Tuesday, March 30, 2010

top 25 things i love about austin

in her excitement to come home for easter break, my friend laurie just posted a link to this msnbc list of their top 25 favorite things about austin. and while i always love seeing austin in the news, i'm not particularly wild about a lot of the things on that list so i decided to try to make my own. these aren't ranked in any sort of order:

1. stubb's as a music venue
i cannot count how many shows i've seen at stubb's, even in the brutally hot summer months. i love it so very much. there are plenty of bars and porta potties so that there is rarely a line for either. i loathe waiting in lines. i specified this as stubb's as a music venue because i've never actually eaten there. is that weird?

2. moon towers
surely you've seen dazed and confused so you know what a moon tower is. it's just one of the many things located in austin that makes me stop and gaze, for no real reason.

3. breakfast tacos
this needs very little explanation; bacon, eggs, cheese, and potatoes inside a yummy flour tortilla. the new york times really nailed one of my favorite things about breakfast tacos and that is that you can eat them at pretty much anytime of day. of course, the combinations of ingredients is practically endless and what i listed is just my personal favorite way to enjoy a breakfast taco. 

4. monkey see monkey do
monkey see monkey do is a small shop on south congress. they sell a lot of archie mcphee stuff but also a whole lot of other junk that fascinates me to no end. seriously, every time i go in there i make no less than 6 laps around the store!

5. the cathedral of junk
unfortunately, the cathedral of junk is in serious danger of being shut down which is a major bummer because it is a great place to go on a nice day. you can explore practically endlessly there, it's awesome. i hope it sticks around!

6. sxsw
duh. it's my favorite time of the entire year and one of the best things about living in austin. i can see how it could be quite problematic for austin residents who don't attend it because it brings in sooooooooooo many tourists, causes several road closures, and generally disrupts the entire city for 2 weeks. if you embrace it, though, it's pretty fucking fabulous.

7. the alamo drafthouse
i go see movies at other theaters every now and then, and every time i wish i was at the drafthouse. chips and queso, pizza, and cheesecake trump popcorn and soggy nachos every single time. plus, they show a lot of the "art house" movies that most other theaters in austin don't. 

8. vivo 
my favorite place to get margaritas! i'm pretty sure that i've been there with nearly every single out of towner that i know. the food isn't anything spectacular, and i've actually heard people complain that it's rather bland for mexican food but since i'm so super sensitive to anything spicy, i obviously don't mind the blandness. and honestly, the margaritas absolutely cannot be beat. my favorite is a swirl of mango and strawberry. yum! 

9. barton springs pool
even though i'm too big of a wuss to swim in barton springs most of the time, i still love it. laying on a blanket on the hill with a good book is one of the best ways to spend a spring day. 

10. spider house
though the service at spider house typically leaves a lot to be desired, it's still a fun place. it has a lot of personality and there are some incredible people watching opportunities to be had. any place that serves coffee and cocktails is pretty great in my book!

11. emo's
okay, emo's is kind of disgusting. actually, it's really disgusting but it holds a very special place in my heart. one of the first concerts i went to was at emo's. the fact that it's all ages was pivotal in my development as a music fan. and as a someone of legal drinking age now, the fact that they serve sparkleberries is crucial for my tolerance how fucking gross every surface of that place is. 

12. the paramount theatre
i've seen concerts, plays, and movies at the paramount and they've all been great. the acoustics in that place are phenomenal. two of the best concerts i've seen in my entire life were at the paramount. and i simply adore their summer film series

13. eeyore's birthday
even though i'm not much for costumes when it's not halloween (actually, i barely like them when it is halloween), i enjoy eeyore's birthday quite a bit. like some of my favorite austin places and events, the people watching is unreal! i mean, you can't buy that type of entertainment. it's definitely something everyone should see at least once.

14. the parish
as far as indoor venues go, the parish is probably the top of my list. the sound is possibly the best in town and they serve sonic ice in their cocktails. what's not to love?

15. sunday brunch at nomad
unless this is your first visit to my blog, there's no way you haven't heard me talk about how much i love this brunch catered by the traveling bistro. nomad is just a quiet neighborhood bar with a great patio and $10 bottomless mimosas. add the fine cuisine and you've got the best recipe for the start of sunday funday. 

16. loop 360
even though traffic tends to be heinous during the week, 360 makes for a pretty beautiful sunday drive!

17. side bar
i've been going to side bar since i turned 21 (6 years ago) and they just recently got a 2nd toilet for the women's restroom. somehow the serious lack of toilet never kept me from going there. last summer they were serving tito's infused with strawberry skittles and it was one of the yummiest drinks i've ever had in my life. it literally tasted exactly like eating a handful of red skittles. delish!

18. car stereo (wars) at beauty bar spring-fall 2008
i know that's kind of ridiculously specific but whatever, this my list after all and it's not like i'm writing it for the travel bureau or something. in general, i'm not a huge fan of beauty bar but for those few months in 2008, every time we went to see car stereo (wars) there we literally had the time of our lives. i'm sure it would still be fun in present time but so much has changed. i know it will never be quite the same for me.

19. austin city limits
so even though i've lived here my entire life, i've never been to a taping of austin city limits. can you beeeelieve that shit? i love watching it on tv though and i love the history that it has, even if i've never seen it in person.

20. taqueria arandas
it's a tradition in my family to dine at arandas for nearly every birthday we celebrate. i'm not sure how that started but it's something we've done for about a million years. i remember when my sister moved to michigan for college that each time she came home we had to eat at arandas. i pretty much always get the chicken fajita combination plate and it has only failed me a couple of times out of the 50 times i've eaten there.

21. taco cabana
say what you will about fast mexican food but taco cabana is pretty freakin' fantastic. when i was a kid there was a taco cabana right down the road from my mom's office and anytime my sister or i went to work with her, we got to go there for bean and cheese tacos. i still eat those bean and cheese tacos to this day and will probably continue to for the rest of my life, or at least as long as i live in austin.

22. the austin chronicle
this isn't a place or an event but it's definitely something you should read (preferably in print, picked up for free from pretty much any business on thursday morings) to tell you about places and events. the austin chronicle is a source for all sorts of news and stories about local goings on. the chronicle also provided all sorts of entrainment in the form of personal ads and shots in the dark (missed connections) before that stuff popped up on craigslist.

23. thundercloud subs
i am extremely picky when it comes to sandwiches, so much so that for years i just didn't go out for sandwiches because no one could do it right. then i decided to finally try thundercloud (a place my mom and sister had been crazy for for years) and i kind of fell in love. my favorite is the club, it's simple yet delicious.

24. trail of lights
even though the trail of lights has been scaled back from what it used to be due to financial problems, it's still a fun thing to do during the holidays. when i was in high school a huge group of my friends used to go every year. as we got older, our trips to the trail of lights stopped being so frequent but we definitely still go whenever we get a chance.

25. eating delicious queso and pancakes at 3:00 am
thanks to places like kerbey lane cafe and magnolia cafe, we can stop for chips and queso followed by pancakes on our way home from the bars. if you want my honest opinion, i prefer the queso at magnolia but the pancakes at kerbey.

man oh man, i could have gone on for days. some places that should have made this list but didn't: frank, curra's, hotel san jose, shangri'la, scoot innrudy's, and of course tito's. there are even more places/things i could highlight but i won't because i want to go to bed now. 


Sarah Osman said...

I couldn't agree more with your list. However, really Taco C made then list? Taco C? You can't put Taco C without Whataburger's Taquitos.. they are equal in goodness for fast food in Texas, in my opinion. :) But then again, this isn't my blog. lakjdf I've never been to Taqueria Arandas.. definitely going to have to check that out. :P

stefanie said...

well, dear sarah, i didn't say that i go to taco cabana for breakfast tacos buuuut since you went there, i'll tell you why taco c is superior to the whataburger taquito:

taco cabana uses fresh handmade tortillas and whataburger's tortillas are almost always crusty

when you order a potato taquito from whataburger, it's just a hashbrown stick shoved inside the taco

when you order cheese on your taquito it's a slice of american cheese cut in half and shoved inside the taco

you asked :)

Jenn said...

Last year was my first time to go to Eeyore's Birthday and OMG, it was SO much fun! That's not something that would typically be "my scene", but seriously, people watching, drinking beer and bouncing to the beat of eleventy billion drums at one time is an experience you can't explain to anyone. You have to live it first hand to truly appreciate how diverse this city is.

Also, I've got sad news for Ms. Osman...Whataburger's taquitos CAN NOT be in the same category as a breakfast taco from Taco C. They just can't. For starters, you can order breakfast tacos 57.3 times before Whataburger gets your one taquito out the drive-thru window. Also, the (debatable) basics of any good breakfast taco are eggs. Taco Cabana cooks their eggs to perfection (totally subjective) - they're cooked all the way. You will rarely find egg "juice" dripping from the end of your taco at Taco C. Whataburger, I have gagged every time I eat one because of the egg juice.

I just can't agree with Ms. Osman. I can't.