Howdy, Y’ALL! 🤠 I have finally taken my travels west of the Mississippi to TEXAS! I will admit I have been to Vegas, but that is a whole other world of its own LOL. I have been wanting to travel to Austin for a number of years now and had hoped to travel there in 2020, but we all know what happened in 2020….Fast forward to 2022 and my friend Emilee and I said, we are doing it. We liked the idea of going over Cinco De Mayo because of the overwhelming theme of Tex Mex and tacos in Austin. We booked our trip Wednesday-Sunday to stay at the Sheraton Austin Hotel at the Capitol. This was the perfect location because we were walking distance from downtown and a quick ride to South Congress and East Austin.
For this trip, we had a very lengthy itinerary, however we did not stick to it AT ALL. Instead, due to weather and the many suggestions we had received from locals, we used the itinerary as an idea guide! We visited SO many places while we were in Austin and so instead of recapping my trip via timeline, I am going to list out where we visited by category! Hopefully you will use this as a guide like my friend and I did!
Olamaie, what can I say….how about best southern meal of my life?! This restaurant wasn’t on any of the blog posts or guides I looked at prior to visiting Austin, TX. When I arrived and met up with a foodie friend for drinks, her friend could not stop RAVING about Olamaie. He said this was an absolute must-visit. Thankfully we were able to squeeze in a weekend reservation since there were only 2 of us. For the atmosphere, think Bed & Breakfast. This restaurant is off the beaten path and looks like a residential home from the outside. When you step inside you feel almost a coastal, small town vibe. The way I suggest you dine at Olamaie is similar to a family-style dining experience, meaning you want to order several things and share so you can taste as much as possible. My friend and I started off with some cocktails. We asked the waitress to bring us something refreshing, but not too fruity, and with vodka at its base. They understood the assignment perfectly. After we took a look at the menu, we decided on the Beef Tartare and Hopi Blue Corn Hushpuppies for the first course.
As someone who never had Beer Tartare before, I can say that this dish greatly exceeded my expectations. The presentation preceded the flavors of this spectacular starter. The Hopi Blue Corn Hushpuppies were so unique and paired perfectly with the caramelized onion dip and roe. For entrees we split the Blackened Dayboat Fish and Braised Beef Cheeks. The flavor profiles in each of these dishes was INCREDIBLE. There wasn’t too much of one thing or not enough of another — everything was truly perfect. The beef cheeks literally melted in your mouth. Of course we also had to add on an order of Buttermilk Biscuits. THESE BISCUITS AND BUTTER ARE THE BEST BISCUITS I HAVE EVER HAD IN MY LIFE. You know they are legit when during COVID, Olamaie survived solely on selling orders of biscuits. I would come back to Austin for this meal alone.
A YELP TOP 100 RESTAURANT OF 2022. Bird Bird Biscuit is a quick service chicken sandwich eatery that happens to be ranked 5/100 on Yelp’s Top 100 US Restaurants! This was my first food stop after arriving in Austin. You can order ahead online or order at their kiosk on-site, but do be aware that there is no indoor seating. There is a small, covered outdoor patio if you decide you want to dine there. I went with the Firebird Sandwich which was a hot chicken sandwich with spiced chicken breast, garlic and dill aioli, thick cut spicy sweet pickles and cilantro on a handmade buttermilk biscuit. I know I just said that Olamaie had the best biscuits I’ve ever had, but these are a VERY CLOSE second. The juicy chicken with buttery, crispy breading on the (not too dense) biscuit was perfect! The Firebird combined the spiciness from the seasoning with the acidity from the pickles for the perfect flavors! The fries were a great addition as well. This is a must-stop, even if it’s just for a quick pick-up!
While I typically scoff at restaurant chains while traveling, Snooze was too enticing to pass up. With a few locations in the Austin area, Snooze was a convenient stop for us on the way to Barton Springs Pool. The only thing keeping us alive with the heat and hangovers was the “hair of the dog.” The Blood Orange Mimosa was exactly my jam. For a mimosa, this was a hefty beverage. Usually you get a little champagne glass full, but Snooze was not playing. My friend decided on a Bloody Mary, which was exactly what she needed to get after the day! For my meal, I went with one of the “Plant Power” meals. It is meals like this that make me think….hmmm maybe I could be a vegetarian? With the Texas heat, this meal filled me up without making me feel bloated. This dish was made up of two smashed and griddled sweet potatoes dressed with pickled onions and asparagus, red onion, and mushroom salad. The thing that sold me on this pick was that it was topped with avocado, a poached cage-free egg, hemp seeds, and a drizzle of house-made Snooze sriracha maple syrup. I mean C’MON!
One of my favorite parts about visiting Austin was bee-bopping around the Downtown area. I always love seeing the main strip of each city and where the heart of the culture lies. While walking around and sightseeing, we didn’t want to spend too much time on lunch. ENTER VELVET TACO. I know I know, another chain, but HEAR ME OUT. This queso was unbeatable. For tacos, my friend and I ordered an array of tacos which were tasty and got the job done. Sadly, they did not have the margarita machine running when we visited. Definitely great for a quick bite downtown!
If it wasn’t obvious by my review of Velvet Taco, I’m a big queso gal! Fresa’s was no exception to the queso kingdom that was Austin, Texas. My friend and I started off with an order of queso (obvi) and some margaritas! I went with the classic marg and my friend decided to try the frozen avocado marg. An odd flavor to think about when considering a margarita for sure, but my friend said the avocado flavor was so fun and helped the margarita from being too sweet or too sour. The ambiance of the outdoor seating was such a VIBE. Mist fell upon us in the 100 degree weather which was such a move on Fresa’s part. The trees also allowed for a nice shaded oasis feel. For my meal I went with 2 tacos (since I had already loaded up on queso 😅). The El Rey was slow-cooked beef brisket, cabbage, pickled jalapeño, chipotle mayo, and fire-roasted red salsa. The La Fresa had pulled achiote chicken, guacamole, cabbage, grilled onion, cotija cheese, and cilantro. They say Austin is a taco city and Fresa’s is a true testament to that. The outdoor vibes here are pristine.
COCONUT CLUB, SAY LESS. This was my absolute favorite bar I went to while visiting Austin. Thankfully my friend Tori (@endlessbrunch) brought me along to this AMAZING rooftop bar with lively dancing and a killer DJ! Sadly, the Coconut Club’s days are potentially limited as it may soon be marked for demolition. SO, this is your sign to go to Austin and visit Coconut Club ASAP. This bar offered the best views of the city’s buildings and awesome lights in sync with the DJs tunes. The photo ops were pristine and the ranch waters were even better.
Outer Heaven Disco Club is a classic dive vibe. This club boasts NO BS when it comes to the yuppies (their website speaks for itself). Luckily I was taken here by my friend who is a local and knew the vibes are great even though this bar may seem off the beaten path to tourists. They had karaoke going on the night I was there, but what really captured our attention was the adult-themed claw machine LOL. This bar was great for loading up on ranch waters and chatting without the music being too loud!
Barbarella’s is definitely an end of the night, college bar vibe. The one side of this bar has a circle shaped bar with stools around it if you don’t feel like dancing. There are cool neon type lights in this half of the bar. The other side of Barbarella has a dance floor and a small stage and DJ area. You can stand along the wall on the stage and dance or just down on the dance floor. The vibes are very “Mr. Brightside” if you know what I mean. This bar is perfect for belting out popular tunes and dropping it low even on a Thursday. The sign pictured is on the way to the bathroom, so be sure to snag a pic when your squad heads that way.
Hungover we may have been, but Punchbowl Social still lifted our spirits. If you’ve traveled around the US, you may have seen a Punchbowl Social before. These bar’s are great for grabbing food, drinks, and playing games. Inside Punchbowl Social in Austin you’ll find a dining area as well as a cool central bar with a game area surrounding it. Cornhole, ring toss, ping pong, giant Connect Four, and other games can be found in this area! There is another floor as well with an arcade and bowling, but it wasn’t open during the day.
Rainey Street Bars
The Parlor Room was one of the first bars my friend and I went to on Rainey Street. The thing that drew us to this bar was the grassy back patio area with a DJ and benches to chill. They have that fun brewery game with the ring that you swing on a rope to loop on the hook, so that was all I needed to be entertained for the next 20 minutes. They even have two side by side so you and a friend can compete to see who can do it faster! The mural on the wall next to the ring games is also super cool and great for photo ops. Other games at the outside tables at Parlor Room are jumbo Jenga and Connect Four. This was a great place to enjoy the warm Texas evening and chill to get a buzz on before heading down the rest of Rainey Street.
Unbarlievable is the bar that EVERYONE I talked to said is their favorite bar on Rainey Street. This bar was packed full of people and had a line for the majority of the night. Unbarlievable is where I experienced my very first bar slide. That’s right, a slide inside a bar from one floor to another. The slide, along with the several indoor and outdoor bars PLUS a giant giraffe statue, makes Unbarlievable a must-visit bar in Austin. Be warned there are two locations. This one is on Rainey Street.
P6 is a very boho modern rooftop bar right on the water in Austin. Technically, P6 isn’t on Rainey, but it is a short walk or scooter ride to Rainey (we walked). This is one of the 3 bars/restaurants found within the Line Hotel. You are going to want to make reservations here because the seating is limited. The space is so beautiful with a great view, so on weekends you might not even get in without a reservation. We went here because it has a great vantage point for the “bat flight” from the South Congress Bridge. One thing we found out after we arrived in Austin was that the bats don’t fly out every night, TRULY SHOCKING BUT IMPORTANT INFO!!!! The bartender at P6 told us that he hadn’t seen the bats in over 2 weeks HAHA. This is why I would recommend P6 for the “bat flight” because even if the bats don’t fly that night, you’ll have some cocktails to sip on while you watch the sunset! I went with the Wild Side Cocktail which has a base liquor of sotol. I had never heard of sotol before, so the way the bartender described it to me was it is the “earthy tequila cousin to the smokey mezcal” which was spot on!
In all honesty, this was the last bar on our Rainey Street night adventure so I don’t have too many specific details to share other than the rooftop had great views and the ranch water ~likely~ hit the spot 😂 This wall was super cute though, so shoutout to whoever took me and my friend’s photo. The reason this was on our list was because of the super cool scientific-style cocktail creations, so hopefully if you visit, you’ll get to experience these sexy and chic craft drinks.
The perfect tropical and earthy bar on Rainey. Cantina 512 has a sense of swankiness to it. I’m not sure it’s from the colorful lights, loft area, or the draping greenery around the bar. The time my friend and I spent in this bar was spent mostly on the front patio on the porch swings. We started chatting with the ladies across from us and enjoyed just swinging and cooling down from the heat with the breeze as we swung back and forth.
6th Street Bars
BLIND PIG ROCKS. This rooftop is filled with live music, TVs with sporting events, games, and great vibes! This was by far my favorite bar on 6th Street. When I visited, the band that was performing was called Blevins, and they ROCKED. They played some classics like Sex On Fire and some original songs as well. You can follow them on Insta and Spotify to see where they will be performing next in Austin. As far as the actual space, Blind Pig has ample space for listening to the live music or watching sports. The games they have are arcade style and include skeeball and basketball shooting games. If the rooftop isn’t your vibe, there are 2 other bars within Blind Pig that you can enjoy a drink at! One of my favorite touches at Blind Pig is on the top floor they have photos hung for every celebrity that is from Austin like Matthew McConaughey!
Pete’s Piano Bar is the perfect starting point for your night on 6th Street. This dueling piano bar is a hoot! You’ll order your drink at the first floor bar and either head to one of the tables, the gallery seating against the left side wall, or upstairs to the balcony area that overlooks the stage. Pete’s is a spot you’ll find a lot of bachelorette parties. Like a typical dueling piano bar, you can request songs with more money to get yours bumped to the top of the playlist. When I was there, someone requested WAP and it was HILARIOUS.
As the name suggests, Aquarium on 6th is a two-level bar with aquariums lining the wall behind the downstairs bar. Their specialty drink is a fishbowl with fun bendy straws, and seriously everyone will have one of these in their hands. It’s your typical fruity drink made like a Long Island – filled with a bunch of different liquor 🤣 This is the second bar I visited in Austin that had a slide leading from the second floor down to the first, so I guess that’s a thing in Texas LOL. The DJ here was my favorite DJ we heard the whole time we were in Austin! He played a lot of EDM and rap remixes.
Ok CUTE QUEENS! On Wednesday and every other day in Austin we wear PINK. Revival Coffee was one of my favorite stops in all of Austin. We went here on a morning I worked remotely, so I needed a comfortable environment with reliable wifi. Revival met the qualifications while also possibly being the cutest coffee shop EVER??? Revival is Latina-owned by Gabriela, a local Austin personality, who owns not only Revival but Gabriela’s, a restaurant with locations in Downtown and South Austin. So basically this lady knows what she is doing #GIRLBOSS.
The inside area wasn’t the only cute space at Revival Coffee. The outdoor seating and parking lot area was covered in adorable, picturesque mural art. If you are planning on driving, they do have a back lot for parking. Let’s not forget about the real reason we were at Revival though, COFFEE! This shop has not only the aesthetics, but awesome drinks! I ordered the Horchata with a shot of espresso and it was AMAZING.
Hideout Coffee House is located on the main strip in downtown Austin. This quaint little coffee joint has indoor and outdoor seating so depending on the Texas heat, you can decide where you’d like to enjoy your coffee. My friend who has lived in Austin for 4 years recommended we meet up here, so it’s a spot the locals love, especially those into the theatre scene! This coffee shop is attached to the Hideout Theatre, a popular improv theatre in downtown Austin. This coffee shop naturally has a very artistic vibe paralleling their theatre, and offers not only coffee, but beer, wine, fresh sandwiches, pastries, and ice cream! Want to grab a beverage or a bite before a show? Feel free to grab something at the coffee shop and bring it up to the theatre if you aren’t finished by showtime!
Picnik Coffee was something that we stumbled upon after finishing our breakfast at Snooze’s location on South Lamar. This storage pod has been transformed into the cutest little coffee stop with some outdoor seating via PICNIK tables 😉 I had never been to a Picnik Coffee before, so I needed to be given the rundown. I originally asked for a decaf coffee, but after I talked with the barista, I changed my mind. The reason I didn’t want the caffeinated coffee was because I didn’t want the caffeine hangover LOL. I was told by the barista that their coffee is actually certified organic butter coffee so it gives a much smoother, stabilizing energy with no drop off that gives you that hangover feeling. Butter Coffee sounds weird, but trust me, it tastes just as delicious as normal coffee and you don’t feel like a zombie when it starts to wear off. The way Picnik creates their beverages offers so many benefits including metabolism boost, immune support, cognitive boost, and more! I ordered the iced vanilla latte and it was a phenomenal way to cap off my breakfast before heading to Barton Springs!
Gourmet desserts here we come! Who doesn’t love dessert, especially when it is this beautiful??! Hayley Cakes & Cookies can be found on South Lamar in the plaza with Snooze Eatery and Picnik Coffee! The cookies are thick and fluffy with GORGEOUS royal icing designs on them. They have cookies that are staples like the signature ‘hello gorgeous’ cookie and then adorable seasonal cookies like the Mother’s Day themed ones below! I picked up a couple for my mom since I arrived home on Mother’s Day. Other than the beautifully decorated cookies, they have custom traditional cakes, cookie cakes, cupcakes, classic sweets, and even GLUTEN FREE options! Hayley Cakes & Cookies also has a retail space for little crafts and gifts that is definitely worth checking out if you’re looking for a fun and unique gift! They pair perfectly with all of Hayley’s sweets.
Attractions/Other Things To Do
1. Kendra Scott Flagship Store Mural
Self explanatory, the Kendra Scott Flagship Store Mural is at the first ever Kendra Scott Store located in Austin, Texas. I never knew the iconic Kendra Scott originated in Austin, yet here we are! Located in the South Congress neighborhood along the main strip, this store’s mural is a great photo op while exploring this area. Inside of the Kendra Scott store you will find gorgeous jewelry selections as well as a color bar and cafe!
2. Greetings From Austin Mural
A classic picture for anyone visiting Austin, TX! This mural, like the Kendra Scott Flagship mural can be found in the South Congress neighborhood. About a 10-15 minute walk from the Kendra Scott mural, you can hit both of these murals in the same afternoon or evening. You’ll find this one on the side of a super cool store, Roadhouse Relics, which sells neon sign art created by Todd Sanders. Fun Fact: Sanders was the person who painted the Greetings From Austin mural! This mural has been around over 2 decades.
If you’ve looked up “fun things to do in Austin” you’ve likely come across Barton Springs Pool. This spring fed “pool” is a great spot to beat the heat in the Austin summers. For a low admission fee, you gain access to this blue water oasis with unbeatable views of Downtown Austin. There is a diving board for those that are adventurous enough to get in line, but if you don’t want to take on the task yourself, it is really entertaining to watch LOL. Pro Tip: bring a blow up floaty! There is a designated floaty area and that was the place I dreamed of being during our visit. Sadly, I didn’t think ahead. Hangout in the grass areas with your towels to catch some rays between swimming in the springs!
Shopping at local boutiques is arguably my favorite pastime while traveling. As a constant on-trend shopper I love seeking out the latest trends in each city. When I came across Maya Star on the strip in South Congress, I knew I had to stop in. While I didn’t have much time to shop around because closing was near, I did manage to score some STELLAR accessories. I picked out some fun red bubble sunglasses as well as a purple stone ring. The rest of the shop was so cute and I know I would’ve left with more if the timing would have permitted.
5. Capitol Building
This is a classic MUST for any state capital that you may find yourself in! While being a state capital might not seem like the most exciting thing, it is a fun an easy way to learn a little about the state’s history! I didn’t get to go inside of the Capitol Building to tour because there were so many activities on our list to accomplish (plus the high schoolers on a field trip flooded the area on Friday), but we did get to see several statues around the property. The grounds were beautifully kept and the historic architecture was second to none!
There were many other spots that we checked out that didn’t make this guide, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t worthwhile! Austin was an awesome city and I would recommend a visit for everyone, just not between May-September. It was 100+ degrees the majority of the time we were there and it was BRUTAL. Then again, I am a Pittsburgh girl who is used to those 75 degree summers 🤪