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:
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.
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.
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 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!
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!
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!
Ukraine: An Underrated Tourist Destination In Europe
When many people think of taking a European vacation they probably imagine strolling along the Seine with their lover, or seeing Michelangelo’s David in Florence. I mean, those are both two amazing things to do. However most people would even consider traveling to Ukraine. It is a country at war, the winters tend to be unbearable, and Eastern Europeans have a reputation of being unfriendly. All that being said, Ukraine is still an underrated tourist destination and one that should be on travelers radar.
What Is There To Do In Ukraine?
Ukraine is a large country. In fact, it’s the largest country entirely in Europe. This means that there is something for everyone! From adventure travelers to those just looking to relax, you can spend months exploring the country and still not tire of things to see and do.
If you are looking for a city break you can’t skip out on the capital of Kyiv, nor the cultural capital of Lviv. For adrenaline junkies you can go skiing in Bukovel, or white water rafting in Vorokhta. And if you are just a good old nature lover then camping by the sunken city of Bakota or the uninhabited Dzharylhach island could be for you.
5 Amazing Places To Visit In Ukraine
1. Lviv – A Beautiful City In Western Ukraine
The cultural capital of Lviv has a storied history. From being the capital of the kingdom of Rus to a part of Poland, the pearl of the Austrian Empire to the gem of an independent Ukraine. There are so many things to do in Lviv almost anyone can have a great time.
For dining I highly recommend a trip to the most popular restaurant in Lviv, Kryivka. This restaurant in a bunker under Rynok square is themed, but don’t let that put you off. The walls are papered with interesting artefacts from one of the most tumultous periods in Lviv history. Youc an see old military medals, propaganda posters, and plenty of old (non-functioning) weapons.
2. Bakota – A Less Than Easy Place To Go Camping Like A Local
The site of a submerged city, Bakota, is currently a reservoir connecting to the Bug river. This is a very popular camping spot for Ukrainians and there are plenty of activities you can do. I like to just relax and enjoy nature, but you can go boating, fishing, or hiking the cliffs around the area.
You will need a car to get there as public transportation doesn’t really exist, but that just means you’ll have to do a bit of car camping.
3. Dzharylhach Island – The Largest Island In The Black Sea
Dzharylhach Island is an uninhabited island in the Kherson region of Ukraine that is another beautiful place to camp. You can only get there by taking a ferry from the mainland, and there are no accommodations other than tents. Rest on the soft white sand or play with the dolphins that come very close to shore.
If you do spend some time there you have to try the island specialty – stingray borsch! This soup is made daily by the shanty little cafe near the pier. And don’t forget to see the sunset by the famous Dzharylhach Lighthouse!
4. The Pink Lake – One Of The Most Unique Places In All Ukraine
Located on Arabatska Strilka, about 6 hours by bus from Kherson City, is one of my absolute favorite places in the whole country. Officially named Henichesk Lake, this natural pink lake is an amazing sight to behold.
The color is due to a non-harmful bacteria that thrives in the high salt content of the lake. Many people even take salt home to cook with it, I know I brought a few kilos back! Make sure to wade out as far as you can go so you can see the most naturally pink section.
5. Kyiv – The Capital Of Ukraine
No list about places to see in Ukraine would be complete without Kyiv. A capital going back all the way to Kievan Rus, the city is a mix of classic Eastern European architecture and ugly Soviet commie-blocks. However don’t let the ugliness deter you. The city is lively and fun if you know how to do it right.
Spend some time at the Bukta food center on the Dniper river, or hit up an amazing pool party in the warm months. Walk through beautifully manicured parks and see the Mariinsky Palace, or visit the Pechersk Lavra – an historic cave monastery filled with the bodies of Orthodox saints.
About the author:
Alona Tiunina is a travel blogger from Ukraine who has been to (almost) every region in the country. When she is not traveling she enjoys binge watching Netflix and scouring airline tickets for her next trip.
Visit the Quieter Side of the Caribbean
Let’s get away from the crowds and find a vacation spot that is just as beautiful and affordable while we visit the quieter side of the Caribbean.
Summer vacation is around the corner and now is the time to start planning your beach trip. If you are thinking Caribbean then you most likely are looking into Cancun, the Dominican Republic and Jamaica, the three most popular destinations. These places are awesome, cheap and beautiful but also the busiest, so maybe a quieter destination ids for you. Let’s get away from the crowds and find a vacation spot that is just as beautiful and affordable while we visit the quieter side of the Caribbean.
If surf is your goal then Costa Rica is your paradise. Considered the best surfing in the world, with warm waters and consistent breaks all year long, Costa Rica needs to be on your list if you like water activities. Costa Rica straddles both coasts with the Caribbean side being the calmer side with smaller waves and thicker jungles. The Caribbean side is generally cheaper than the Pacific side and much more laid back.
Honduras isn’t on most people’s lists because the city of San Pedro Sula is currently the murder capital of the world but its well over an hour away from the beaches. This beautiful country sits right on the Caribbean Sea and boasts some of the most beautiful beaches around. Check out Roatan, the largest island off the coast and a major vacation hub. You can fly direct from major US cities like Houston, so no need to worry about the crime riddled central cities.
Nobody thinks of Panama when booking Caribbean vacations but that is their fault. This Central American country boast some of the region’s most secluded private islands and luxurious retreats. Find the above water villas you’ve been searching for with unspoiled marine life just waiting to be explored. Panama has some awesome wildlife and plenty of sanctuaries you can explore and enjoy all that nature has to offer. Panama also has a rich history so you can see some really cool ruins.
Trinidad and Tobago
Tourists still under utilize the only actual Caribbean islands on this list, Trinidad and Tobago. The country isn’t focused on tourism like the other Caribbean nations so they don’t offer as much variety of resorts as the other islands. Trinidad is the business island and Tobago is the pleasure center of the two, so I advise you stay on Tobago. These islands have those authentic laid back vibes you’ve been searching for.
If you want the best snorkeling and scuba diving in the region than look no further than the Barrier reef off the coast of Belize. The largest barrier reef in the Northern Hemisphere is full of marine life and intense coral reefs. Belize also has some radical Mayan ruins you can check out that are located deep in the lush rainforests. There are plenty of guided hikes and activities to keep you entertained and more than enough sandy beaches to relax on. Belize is nestled between Mexico and Guatemala, so it’s easy to get to and affordable.
Try one of these less traveled paths and your vacation will be filled with chill Caribbean vibes.
Luxurious Private Island Escapes
Steer clear of all the tourists, long lines and other common vacation annoyances and instead party like a rock star on your own private island.
We’ve all dreamt of being marooned on a desert island filled with coconuts and privacy, but we all can’t be Robinson Crusoe. Being trapped on a desert island is actually a nightmare, but what isn’t, is staying on one of these luxury private island resorts. Steer clear of all the tourists, long lines and other common vacation annoyances and instead party like a rock star on your own private island.
The Meridian Club
This ultimate all-inclusive resort will show you what luxury is really all about as you bask in the beautiful Caribbean sun in Turks & Caicos. The Meridian Club offers everything a regular all-inclusive would offer but they do it with sophistication and class. You won’t need cash because it’s a cashless experience, in fact you won’t need anything when you cruise around the archipelago. Just be prepared to smile, a lot. You can stay here for as little as $900 per night, which in the grand scheme of things, it’s pretty affordable.
Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino
The Renaissance Aruba isn’t your typical private island resort, because it’s not on a private island at all. Instead, this luxury resort has its own private island you can book and enjoy some truly quiet time. The 40-acre private island has two separate sides, a family and adult side. You can feed flamingos, hang in hammocks, drink tropical beverages or check out the nude beach. You can get a room for around $175 a night, so jump on that.
The ultimate in private resorts is Necker Island, owned by billionaire Richard Branson and used by the super elite. This destination has it all and you and 33 of your closest amigos can stay here for only $80,000 a night. Sounds affordable… for a prince. Recently former President Obama recently stayed here and was seen frolicking with Branson in the ocean. What is paradise worth, well apparently it’s around 80k, but not to worry, I’ve found some more affordable options as well.
Pelican Beach Resort
Actually sitting on top of the largest barrier reef in the Northern Hemisphere is the Pelican Beach Resort in Belize. This resort has the best location possible for underwater exploration as it literally rests on a lush coral reef system with some of the best dive spots around. For under $300 for two guests a night you can stay on this semi-private island with meals included, sounds like a deal to me. Highlights include the guided nighttime snorkeling tours where you’ll get to see the ocean like you’ve never seen before.
Nangyuan Island Dive Resort
This group of three tiny islands in the Gulf of Thailand is one of the best spots on Earth for underwater exploration. These three islands are actually linked by pure white sandbars so all three are accessible by foot. For as little as $100 USD a night you can have your own private little island to call your own. The snorkeling and scuba diving here is incredible with sea caves, whales sharks and sea turtles to keep you entertained and mesmerized. This tropical location has 15 unique dive sites so you won’t get bored and your mind will be overloaded with stimulus.
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