When I first arrived in Austin after a 13+ hour day of driving, I was so ready to get out of the car. Because Sabrina and I had a very tight budget for this trip I booked us, for a lack of better words, a cheap ass hotel room. Basically, this place was $70 a night and we were pretty scared that we weren’t going to make it through the night (I did not tell my parents this part, sorry Mom).
After checking in, we went to get a late dinner at a place called Azul Tequila. We were the only people in the restaurant, and as soon as we sat down I got a call from my mom telling me that my dad had been hospitalized, so it was not the best way to start our time in Austin. However, the Mexican food quickly turned that around.
We continued to joke that this was “Sab & Al’s Food Tour of America” but suddenly it became a reality. I can definitely say that in Austin Sabrina and I polished off the best fajitas of our entire lives, accompanied by a side of chips and guac that probably weighed more than us. Zero shame.
The next day we had a late start, but we got right out of bed and headed straight for tacos! Our resident Texan, Miss Maddie N suggested we try one of her favorite places, Torchy’s Tacos. Holy sh*t. I had the queso and a Democrat taco and was the happiest gal on this entire planet. I don’t remember exactly what Sabrina got, but it had the “Diablo sauce” and Sab nearly cried it was so spicy.
After that we walked up and down South Congress Street and popped our heads into all of the trendy shops. We saw some beautiful jewelry, cool screen printed shirts and tons of Texas memorabilia. We tried on insanely ornate cowboy boots that were worth more than we were, and stepped into what felt like time capsules in the super cool antique and vintage clothing stores. Much to Sabrina’s embarrassment, I tried on lots of fur coats.
Also on South Congress, we got a coffee at Jo’s which was exactly what we needed to keep our stamina up in the summer heat. We both got Turbo iced coffees which were better than anything I’ve ever had at Starbucks or Coffee Bean. On the side of Jo’s is also the I Love You So Much mural which I had seen all over Pinterest.
Once we left South Congress we drove through a few very unique Austin neighborhoods on our way to the Hope Outdoor Gallery. The gallery is a spot where local and tourist artists can leave their mark on Austin, and do so while admiring an awesome view of the skyline. We didn’t come prepared with spray paint but we quickly found an abandoned can which we used to contribute to the colorful walls.
Succumbing to the Texas heat, we headed towards the Barton Springs Pool hoping to find some cooler temperatures. We didn’t have our bathing suits with us but we wanted to stick our toes in the water and see what this natural swimming spot was all about. It was super busy with lots of families enjoying the Colorado River but we walked along the bank which was a nice break from being in the car. Whats crazy about Barton Springs is that while you feel surrounded by nature, you look up and you can see all the high rises of Downtown Austin, it was unlike anything I’d seen before.
Finally, we went to Rainey St. for some dinner. Much like 12 South in Nashville, most of the shops and restaurants on Rainey St. are in refurbished old southern homes. Because we both are only a few months away from being 21 (boooooooo) we couldn’t go to any of the really cool themed bars, but we did get to bop around the food trucks which all looked super yummy. We decided to eat dinner on the patio of a restaurant called G’raj Mahal which a local had told us was her favorite restaurant on Rainey.
To finish our day in Austin, we ended our adventures just as we had every other night, with ice cream. I think I deserve some sort of award for eating ice cream in every US state that I visit. Anyway, we went to Lick Honest Ice Cream and I had the carrot cake flavor. It was literally carrot cake infused in vanilla ice cream, so so so good. From there we headed back to our slightly dangerous hotel and headed to bed, ready to make the push to Tucson and then finally home!