Best of Austin – Friday

BOA all day, erryday

Hey, festies! Come enjoy local spots featured in our annual "Best of Austin" issue – voted best by our readers or recommended by our in-house critics. Perhaps you need a break? A place to chill? Something for the rest of your family, kids, or crew, some of whom might not be credentialed? Come dig the rest of Austin's bounty beyond SXSW. – Kate X Messer, "Best of Austin" editor


The Boardwalk Trail at Lady Bird Lake
The Boardwalk Trail at Lady Bird Lake (Photo by Jana Birchum)

The Boardwalk Trail at Lady Bird Lake

Best New Way to Avoid I-35, 2014

The Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail no longer forces pedestrians and cyclists to meander up the sidewalks of Riverside Drive to cross I-35 at one of the busiest intersections in town for the sake of a jolly jaunt round the lake. Explorers can loop the landmark lake from MoPac to the dam at Pleasant Valley Drive nearly oblivious to the traffic havoc nearby.

SXSW TIP: Open at 5am. Enjoy sunrise right out on Lady Bird Lake. Bring water.

Along southern bank of Lady Bird Lake.

Bouldin Creek Cafe

Best Vegan/Vegetarian Cafe, 2014

Always packed with veggie lovers and coffee drinkers, this cafe serves up a variety of dishes that have evolved over 14 years into some of the tastiest veggie vittles in town. A full breakfast menu – a moment of silence, please, for the Oven Cake Breakfast with Tofu Scram option – plus tacos, sandwiches, salads, and snacks round out the lighter fare.

SXSW TIP: Open at 7am weekdays and 8am weekends. Closed at midnight. In 2011, we awarded Bouldin a "Best Hot Staff" honor. Serious eye candy, we kid you not.

1900 S. First, 512/416-1601. www.bouldincreek.com.

Jim Spencer, KXAN

Best Weatherperson, 2014

With more than two decades of Austin forecasting under his belt, it's no surprise he's still the community's top pick for our daily outlooks. Our readers know he's always on point whether we're weathering rain, snow, hail, or (let's be real) our never-ending, merciless summers – and we're proud he's one of us.

SXSW TIP: Follow weather maestro Jim Spencer on Twitter @JimSpencerKXAN.

KXAN, www.kxan.com.


RM 2222
RM 2222 (Photo by Bret Brookshire)

RM 2222

Best Scenic Drive, 2014

Used to be that you could look out onto the rolling hills of West Austin without seeing nary a McMansion in sight – and that's painfully not so anymore. Still, if you follow the advice of brilliant lyricist Chamillionaire and "Keep Drivin," you'll suddenly feel like you're in an altogether different, and older, Austin.

SXSW TIP: In Texas, "RM" means "Ranch to Market Road." The more you know ...

Between the junction at Parkcrest to the east and RR 620 to the west.

Dandy's (Photo by Jana Birchum)


Best Way to Suit Your Fancy, 2014

For around the price of an off-the-rack threepiece, this Downtown clothier will fulfill all your bespoke fantasies. Don't forget to accessorize with the shop's exclusive collection of bow ties, brogues, and bowlers. We guarantee you'll clean up nicely.

SXSW TIP: Dandy's is located Downtown, in the heart of the action.

411 Brazos #110, 512/999-8196. www.dandysuit.com.

Wheatsville Co-op

Best Neighborhood Grocery, 2013

Nothing is more refreshing on Austin's blisteringly hot days than Wheatsville's cucumber agua fresca. And nothing is more edifying on a cold winter's eve than a trip to their nutritional, yet decadent, self-serve hot bar of comfort food. Wheatsville's buyers are community; they're an essential cog of not only their immediate North Campus neighborhood, but this entire town.

SXSW TIP: Might as well get a membership. You know you're going to be back. Also, check out their new South Austin location.

3101 Guadalupe, 512/478-2667; 4001 S. Lamar, 512/814-2888. www.wheatsville.coop.


Mrs. Johnson's Bakery

Best Doughnut For No Dough, 2007

SXSW veterans know about the drive-through at Mrs. J's. While late-night bakers toil away, after-hours club revelers coax them to the window to purchase pillows of glazed luv. Oh, and at 4am those fluffy sugared pillows are hot! But if you get a hankering when the afternoon sun is high, you'll have to hanker till way after the sun goes down.

SXSW TIP: An update: The Patels still own the place, but it is under new management. Same recipes with a few welcome tweaks.

4909 Airport, 512/452-4750. www.mjbakery.com.

Forbidden Fruit

Best Naughty Business, 2014

Tonight your fetish fantasies become reality. You will head to Forbidden Fruit. You will buy some kinky gear. You will be waiting at home, at the door, naked, except for every last thing you bought, even if the dog has to help you with that ball gag. You will do as you're told, or you will be punished. And if you can't find anything that tickles your fancy (or your trashy), well, then, you're just boring, because at Forbidden Fruit there are a million shades of gray ... not to mention gay. Yay!

SXSW TIP: Check their calendar for the fellatio workshop this Sunday.

108 E. North Loop, 512/453-8090, 800/315-2029. www.forbiddenfruit.com.

The Long Center

Best Downtown View, 2014

Having any view of the Live Music Capital of the World® from your home will cost you a pretty penny (and probably your firstborn), but thanks to the civic-mindedness and grand, aesthetic foresight of this mesmerizing performance venue, we have one spectacular view of the city at our feet. The only decision to make here is whether to see Austin's ravishing skyline during the day or at night.

SXSW TIP: Yes, this view is glorious day or night, but we highly recommend taking it in with a serious contender for your snuggle-buddy of the Fest award. On another tack, with a decent photog and the entire band in tow, a picture with our skyline as your backdrop would make a helluva souvenir of your SXSW adventure.

701 W. Riverside, 512/474-5664. www.thelongcenter.org.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle