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 old Jalapeño Joe's has been taken over by bright flowers and glittered signs as has the menu with kale and butternut squash enchiladas with pumpkin seeds, Yoda tacos with fried avocado and sriracha sauce, and roasted beets with orange and arugula. For carnivores, try the Kobe beef burger and great migas, or crispy duck tacos. And who doesn't love RC Cola on tap?
SXSW TIP: Their basics are out-of-this-world, too, garnering quite the rep as a breakfast taco heaven: try the Migas or Alexis Texas.
4905 Airport, 512/451-3326. www.tysonstacos.com.
She's the poster child for Big and Beautiful (and pink!), sure, but our beloved state Capitol's real draw is the 130 years of history scattered inside. It's the fortress where school kids and Texas newbies go to gape at the grand painting of the Battle of San Jacinto, and where they return years later as adults to lobby for causes or air their own grievances.
SXSW TIP: Find the portrait of beloved Gov. Ann Richards and take a selfie.
1100 N. Congress, 512/305-8400. www.tspb.state.tx.us.
When we think "peacock," and earnestly try to suppress the traumatic visual of pre-tweens bobbing their necks to that filthy, filthy Katy Perry song, we think of the 100 eyes of Argus. They see all. Truly. Hera (you know, Zeus' wife) knew that, and as a tribute to her loyal 100-eyed watchdog pal, placed those eyes on the plumes of her favorite bird, the noble peacock. We lie. We actually think of finding a shady spot near the cottage at Mayfield Park and spreading out a blanket. On that blanket, we place pillows, bottles, and a basket of tempting treats intended for tempting intendeds. 1-2-3. That's it. We lay out our bounty and just wait. It's a pretty simple formula, and, trust us, one that works. Your beloved, fully rested and sated by your thoughtful offerings will be a-slumber (or something ...) in your arms in no time. And don't worry, Casanova, you won't snooze through curfew. Peacocks are pretty freakin' loud. And curious. Actually, they're downright nosy. Just watch out for the 100 eyes of Argus. They really do see all.
SXSW TIP: Peacocks like peanuts.
3505 W. 35th, 512/974-6700. www.mayfieldpark.org.
When the Texas sun blazes, head to Bartholomew Pool in all of its renovated, newly reopened glory. Between the winding waterslide duo, frog slide, "lily pad" obstacle course, and diving board, the whole family will find something to keep them occupied, wet, and happy.
SXSW TIP: Weekends, 1-5pm
1800 E. 51st, 512/928-0014. www.austintexas.gov/pools.
We're still outraged a new LP can cost as much as $35, while $1 bins from the Seventies have all but disappeared. Not at Antone's Records. Need a 40-year-old Butch Hancock album that was only ever a small-press rarity? They have it and won't gouge you for it. How 'bout that Ellen Foley record where she's backed by the Clash? $3. Sure, their high end includes an unpeeled Beatles "butcher cover," but from Asleep at the Wheel to ZZ Top, you'll find it all at Antone's for a song.
SXSW TIP: Dig deep; there are hidden jewels in many genres, even beyond classic, blues, roots, and R&B.
2928 Guadalupe, 512/322-0660. www.antonesrecordshop.com.
Austin isn't necessarily known for its graffiti art, but the evolving compositions at the HOPE Outdoor Gallery at Castle Hill are certainly gravy by any connoisseur's standards. The site that was nearly razed for development before the 2008 downturn remained a pot-holed maze of rebar and concrete – a "public nuisance" until property owners Vic Ayad and Dick Clark leased it to Andi Scull Cheatham (she of HOPE Farmers Market). Indeed HOPE pulled a miraculous feat in a quickly condo-izing Austin – leaving some space to breathe, paint, and wander. Now it would be unthinkable to block the view of the historic Castle looming above.
SXSW TIP: Take pics. The gallery may be totally different next time you visit. Also: Please be careful – that's a big ol' slab o' concrete.
Baylor, between 11th & 12th. www.fb.com/hopeoutdoorgallery.
It's hard to imagine what Austin would be like if it hadn't grown up with BookWoman, and it's hard to imagine that BookWoman would have grown up at all without Susan Post. For 39 years, co-founder Post has kept up with changing times and shifting locations, all while stocking an inclusive variety of written material and other goodies to appeal to women's libbers and intersectional post-wavers alike. She's also maintained a safe, nonjudgmental space for events ranging from Tarot readings to concerts to academic confessionals. The cosmic mother must be happy indeed.
SXSW TIP: Check the BW event calendar.
5501 N. Lamar Ste. A105, 512/472-2785. www.ebookwoman.com.
How can a venue win Best LGBTQ Hangout for its fifth year in a row, yet somehow take home Best New Venue? By leapfrogging to a new location, of course, and what a location it is! Once the home of the pioneering lesbian bar named Chances, the formerly blacked-out Club de Ville has been completely transformed into a new and improved version of CUC's East Sixth Street haunt. Nearly every feature survived intact, from the cat burglar mural to the AstroTurf loungers to the fresh juices and kombucha cocktails, and the clientele naturally followed suit. Austin's quirky, creative community continues to party down in its fabulous new home.
SXSW TIP: Also home of 2014 "Best Scenester/Mover and Shaker," Maggie Lea. Tell her we said, "Howdy!"
900 Red River, 512/431-2133. www.cheerupcharlies.com.
The veteran palace of family fun that has been serving up spares and strikes for generations is so much more than just a bowling alley. It's also melt-in-your-mouth enchiladas, cold (cold, cold) beers, a (new) laser maze, a video arcade – and, most of all, good people who want to make sure you can't wait to come back for more.
SXSW TIP: Save room for food. These enchiladas are an Austin classic.
5700 Grover, 512/452-2518. www.dartbowl.com.
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