Austin, Houston, San Antonio...

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Austin, Houston, San Antonio...

Postby Goat Boy » 09 Jan 2015, 17:41

Considering how fucking dead this place is I'm not expecting much response but it's worth a go. What's worth seeing and doing around those parts? Cool shit, fucked up shit, weird shit, random shit...anything. What are the best places for BBQ? What are the best CHEAP hotels/hostels?

Anything basically....ta muchly
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Re: Austin, Houston, San Antonio...

Postby toomanyhatz » 09 Jan 2015, 18:03

Austin's great. (For visitors, anyway - I imagine some long-time residents find the rampant hipsterism a bit off-putting.) I don't know San Antonio well, but the touristy stuff - the River Walk, the Alamo, etc. - is pretty enjoyable. Never been to Houston.

You do know Baron and Min live in Austin, right? I wouldn't be your BBQ expert even if I did, but they definitely know their way around. Baron was a great host for the '09 JUotA.

This is where most people stayed - fairly cheap and located in an area with lots of cool stores, dive bars, food trucks, etc.:

http://www.austinmotel.com/

If you go after April, do go to an Astros game and make me jealous.
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Re: Austin, Houston, San Antonio...

Postby Still Baron » 10 Jan 2015, 15:26

I think we've got you covered, since Nolamike lives in H-Town and Austin/SA are my stomping grounds.

I'll be back with much more to say, but insider intelligence about Houston is particularly important. It's a massive city with things to do and see, but, because it's a modern, sprawling, southern city, you can't just roll up on it and find the good shit without knowing a thing or two. I'll be back ...
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Re: Austin, Houston, San Antonio...

Postby Minnie the Minx » 10 Jan 2015, 15:27

Goat Boy wrote:Considering how fucking dead this place is I'm not expecting much response but it's worth a go. What's worth seeing and doing around those parts? Cool shit, fucked up shit, weird shit, random shit...anything. What are the best places for BBQ? What are the best CHEAP hotels/hostels?

Anything basically....ta muchly


Are you thinking of coming out Doug?

Obviously I don't have the same back catalogue of stories as Baron but I did write a long post about Austin at one point. I will see if I can find it..
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Re: Austin, Houston, San Antonio...

Postby pcqgod » 10 Jan 2015, 20:53

I knew some great bbq restaurants in San Antonio when I lived there. They're all gone now. The best bbq usually seems to be in little towns along the major highways to the big cities anyway. Don't waste your time with Bill Miller. It's the McDonald's of bbq.

I'd say skip Houston entirely -- big ugly, dirty city. Find End of an Ear Records in Austin.
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Re: Austin, Houston, San Antonio...

Postby Goat Boy » 11 Jan 2015, 15:02

Minnie the Minx wrote:
Goat Boy wrote:Considering how fucking dead this place is I'm not expecting much response but it's worth a go. What's worth seeing and doing around those parts? Cool shit, fucked up shit, weird shit, random shit...anything. What are the best places for BBQ? What are the best CHEAP hotels/hostels?

Anything basically....ta muchly


Are you thinking of coming out Doug?

Obviously I don't have the same back catalogue of stories as Baron but I did write a long post about Austin at one point. I will see if I can find it..


Aye. We're looking at a budget right now. 3 weeks in America - New York, Detroit, New Orleans, Austin, Vegas and San Fran hopefully. Probably around October in order to give us the time to get the cash together. We'd probably base ourselves in Austin for a few days and explore that area from there.
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Re: Austin, Houston, San Antonio...

Postby Goat Boy » 11 Jan 2015, 15:03

pcqgod wrote:I knew some great bbq restaurants in San Antonio when I lived there. They're all gone now. The best bbq usually seems to be in little towns along the major highways to the big cities anyway. Don't waste your time with Bill Miller. It's the McDonald's of bbq.

I'd say skip Houston entirely -- big ugly, dirty city. Find End of an Ear Records in Austin.


I have to visit the space center
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Re: Austin, Houston, San Antonio...

Postby Still Baron » 11 Jan 2015, 16:08

Goat Boy wrote:
pcqgod wrote:I knew some great bbq restaurants in San Antonio when I lived there. They're all gone now. The best bbq usually seems to be in little towns along the major highways to the big cities anyway. Don't waste your time with Bill Miller. It's the McDonald's of bbq.

I'd say skip Houston entirely -- big ugly, dirty city. Find End of an Ear Records in Austin.


I have to visit the space center


You'll almost certainly need a car to get to the Space Center, and in Houston, generally.

You can travel between New Orleans, Houston, Austin, and San Antonio relatively cheaply via Megabus:
http://us.megabus.com/routemap.aspx

Like I said, lots more coming soon ...
Last edited by Still Baron on 11 Jan 2015, 17:48, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Austin, Houston, San Antonio...

Postby pcqgod » 11 Jan 2015, 16:36

Oh yeah, NASA is totally worth it.
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Re: Austin, Houston, San Antonio...

Postby The Prof » 11 Jan 2015, 21:24

baron frito pie wrote:
Goat Boy wrote:I have to visit the space center


You'll almost certainly need a car to get to the Space Center, and in Houston, generally.


I wanted to visit there and I expected them to lay on a train straight to the door - but they didn't.
Houston is hot and full of roads

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Re: Austin, Houston, San Antonio...

Postby Still Baron » 11 Jan 2015, 23:07

Goat Boy wrote:Considering how fucking dead this place is I'm not expecting much response but it's worth a go. What's worth seeing and doing around those parts? Cool shit, fucked up shit, weird shit, random shit...anything. What are the best places for BBQ? What are the best CHEAP hotels/hostels?

Anything basically....ta muchly


It's a good plan to be based out of Austin, I think. I love San Antonio---I'm from there (after a fashion) and went to grad school there. But the fact is that for a BCB Tourist, most could do it in a day. There's the Alamo and the other missions (I recommend Mission San Jose), some Tex Mex, the Mexican Market, a cruise through the River Walk and South Town, and unless you're interested in museums or Tex Mex/Conjunto music, that's probably going to do it. It has a unique feeling for cities and certainly feels older than other Texas cities (with a pronounced Mexican flavor), and on the right day, I could see the same romance that so many midwestern tourists see. If you like Tex-Mex, you're in luck as it doesn't get much better in any other city. The downtown is reasonably compact, and unless it's super hot, you can probably do all or most of it on foot. A car would help, though.

I have a lot to say about Austin, most of which I've said before. There aren't a lot of blockbuster sightseeing things to do, but it's a fun town with lots of eating and drinking possibilities, and a fair amount of live music, for better or worse. I second hatz's recommendation of the Austin Motel. It's not hostel cheap, but it's BY FAR the cheapest thing you'll find for the location (on South Congress Ave., amidst endless hipster/yuppie shops and restaurants (and a few bars). It's within easy striking distance from downtown, and is one of the better spots to hail cabs from (there's also good bus service on South Congress). Unless you're going to have a car, and I don't think you need one in Austin, then I would avoid hotels on the interstate (I-35 addresses). The bus service isn't bad, but it certainly is a long way from European public transportation. Still, you can make do without a car fine.

The BBQ here (in Austin) has come a very long way, and now what's available here is easily among the best in the state (though I haven't eaten much north of Waco or west of Fredericksburg). It has become yet another "craft" enthusiasm, which means that people our age obsess about it and learn to master it and make very good BBQ. It used to be that you had to go out to these country towns to the old meat markets to get the good stuff. They still have it out there, and those places have far more atmosphere than the new places in Austin, but the quality is slightly diminished, in comparison. Texas BBQ is typically brisket and sausage. Ribs are also out there, and some places in Austin have these crazy Flintstone-looking beef ribs. I recommend going out to one of the country places, and am happy to lead a BBQ Safari for any visiting BCBer that wants it. As far as the country places go, my preference is for Luling City Market (in Luling), Blacks, Kreuz (in Lockhart), and Louie Mueller (in Taylor). Lockhart and Taylor are both about half an hour outside of Austin. Luling is a little further, but it's also on the way from Houston to SA, if you're driving. In Austin, I would go to John Mueller's, La BBQ, Mickelthwait, and Franklin's. I've not been to Franklin's, which is the most highly regarded, but that's because there's usually a long wait (like, hours).

This is a great Texas BBQ resource:
http://www.tmbbq.com/

The city itself is easiest to understand in a north/south orientation. For tourists, the furthest north would be the University of Texas area, which has lots of bars and cheapish places to eat and shop. One step south of that is the capitol complex, which bleeds into the University in a sea of brutalist granite office buildings. There isn't much there, apart from a Texas history museum, an art museum, and the Texas Chili Parlor. South of the capitol is downtown, which contains lots of bars, some upscalish shopping, and a fair amount of restaurants. There's also the 6th & Lamar intersection, which contains the Whole Foods Death Star, Waterloo Records, and Book People---three homegrown establishments that are now institutions. The book store and record store aren't the very greatest in the world, but a BCBer wouldn't walk out empty handed.

South Austin is across the River (confusingly known as Lady Bird Lake and Town Lake), and is a little funkier than downtown, with more shopping, drinking, and eating. Very desirable residential areas are being swallowed by the city's success, and there are residential enclaves between the major arteries with the restaurants and whatnot. Another record store---End of An Ear---is in South Austin (on South 1st). It is more of a specialty shop, with a freakier selection than Waterloo, which tries to be all things to all people. Speaking of record shops, my personal favorite, Antones, is up in the University area. It is more roots-oriented, but unless you're looking for used vinyl, there isn't much point.

The "East Side," which is east of I-35 (the interstate/motorway that bisects the city) from downtown is where all the youthful artistic/hipster energy is now. It is historically less affluent and more Mexican/Black than the rest of the city, so of course, with property values skyrocketing, that's where the cool kids are moving, and that's where a certain amount of action is. I'm no expert---we don't go there much just because it's a bit of a pain to get there from our place on public transportation. But there's lots of action out there, it's really close to downtown, and you if there is a cheap place to stay out there, you might jump on it. Charlie O. historically prefers a Super 8 just across the interstate, just on the east side. It's a pretty good location for the price, advice against staying on I-35, notwithstanding.

If you're a fitness weirdo, there are hike and bike trails around the "Lake," and you can rent bikes downtown. Also, the Barton Springs pool is worth a mention if swimming in cool, spring fed waters seems like an attractive idea. It's open every day, and the water is a constant 68F (or something like that). I recommend it if the idea doesn't seem ridiculous.

I would also note that the Formula 1 Grand Prix thing is going down in Austin on October 25. Unless you're really into that, I would give it a wide berth. The city will be jammed, and hotel rooms will probably be more expensive. Also, the ACL Fest is the October 2 and 9th weekends, so that will be a bit of a clusterfuck as well, unless, again, you're into outdoor festivals.

Finally, Virgin America flies direct from Austin to San Francisco. Looks like you can get a $150 one way ticket for next October, which ain't bad! (Though I see now that you're talking about Vegas, which would work as well, since there are always cheap flights to Vegas (I think). It's likely worth looking at Southwest Airlines for that ...

I'll have specific recommendations later when I have more time to type. Lots of BCBers have been here, and they surely have things to say about what to do and what not to do . . .
Last edited by Still Baron on 12 Jan 2015, 04:28, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Austin, Houston, San Antonio...

Postby toomanyhatz » 11 Jan 2015, 23:29

You have to skip a couple of pages of people going/not going, but the Austin JU thread is still up. There's probably some good info there, most of it current:

http://www.bcb-board.co.uk/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=75017
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Re: Austin, Houston, San Antonio...

Postby Goat Boy » 12 Jan 2015, 16:11

Great stuff.

What's the best Tex Mex places in San Antonio then? I'm gonna be ALL OVER THAT SHIT

What about gig venues in Austin? The best bars for live bands etc?

Is it an easy day trip to the space center in Houston?
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Re: Austin, Houston, San Antonio...

Postby Still Baron » 12 Jan 2015, 17:17

I'll come back with the Tex Mex and venues, and I'll update my post with links tonight.

NASA Space Center is about 30 miles southeast of downtown Houston, so assuming decent traffic, that's about a half hour from the downtown by car. Google Maps says you could make it from downtown on the bus system in an hour. I have no experience with Houston busses, so there isn't much I can say about that, but I would expect some level of frustration.

Downtown Houston is about 2 1/2 hours by car from Austin, so it would be just over 3 hours to NASA by car from Austin (assuming decent traffic). Houston is on the way from New Orleans to Austin, so unless you're flying from New Orleans to Austin, it's probably best to stop in Houston on the way.
Last edited by Still Baron on 12 Jan 2015, 17:19, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Austin, Houston, San Antonio...

Postby Still Baron » 12 Jan 2015, 17:18

Doh!
take5_d_shorterer wrote:If John Bonham simply didn't listen to enough Tommy Johnson or Blind Willie Mctell, that's his doing.

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Re: Austin, Houston, San Antonio...

Postby Conrad Knight Socks » 12 Jan 2015, 17:46

the centre of San Antonio, with the river walk and the Alamo etc, is great.
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Re: Austin, Houston, San Antonio...

Postby pcqgod » 13 Jan 2015, 02:25

baron frito pie wrote:


This is a great Texas BBQ resource:
http://www.tmbbq.com/


Interesting. They list Willie's in Alamo in their top 50, near the top. I picked up a plate there recently. Best BBQ in the Valley is now Big Piggy in McAllen.
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Re: Austin, Houston, San Antonio...

Postby Still Baron » 13 Jan 2015, 04:04

I've been trying to post an edit of the long lost above, with embedded links for everything. Sadly, it's triggering the spam filter, so I'll have to return to that later.
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Re: Austin, Houston, San Antonio...

Postby Still Baron » 16 Jan 2015, 02:53

oh well, I tried to post a reformatted version of the long post with embedded links for everything mentioned, and I tried to break it into smaller posts, but it set off the spam filter. I suppose it's easy enough to search things out on Google. :evil:

I'll post more information this weekend. I'm done for tonight!
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Re: Austin, Houston, San Antonio...

Postby Goat Boy » 16 Jan 2015, 09:21

Thanks for this Baron. I appreciate the effort.

You can send it to my email address if you want to bypass the damn spam filter completely?
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