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Guide to Eating in Austin

I’ve been living in Austin for two months now, and in that time, I’ve consumed a lot of food. After all, Austin is home to an incredible food scene — from BBQ joints to food trucks to healthy, organic outlets to (of course) Mexican restaurants. As more and more people move to Austin (close to […]

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I’ve been living in Austin for two months now, and in that time, I’ve consumed a lot of food. After all, Austin is home to an incredible food scene — from BBQ joints to food trucks to healthy, organic outlets to (of course) Mexican restaurants. As more and more people move to Austin (close to 160 a day at last count) and the city balloons with a more diverse population, Austin has expanded its dining fare to include more varied and higher-quality food.

Part of the reason Austin’s food tastes so delicious is because of the locally-sourced ingredients. As the birthplace of Whole Foods, Austin has always embraced organic food, and it was one of the frontrunners in the farm-to-table movement.

Moreover, to meet the needs of the expanding population, nearly 200 new food trucks and restaurants open up each year! With so many eateries opening all the time, you’re going to get hugely increased variety, selection, and quality.

While I still have much more exploring to do and food to eat, I want to share some of my favorite places to eat in the city for your next visit:

Asian

If there is anything I dislike about Austin, it would be the lack of good Asian cuisine, as it is my favorite in the world. When it comes to Asian food, it has a lot of those fusion joints that serve Chinese, Thai, sushi, and Korean all at once. Most are simply acceptable; they won’t blow you away. However, there are a few restaurants worth eating at:

  • Bar Chi (206 Colorado St., (512) 382-5557, www.barchiaustin.com) – Decent sushi but an unbelievably affordable happy hour (5-7pm each day). My friends and I come here because it satisfies the sushi craving on the cheap!
  • East Side King (1618 1/2 E. 6th S., (512) 407-8166, www.eskaustin.com) – Located in The Liberty Bar (also a kick-ass bar), this is best Asian-Thai fusion food truck in the city! Be sure to get the pork buns, tori meshi, or the chicken buns.
  • Lulu B’s (3632 S. Congress Ave., (512) 921-4828, www.facebook.com/LuLuBsAustin) – I found this place thanks to Jodi from Legal Nomads. I’m not the Vietnamese food expert she is, but this place was delectable. I’ve only had the beef pho, but it was a flavorful broth.
  • Piranha (207 San Jacinto Blvd. #202, (512) 473-8775, www.piranhakillersushi.com/piranha-locations/austin) – My all-around favorite sushi joint. The sushi here gives you the most value for your money, and it’s always fresh and of high quality. I particularly love their yellowtail.
  • Thai-Khun (1816 E. 6th St., (512) 407-8166, eskaustin.com/v2/thaikun) – As a Thai food snob (ever since I lived in Thailand), I’m always disappointed at Thai restaurants because I never think the food is as breathtaking as in Thailand. This place in Austin is the closest to true Thai food that I’ve found so far.
  • Uchi (801 S. Lamar, (512) 916-4808, uchiaustin.com) – The fanciest high-end sushi restaurant in the city. They also have a sister restaurant called Uchiko. Both live up to their reputations and are good date places. Reservations recommended!
  • Wu Cho (500 W. 5th St. #168, (512) 476-2469, wuchowaustin.com) – This is one of the best Chinese restaurants in the city. They serve a very popular dim sum brunch on Sundays. Be sure to come early as it gets packed during dinnertime and Sunday brunch, and the wait for a table can be up to an hour.

Americana

If there is one thing Austin does well, it’s “Americana” food. I define that as a fusion of multiple cuisines: burgers, fries, steaks, seafood, and the like.

  • Launderette (2115 Holly St., (512) 382-1599, launderetteaustin.com) – Located in an old laundry store, this restaurant is one of the hottest spots in town and serves an amazing menu of Americana and seafood, as well as a decent selection of wine. Some of my favorite dishes include crab toast, burrata, okra, brussels sprouts, and grilled octopus. If you’re coming for dinner, come early, as it fills up fast.
  • Truluck (400 Colorado St., (512) 482-9000, trulucks.com) – This is my favorite steak restaurant because it’s one of the few places where you can also get fresh seafood (crab, oysters, lobster). It’s not cheap, but if you want a upscale steak house, try this.
  • Péché (208 W. 4th St., (512) 494-4011, www.pecheaustin.com) – A New Orleans–inspired restaurant serving Bayou food, and it has a very friendly staff, tasty cocktails, and an extensive whiskey list.

BBQ

Austin is world-famous for its BBQ, and you can’t walk down the street without running into a restaurant that serves it. The title for Austin’s best BBQ is hotly contested among fans, and I don’t claim to know who’s right — to me, BBQ is either good or really damn good. But these are among my favorites:

  • Franklin Barbecue (900 E. 11th St., (512) 653-1187, franklinbarbecue.com) – This is considered the top of the top of the top BBQ joints in the country. Even the president ate here! It’s open from 11am until they run out of food (usually in a few hours). Lines start at 8am, so it’s best to go midweek in summer when most people don’t want to wait in that line and you don’t need to line up until 9 or 10am.
  • La Barbecue (1906 E. Cesar Chavez St., (512) 605-9696, www.labarbecue.com) – BBQ is a matter of perspective. A lot of people say Franklin’s is the best, but La Barbecue is #1 to me. It opens at 11am. Expect two-hour waits during lunchtime, so get here early.
  • Iron Works BBQ (100 Red River St., (512) 478-4855, ironworksbbq.com) – Located downtown, this restaurant serves above-average BBQ with large portions and hearty helpings of side dishes. I come here for the lunch brisket plate.
  • Micklethwait Craft Meats (1309 Rosewood Ave., (512) 791-5961, craftmeatsaustin.com) – An awesome food truck on the east side of the city. I’m in love with its ribs, brisket, and BBQ sauce. While it’s very popular, the line here isn’t as long as the other places listed.

Tacos

Tacos are serious business in this city. I have yet to fully experience much of the wonder that Austin has to offer on this front, but I do like a few of the big names:

  • Veracruz (1704 E. Cesar Chavez St., (512) 981-1760, veracruztacos.com) – The best food truck in town (conveniently located across the street from my hostel). It makes wonderful breakfast tacos, and the migas was voted #1 in the country. There is never really a line, but service is slow.
  • Torchy’s (multiple locations, torchystacos.com/in/austin) – World famous (and another spot where the president ate), this taco place has multiple locations in the city. It lives up to all the hype! I’m a big fan of the fried avocado and trailer park tacos. Every location is always packed, so expect a wait, especially on the weekends. The food here is pretty spicy, too.
  • Taco Deli (multiple locations, www.tacodeli.com) – Another delicious eatery serving mouth watering breakfast tacos.

Mexican & Tex-Mex

Like tacos, there are a lot of world-class Mexican and Tex-Mex restaurants in Austin! There are plenty of people who can dissect their finer points — I am not one of those people, however. But these establishments will never steer you wrong:

  • Vivo (6406 N. Interstate Highway 35, (512) 407-8302, vivoaustin.com) – Solid Mexican with huge portions, spicy dishes, and friendly staff.
  • Benji’s (716 W. 6th St., (512) 476-8226, benjiscantina.com) – Amazing margaritas, huge portions, and an outdoor patio area. Their incredible guacamole is made tableside.
  • Tamale House East (1707 E. 6th St., (512) 495-9504, www.facebook.com/tamalehouse.east) – Located in East Austin, this hole-in-the-wall is only open for breakfast or lunch. It’s famous for its tacos, but like the name suggests, get the tamales!

Indian

There isn’t a lot of good Indian food in town, mostly because there just isn’t a lot of good Asian food in general. I’m not an Indian food expert, but these two are my favorites:

  • The Clay Pit (1601 Guadalupe St., (512) 322-5131, claypit.com) – I order from this spot through UberEats all the time since it often has fast delivery. I love the samosas and jasmine rice, and their naan is just perfect!
  • Masala Dhaba (75 Rainey St., (512) 665-6513) – A higher-end, sit-down restaurant with a flavorful chicken tikka masala!

Miscellaneous

Some other of my favorite must-eats:

  • P. Terry’s (multiple locations, pterrys.com) – This is the best burger bar in the city. It’s delicious and cheap (you can get a burger, fries, and a drink for $6 USD), with filling portions. This is one of my all-time favorite spots in the city, and since it’s close to my house, I tend to eat here too often!
  • The Onion (408 Brazos St., (512) 476-6466, onionbaby.com) – Coming from NYC, I’m spoiled for pizza — you can buy tasty dollar slices anywhere you go there. That’s not the case in Austin: slices are around $4 USD and not as good, but if there is one pizza place I do like, it’s this one.
  • Gus’s Fried Chicken (117 San Jacinto, (512) 474-4877, gusfriedchicken.com/austin-texas-location) – The sister restaurant to the famous location in Memphis, this place has juicy, moist chicken with battered skin that bursts with flavor in your mouth. It’s freaking amazing! They also serve mouthwatering fried green tomatoes and pickles.
  • Leaf (115 W. 6th St., (512) 474-5323, leafsalad.com) – This new lunchtime salad place is incredible (also the line is long). Its gigantic salad bar has anything and everything you could ever want to put in a salad. It’s one of my favorite places for a healthy meal in Austin.
  • True Kitchen (222 West Ave. #HR100, (512) 777-2430, truefoodkitchen.com) – This new restaurant is incredibly popular with people after work. All its food is natural and organic. You’ll find healthy wraps, salad bowls, sandwiches, and fresh and flavorful seafood, as well as an incredible selection of wine and cocktails.

Austin’s growing food scene means that there are still plenty of places I haven’t eaten at yet — and a few locations I probably left out, as a result — but during your visit to Austin, you’ll find yourself with more than enough choices by using this list as your guide!

 

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Destinations

2017’s Newest Travel Trends Revealed

How exciting, a new year and 12 whole months of travel possibilities, I’m ready for the new travel trends. Where are we going to go and what the heck are we going to don once we get there?   We can say goodbye to eco-tourism as…

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How exciting, a new year and 12 whole months of travel possibilities, I’m ready for the new travel trends. Where are we going to go and what the heck are we going to don once we get there?   We can say goodbye to eco-tourism as the hottest trend on the travel block, 2017 has some interesting stuff in store for us.

 pantelleria

European Islands

It’s nice that the exotic, far-flung islands had their pinnacle in 2016, because those well-known hot spots are now over with. They aren’t over and done, they just aren’t the hottest spots anymore. If you want to go to Turks and Caicos, I won’t stop you, but you won’t be considered elite anymore. If you want that true baller experience in 2017, you will have to go to one of the small, unknown European islands, like Pantelleria or Naxos. Naxos is a Greek island, not Santorini or Mykonos, so its lesser known. Check it out if you are interested in divine local cuisine and a fresh take on island life. 

Meanwhile, also in the Mediterranean Sea, Pantelleria is in Italy, between Sicily and Tunisia. Made famous by Giorgio Armani who has a home there, this unknown island is going to be real hot this year. These future hot spots are favorable because of their anonymity and prestige.

 

bellmont farms 

Food Resorts

The clear-cut winner for travel trends this year is Food Resorts focusing on farm-to-table and ocean-to-plate menus. These resorts are hiring the best chefs, sourcing from the most local and fresh producers and satiating all their guests’ wildest cuisine dreams. This trend is following food trends all over the globe, where diners want the freshest and healthiest foods prepared by world-class chefs.

Check out Kittitian Hills in St. Kitts, for some top notch locally sourced cuisine. They have their own organic gardens, livestock and even use goats to cut their grass, talk about grass roots.

Another real winner at food resorts is Bellevue Hotel in Croatia, where the entire flat roof has been turned into a usable garden.

 sailing

I’m on a Boat

The comedy group Lonely Island said it best, “I’m on a boat, Bitch!” Everyone wants to go sailing or party on a yacht, but until now that kind of lifestyle has been unaffordable. Thanks to an adventure-travel company, Intrepid Travel, being on a boat is everyone’s business. They are offering affordable sailing adventures to amazing destinations for a fraction of the former price.   Live like the one percent with their weeklong sailing tours, through remote destinations like the Zanzibar archipelago.   Snorkel in exotic locals, sip champagne on yachts and ball out like Lebron James on your budget.  These trends are getting exciting and making me want to travel now.

 

finemerch 

Resorts simplified

Resorts are stripping down to the bare essentials and focusing more on relaxation and pampering instead of opulence and luxury. Gone are the clunky cluttered hotel rooms and instead rooms are adorned with just a huge comfortable bed. Expect restaurants to simplify their menus and only offer eth freshest and most delectable items. These new luxury standards should catch on and help with the enormous waste that these resorts create.

 

glacier 

Polar Excursions

People are tiring of the same old beach resort or mountain cabin; instead travelers in this New Year are opting for more extreme locals. Welcome the new polar adventures, where vacationers will face the harsher climates for a more rewarding excursion. Glaciers are a huge destination in 2017, as people realize that with global warming, many of these destinations won’t be around for long. Get those snow mobiles warmed up and make sure you have warm clothing, because 2017 just got interesting. Cruises are now setting course for the Arctic Circle, as adventurers want that polar ice cap experience.  Polar travel will include penguins, polar bears and the exquisite Northern Lights.

 

2017 is starting off with a bang, so set your travel destinations and make travel happen.

 

 

 

Photos courtesy of bellemontfarms, wikiwand, intrepidTravel, finemerch, MontanaVacationBlog, starchop

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Destinations

Lesser Known Wine Regions that you Must Visit

Everyone knows that Napa Valley or Burgundy France are wine traveler’s destinations of choice, but there are plenty of other fantastic regions.   A true wine connoisseur will tell you that the soil and environment are just as important as the type of grape used to…

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Everyone knows that Napa Valley or Burgundy France are wine traveler’s destinations of choice, but there are plenty of other fantastic regions.   A true wine connoisseur will tell you that the soil and environment are just as important as the type of grape used to make wine. The world has embraced wine making and excellent booze is now being produced all over the map. Let’s explore and see where these hidden wine gems are located and what makes them so special.

Wine producers are spreading their wings and growing some superior grapes in some unexpected places.

npr 

Kakheti, Georgia

I’m not talking about Georgia in America; I’m talking about the one that straddles Europe and Asia. This former Soviet country has excelled in producing some really interesting and delicious varieties of grapes. Wine production is nothing new to this region as archeologists have found winemaking equipment dating as far back as 6,000 BC.

One unique thing that wine makers in Georgia do is they ferment their wine in clay jars instead of the standard wooden or steel barrels. The clay gives Georgian wine a distinct sweet taste and earthy after tones.

 

Douro Valley, Portugal

Known as the birthplace of port wine, the Northernmost region in Portugal is a wine lover’s heaven. With panoramic views of the rolling hills and beautiful vineyards, wine has been produced in this region for over 2,000 years.   The golden colored hills and the divine port produced here will make this a favorite among port snobs from around the globe.

 chilled magazine

Finger Lakes Region, New York

White wines flourish in this Northern New York region, specifically Rieslings. The expansive landscape is dotted with waterfalls, 11 glacial lakes and one great lake, giving the region miles and miles of beautiful coastlines. With well over a 100 wineries, the Finger Lakes region is the largest wine-producing region East of California in the USA.

 tenerife

Tenerife, Canary Islands

Grown in rich nutrient volcanic soil, Tenerife produces exquisite reds and whites. The largest of the Canary Islands, Tenerife features grape varieties that were completely wiped out of the European mainland in a mid-1800s epidemic. The rare varieties create distinct flavor profiles and memorable aftertastes. The island views and abundant sea life compliments the island’s white wine collections.

 

Healdsburg, California

Avoid the rush that happens in Napa and head just an hour North to Healdsburg wine region. Producing similar quality wines, Healdsburg is Napa’s red headed stepchild. Born out of the need t have more wine tasting locations, Healdsburg boasts over 200 wineries and multiple award winning varieties. California has some of the best weather and soil combinations in the world, so it’s no surprise that he wine here is fantastic.

 pinterest

Door County, Wisconsin

If you are a fan of fruit wines, Door County should be your next stop. Located in the Midwest, Door County has eight wineries and is famous for their tart cherry wine. Specializing in fruit wines, Door County has plenty of grape varieties as well, so a little something for everyone.

 

Franschhoek, South Africa

Nestled just 45 short minutes from Cape Town, Franschhoek was originally known as Elephant’s Corner for the huge elephant population that roamed here. Now known for their impressive wine, the area is the best in South Africa and possibly all of Africa. Enjoy a hop-on hop-off style tour that stops at every winery and you can get a real taste of the region.

 

Enjoy these of the beaten path wine regions and taste some of their specialties, to see what all the hype is about.

 

 

Photos courtesy of Schug, NPR, chilled, New York Times, pinterest

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Destinations

Discussing the Future of Travel and Leisure Industry

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Hold your horses! The future of travel and leisure activities may change. Hotels.Com is offering a glimpse of how an intergalactic vacation may look like.

The COVID-19 pandemic made a catastrophic impact all across the globe. Because massive lockdowns were put in place to help halt the rapid increase of transmission, travel and leisure activities were temporarily stopped.

Honoring the National Aerospace Week

To honor the National Aerospace Week, however, Hotels.Com announces its mission to lead intergalactic space travel bookings. Avid travellers can now visit their site to check out the different space destinations that may be offered in the future.

Space travel will have to wait, however. These space destinations have to be prepared and hotels there have to be built first. Nonetheless, earlier this summer, NASA and SpaceX sent astronauts outside the planet to begin their “Launch America” initiative. Virgin Galactic featured its new spaceship design, as well.

Possibility of Travel and Leisure in Space

Josh Belkin, VP of global brand at Hotels.Com says that the site is proud to showcase the top properties on Earth. Due to the current conditions, they are now thinking of ways to make space travel and leisure activities a possibility, however. “This announcement is our hope to encourage and move forward the concept of space tourism, while revving up excitement for that aspect of the travel industry that is sure to come sometime in the near future,” he shares.

While awaiting this venture to push through, the company decides to give travellers a glimpse of what space travel and leisure can be. The company created offers that depict how travelling in space could look like. Travellers are provided with space-themed vacations complete with implements including moon-boot slippers, spacesuit robes, space snacks, Martian martinis, and robot bellhops.

20 Lucky Winners

To further complete this future project, the site is providing 20 travellers the chance of a lifetime. Twenty travellers will be awarded $250 travel gift cards that they can use in the future. Note, though, that these destinations will be on Earth, for now.

The catch, though, is that this space travel and leisure contest is only open to anyone who is named after one of the 8 planets. So, contestants must have a first, middle, or last name that is synonymous to one of those 8 planet names. This could be a problem as not many people have planet names, although with the extreme diversity in today’s world, there may be a good number of visitors with names depicting the said astronomical objects.

Summary

Travel and leisure activities may have halted due to the on-going pandemic. However, travellers need to remember that this COVID-19 situation doesn’t have to stop future vacation plans entirely. Notwithstanding the fact that domestic and international travels are greatly reduced at the moment, future ventures are still possible. If you are dreaming of intergalactic travel in the near future and you have a planet first, middle, or last name, then join the said Hotels.Com contest. You may be one of the lucky 20 who gets to receive a $250 gift card to experience a future space-themed vacation.

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