No matter what direction you head in Austin, you’re sure to find tons to see, eat, and do. However the funkiest part of town lies east of I-35 where the past, present, and future of Texas’s capital city mix into one tasty trip. To download this episode or purchase it on DVD – CLICK HERE.
When you kick your trip off early, you’ll need some caffeine. There are number of awesome coffee joints around, but I recommend stopping by Cuvee Coffee Bar to have a glass of its signature “nitro cold brew.” This creative concoction pours off the draft like a Guinness Beer, but goes down smooth like coffee. For red meat there are a number of tasty establishments. But if you’re in the mood for some meaty experimentation, head to Salt & Time. This local butcher shop makes its own charcuterie with homemade cured meats like salami, prosciutto, and sausage. Grab a butcher board, a local beer, and send your taste buds on a ride. Across the East Side you’ll notice food trucks on almost every corner. One of the tastiest is Thai-Kun, bringing Thai street food to Texas. It was ranked by Bon Appetit magazine as one of the top 10 new restaurants in America in 2014 – and it’s a restaurant on wheels! The food here packs a flavorful punch and I’m still dreaming about the waterfall pork.
While many complain that Austin is loosing its signature “weirdness,” it is still present if you know where to look. Start at the Museum of Natural and Artificial Ephemerata. This collection of curiosities is sure to make you scratch your head and includes the last cigarette smoked by Marilyn Monroe, Willie’s hair, and a spoon bent by the mind of a child. My brain still hurts.
One of the most peaceful parks in East Austin is also one of the most overlooked. It’s the Texas State Cemetery. I know hanging out with dead folks isn’t on most to-do lists, but this cemetery is a must-do. Buried on this hallowed ground are numerous Texans who made Texas what it is today, including Stephen F. Austin himself. There are Texas Rangers (e.g. Bigfoot Wallace), Athletes (e.g. Darrell K. Royal), Governors (e.g. John Connally), artists (e.g. James Michener) and trailblazers (e.g. Barbara Jordan). The names go on and on and deserve at least a moment of your respect as you pass through town. If you’re in the mood for history, head to the French Legation Museum. This is the oldest house in Austin still at its original location and was built in the 1830’s as the french embassy to the sovereign nation of Texas. It gives a unique glimpse into French life on the Texas frontier.
If you’re in need of an urban retreat, there are a number of parks that can make you feel miles away even though you’re right in the mix. One of these is McKinney Falls State Park near the airport, and next to it, you’ll find the MYLO Obstacle Fitness. Remember that time you watched American Ninja Warrior and thought – “I could do that.” Well, this is your chance to try. This outdoor gym was designed for folks training for obstacle races (think Tough Mudder or Spartan Race) and includes high ropes activities, climbing walls, and even a javelin throw. Day passes are available making it the perfect place to test your chops.