I had the pleasure of visiting Austin a couple of weekends ago with my family for my cousin’s graduation from UT Pharmacy School. After living in a college town for the past 12 years, I was curious to see this “college city” I had heard so much about. Since Austin is both the state capital AND home to the University of Texas’ main campus, it is much bigger than Athens. The downtown area has skyscrapers, and it felt like the size of a New Orleans or Mobile to compare it to other southern cities. Texas, is of course, far from the South. Every corner has a tex-mex restaurant, much like finding a coffee shop in Seattle. South Austin has shops selling cowboy boots and hats, and everywhere you look is the trademark “burnt orange” of the University of Texas. The university campus was gorgeous – huge football stadium, and a more hilly campus than I was expecting in Texas.
After graduation on Friday, we ate at a local tex-mex favorite, Trudy’s. We asked my cousin to pick somewhere, and he did well! They had a great outdoor patio, brunch alcohol specials, including a very spicy Bloody Mary and their signature Mexican martinis. I had the shrimp tacos, and they were top notch.
My cousin is somewhat of a beer connoisseur, so I asked him to pick out a brewery for us to tour the next day since he did such a great job picking lunch the day before. We ended up at Hops and Grain, a definitive “micro-brewery”. The entire brewery was about 1000 s.f., with the tasting room included. They are an eco-friendly company – they sell beer in kegs and in aluminum cans for resale and make dog biscuits out of the spent brewing grains. I didn’t try the dog biscuits, but I will offer one to our family dogs and see what they have to say! Hops & Grain also gives 1% of annual revenue to local environmental non-profits and supports local community growers and producers. As always, I enjoyed the tasting experience and tried several samples – GreenHouse IPA, Pomegranite Zoe (a rare summer brew), Alt-eration, FUNK del Roble and Pale Dog. Check out their web site! Other recommendations included Jester King Brewery, (512) Brewing Co, Independence Brewing and Live Oak Brewing.
We finished the day with a visit to a Food Truck Park in South Austin. The names of the tacos themselves were worth the trip, but they were just as delicious to taste. The names had a touch of politics (The Democrat, The Republican & The Independent) or the flavor of Reservoir Dogs (Mr. Pink & Mr. Orange) I had a Mr. Pink and Baja Shrimp.
The only drawback in Austin was airport security, and I hope it was just a one-time thing, because I am definitely going back! The airport itself was great, but the security was awful. They had three security lines, which seems adequate for an airport of Austin’s size (an international airport with 1 terminal) but two were waylaid with mechanical issues. Knowing that it was graduation weekend, and also a large convention in town, you would think they would have back up! Good thing we got to the airport an extra 45 minutes before the recommended hour before boarding time with carry-on baggage only. An hour an half after standing in line for security, and TSA checking out a very suspicious 3 oz. bottle of lotion of mine, we were ready to go back to Atlanta and our 6 terminals and the Plane Train!