Five Quintessentially Texan Things To Do In Austin

Drink spicy beer, eat brisket, dance your heart out

Liberal, laid-back Austin might be known as an outlier when it comes to Texan cities, but Southern charm runs deep through the city. Here’s a guide to five of the most quintessentially Texan things to do in Austin.

Get Down at a Honky Tonk

White Horse (photo by John Anderson)

Skip Sixth Street, pull on your cowboy boots, and get ready to dance your heart out at a honky tonk bar. Broken Spoke (3201 S. Lamar Blvd.) – dubbed by Texas Highway the “Best Dancehall in Texas” – has been delivering on two Texas essentials, two-step and chicken-fried steak, since 1954. If you’ve never two-stepped before, Broken Spoke offers dancing lessons from 8-9pm every Wednesday-Saturday. East Austin’s The White Horse (500 Comal St.) hosts happy hour from 3-8pm Monday-Friday and a taco truck outside so you can satiate your appetite before two-stepping till the crack of dawn. The White Horse provides a plethora of options for beginners to learn some new steps, with blues dance lessons every Tuesday at 7, swing dance lessons every Wednesday at 7, and two step lessons every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at 7. Travel west for Donn’s Depot (1600 W. 5th St.), which is housed in an old Missouri-Pacific train depot and showcases live swing, country, and modern folk/pop music and a dance floor six nights a week.

Eat Brisket

Meat and sides from Micklethwait (photo by John Anderson)

You’ve probably heard of Franklin Barbecue (900 E. 11th St.) and its world-famous brisket. The brisket is well-worth the wait, but if you don’t want to spend your whole vacation in line, here are some other outstanding brisket options from deep in the heart of Austin. In a city famous for its love of food trucks, Micklethwait Craft Meats (1309 Rosewood Ave.) mixes down-home Texas and funky Austin aesthetics as they serve up brisket and other barbecued tastiness from a vintage Comet trailer in East Austin. Searching for a fancier option? Lamberts (401 W. 2nd St.) presents patrons with beautifully plated brisket from within a refurbished historical Schneider Brothers Building. And putting a Tex-Mex flare on their brisket, Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ (11500 Manchaca Rd.) combines two Texas traditions with a selection of sandwiches, tacos, and sides that meld the two distinct flavors together. (Still hungry? See the Chronicle's Battle of the Briskets.)

Top Off Dinner With Peach Cobbler

Follow up your brisket dinner with peach cobbler, the most Texan dessert known to man. Austin was one of the first cities to embrace the farm-to-table movement and, in true Austin fashion, Jack Allen’s Kitchen (7720 W. Hwy. 71, plus three more locations), serves fresh peach cobbler made from ingredients from local farms. Other outstanding takes on the Southern home-cooked style dessert can be found at Iron Works Barbecue (100 Red River) and Country Boyz Fixins (4140 E. 12th St.).

Buy Boots

photo by John Leach

If you’re looking to "dress Texan,” you have to start with the most identifiable statement piece possible: cowboy boots. Easily spotted by the big red boot on the outside of the store located on South Congress, Allens Boots (1522 S. Congress Ave.) sells original Allens Brand boots alongside other brands, such as Liberty Black and Ariat. Also located on the extremely popular tourist destination that is South Congress, Heritage Boot Co. (1200 S Congress Ave.) supplies customers with exquisite handmade boots. (Pro tip: Don’t expect to wear your cowboy boots all day the first day you get them unless you’re prepared for lots of blisters.)

Drink Like a Local

In Austin, we like to keep it local, so when the sparkling water craze swept the country, we rose to the challenge and started making our own fizzy water. Waterloo – the name a nod to Austin’s original moniker – delivers a range of fruit-flavored sparkling waters, with the flavor derived from the fruit themselves. Rambler – founded by the owner of the Mohawk (912 Red River), one of Austin’s staple live music venues – is partnered with Texas Parks & Wildlife Foundation and filtered by Texas Limestone, producing a crisp, natural flavorless sparkling water that actively helps Texas rivers. And with “crisp and clean” printed right there on their cans, Big Swig delivers just that, without flavor or in two subtle flavors, grapefruit and key lime.

In the mood for something stronger? Margaritas are eternally popular, but the lesser-known michelada – a Mexican drink made from beer, lime juice, tomato juice, hot sauce, and a salt-spice rim – is another favorite. An interior Mexican restaurant located near must-see Barton Springs, El Alma (1025 Barton Springs Rd.) invites guests to accompany their michelada with carne asada or any of their other signature dishes. Nestled on Rainey Street, one of Austin’s signature bar districts, Craft Pride (61 Rainey St.) serves micheladas, alongside grapefruit mimosas and” beermosas,” on their weekend brunch menu. And Hotel San José (1316 S. Congress Ave.), known for celebrity visits and the chic ambiance of its downstairs lounge, makes a unique michelada that derives its flavor from soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce.

Congratulations, you’re now a bonafide Texan!

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST

brisket, honky tonk, michelada, peach cobbler, two step, sparkling water

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