So you’ve decided to travel to Austin for the 2018 American Meteorological Society Annual Meeting. Let me be the first to tell you that you’ve made an excellent decision, as Austin is arguably the greatest city in Texas and thereby arguably the greatest city in the world. Nestled along the banks of the Colorado River flowing through the heart of the Texas Hill Country, Austin’s vibrant and funky culture is complimented by its scenic backdrop.
With an entire week to explore the Lone Star Capital, you’ll for sure not want to miss- wait, what’s that you say? You’re spending the majority of the week indoors at the convention center? Oh, well in that case we’re not endorsing you playing hookie during the sessions you don’t care about. At some point however, you are going to need to venture out into the city for food. Listed below are recommendations for Austin’s finest cuisine along with beverage and activity suggestions you can hopefully tackle while you’re at it. The Yelp reviews are linked to each venue in case you don’t trust the opinions of a sorta-familiar-with-Austin-because-my-family-lives-an-hour-away guy like myself. If you’re experienced with Austin, feel free to chime in with your own recommendations in the comments!
Don’t be the person caught on camera nodding off during the talks. Get your caffeine fix at any of these great locations just blocks away from the convention center.
Wright Bro’s Brew & Brew (500 San Marcos St #105, Austin, TX 78702) – Get your AM coffee and PM beer here!
My Name is Joe Coffee Co. (503 Colorado St, Austin, TX 78701) – Does it get anymore hipster than ordering salmon toast with your coffee from a truck?
Houndstooth Coffee (401 Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78701) – Small but superb coffee and pastry selection and a large interior with free Wi-Fi. Come here to hide from your colleagues while you wrap up that presentation you waited until the last minute to complete.
Caffe Medici (200 Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78701) – Also a large establishment with free Wi-Fi and supposedly less crowds than Houndstooth.
Need a little more substance in your mornings than just coffee? Look no further than the breakfast taco, the most important taco of the day. Although Austin’s claim as the “Home of the Breakfast Taco” is heavily disputed by its neighbors down south in San Antonio, one cannot deny the plethora of excellent eggy tortilla treats here. Grab a breakfast taco even if it’s not breakfast at one of these great places! Also grab some regular tacos while you’re at it!
Torchy’s Tacos (1311 S 1st St, Austin, TX 78704) – Torchy’s has locations seemingly everywhere in Texas these days, and for good reason. For a true Austin experience, walk across the river to their original trailer location on South 1st street. Order some of the best queso around to go with your tacos, or better yet, on your tacos (“Trashy style”), and don’t forget to check out their secret menu.
Juan in a Million (2300 E Cesar Chavez St, Austin, TX 7870) – If you can walk an entire mile hungover, it’ll be cured instantly when you consume Juan in a Million’s giant and delicious Don Juan breakfast taco.
Tacos Guerrero (96 N Pleasant Valley Rd, Austin, TX 78702) A little further down Cesar Chavez, you can find the trifecta of cheap, delicious, and authentic breakfast tacos from Yolanda Guerrero’s trailer. She’ll recommend you order the chorizo, but for only $2 a taco, you can try a full variety of meats in her made-from-scratch tortillas.
Veracruz All Natural (1704 E Cesar Chavez St, Austin, TX 78702) – Guess what, it’s another food truck along Cesar Chavez (along with 2 other trailer locations). If you find yourself making a full breakfast taco tour out of Austin, stop by Veracruz for their migas style tacos.
The other and more well known staple of Texas cuisine is our barbecue, which coincidentally, is the best damn barbecue in the world. Carolina Pork is delicious, Memphis ribs are incredible, KC sauces are delightful enough to mask their poorly cooked meat, and Georgia is…well…I guess they have good sides. Point is, as wonderful as these regional delicacies are, none can match up with Texas brisket, the undisputed king of barbecue.
[WAVES TEXAS FLAG AND SHOOTS SHOTGUN]
Anyway, now that I got that out of my system, here in Austin you’ll find plenty of locations to feast on our famous brisket along with plenty of other delectable smoked meats.
Franklin Barbecue – Pitmaster Aaron Franklin has consistently produced brisket worthy of earning his restaurant the title of best barbecue joint in the world. Adjacent to the Motel 6 parking lot, you WILL need to wait in line for the top-rated smoked meat on our planet. Possibly for a couple hours. It’s well worth it, but since time is of the essence, you can always pre-order takeout.
Cooper’s Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que (217 Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78701) – Excellent brisket and pork ribs. Possibly more famous than Franklin since it’s been around much longer. The address listed is their new location just 2 blocks from the convention center. The yelp page linked is for the original in Llano, TX, a 90-minute drive through the breathtaking Texas Hill Country. If you’re around for the weekend, we recommend the latter spot after a great day of hiking nearby Enchanted Rock.
La Barbecue (2027 E Cesar Chavez St, Austin, TX 78702) – Also within walking distance of the convention center, this top-rated BBQ joint comes in the form of a food truck providing the ultimate Austin experience.
Freedmen’s BBQ (2402 San Gabriel St, Austin, TX 78705) – Located in the West Campus neighborhood, about a 10 minute drive north of the convention center, come to Freedmen’s for some great all around barbecue, sides, and cocktails!
Kreuz Market (619 N Colorado St, Lockhart, TX 78644) – Take a 30 minute drive into the rolling prairie land of Central Texas until you get to the famous barn with long picnic tables where the post oak smoked sausage might taste even better than the brisket.
Bars & Restaurants
You just sat through another 8 hours of lectures and poster presentations, or perhaps went through the stress of presenting one yourself, and now it’s time to reward yourself with alcohol. Be sure to stop by these watering holes for some quality #DrinkingWithMets. More likely than not, there will be live music wherever and whenever you choose to drop by.
6th Street – Yes, it’s touristy, but it’s also iconic, only a couple blocks from the convention center, and gets pretty damn lit on weekends. My personal favorite spots are the rooftops of Maggie Mae’s and The Blind Pig which offer excellent views of downtown Austin.
Rainey Street – So you’ve been to Austin more than once, and you’ve graduated from 6th Street. Congrats. You can find this more hip and locally preferred strip of bars just 2 blocks south of the convention center. These laid back and funky establishments are mostly converted from old houses, but there are some noteworthy exceptions such as bar made entirely out of ship containers.
El Arroyo (1624 W 5th St, Austin, TX 78703) – This iconic Texas venue west of downtown is perfect for happy hour margs and Tex-Mex. The jokes on their sign out front are a guaranteed chuckle.
Broken Spoke (3201 S Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78704) – Austin isn’t known for being the stereotypical Texas, but you can find a great traditional honky-tonk just south of Downtown. Grab a partner and come on over for some 2-steppin’ and REAL country music! Not that Nashville bro-country crap.
The Oasis on Lake Travis (6550 Comanche Trail, Austin, TX 78732) – Their food is nothing to write home about, but the view here is second to none. Drive out west to Lake Travis if you get the chance and see one of the most breathtaking sunsets the Texas Hill Country has to offer.
Sights & Activities
Unfortunately, the best activities around Austin usually involve water and are better utilized during the summer, but there’s still plenty of great exploring that you can do here without getting wet.
State Capitol Building – IT’S BIGGER THAN THE US CAPITOL BECAUSE TEXAS
UT Campus – The 40 Acres of beautiful campus just north of the Capitol building make for a great stroll. Be sure to check out DKR Memorial Stadium, known for its peace and quiet on fall Saturdays.
Graffiti Park – Take a walk through the intricate graffiti murals on display in Castle Hill’s HOPE Outdoor Gallery.
Zilker Park – The abundant parkland across the river, which includes a botanical garden and the famous Barton Springs pool is a great location to picnic, exercise, and take in incredible views of Downtown Austin.
Mt. Bonnell – A short hike on the west side of the city takes you up to one of the high points in Austin overlooking the many twists of the Colorado River, the surrounding Texas Hill Country, and the downtown skyline off in the distance.
Barton Creek Greenbelt – The 3-mile stretch of trail hiding the surrounding urban area takes you by a plethora of swimming holes including the relaxing Sculpture Falls.
Hamilton Pool – Texas’ most iconic swimming hole is still worth the visit even if it’s too cold to get in the water. A 30 minute drive west to Dripping Springs, TX followed by a short hike takes you to the remote spring-fed water fall pouring into the hollowed out pool below.
Hopefully these suggestions help you have a great time in Austin! What did we miss? Don’t forget to comment your favorite Austin spots below!