Austin, Texas

Clockwise from top left: image from JM Drygoods, Erin Wassen in Elle Italia, Willie Nelson’s Greatest Hits, Heritage Boots sign, Hotel Saint Cecilia

what to pack

1. tie-dye dress 2. sexy t-shirts 3. tribal cuff 4. printed denim 5. ikat jacket 6. sweet slip-ons
7. fringed clutch 8. the perfect bootie 9. weekend bag 10. turquoise jewels

I have a very special place in my heart for Austin, Texas.  It is a laid back southern city of rockers, college students, and cowboys. I have never been there and not had a great time. Highlights include amazing food, good swim sessions at the local watering holes, and treasure hunting in the city’s many stylish boutiques and vintage shops. Austin has grown up a lot since I went to the University of Texas there 10 years ago.  There is more of everything– shopping, restaurants, people, stylish hotels, etc. — yet it still has the charm of a small town.  The community is warm and hospitable. There are still honky tonks where you can go two-stepping on a Saturday night (The Broken Spoke), or you can frequent one of the city’s many venues to check out a local band that may just be the next big thing.

Austin is a pretty casual place. The people here are stylish, but understated.  The city has an earthy, textural sensibility and you can pretty much get away with cut-offs (high waisted for the Dazed and Confused effect), cute sandals, and t-shirt in the summer. There is definitely a southern twist, so if you want to break out the cowboy boots you never wear, this is the time! This city can handle a little fringe and flash of course– just ask these guys.  At night you can go all out if you’re feeling it, but denim is big and always appropriate.

shopping

As a person that lives in New York, I often believe that I have everything at my fingertips.  My last trip to Austin proved me wrong! I saw so many new things– great designers, awesome, well-priced vintage, and highly curated shops that would give any NY boutique a run for it’s money.  Here are some of the highlights…

Spartan/ Bows and Arrows These two stores are connected (Spartan is more jewelry and home goods while Bows and Arrows is more clothing- men’s and women’s).  I bought a beautiful little Santa Fe Stoneworks pocket knife for my dad, a men’s APC sweatshirt for myself, and some Dream Collective earrings for my sis.  I heavily coveted all of the Bellocq teas, gorgeous glasses, and a tablecloth for my home.  I also had my eyes on some vintage turquoise cuffs, some Erin Considine jewelry, and the dreamiest baby blue Loup Charmant cotton dress.  Beware: you will be tempted to part with copious amounts of your hard earned dough!!

Feathers Vintage Boutique  This is usually my first stop in Austin.  I am such a sucker for the color-coordinated racks full of awesomely-priced, stylish pieces. It is one of the most curated vintage shops I have been to, so you really feel like the girls that own the shop are presenting you with the cream of the crop. On my last trip I found some fantastic rocker T’s by local designer Alchemy.  I got a dreamy handcrafted black fringed vest that pretty much made my New Years outfit perfectly over the top. Look for fur vests, moroccan sun dresses, vintage ZZ Top t-shirts, and great leather boots…

Uncommon Objects  Another dreamy spot! Uncommon Objects is a famous Austin antique store on South Congress that rents booths out to different vendors. The owners have great taste so each booth is like its own little museum– everything curated and in its place.  The jewelry bays will keep all you magpies busy for hours– American Indian turquoise, Victorian glass, art deco gems.  On my last trip, I bought a set of gorgeous Thai teak carved lamps from the 60s-  functional and in perfect condtion.  I also got an African thumb piano for my collection and a ruby horseshoe lapel pin.  Something I passed up on that still haunts me was an original framed Victor Vasarely print– surely hanging over some design maven’s couch by now…

While you are on South Congress hit up the famous Heritage Boots for a pair of artisanal cowboy boots in any color, skin, or style you can dream of…

JM Drygoods Finding this spot was a real thrill– I got a tip off from my go-to stylish ladyfriend in A-town, Gabriella Ainslie (holla!).  Housed in a small house north of W. 6th street, this store is not to be missed.  Look for a more in depth profile of these stylish peeps here at Wax + Cruz soon.  In the meantime I can just tell you that I was in poncho heaven.  The owner travels to Oaxaca to source amazing textiles and homegoods.  I purchased a hot pink poncho that I will be rocking with cut-offs all summer.  There were also vintage blankets and cowboy boots, beautiful handmade leather furniture, and great little gifts for everyone in your life.

Kickpleat  For the modern big-city girl in a medium sized city.  This place is full of style.  They carry everything from ACNE and Humanoid to Lizzie Fortunato and Rachel Comey.  When I went, there happened to be a juicy sale going on, so I cleaned up on labels like IRO, Ace & Jig, and Boyfriend/Girlfriend.  Tastemakers they are– you won’t be dispappointed.

food/ drink

Polvos This is another first stop when I get to Austin.  There is a lot of great Mexican food in A-town, but for some reason the gravitational pull of Polvo’s is really strong.  You can start your experience with a giant top shelf margarita and a trip to the salsa bar where you will see a myriad of colors and textures.  My fav is the dark red, smoky one– unlimited quantities y’all!  Then I usually gorge myself on chile con queso and an order of the chile relleno con pollo complete with refried beans and rice.  To me this place is Tex Mex at its best, super indulgent and saucy.  If you want something slightly less- ahem- hefty, my mom always gets the shrimp fajitas with fresh veggies– those are good too!

Justines Justine’s is a relatively new French joint that has pioneered the outer eastern neighborhood of the city.  The best thing about this place is its home-y outdoor patio and the lively soundtrack that keeps this crowded restaurant feeling like a party until late night.  I like Justine’s for drinks and dessert.  It’s a great place to end the night with friends.

Lamberts Lambert’s specializes in modern Texas cuisine and “inventive BBQ”.  There is usually live music and the food is fantastic. One time I had a smoked quail (one of my favorite things in the world), wrapped in bacon, stuffed with jalapeno cream cheese, served over cheese grits and it somehow managed to taste light, elegant, and delicate.  Impossible but true!

Jo’s Coffee Worth mentioning because of its location alone… A friendly spot connected to the San Jose Hotel on South Congress.  Grab a strong cup of coffee and a breakfast taco, sit on the patio, and watch the world go by… Hippies, street folks, students, shoppers, musicians, etc.  Austin is full of beautiful people!

Uchiko When you get tired of all the Mexican food and BBQ, hit up fancy Uchi or the more relaxed Uchiko for some world class, modern Japanese fare.  Everything I had here was exceptional– a really fun place to have a meal with friends and share lots of small plates.

Saltlick BBQ For some real deal, authentic, saucy, smoky goodness head out FM 1826 to the outskirts of town to Saltlick BBQ.  This will satisfy all of your carnivorous cravings in a good ol’ boy setting.  It’s not fancy– just really good.  Everything is smoked outside over fiery pits, so as you approach your mouth starts watering involuntarily.  Cash only and BYOB.

Where to stay

The Hotel San Jose and Hotel Saint Cecilia are owned by the same person and are both totally cool and stylish. They are located in the South Congress neighborhood so walking to the strip is easy.  Also notable is the beautiful patio at the San Jose– I have spent many a night there among the agave plants, drinking the best micheladas money can buy.  They always play really good music too! Book ahead, they fill up.

Noteworthy: Barton springs

One last very important thing worth mentioning is Barton Springs– the jewel of Austin. It’s a natural cold spring right in the middle of the city, just south of Town Lake.  In the summer, it is populated with the entire town trying to escape the 100 degree temps in the 68 degree water.  In the winter, you can still take a refreshingly icy dip without the crowds. I had a really lovely, meditative moment floating in the water this past December when I took this pic. This only shows one half of the spring– it is huge and the bottom is all natural so there is plant life and fish!  If you are passing through the capitol city, don’t miss out on this gorgeous piece of local culture!

Patron saints


Soulful rockers: Willy Nelson, Janis Joplin, Stevie Ray Vaughn, and Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top

soundtrack

Willie Nelson’s Teatro (for a lazy morning or a beer on the porch at dusk), ZZ Top’s Tres Hombres (for the rocker in you– the one that wears fringe), 13th Floor Elevators’ The Very Best of: Going Up (for your “rock and roll roots” as my mama would say), and for sheer nostalgia for my college years, Built to Spill’s There’s Nothing Wrong with Love and Perfect from Now On

Also, check out Austin locals: Soft Healer, Boyfriend, and Love Inks.  All share a dreamy, languid quality but manage to keep it modern.

2 Responses to “Austin, Texas”

  1. […] y’all read my Austin, Texas post, you will remember my excitement when I discovered the jewel that is JM Drygoods. As promised, […]

  2. […] Vintage leather clutch and Star Vintage Levi’s cut-offs from Feathers, coin jewelry from JM Drygoods, and tribal cuff from Spartan (all in Austin, Texas). […]

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