during our trip through texas last month, we were surprised at the
great food and fun, unexpected stops along the way. we flew into austin
and spent a few days, then drove down through san antonio on our
way to see some friends in houston. we stopped for some amazing
texas-style barbecue along the way, played only country music,
and had a real good time slowing down deep in the heart of texas.
we tried a few favorites along the way, so here’s one little guide to the
cities we visited! clearly there is a lot more to this state, but here
is a little taste of what we loved. see our previous visit to dallas here,
and texas peeps :: please add any other favorites to this in comments!
- gourdough’s food truck for huge, thick, amazing, donuts. don’t get too fancy here :: just go for a simple one like the naughty + nice (cinnamon sugar doughnut drizzled with homemade honey butter)
- torchy’s tacos, the classic taco truck that everyone will tell you to visit. the tacos are good, but main tip:: get queso! best ever. there are other locations but it started in austin!
- the salt lick is the famed bar-b-q that you’ll hear about from everyone. it’s a bit outside of austin in dripping springs, but it’s worth it for a true texas experience. if you get desperate though, they also have a location at the austin airport!
- definitely get amazing breakfast tacos somewhere in austin like taco shack, taco cabana, or kerbey lane…also loved for its blueberry pancakes!
- holy cacao truck is next to torchy’s and perfect for their famous frozen hot chocolate!
- burro cheese company food truck is the spot for gourmet grilled cheese + live music on south congress.
- patrizis food truck is one that we passed with such a cute outdoor setting and homemade, authentic italian food.
- contigo for the best burger, patio dining, and fried green beans!
- franklin barbecue is another well-known spot for brisket and more!
- home slice pizza is a lively, classic joint on south congress that we passed by…love the name!
- magnolia cafe for southern comfort food that feels like home. their slogan says it all: “everybody knows, everybody goes”
- walton’s fancy & staple is a fun and chic place with more of the austin flair than the texan bbq or tex-mex.
- lick ice cream with some crazy flavors and quality ice cream.
- south congress – my favorite area/ street in austin! across the river from downtown, and packed with the best restaurants, live music, food trucks, a vintage feel, and so much fun. lots of the restaurants listed above are found here!
- allen’s boots – located right on soco, allen’s boots is a must-stop. it’s texas through and through with rows upon rows of cowboy boots and just about the best smell of leather in the air…you’ll realize how serious texans take their boots when you see the price tags! it’s fun to browse though :)
- the contemporary – for art lovers, this is the primary community art museum in austin. it has some fun exhibits pass through, so watch for those!
- sculpture garden – really pretty to visit during spring or summer!
- UT – it’s fun to stroll this huge campus, see the longhorns stadium, & the LBJ presidential library is there as well. you can also stroll “the drag” which is guadalupe street running right alongside campus.
- texas capitol building – i’ll never miss the chance to see a state capitol building. they are always beautiful! it’s a little bit tricky to park around here, but worth stopping into! it’s right by campus and very central.
- barton springs – in the summertime, locals love wading in these springs…if you have warm weather, go here!
- zilker park is a fun park with a great view of downtown..also fun on a warm day!
- the 360 bridge overlook is a cool vantage point to watch the sunset a little ways from downtown.
- mount bonnell – a great little walk/ hike to get a view of the river below! *be prepared for lots of steps*
- of course go see some live music in the “live music capital of the world!”
- a reader also let me know about esther’s follies, a comedy club on 6th street that gives an authentic taste of austin’s culture and flair. the back of the stage is glass, so people walking by on the street are sometimes unknowingly involved in the skit… thanks for this tip, taylor!
- lady bird lake/ town lake — rent kayaks, paddleboards, or bikes to take along the town lake trail.
san antonio eats
- mi tierra cafe in market square is a really fun stop. they are famous for their fresh-made tortillas, a traditional mexican bakery brimming with so many sweets, and really great breakfast. they are open 24/7!
- dough in san antonio is the hot pizza spot with great salads, and the best neapolitan pizza.
- smokehouse food truck is a down-home smoke-shack truck with classic BBQ. fun to track down!
- grimaldi’s! i have to mention one of my favorite NYC pizza places ever since there is a location here!
- la gloria for mexican street food in a fun, vibrant cantina.
- mad hatter’s is a fun & quirky tea shop you can visit when you’ve had too much tex-mex here! :)
- paciugo gelato for fresh, small-batch gelato.
- chris madrid’s is a hole-in-the-wall type place where you can find the best, cheesiest burgers
san antonio sights
- river walk – this is one of the happiest, most unique places to stroll
- the alamo is perfect for history lovers. it’s a quick stop (and free), but it’s fun to read about it, walk through and “remember the alamo!”
- el mercado is the largest mexican market in the US. it’s brimming with culture and fun to visit. stroll the outdoor plaza lined with restaurants, shops and produce stands near san antonio’s city center
- pearl brewery farmer’s market : this modern farmers market makes for a fun foodie stop !
- lupe tortilla is a chain in houston, and when i first walked in i thought it would be average –– but i was happily surprised at the best tex-mex food. i’m still dreaming about those fajitas!! and those tortillas. YUM. go here!
- stanton city bites – the best burgers in houston are at stanton’s . . . get the luke skyburger and some homemade soda!
- mighty sweet mini pies – this is so my kind of place … darling shop & amazing southern pies. what more could you need?
- snowblock shavery is a really unique and fun dessert stop by rice university. from yummy hawaiian-style shaved ice, to “ribbon ice,” and block toast. we loved this fun little spot and it would be perfect on a hot texas day!
- pappadeux – this seafood kitchen chain is popular all over, but started here so it’s loved by locals.
- bite macarons – darling, modern macaron shop with unique colors and designs. i can’t resist!
- coppa osteria – fun, chic eatery with great pizza and pasta. next door is cloud 10 creamery, which is perfect for dessert!
- original carrabba’s restaurant on kirby drive is a classic italian favorite that is good for families!
- kenny & ziggy’s is an authentic new york deli. the menu is huge, but go for the chicken salad sandwich.
- goode company is solid for barbecue as well as seafood. it’s a good option for pleasing all different tastes.
- gatlin’s barbecue is the best for texas bbq in houston! go before they run out each day!
- NASA space center – many people come to houston to see the space center which is great for kids!
- downtown historic district – visit houston’s original town center with tree-lined streets, sidewalk cafes, 1800-era architecture, and a feel of old-meets-new. market square park is at the center of this neighborhood.
- rice university is a beautiful campus to walk through and explore. it’s small, but worth visiting!
- visit the museum district to get a taste of the museums offered in houston!
- definitely hit the houston rodeo if you go in march!
- take a day trip to galveston island for a change of scenery and completely different, beachy feel!
- chuy’s is a tex-mex restaurant throughout the state. get the elvis presley fried chicken. we’ve also heard great things about their queso, enchiladas, fried avocados, and tortilla soup.
- blue bell ice cream is the richest, creamiest, thickest ice cream that everyone is obsessed with in texas…you have to get some!
- rudy’s bar-b-q is another local favorite with more locations.
- lockhart, the “barbecue capital of texas,” is a just a little way out of your way on highway 10 between san antonio and houston. it is famous for the bbq for good reason. we stopped through here and had the best food, and we really loved city market bbq which is even less out of your way in luling (if you can survive the line!)
- go to a rodeo in any city if you visit over the dates in the springtime! fried food and real texas cowboys :)
- see the texas bluebonnets if you visit in the spring and run through a field of them…they are gorgeous!
so there ya’ll have it …
like i said, texas people :: add more to this list for me!