We spent most of last week in a city we’d long been hoping to visit — Austin, TX.
Back in 2010, Austin was nowhere on my radar. But between SXSW, Austin City Limits, and a general cultural appreciation for all things weird, I feel like Austin has steadily made it onto everybody’s radar. So much so that when I told people Jordan and I were going to visit, they were surprised to hear it was our first visit.The main reason for our travels was to attend my cousin’s wedding, which Jordan was also officiating. And since it was our first visit, we added a few extra days to our trip so that we could explore the city. We also persuaded one of our favorite couples, Heather and Aswan, to leave their kids behind and come along with us for the fun.
In the days leading up to the trip, I was already cracking up randomly in anticipation for all of the laughs we’d have. No kids + your boo thang + funny friends + a new city = a really good time.
On our first day in town, we stopped at Hopdoddy Burger Bar, and all of us were impressed by the burgers. I had one with mushrooms, goat cheese, and pesto, and looking at this photo takes me back to a very happy place.
While we ate, the laughs about all kinds of random stuff started racking up.
After lunch, we checked into our AirBnB in East Austin and chilled out a bit before venturing to the original Whole Foods to stock up on snacks. That place is kind of magical and filled with far friendlier shoppers than the ones you’d find standing in the long lines of a NYC Whole Foods. In fact, this old tweet from Jordan still cracks me up — both for it’s accuracy and his lack of knowledge about tabbouleh.
For dinner, we walked down E. 6th Street past a ton of cool spots and food trucks. There were so many good options, as there really are food trucks/food trailers parked all over Austin. I was nearly deterred several times, but I persevered and made it to the one I came in search of — the Thai-Kun truck at Whisler’s.
We had a mix of fried chicken, pork, chicken fat rice (yes, that’s rice cooked in chicken fat; insert shocked face emoji here), and fish cakes. But the standout star was this cabbage dish with basil, mint, cilantro, and other goodness that was probably one of the most memorable and tasty things I’ve ever eaten.
The next morning we were up early, and I think we all basked in the fact that it was by choice and not due to the cries of a little person. After some quiet time, we went around the corner to Wright Bros. Brew & Brew for our morning coffees. A really cool vibe inside, really friendly staff, and tasty coffee and tea.
And yes, if your eyes are keen enough to notice, that is Aswan with a du-rag on his head. Outside the house. In public. :-)
For breakfast we headed to the spot multiple people told me we had to visit — Magnolia Cafe.
We shamelessly went in on some morning migas (where have you been all my life?), breakfast tacos, and pancakes.
From there, we had to find ways to make the best of a pretty cloudy/rainy day. So we hit up the famous Greetings from Austin street sign for some photos. Lots of photos that crack me up, so I’m including them all here.
I have no idea what was happening in this photo of me and Heather, but it tickles me so.
And look! There’s an Instagram Husband in his natural habitat. :-)
Next we drove over to the HOPE Outdoor Gallery, which was super dope to see and explore.
The walls are continually being tagged with fresh art, and anyone can contribute to the walls as they see fit.
File this under: the random things you learn about people when you travel with them — who knew Aswan could do a headstand??
There was enough of a break in the rain that we decided to try our luck and rent some canoes on Lady Bird Lake. Each couple had to sort through some power struggles about how to row their canoe successfully, which was pretty hilarious. I wish I had photos, but the last thing I needed was my phone or camera to be submerged in water. The time in the canoes was a lot of fun and really relaxing to just be on the water. Though we got rained on a little, we still loved it.
After all that rowing (Jordan really did most of the work), I justified that we deserved ice cream, and so we made our way to the Amy’s location in South Congress.
Their Mexican vanilla flavor is made with a Mexican orchid and it kind of blew our minds. Pro tip: there’s an Amy’s in the airport, so you could make this a final treat before boarding a flight home.
We walked off the ice cream by exploring the shops along South Congress. Some of our favorites included STAG Provisions, Uncommon Objects, and Sunroom.
I don’t typically buy much when I travel, but I did find some new glasses that I love.
We rounded out the day with more relaxing, dinner at Torchy’s Tacos, some deep theological conversations, and then a walk down 6th Street at night, which included some very entertaining people watching, a couple rides on a mechanical bull, and some friendly couples competition (I was waaaay too focused) at one of those basketball shoot-out games.
On Thursday, we headed toward Hill Country for lunch at The Salt Lick — another recommendation I got repeatedly. The barbecue was fantastic, but the food coupled with the really beautiful setting made it all so much better.
There’s something about eating outside under trees and string lights that makes everybody happy. Barbecue followed by delicious blackberry cobbler definitely helps up the happy factor too.
It was so nice, we chilled out and stayed a little while after we’d finished eating.
This is definitely the face Jordan makes when he’s mocking me in some way…
But I was so full and loving life that I didn’t even side eye him. :-)
Jordan and I had commitments with my cousin’s wedding (which was amazing! more on that in another post), but on our last full day, the sun finally came out and we started off with breakfast at Snooze: an A.M. Eatery. It’s a chain restaurant I’d heard great things about when we were in San Diego, but we never got to try it. On the morning of our visit, they were blasting a crazy good ’90s and 2000’s hip hop playlist, so we were off to a strong start. Then the food came out, and the place became a winner.
After breakfast, the last thing we had time to see was Barton Springs Pool. When I learned about the pool in doing my research before our trip, I thought the concept sounded so cool — a public pool that’s three acres big and is fed by natural springs.
When I mentioned to one of my friends who used to live in Austin that I couldn’t wait to swim in Barton Springs Pool, she was quick to tell me that due to the natural springs, it never gets warmer than around 68 degrees, i.e. it’s freezing (by my Caribbean blood standards).
We didn’t have our swimsuits with us anyway, but even if I had, I’m pretty sure I could have only managed to stick my feet in. And sticking our feet in and sitting in the shade and people watching and cracking more jokes was pretty perfect.
Austin — we’re so glad we finally got to know you a little bit. Stay fun and beautiful and weird until the next time.
As a final note: a few people have asked me to include links to things I’m wearing, so I’ll try my best to add those to the end of my posts.
Wearing: Camo joggers/Aritzia, gray tank top/Madewell (similar), pastel pink tank/James Perse Standard from Nordstrom Rack (similar), ripped jeans/H&M (similar), blue dress/Forever 21 (old), tan sandals/Birkenstock, white sneakers/Converse, brass bracelets/Alex and Ani mixed with bangles from India, gold watch/Michael Kors (similar), brown leather tote/Madewell.
MaRiceMay 15, 2017 at 9:39 pm
Austin, Texas needs to use this entire post as a tourist ad! And love those glasses on you!
Jessica RiceMay 22, 2017 at 3:17 pm
Thanks, Ma! :-)
JenelleMay 22, 2017 at 3:01 pm
Loved this post. It brings back memories of my trip to Austin with my Grandfather. I just sent you an email about it.
Jessica RiceMay 22, 2017 at 3:19 pm
Thanks! And yes, I thought of him and the history he made while we were visiting. :-)
JenelleMay 23, 2017 at 11:25 am
:) I just had to send it again. I put in an extra letter.