides.
Bob Bullock Texas State Museum. A really good museum, very well done. Actually made me interested in Texas!
Borrowed horrendous cruiser-style bike from Hotel ($5 per hour, but they gave it to me for free.) Rode around Town Lake at about 5pm. It was so busy with runners that it was no fun at all. There is thick and luxuriant poison ivy lining both sides of the trail. Not recommended.
Dinner at Fonda San Miguel, 2330 W. North loop, 512-459-4121. A $15 taxi ride from the hotel. Appetizer of Queso Asado (cooked white cheese with duck sausage, grilled peppers and onions.) Good, but really heavy and fattening. Main of Ancho Relleno San Miguel. Wow! Stuffed ancho pepper filled with ground chicken, capers, pine nuts, and raisins, in a cilantro cream sauce. I was stuffed after all that food. Expensive but worth it.
Off to Stubb’s BBQ (801 Red River Rd., 512-480-8341) to see The Cramps. Wow. Havent seen them since the mid ‘80’s. They haven’t changed a bit.
Tuesday April 22, 2003
Yet another hotel breakfast.
Walked around “funky” shops on South Congress. Mostly chatchki shops. Drizzling.
Lunch at Threadgill’s. Chicken fried steak. Oddly prepared. Good batter, meat tough and tasteless.
Off to the airport…
Austin is cool and fun, but not much of a destination. Looks like a good place to live. Frommer’s for Austin is not very good. Next time try Fodor’s instead. Hyatt is just OK. Everyone tells me to go to the Austin Motel instead. Next time either the Austin Motel or splurge on the Driskill.