Austin, Houston, San Antonio...

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Still Baron
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Re: Austin, Houston, San Antonio...

Postby Still Baron » 17 Jan 2015, 19:41

I'm gonna write this thing one link/joint at a time and edit to add in more to see if I can avoid the spam filter. I'll also avoid embedding the links for the same reason.

For someone from the UK, you really can't miss for Mexican food in SA.

THE place is Mi Tierra. It is the granddaddy, and a touristy place that locals go to as well. It is part of my San Antonio Tour for Brits and Other Foreigners. It is massive, and is decorated to the hilt with wandering mariachis and all (they will solicit your table for a song, and expect to be paid, which is a bit of a hassle). There is also a pastry counter with psychedelic looking Mexican pastries, and a great bar across from the pastry counter. It isn't the very best Mexican food in town, and it's a little overpriced, but it's plenty good. Across from Mi Tierra is the Mexican Market, which is nothing of the sort, but is (two) enclosed buildings selling all manner of Mexican tchotchkes---quality varies, and the stuff would be cheaper in Mexico, but you're not in Mexico. I was born in the hospital across Commerce Street as well, so you can genuflect as necessary. It's on the west side of downtown, a little ways from the main tourist part of downtown. An easy walk if it's not summer that takes one past other noteworthy spots I'll point out further down in the post.

http://www.mitierracafe.com/

A few hundred feet down from Mi Tierra is La Margarita. I haven't been there in a long time, but it's a fun place and the food is pretty good---I recall getting oysters and grilled meat type things (fajitas, etc.). As it happens, it's owned by the same people who own Mi Tierra. You could do worse, I expect.

http://www.lamargarita.com/

My personal favorite place is El Mirador. It is in "South Town," just south of downtown. It's a little swankier (or classier) than typical Tex-Mex "#2 Dinner" fare, but the quality of the food is a little higher, and everything tastes good. It's close to a few other things, and is the hip side of downtown.

http://www.elmiradorrestaurant.com/

Just south of El Mirador is Rosarios. It's a bit more of a party place. I don't go there often---it can get really loud and I have trouble hearing in loud restaurants and bars. But I would certainly recommend it.

http://www.rosariossa.com/homepage.php

Casa Rio is on the Riverwalk and presents old school Tex-Mex, as it might have been 50 years ago. It is by far the least of the downtown SA restaurants I'm mentioning, but it is an old school experience. It's also on the Riverwalk, so if you're into eating on the Riverwalk, if you get a good table, there's that . . .

http://www.casa-rio.com/

A downtown that is not Mexican and worth mentioning is Schilo's Deli, which has an old school Texas vibe, and reflects the (ahem) Germanic roots of the area, which are prevalent. It's downtown, near the Riverwalk, but at the street level. Worth checking out for a quick lunch.

http://schilos.com/

There's also the bar at the Menger Hotel, which has a cool, old school vibe. The bar itself is part of the hotel, across the street from the Alamo. The drinks aren't anything special and are a little overpriced, but it's worth ducking into before or after an Alamo run through. Also part of Baron's San Antonio Tour.

http://www.mengerhotel.com/restaurants

My recollection is that you're not a big boozehound, and I've never been, but the Esquire Tavern looks amazing. (then again, they've got $7 deviled eggs and $8 fried beets, so maybe they can fuck off)

http://www.esquiretavern-sa.com/

Fancy cocktails can be had at a price at the Bohanan's steakhouse. As can steaks, of course.

http://bohanansbar.com/home.html

If you choose to walk to Mi Tierra/Mexican Market from the Riverwalk area, the best thing to do is take Commerce St., heading west. You'll pass the Plaza, which houses San Fernando Cathedral and the Courthouse. Then you'll pass the Spanish Governor's Palace (not much of a Palace, really), and Penner's, where you can pick up a zoot suit, guayabera, or something similar, if you're of the mind.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cathedral_of_San_Fernando

http://www.getcreativesanantonio.com/Ex ... alace.aspx

http://www.pennersinc.com/

Just north of downtown is a big new complex based around the old Pearl Brewery, with food stands and a book store and new, vaguely hip (for San Antonio) shops. I doubt it's your bag, but it could be worth a trip. It can be a bit of a scene on the weekends.

http://atpearl.com/

Finally, also in a renovated brewery, there's a pretty good local museum, the San Antonio Museum of Art. Again, putting it out there, but doubting it's your bag . . .

https://www.samuseum.org/

There are more fancy restaurants out there and many more bars. If that's something anyone is interested in, I can go into it.

Finally, just south of the Riverwalk is the previously mentioned "Southtown," which has a great old neighborhood (King William) of stately homes (in the Texas sense) and funky, non-Mex places to eat.

http://www.sanantonio.gov/historic/Dist ... lliam.aspx

(if you need something simple and non-Mex):
http://www.madhatterstea.com/

(laid back hanging)
http://www.thefriendlyspot.com/

(for slightly fancier food)
http://www.liberty-bar.com/

(and a bit of WTF)
http://www.beethovenmaennerchor.com/

Here's a somewhat bourgeoisie "Southtown" itinerary, mentioning some of the same things, along with art gallery stuff and some single-syllable restaurants I've not been to. If the link doesn't work, let me know and I'll email a copy.

http://www.texasmonthly.com/story/southtown-and-down
Last edited by Still Baron on 17 Jan 2015, 23:17, edited 2 times in total.
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 Still Baron » 17 Jan 2015, 21:49

Staying in downtown San Antonio is, unfortunately, not cheap. It's not bad compared to world capitals, but it's a touristy area and even though there are many hotels, they can afford to charge for the pleasure (there are also high taxes on hotels, rental cars, and so forth). I don't know what to tell you---my family lives there, so I never stay in hotels. Maybe Priceline or Expedia or some such would have some deals.

Edit: I've looked and there are a few places downtown under $100, and a few over $100, and the majority are between $150 and $300. There are a few bed and breakfast type places in King William/Southtown, but they're not likely to be particularly cheap.
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 Still Baron » 18 Jan 2015, 00:07

Places to hear live music in Austin:

Continental Club (on South Congress)
http://www.continentalclub.com/Austin.html

C Boys Heart & Soul (on South Congress)
http://cboysheartnsoul.com/

Beerland (downtown on Red River)
http://beerlandtexas.com/

Stubbs (downtown on Red River---mostly touring shows) (eat BBQ only under duress)
http://stubbsaustin.com/

ACL Live (downtown at 2nd and Lavaca---mostly touring shows)
http://acl-live.com/venue

Mohawk (downtown on Red River)
http://mohawkaustin.com/

Cheer Up Charlies (downtown on Red River)
http://cheerupcharlies.com/

Hole in the Wall (north of downtown near UT on Guadalupe)
http://www.holeinthewallaustin.com/

Flamingo Cantina (downtown on 6th St)
http://flamingocantina.com/

Hotel Vegas (east Austin on East 6th)
http://texashotelvegas.com/

Cactus Cafe (folky place but you never know on UT campus on Guadalupe)
http://cactuscafe.org/

North Door (east Austin on Brushy St.)
http://www.ndvenue.com/

Emos (east Austin on Riverside---inconvenient location)
http://emosaustin.com/

Rattle Inn (downtown on Nueces---mostly crap country)
http://rattleinnaustin.com/

Scoot Inn (east Austin on East 4th)
http://scootinnaustin.com/

Broken Spoke (south Austin on South Lamar---proper country, highly recommended)
http://www.brokenspokeaustintx.com/

Ginny's Little Longhorn (north Austin on Burnet---countryish, also recmmended for Chicken Shit Bingo on Sundays)
http://thelittlelonghornsaloon.com/

Parish (downtown on 6th)
http://theparishaustin.com/

White Horse (East Side, on Comal St.)
http://www.thewhitehorseaustin.com/
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 Goat Boy » 18 Jan 2015, 16:40

Wonderful. Thank you so much
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Re: Austin, Houston, San Antonio...

Postby Qube » 06 Apr 2015, 16:08

Without wanting to gatecrash too much... :)

I'll be in Austin for Psych Fest next month, with only a couple of days in downtown Austin afterwards, what kind of things should I prioritise (food is always top of my list)? My downtown hotel is near the Congress Ave bridge (the Radisson) and I'd like to see the bats, aside from that, I'm pretty open (and very ignorant). I'll definitely cycle through the music venues above and see if anything takes my fancy. Although, after three days at Pysch fest I may even be gigged out (though unlikely!), and the post on the previous page looks like giving me a lot of tips as it is!

A couple of things to bear in mind, I will be on my own if that makes a difference to certain things being better than others, and I'll be reliant on walking (I'm pretty good at pounding the pavement)/public transport/cabs. I see I'll be a couple of miles from the Daniel Johnston mural as well, that's probably a corny thing to look for, but I'm down for it!

One general question, is there anything worth eating near the airport? I'll be staying here during the festival as it's just easier that way, so I'll have one evening and three mornings where I'll need to grab something... a cheap cab ride is fine for something worth my while, too.

Also, if anyone wants to meet up I would be delighted to hang out, the likelihood of me talking to complete strangers in the interim is low (I'm just not good at it). I'll be there from the 7th and leave on the 13th, with 8th to the 10th being taken up by psych fest.

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Re: Austin, Houston, San Antonio...

Postby Minnie the Minx » 07 Apr 2015, 00:42

Hey Qube just seen this! It would be fabulous to meet up, if you have time. Let's do it.
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Re: Austin, Houston, San Antonio...

Postby Still Baron » 07 Apr 2015, 14:40

I'll write much more soon (I hope), but the short answer is that, depending on your expectations, there's not much at all in the way of food out at the airport hotels. There's a Waffle House, a Denny's, and a Starbucks, and that's pretty much it. It's an inhospitable locale. There's an outside chance for a funky taqueria in approximately adjacent neighborhoods (Montopolis north of East Riverside), but it's an outside chance. I'll see what I can find out.
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 Qube » 07 Apr 2015, 16:56

Minnie the Minx wrote:Hey Qube just seen this! It would be fabulous to meet up, if you have time. Let's do it.


Yes please! Like I said, I don't really have any plans other than the festival. I arrive on the 7th, so that evening is free, alternatively I'll be downtown on the 11th and 12th. Monday and Tuesdays aren't usually the best of days for anybody so I would certainly work around what either of you could manage.

Big Business Bobob wrote:I'll write much more soon (I hope), but the short answer is that, depending on your expectations, there's not much at all in the way of food out at the airport hotels. There's a Waffle House, a Denny's, and a Starbucks, and that's pretty much it. It's an inhospitable locale. There's an outside chance for a funky taqueria in approximately adjacent neighborhoods (Montopolis north of East Riverside), but it's an outside chance. I'll see what I can find out.


Thanks! Would definitely appreciate it. Like I said, if there's a cheap cab ride to take me somewhere worth going, I'm definitely open for that. Maybe there'll even be some decent food at the festival, but those days are about the music so it's not a huge deal.

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Re: Austin, Houston, San Antonio...

Postby Still Baron » 12 Apr 2015, 17:56

I promise to provide more details, but knowing that's still at least a week away, a few quick thoughts and resources.

First, the Radisson is a pretty excellent location. It is on Congress, just by the Lake (which is actually a river). If you're a fitness person, you back onto a long loop around the Lake, which connects to a greenbelt (behind Barton Springs Pool).

http://www.thetrailfoundation.org/explo ... rail-maps/

Just to the south of the Lake is the Official Austin Funky Shopping strip, South Congress Avenue. It may or may not be your cup of tea, but it's worth checking out. The food isn't the world's greatest (though it will often do), but there are excellent margaritas to be had at Guero's. Also, the Continental Club and C-Boy's Heart & Soul have live music on South Congress.

I don't know if this link is worth a shit or not, but it's a start.

http://austin.smallplanetguide.com/rent ... ighborhood

South Congress is also a few blocks away from South First St., which has a record shop (End of An Ear), a vegetarian cafe (Bouldin Creek Cafe), a well regarded restaurant I've never been to (Lenoir), hipster Vietnamese food (Elizabeth St. Cafe), and a fancy-ish Thai place I've never been to (Sway).

Just to the east of the Radisson is the Rainey St. district, which is a lot of bars, and two places particularly worthy of mention. If you like beer, then Craft Pride is worth a stop, as they have only local (mostly good) beers on tap, and El Naranjo, which specializes in interior Mexican food and is supposed to be good.

A lot of the nightlife and cool kid places to hang and eat are on the east side of town, which means east of Interstate 35, which bisects the city and is about six blocks away from the Radisson. As I am neither youthful nor cool, I don't know much about it, but it's also where most of the serious BBQ is.

Public Transportation means buses, run by Capital Metro. You'll probably want to download their app on your magic phone. You can get a day or week pass and use your phone to display your pass. You have to scan it on the big, new magic buses ("Metro Rapid" buses, the 801 and 803 line) and just show it to the driver on the conventional buses. Pay for the premium pass so you can get on any bus without worrying about it. Except for rush hour, the buses generally run on schedule, but not particularly often, so it's good to have a general idea what the schedules are before you set off somewhere. A third party app may be best for this, but I use the Cap Metro app without too much trouble.

https://www.capmetro.org/

The Austin Chronicle is the weekly alt-newspaper, and you can find a fair amount of information about restaurants and the like on their site. God knows this town loves itself, so there's plenty of recommendations and the like.

http://www.austinchronicle.com/

If you're interested in higher-end dining, Texas Monthly has reviews, but I'm not sure how much you can access without being a subscriber.

http://www.texasmonthly.com/

Taco Journalism has been a reliable source for quick Tex-Mex, but I'm not sure how active they are now. They have a "Taco Finder" app, which is not of much use downtown, and I've found it to be a bit buggy.

http://tacojournalism.blogspot.com/

I'll still see if I can get the drop on any worthy food close to the airport, but a taxi ride will basically take you downtown or to the spots I've already mentioned, and I'm not sure it would be worth the price for breakfast. I suspect they'll have food at the Psych Fest, which may fill the bill, but I'm pessimistic about food around the airport hotel. I'm a fan of Waffle House, but I only eat there when I'm doing long haul traveling through the south and need to get breakfast in BFE Alabama or Tennessee or whatever, so your mileage may definitely vary!
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 Qube » 13 Apr 2015, 01:14

This is all fantastic, thanks! Truly appreciated. I'd better start making notes.

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Re: Austin, Houston, San Antonio...

Postby Qube » 16 Apr 2015, 21:29

The festival actually just recommended a place called El Mason to me, which according to google is 2 miles from my airport hotel, could be an option! I don't know if the route is actually walkable, but a cab ride can't be that much. (https://www.google.com/maps/dir/5808+Bu ... 216455!3e2)

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Re: Austin, Houston, San Antonio...

Postby Qube » 04 May 2015, 15:13

I've started making a google map for my couple of days downtown, and I'm thinking I probably need to look for a few more things to do other than eat... :lol:

https://www.google.com/maps/d/edit?mid= ... onButton=1

At the moment the weather forecasts are saying thunderstorms during the festival, hopefully it'll be ok.

On Thursday when I fly in I'm thinking of trying to get downtown (I'm staying near the airport Thursday-Monday) and going to either LA Barbecue or the happy hour at Uchi, then trying to get to one of the Alamo Drafthouses as they seem to be closed/not really showing anything on Monday/Tuesday.

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Re: Austin, Houston, San Antonio...

Postby Still Baron » 04 May 2015, 18:30

You can probably walk to the place near the hotel, but you'll want to take the back way rather than walk on the route suggested as it is a pretty major highway and totally inhospitable to walk along (you won't be walking in the highway, obviously). That should be evident from a satellite picture. When I last drove by there, I noticed a Mexican place was in the little strip mall close to the hotel, so that may be worth investigating as well ...

I've had bad luck with cabs in Austin in the past, but they've gotten much better. We hailed one on Saturday night by phone (Austin Yellow Cab) and it was at our comparitively suburban home quickly, and took us to an out of the way destination with no complaints. It was about $10 (without tip) for a 3 mile trip (you can also schedule a cab on their website or probably on an app, but I haven't gone there---also, friends use Uber all the time, but again, I haven't). The best BBQ places often run out of meat in the early afternoon, so you might check with a place (or see if their Twitter feed is any help) as to what to expect before you show up in the evening looking for BBQ (this isn't true for Micklethwait, generally). A major Alamo Drafthouse is pretty close to Uchi, for what it's worth. And if you're a hardcore cineaste, it's worth checking out what the Austin Film Society has going on (their showings are at the Marchesa, an unassuming place in a strip mall north of downtown).

http://www.austinfilm.org

Also, if you're into public art/murals, there are two at the corner of 24th and Guadalupe, one of which was the side of the old Varsity Theater (so it's a movie mural). It hasn't been a theatre in a long time (and was a Tower Records for about 15 years, but the mural is still there. It's a few blocks up Guadalupe from the Daniel Johnston mural (which is on what used to be one of the best record shops in town). This space from 21st and Guadalupe and north is colloquially known as The Drag. Historically, this was the studenty shopping and drinking quarters. It still is, but lacks some of the grit of days gone by (much of Slacker was filmed in the immediate area). I like strolling around a bit on the University campus (on the other side of Guadalupe)---it's a favorite place. Finally, it may be worth noting that (further up the Drag, approaching Spider House) is the Hole in the Wall, a semi-legendary bar/venue that now hosts an East Side King food truck, albeit late at night.

I'll write more when I'm not on my phone, but I always say that and never do! So we'll see.
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 Still Baron » 05 May 2015, 04:24

I should add that the Capitol may be worth a visit. It's a pretty good building and the legislature (which only meets for 180 days every two years) is in session, so there's front row seats to the biggest shit show in western democracy. You just go through security and then can wander around. They have guided tours, and I can also give my version of the tour as I work on the Capitol complex, in a building that connects underground with the Capitol. It's free and air conditioned, so ...

Speaking of a/c, we've had a really nice, uncommonly temperate spring. Rain during the festival could be a good thing as it might keep the temperatures from getting legitimately HOT. Here's hoping the weather holds ...
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 Qube » 05 May 2015, 17:04

The Capitol sounds like it could be an interesting experience, I'm definitely game! Do they let any riffraff in or do I need to look semi-presentable?

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Re: Austin, Houston, San Antonio...

Postby Still Baron » 05 May 2015, 18:24

Qube wrote:The Capitol sounds like it could be an interesting experience, I'm definitely game! Do they let any riffraff in or do I need to look semi-presentable?


Any old fucker can wander in (and around). You can wear whatever and only have to go through security. Which is a very recent intrusion!
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Re: Austin, Houston, San Antonio...

Postby Qube » 14 May 2015, 15:34

I had a great time in Austin, with special thanks to The Baron and Minnie for all the help and company. Above and beyond.

Weather wasn't typical but that was fine by me (I don't like it hot anyway!), the forecast kept threatening rain and storms but there was only one day that was rainy and thankfully that was after psych fest.

Good food, friendly people, I think I'll try to go again next year! I ate enough tacos and bbq to put most people down, but I found it a fairly walkable place as well, and I'm fully on board the food truck/trailer movement. It seems like a place where you can equally chill out or party as hard as you want.

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Re: Austin, Houston, San Antonio...

Postby Minnie the Minx » 15 May 2015, 03:31

You need to come back for Torchy's Queso! Jumper K, Prof et al can all vouch for it..
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Re: Austin, Houston, San Antonio...

Postby Qube » 15 May 2015, 15:35

I'm sure I'll be back! There's a bunch of stuff I missed out on, either through the weather (figured not much point checking out Zilker park or Barton Springs on those rainy days) or through stuff generally being closed on Mondays.

SXSW has never really appealed in the past, but it might be worth a go just to see how over the top things go, but I'd also be keen to hit up Psych Fest again.

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Re: Austin, Houston, San Antonio...

Postby Still Baron » 16 May 2015, 18:02

Qube wrote:SXSW has never really appealed in the past, but it might be worth a go just to see how over the top things go, but I'd also be keen to hit up Psych Fest again.


Knowing how much music you see, I think you might be uniquely suited to enjoy SXSW and get as much out of it as anyone. It's certainly worth thinking about.
take5_d_shorterer wrote:If John Bonham simply didn't listen to enough Tommy Johnson or Blind Willie Mctell, that's his doing.