Bluesy Rock and Barbecue

I’m feeling like I’m in high school. I’ve got a crush, one that I’m not supposed to have. One that I never thought I would have, but once I dipped my pinkie toe in, I was head over heals.

All I can say is that Austin is sunny surprise of a city. Maybe it’s not all that surprising, really, since half the people I know seem to be having the same thoughts.

Maybe it’s because it’s Texas. And maybe because I tend to think things out well in advance and try to set a bit of a course for myself to follow. Well either way, spending a few days in Austin really changed my mind. I mean, it’s moved itself onto my shortlist of “places I could live if jobs didn’t matter.”

Before I start planning my next trip (wait, I lied, I’ve already been doing that), here’s why I love Austin…

1. Music. I don’t think I even need to go here. But really. We all know it’s the live music capitol, and that they have some badass music festivals. Since I was there on my birthday (December 30th, the always dreaded pre-NYE) I wasn’t expecting a huge variety of music options. My guess was partially right, many of the mainstays that I was hoping for had early shows and closed up shop early so that everyone could hydrate for the big night ahead. But I managed to find exactly what I wanted: a small, relaxed watering hole with some dirty, soulful blues pumping right through you.

I found Skinny’s Ballroom, really on a whim. About to give up for the night, after having no luck at many other places, we walked by on the way back to the hotel and were drawn in by the sensational blues pumping out of the cracked front door. We had some drinks, (and most of the place to ourselves) as my crush on the town got stronger.

2. The next obvious option is barbecue. And hey, it’s one of the few meaty meals that I think of from time to time. So the obvious goal was to find something I could eat. We settled on Lambert’s after seeing their smoked trout. Sold. And hot damn, it was so good, we came back on the way to the airport for a quick lunch. One of the best dining experiences I’ve had, hands down.

Lambert's Mac and Cheese

My second notable smoky food to write home about was Frank. Their Slogan “Hot Dogs, Cold Beer.” Need I say more? Oh, I guess I do, they have tons and tons of vegetarian options. (It’s been a month, I want it now!)

Frank Veggie Chili, Cheese Fries and Veggie Sausage

3. The outdoors. Like every 20-something city dweller, I long for green space and for some sort of life that’s not surrounded by concrete. Austin has that and then some. Lady Bird Johnson Lake is fabulous and a sight to be seen. You may have heard of the Austin bat colony, the largest bat colony in North America. I’m not usually a fan of rodents with wings, but there was something magical about watching the bats fly across the water as the sun begins to set. You feel like you are far from any big city, but then you look behind you and see the office buildings that could fit in any other big city.

The crunchiness of Portland or Denver, but warmer.

Lady Bird Lake Near Sunset

4. The open-mindedness of it all. Not expected in the middle of Texas… at all. I mean, I did go to the Capitol and see the concealed carry entrance, and of course saw Rick Perry’s face snickering down, but that aside, it’s an unexpected place. Gay bars next to beer bars, next to barbecue joints. The culture is incredibly laid back, accepting and somewhere that really grows on you.

5. I ate this.

Round Rock Doughnuts Texas Sized Doughnut

6. As I prepare my taxes, I would be amiss not to reference the cost of living. I could live in an apartment equivalent to what I have here, for about 1/3 of the price.

I’m crushing on Austin, is all I can say. And maybe it’s something that will come and go, but then again, hopefully it won’t. See you soon, sexy thang.

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