Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Austin Favorites

With today being my last full day in Austin, I thought I would dedicate a post solely to some of my very favorites in all of Austin. Granted, there is still so much that I have left to see and do and cross off my list, but I think in my four years here I've accomplished quite a bit on the Austin Bucket List. I was inspired by the Best of Austin 2014 Poll Ballot, and though I did not participate because many of the items weren't applicable to me, I did steal the ones I felt like I could answer. But before we go there, let's talk exercise and breakfast.


Workout

This morning once again began bright and early wit ha 6am Pure Barre class at the Westlake location. After taking barre classes both yesterday and the day prior, my body was pretty worn out, but it also felt so good to start my day off with such a great workout. And remember how proud I was of my thigh work yesterday? I think I wore myself out for today's thigh work - whoops! I will add, though, that I finally invested in a pair of Pure Barre sticky socks, and I am so glad that I did. Though they absolutely aren't necessary, they do make maintaining some of the positions so much easier. So worth the $12.

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Breakfast

Breakfast this morning was the same as yesterday's. BUT, stay tuned for tomorrow's breakfast, because it is sure to be something different. I used up the last of both my spinach and my egg whites (I love it when I coordinate it like that), and I am not going to the grocery store for one morning's breakfast. I know, the anticipation is killing you.


Best of Austin

I tried to choose categories that would allow me to showcase some of what makes Austin so fun and unique. Many of these have probably been showcased on the blog before, but here they are again, all in one place.
  • Best Downtown View - Lou Neff Point
For many consecutive years, Observation Point at The Long Center has been the winner of this category, and while I would agree that it offers a spectacular view of the Austin skyline, my personal favorite is the view from Lou Neff Point on the Town Lake trail. I frequently stop to snap a picture, and it is a view I will certainly miss.

  • Best Patio/Deck - The Oasis
The food isn't necessarily anything to write home about, but the sunset views are some of the best around. The Oasis even has a sunset photo contest, and I would venture to say the view is more than worth the drive out to Lake Travis.

I talked about this place on the blog recently, and it is so worth a visit every time you come to Austin, because the art is constantly changing. I'm not one for graffiti, but because that is for what this spot is designated, I love seeing all the ways people choose to express themselves.

  • Best Austin Food Landmark - Whole Foods
Yes, Whole Foods is located in many cities, but none of them can hold a candle to the Whole Foods Headquarters in Austin. In fact, I just went there yesterday with Hanna, where I enjoyed a spinach salad with tomatoes, red quinoa + tabouli, tomatoes, onions, chickpeas, green and black olives, and blackened chicken all topped with balsamic vinaigrette. Polished off with a Crispy Crunch-flavored Taza individual chocolate bar, and their signature 50.7 fl. oz. water bottle.

I know I just went there a couple of weekends ago, and Austin has so many great breakfast establishments, but this was truly the best that I've had, and you guys know how much I love breakfast. You can't beat the buffet price, and the options are truly endless. I can't go without mentioning the pancakes at Kerbey Lane Cafe, or the omelets from The Omelettry, because those come in at a close second.

  • Best Burgers - Hopdoddy
Hands down. I love Hopdoddy, and it will forever be a restaurant that I recommend to people visiting Austin. Everything from the way you are seated to the way the burgers are prepared is just perfect. 

  • Best Food Trailer - Bananarchy
There are so many food trailers to choose from in Austin, and they are now popping up all over the country, but Bananarchy has been and will continue to be my favorite. Frozen bananas dipped in chocolate, white chocolate, or peanut butter, and topped with goodness ranging from nuts and coconut to Oreos and M&M's. Choose a specialty, or create your own - I guarantee your banana won't last long.

  • Best Ice Cream/Gelato - Mandola's
This one was tough, because though I can't eat normal ice cream, Austin has tons of vegan ice cream parlors. Lick would probably be my favorite place to find vegan ice cream, but Mandola's wins the award for best gelato. Whenever I eat at Mandola's, I always make sure to save room for a scoop or two of their gelato. The perfect post-meal treat.

  • Best Tacos - Tacodeli
This was a tough one, because Austin has some fabulous  taco establishments. I would have to give the award to Tacodeli for managing to attract so much business in only the breakfast and lunch hours and for making some pretty dynamite tacos.

  • Best Day Trip - Enchanted Rock & Fredericksburg
Austin has a lot within its proximity, so on a weekend when Austin is sure to be crowded with people (and that's often), it's so easy to escape for a day to another city or town. My most recent, and favorite, day trip was the one Dylan and I took to Enchanted Rock and Fredericksburg. Enchanted Rock afforded us some incredible views of the Hill Country, and Fredericksburg is just charming.


  • Best Golf - TopGolf
Okay, so I don't have much to go off of here, but I do know that TopGolf is so incredibly fun, so it wins the title of Best Golf. You can read about my experience here, but I just want to tell you not to be intimidated by either the prices or the crowd. Going before 6pm will alleviate both of those issues, but splitting the cost between a group of friends brings the price way down, and there are plenty of things to do there while you wait for a lay.

I just couldn't choose between these two activities, so I'll write about both. Ziplining really appealed to the thrill-seeker in me, and the views from each of the five ziplines was spectacular. And kayaking and paddleboarding is truly so unique to Austin, though I know it is expanding to many other cities, and it is the perfect "Austin activity."


  • Best Bowling Alley - The Union at The University of Texas
While I don't have anything to compare this to, I do know that you'll be hard pressed to find a better deal than underground bowling at the University of Texas. It's even cheaper for UT students, but it's still a steal for those who are just visiting. Dylan and I had a blast doing this - bonus, we went on a glow-in-the-dark day - and my only regret is that I had checked it out sooner.

  • Best Scenic View - Mount Bonnell
There wasn't a lot of competition for this one. Mount Bonnell is my favorite spot in Austin, and though there are so many beautiful views throughout the entire city, Mount Bonnell will forever be my favorite.

The bookworm inside of me, combined with my love for unique (and okay, maybe unnecessary) items, absolutely loves this bookstore. This bookstore has such an Austin feel to it with its unique layout and employees, but you can still find all of the Classics. Can't beat it.

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  • Best DVD Rental/Purchase - Vulcan Video
This place is simply the best. As a child who grew up going to Blockbuster on the reg, I was so upset when they went out of business. Vulcan Video came to the rescue, though, and was located just steps from SRD. It has since moved, but it has every movie or television show you can imagine. I rented more than a few Full House seasons from them in my time. 
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  • Best Grocery Store - Central Market
Yes, there is a great Central Market in Houston (and it may even be better than the one in Austin), but the one in Austin is just so convenient to where I live. And while I know some people shy away from doing their grocery shopping here because of the supposedly higher prices, I've found that the prices aren't that much different from H-E-B. And it is so much less of a headache to shop at Central than it is to shop at H-E-B.

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And on that note, I'm off to finish out my penultimate shift at SRD, before moving 100 miles an hour to cross everything off of my to-do list before I go to sleep. Happy Hump Day, and I will see you guys tomorrow, for sure!

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