In mid-October we found ourselves on a plane to Texas. This is not all that strange; we fly through Dallas DFW airport all the time. Unique on this trip was that for the first time ever we would leave the airport as Texas (Austin in particular) was our destination.
When planning the trip we wanted to make sure we weren’t in town during a Texas football home game (or a huge festival), and we also didn’t want to go when it would be 100 degrees. October seemed a good time so we booked our tickets. Much to our surprise, we had a fairly cool weekend, with Saturday never climbing out of the mid-60s.
One of the things we quickly noticed: So. many. roads. Seriously, frontage roads and multiple-level interchanges confused our GPS the entire trip and don’t make for pretty scenery – Austin seems to be mostly highway in some parts of town.
Rates for downtown hotels weren’t a great value on the weekend ($200+ for the mid-level) so we decided to stay a little further out when I found a good pricematch deal for the Hyatt Place Austin North Central. Though not overly exciting, the rooms are large, comfortable and familiar, and their location seemed to be 10-15 minutes away from most parts of Austin. (This actually became a running joke on the trip, as our GPS generally had us 12 minutes from our destination on each drive.)
Gingerman Pub – We had a late lunch here, with Eric ordering the Turkey Cranberry Sandwich and Leandra the hot dog in a pretzel bun with spicy mustard. Both were tasty. The interior had a homey feel with couches and chairs, while the outdoor beer garden was a bit more standard.
Uncle Billys – This BBQ place came recommended, but we found the food to be just ok. We split a brisket plate, then Leandra ordered a plain house sausage because she was still hungry. The beers on draft were all fairly similar, light to medium local beers, nothing dark; a little surprising since stouts and porters can go well with smoked meats. Service was reasonably fast.
House Wine Austin – We came here to end our first evening, primarily for wine, but once Eric saw the make your own s’mores option for dessert we also had to try that. The plate came with a small fire for roasting the flat, square marshmallows.
Just as tasty as s’mores should be. The setting was nice too, with low couches in the back, heat-lamps and blankets if needed. And since it was Austin, a duo was playing acoustic guitar at the front of the building- thankfully they were pretty good. This is the kind of place we would frequent if we had one near us in NC.
Jack Allens Kitchen – Dinner on our way back from Hill Country. Eric ordered the 5 Cheese Macaroni and Chicken with achiote chicken, Leandra the cheesesteak sandwich with sweet potato fries. Both plates were quite tasty. The restaurant was hopping on a Sunday evening, but service was still pretty fast, and portions were Texas-sized (at least in our minds).
Hopdoddy Burger Bar – Lunch on our way out of town. Layout can be a little confusing, the idea is you go to the very back to order, get a flag, then find a table. We were directed to the bar which had the full menu so we watched quite a few other non-regulars struggle with the setup. My chocolate-cherry cake milkshake was absolutely awesome, but the salad was a bit bitter for my taste. Leandra’s burger was very messy but utterly consumed with a grin and washed down with a local Belgian-style tripel.