This was our fourth trip to one of our favorite places in the US, Austin Texas. This trip also had several firsts however – the first time we’d visited in the summer (yes, people thought we were crazy) and also the first time we’d visited since becoming vegan. Well, we had a fabulous trip and I can safely confirm Sir Paul McCartney was right – it’s very very easy to be vegan in Austin. And if you stay out of the afternoon sun (and make sure you run before 8am) it’s also easy to be runners visiting in August. Some highlights of our trip below…
We arrived Wednesday night around 5pm to the same VRBO we alway stay in – on the quieter end of 6th Street, a block away from Wholefoods Flagship Store (we had picked up some essentials on the way from the airport) and next to the original Z Tejas, which is nothing like the fancy ones you see in suburban shopping malls (Bellevue, yes, I am looking at you….).
I had read about Arlo’s Vegan Bacon Cheeseburgers so we drove down East 6th and found the truck – amusingly enough next to Cheer Up Charlies bar (made more famous by the Hipster Nation series on You Tube). I ordered the famous Bacon and Cheese (in fact crispy Seitan and Daiya, and a homemade patty…and a great roll..and ketchup, pickles, onion and Veganaise) and Dave ordered the BBQ Burger. 14 bucks. Unbelievably good, we would definitely go back and would have gone again if we had more time.
After Arlo’s we went to Bar Lamar in Wholefoods, people watching central. How could a wine bar in an enormous grocery store with a DJ and many different restaurants where you can get the food delivered to you at the bar not be? We had some incredible tap wine, chatted to the guy we remembered behind the bar and called it a night.
We woke early and went for a great (hot) 3 mile run along the train tracks and Lady Bird Lake. We met our friend Carrie for lunch at Bouldin Creek Cafe where Carrie had a salad, I had a tofu scramble with nooch, mushrooms and spinach and Dave had a burger with an enormous tasty salad. Spent the rest of the day exploring Austin a little more (and particularly the area where we’ll be living) and ventured to Guero’s Taco Bar on South Congress that evening since we’d heard about the vegan menu – delicious. Started off with Queso (loads of lime, yummy) and onto Enchiladas and Tacos. Plus the nicest guy serving us…
A lot more exploring, including UT campus (stunning) and the Elizabeth Ney Museum in Wallingford (oops, Hyde Park, it’s so like Wallingford in Seattle it’s a little scary). Then onto somewhere we had both read a lot about and really wanted to try – the Whip In – Namaste Y’All! How do I describe this place? An Indian family opened a grocery store I’m assuming around 20 years ago…started specializing in beer and wine….opened a liquor store next door (Beverage World)…started brewing their own beer…opened a bar in the grocery store with traditional Indian stools and wood, opened up a stage for Bollywood Music…then started cooking food (lots of it vegan). Dave and I both had bowls – me with Corn, Rice, Peppers and him Dhal with rice. Unbelievably good and one of the coolest places we’ve ever eaten. 12 bucks for lunch. Seattle take note.
After having a nap to digest all that food we did some more exploring of our hood and made a valiant attempt to go to Barton Springs to swim but found out it’s teen mating ground in the summer (think packs of spotty 14 year old boys following round packs of 14 year old Taylor Swift lookalikes) so tried to swim in Big Stacy Pool (which was closed, no chlorine). Oh well.
Both of us were craving pasta and decided to try out the place we’d loved several times before when carbo loading for the half marathon – Quattro Gatti – what a great idea. This place has real Italian food – and makes its own bread. I had Spaghetti a la Norma, Dave had Arrabatia. Both exceptional, pasta perfectly al dente, great wine and service and the owner rattling on in Italian and throwing his arms around. Great to know we can still come to our favorite places, photo below. More on Austin in Part 2.