Bryan offered to drive so they picked us up early Friday to go to Austin. We first planned a stop at La Barbecue to give Sara and Bryan their first stand-in-line for Texas BBQ experience. We got in line at 10:15 for an 11 a.m. opening. We quickly realized it was BYOB so Sara and I walked to a liquor store and came back with a six pack for each of us (we like to be prepared, okay?). It took until after noon before we got our chance to order, but the food was great and worth the wait. We ordered too much and all wrapped stuff up to snack on later.
Band, long lines, and tons of food = par for the course in Texas BBQ
We got a deal on Priceline to name your own price for two rooms in downtown Austin. We tried to drop our stuff off at the hotel, but were told that the hotel was full to capacity and we couldn't check in until the official check in time (3pm), so we went shopping on South Congress. Unfortunately a lot of the big stores were closed due to the holiday, but we got to walk around a little and take pictures in front of the "i love you so much" wall. We were hot and sweaty and still had time to kill, so we drove to Lick for ice cream. I was intrigued by its cool flavors (strawberry balsamic, goat cheese and honey, things like that) but was mostly underwhelmed with the execution. I tried the Texas Au Lait and Texas Sheet Cake and both were fine but I didn't love either.
In front of the mural on South Congress where you can kind of see my awesomely tacky sunglasses | cute area where we stopped for pics (but the lighting wasn't on our side. Also, I got sunburned).
I hate to admit it, but the location of the second hotel (Town Lake Holiday Inn) was awesome to go to Rainey Street, where we wanted to spend the night. It was less than a mile to walk there. Rainey Street is an adult alternative to Sixth Street - the bars focus more on cocktails, food, and a slightly less drunken clientele. We went to No Va (kind of an old timey feel), Javelina (my favorite - we had a quiet table in the corner of the patio), and Lucille (great idea in that it had hammocks and cool seating but loud and a little bit younger). We also checked out a tapas food truck. It was an early-ish night so we could get up early the next day.
Cute sign on South Congress | Jester King | There was a weird gaming conference going on so we walked down the street behind a horse and a chicken, of course...)
Outside | Texas State Representatives | Texas glass and doorknob | The Rotunda | Former Texas Supreme Court | Texas Capitol door hinges | Outside the elevator door
We checked into hotel number two (they greeted Andrew by name as we walked in - we definitely left an impression) and rested and then went out for dinner. We went to Second Bar and Kitchen, which we have been to before and honestly wasn't as good as I remembered. There was no plan for that night, so we turned to Yelp and ended up at HandleBar, a bar where all of the male bartenders have amazing mustaches. They were also wearing SHORT shorts and there may have been a nearly naked picture of Burt Reynolds behind the bar. It was almost a gay bar and the people watching was great, but it got crowded, fast. We walked toward our hotel and ended up at Easy Tiger, a beer garden next door. They had games to play but not a lot of pieces, so I downloaded the Heads Up app. I've seen it played on Ellen but never gotten to play myself. You guys - it is SO MUCH FUN. Best dollar I've ever spent! We were loud and obnoxious and played and drank until nearly 2 a.m. when my phone finally died. Probably my favorite thing we did.
Thanks to Sara for snapping these awesomely awkward pics of us playing Heads Up!
On Sunday morning, we slept in a little and went to breakfast at Cenote. We headed back to Houston and stopped at Bucee's on the way since Sara and Bryan had never truly experienced it. Bucee's is basically a convenience store on steroids - it sells produce and home decor and snacks and t-shirts and souvenirs and more. I had so much fun on the trip - it was nice to experience a favorite place with friends and show them why I love it so much. It was also new for us to have a trip that was more about experiences and less about food. Even though there were no fireworks, it was a perfect way to spend the 4th.