This spring and summer has been a good stretch for conference travel – in mid-May, Medical Libraries took me back to Austin, TX, which I last visited for a wedding. Luckily for me, those same friends still live there, so I was able to spend lots of time with them, and a college friend of theirs who is in town for part of the summer.
Slept at: I spent the first two nights at my friends’ house, and after that I moved to the Hilton Garden Inn Austin Downtown. It was just a couple of blocks from the Convention Center and very well located for downtown bars and restaurants. Everything was fine, but this hotel is one of the ones where you can’t pull the drapes – they’re just for decoration. I always travel with an eye mask, so I slept with that, but I will never understand why hotels do this. I believe all of the rooms have fridges and microwaves, so this hotel would be a particularly good option for someone who likes to try to minimize eating out while traveling.
Ate at: Lots of delicious spots in and around the city!
Saturday, we hit the Torchy’s Tacos near my friends’ place for take out breakfast tacos. Quite delicious. (Also, it looks like there’s one in Arlington and one in Columbia, go figure.) That afternoon we went out to Jester King Brewery, where we enjoyed an awesome atmosphere, delicious beers, and pizza from Stanley’s Farmhouse Pizza, which is the on-site food option. The brewery sprawls over quite a big area, with two buildings and at least three bars, and tons of picnic tables. We ended the day with a late dinner at El Chile, where I had a very refreshing salad.
Sunday started off with a delicious brunch of migas (eggs scrambled with tortilla chips) at Mi Madre’s – be sure to get a Cafe de Olla if you go! This is a tasty concoction of coffee brewed with brown sugar, cinnamon, Mexican chocolate and star anise. I might have to see if I can recreate this. After that, I moved downtown for the conference.
Sunday evening, I had an earlier dinner at Moonshine Patio Bar & Grill. They were hopping but I managed to snag a seat at their back bar, which was the perfect level of bustle for me. If you’re going with a group I’d say get a reservation, or at least be prepared to wait. In any case, I had a fantastic salad with cornflake crusted fried chicken. The chicken was perfectly cooked and the coating was super crispy. Paired with a couple of local beers, it was just what I was looking for. I took a walk afterwards to swing by Royal Blue Grocery for snacks and something to eat the next morning before my 7am training session. The grocery part was small, but a perfect combo of national, regional and local brands. They also had plenty of beer and wine available. They do also offer food made on the premises, but I didn’t get any of that.
Monday morning, I had a late breakfast at Anne’s Cafe, which I quite liked. They are clearly used to catering to the business and business traveler crowd, which I always appreciate. I had the oatmeal, which was good but a little too salty for my taste. Still, I’d go back. Dinner was with my friends again, and we went to Black Star Co-Op, a very light and airy brewpub. I had a pretty good burger, and we split some mac and cheese. We topped off the night with ice cream at Amy’s, which was great.
Tuesday was my last day, and before heading to the airport I had breakfast at Jo’s Coffee, in part because it meant I could get a nice walk in. I had the oatmeal there as well, which was very good. I grabbed lunch at the airport before boarding my plane – there’s an Annie’s Cafe in one of the terminals, and I got a panini for the plane. Make sure they give you a table number, even if you’re taking your order to go – their system breaks down otherwise, even if you’re standing right there. I think my sandwich sat for a good 5 minutes before anyone took the initiative to figure out whose it was.
Getting around: I took cabs to and from the airport for about $35 one way, and an Uber up to my friends’ place one night after I was already down at the hotel. Perhaps it was just where I was while downtown, but I did not see many cabs while walking around, and it did not look like my hotel had a cab stand. I’m sure the valet could call one, but you’d need to give yourself a few extra minutes. There’s also a light rail line into downtown from the airport, I think, but I didn’t take it. Looked like it terminated at the Convention Center.