In today’s Austin360, my fellow staffers and I wrote an extended love listicle to our dear city, naming 175 places, people and even ideas that we love about Austin.
Here are a handful of the things that make Austin so special to me:
With more than a dozen farmers markets taking place on just about every day of the week, it’s easy to find yourself sampling some of the most interesting locally produced food products Austin has to offer, from kimchi and kombucha to kolaches from a food truck and some of the best tamales in Central Texas.
This thriving local food community wouldn’t exist without pillars, including Boggy Creek farmer Carol Ann Sayle and her urban farming brethren, market managers Suzanne Santos and Carla Jenkins and smiling Saint Arnold’s rep Frank Mancuso, Edible Austin publisher Marla Camp and indefatigable cheerleader Carla Crownover.
Whole Foods’ flagship store downtown isn’t the only place you can sip on a beer while you shop, but it’s the most interesting. From blind dates taking place at the juice bar to sampling brisket from the barbecue restaurant in the back, it’s a spectacle that people who like to pop into grocery stores when they’re traveling should see.
Just up Lamar, up on a hill behind the original, you’ll find the Baylor Street Art Wall, an unfinished construction site that has become a destination for graffiti artists, some who have created their work legally in partnership with the landowners, and countless others who have not. For now, it’s a popular place to explore, read, write, take photographs or, in a handful of cases, propose, but unclaimed views like that won’t last for long.
Sipping on a Jack and Coke, otherwise known as a Freddie’s Crutch, under the live oaks at Freddie’s Place on South First Street, while all the kiddos in the neighborhood run around the playground and the best washer players in 78704 convene.
The childlike joy housed within the gently loved toys, games, dolls, puzzles and figurines at Anna’s Toy Depot on South Lamar Boulevard. There’s no better place to buy a last-minute birthday present in South Austin.
Betting — and maybe just winning — chicken (expletive) bingo at the Little Longhorn Saloon, formerly Ginny’s. Consider yourself lucky if it’s a slow Sunday and you can squeeze onto the dance floor for a two-step to Dale Watson.
Getting a handshake from Juan in A Million’s Juan Meza. The smiling business owner likes to greet every guest who walks out of the restaurant, no matter how busy the breakfast service.
Austin might be best known for its hot sauce contest, but there’s also Paella Lover’s United, Quesoff, Bacon Takedown and one of the longest running vegetarian chili cook-offs in the country. It’s a good place to be if you love food contests, and not the kind that challenge how fast you can eat something.
The Mexican Martini. Go to Trudy’s, Opal Divine’s, Cedar Door or anywhere else that serves this briny beauty of an Austin twist on the traditional margarita. If you drink alcohol, you can’t call yourself in Austinite until you have.