Austin keeps topping (or nearly topping) the annual surveys of major news outlets. US News called Austin the “#1 Best Place to live in the USA” in April 2019. TripAdvisor named Austin one of the top 25 travel destinations in America (see at this link). Barack Obama visited a few times while serving as US President and savored local tacos (Torchy’s Tacos) and Texas barbeque (Franklin BB Q).
And every online lifestyle media outlet from Thrillist to Eater.com to FoodNetwork.com to CondeNast Traveller offers up an annual post on where to eat and drink. The accolades and social media-ready posts (and the tourists) keep on coming.
Let’s Check in With the Locals
But everyone has a friend in Austin, so we thought we’d check in with some locals and get the inside scoop. We started by asking about Franklin Barbeque–which seems to top every “where to eat” list published in the last few years. “Austinites don’t eat at Franklin,” notes Peter Wendt, Assistant Editor at Keep Austin Wild, a local Austin-based business directory. “The lines are simply too long.” Wendt recommends travelling 30 minutes out of town to Kyle Texas for Milt’s BBQ, or to the town of LockHart which features several venerated BBQ restaurants such as Black’s and Kreuz Market.
And What About the Tacos?
Austin’s Tacos seem to get the most press of all. Business Insider caused some grumbling from taco lovers when Austin restaurants grabbed both the number 1 and number 2 spots in it’s 2015 “50 Best Tacos in America” roundup. We asked Austin-based digital advertising marketing executive and long-time Austin resident Michael David about where locals go. “Yes, Torchy’s is that good, no doubt,” David states, “but to find the up-and-coming restaurants, you have to look at how Torchy’s began, it started as a taco truck, so that’s what we look for.”
David notes that in 2019, new taco trucks are popping up in the area out by the Austin Airport. This area features new restaurants like Ceviche Love, which is an all-seafood outdoor venue and and outdoor market of several Taco trucks at the corner of 183 and 812 with two notable restaurants, Barbacoa Santa Rosa, and Antojitos Mexicanos La Guera. “The new spots out by the Airport are very authentic, very cheap eats,” notes David.
Some Fun Austin Activities Off the Beaten Path
While Austin hosts the American Formula One Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Grand_Prix), you might find more fun at the smaller local race track a few miles south in San Marcos, Texas at Harris Hill Road Raceway. Rebecca Long of Austin-based car blog carsandshit.com offers, “This local race track and training center features amateur local racing on weekends, a “Drive Your Dream” service through Longhorn Racing Academy and driver training classes, and if you get lucky you might see some local drifting stars.”
If you’ve got a Jeep or other AWD vehicle, locals rave about Hidden Falls Adventure Park, an 1100-acre Off-Road Park and camp area. Hidden Falls offers semi-maintained off-road trails for trucks, dirt bikes, and ATVs. ATV rentals are available and camp sites are available for rental. The park is a few miles North of Austin in Marble Falls, Texas. While you are in Marble Falls, you might try some homemade pie at Bluebonnet Cafe (it opened in 1929), but unfortunately Bluebonnet Cafe probably doesn’t qualify as a secret any more, so there can be lines at times.
Thanks to TastyPlacement.com for their recommendations on where to visit.