3 Days in Austin: BBQ, Antiques, Sun and Run

Last weekend my fiance and I made a trip to visit friends in Austin; it was my first time, and though I’ve been to Texas before (Dallas) and grew up in a similar small-but-big, liberal artsy town (Tucson) I fell in love. We stayed at Hotel San Jose off of South Congress — a young area just off of downtown Austin where you can’t walk a block without hearing another blues, country or rock band tunes drifting from one of the many restaurants and shops. It was effortlessly chic (fat champagne cocktails by a pint-sized pool), minimalist and modern hotel (black and white color theme), with an indie feel (decorated only with posters of many, many local music shows that have gone down in the area over the past 10 years). We were happy to pass a few good hours at the pool, book in one hand and cocktail in the other (insert cliche cowboy hat):

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It being Austin — where everyone is fit (how else could they eat so well and stay so thin?!) and it’s 70F+ pretty much year-round — each of the three mornings we were there we took a run around the Ann and Roy Barton Hike & Bike Trail — a 10-mile path along the Colorado River. When we got back we grabbed a coffee at Jo Coffee, a spot adjoining our hotel where the line always seems to be around the block, also the home of this famous Austin wall art:

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(Don’t ask, it’s a French thing.)

The first day we grabbed brunch at Juan in a Million — a hole-in-the-wall spot that reminded me of the best Mexican restaurants in Tucson, where the salsa is hot and the entrees are cheap. They’re known for their breakfast tacos — an Austin specialty — we ordered migas (eggs scrambled with tortilla chips, onions and tomatoes) and nopalitos (prickly pear) — smothered in cheese and SO GOOD.

 

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Afterwards we dropped the boys off downtown and went shopping on South Congress. We didn’t have a ton of luck with clothes, but we DID get lots of sugary treats at Big Top Candy Shop — like these gummy mustaches:

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And bacon bits (OK so we weren’t quite brave enough to buy):

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We also dropped into Allen’s Boots Store — where the only thing bigger than the price tags (the most simple pair of boots STARTED at $200 — and went up to $2000 if they were blinged out with crystals) were the rings the women wore (my there were some BIG-A$$ diamonds on some of those ladies!):

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We also made a quick stop at Uncommon Objects — a kitsch antiques store where I heard a native guy about my age twang “I can see his ding-a-ling!” to his girlfriend about a Greek-style plaster statue, where taxidermy is king and gems like these are abundantly for sale:

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The next day after a late brunch we spent the afternoon lazing on the grass, once tempting to jump into the 60F-water at Barton Springs — a pool filled with natural spring water from the Edwards Aquifer. All in preparation for the main event of our trip: Dinner at Salt Lick BBQ. Our friend’s boyfriend drove us half an hour through the picturesque hill country just outside of Austin, a vast green rolling space dotted with ranches. When we arrived, we sat down at a table outside to open a bottle of wine and listen to some live music:

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As we were sipping, I noticed — no, felt — a camera pointed at me, and it wasn’t a friend’s. It was our table mate’s — what we soon found out were a group of businessmen and women who were making a tour of several business sites throughout the U.S. Now normally I would be totally creeped out by someone sneaking a shot of me. But the man who was snapping them turned out to be a sweet guy who apparently had never seen an in-the-flesh blonde girl before (my parents told me this same thing used to happen when I was a toe-headed girl living with them in Hawaii at age 4). I’m not going to think too much about what happens to these pictures now, but I did snap my own shot with the dude:

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We were soon beeped in to eat our dinners — and it was well worth the wait. Gleaming stacks of fatty ribs, sausages and brisket smoking over an open pit:

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We ate our faces off. And, our trip was complete:

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