Particularly in my new favorite city of Austin, where the locals (and the tourists) like to keep it #weird. You’re just as likely to head to 6th Street for brunch as you are to load up on 5 zillion flavors of hot sauce or stand in line for hours at the perennial favorite, Franklin’s BBQ (an absolute must while you’re here—both for the line AND the food!). And you’ll do this all before 10 AM. Go to Austin for a few days and your diet will be all BBQ, all Mexican (or if you want to be all touristy, all Tex-Mex), all the time. You’ll thank me for it later.
First stop -Torchy’s Tacos.
Just like their slogan claims, these tacos—and the house-made guacamole—are “Damn Good.” From its beginnings as a taco truck (a recurring theme here in Austin) to being sold in over 30 sit-down eateries in three states (but mainly Texas), Torchy’s Tacos isn’t a question of “if you go,” but “how often.” Their massive menu has fun order names like “The Democrat,” “The Republican” or “The Independent” (forget your political party for once, enjoy the flavors of all three!). Or try a “Dirty Sanchez,” a “Trailer Park,” or a “Fried Avocado” (filled with, you guessed it, Fried Avocados). My personal favorite—not including the incredibly yummy guacamole—was the “Mr. Orange,” a taco filled with salmon, corn, black beans and cheese and which they made specially per my request (no butter!) Dee-licious!!!! Prices are super affordable, a salmon taco was less than $5 (for a girl who lives in Beverly Hills, this is amazing), the food is filling and there aren’t even any trans fats in the foods. Be sure to add some guac for the table and perhaps some Street Corn. Whatever you choose, make damn sure to finish off with that most important aperitif: an Instagram photo with the Damn Good wall. There’s a unique design in each location!
Can’t go to Austin without – Franklin’s BBQ
It’s practically a historical landmark here, and a rite of passage for Austin locals and visitors alike and yet it’s only been around for a few years. Franklin’s BBQ is considered the absolute best BBQ around by Austin locals who would know. The hours are wonky: 11am-whenever they sell, which is usually pretty early, around lunchtime. It’s a mad scene basically any random day of the week, but of course the weekends are likelier to be even crazier. Some might find this more fun, some might find this maddening because the wait is longer, either way the food will be just as good. People start waiting before 8am—even in the deep of winter when it’s cold. Because it’s Austin, City of Murals—of course people have left their own imprint where you wait. Then wind your way through the line after the doors open, and get some of the famous brisket. You won’t regret it!
Yummy Breakfast – 1886 Café & Bakery
For those looking for more traditional breakfast fare, check out the 1886 Café & Bakery in the historic Driskill Hotel. A local favorite located on the corner of Sixth and Brazos, the hotel was actually declared an official National Historic Landmark in 1969 when it was on the cusp of being torn down. The Heritage Society of Austin came to its rescue with funds and opened the eatery, which was originally located in the hotel’s billiards room. Ever since, despite trading hands and names, the homey atmosphere has been a part of 6th Street culture, cranking out perfectly crafted breakfast staples, like pancakes and omelettes with a Texan twist—order up the Texas-shaped waffles with pecan maple syrup.
Like everyone else in Austin, the staff are incredibly accommodating and lovely. I’m not a big fan of traditional melon and honeydew that you receive as part of a fruit salad—just look at all the berries they brought me with my Lady Bird Omelette (a subtle nod to Lady Bird Johnson, former First Lady of the US and Texas). The café also serves up yummy food throughout the rest of the day.
Not Once, But Twice – County Line BBQ
Okay, I was here twice because this is where my brother and sister-in-law were hosting the engagement party and we pre-gamed it two days before to make sure everything was set… buuuuuuuttttttt it was so GOOD, you totally could do it twice!! After all, the venue was chosen for a reason and the food was a big part of that (plus, you know, any restaurant that’s been around over 40 years has to be doing something right)!! There are two County Lines in Austin (and a few others throughout the state plus New Mexico). We went to the one on the lake but I’m sure you’d be good either way! It’s a fun joint, with quirky décor that begs that you “eat here, diet at home.” So, uh, we did.
Heaps of BBQ, namely brisket, chicken, sausage and turkey—not to mention their famous bread—were placed on the table. I kept going back for more brisket and turkey, even as I asked for a side of vegetables, which were OMG delicious! The beans and cole slaw sides were also big hits. Don’t skip out on taking a look around too, there’s a Love Tester meter near the doors—clearly, I’d score big here—and a beautiful view over the lake as well as pitch-perfect cowboy wallpaper in the bathroom. What can I say, this Yankee girl got a kick out of it! You can even pick up a Cowboy Language CD, too cute! Be sure to bring your cowboy hat and mosey on over when in town. Or if you just can’t wait, you could even get the BBQ shipped straight to—log on to their website, the info is all there!Share the XOXO's with your BESTIES and FRENEMIES