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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Best Friend Trip: Austin 2011

I'm alive! I survived Austin, TX. Between the heat, humidity and mosquito's, it was touch and go there for a minute. I went to Austin to visit these amazing and beautiful women...

Kylie                              Shannon                                    Kimi

The four of us went to high school together and now that we are adults and all grown up, we usually only get to see each other during the holidays when we flock back to Tulsa. Unfortunately, Kylie's family no longer lives in Tulsa, which means home for the holidays is now San Antonio. Kylie currently lives in San Antonio and Shannon recently moved to Dallas. Kimi, is the reason we were all reconnecting in Austin. Plus, I had never been to Austin. 

I arrived late, around 11pm on Thursday night. That didn't keep me from heading out to explore this new city. Mike, a good friend and old band mate of me bros, came to pick me up and took me to a chill spot, Spider House

Spider House has one a huge outdoor patio filled with eclectic decoration including different types of tables, chairs and benches. The weather had cooled down a little, yet the humidity hadn't budged, and we had a nice relaxing evening catching up. I believe this is where I contracted the lovely bites around my ankles!

Friday morning Kimi had to work which allowed me the chance to catch up on some sleep. Once she was off, she dragged my butt to the gym for some cardio and weights, which I'm still feeling today! After the gym, since I had never been to Austin, Kimi took me on a driving tour of the city. This also included a quick drive through at P. Terry's, for some CHEAP and delicious organic burgers, and our first stop of the day which was Zilker Park and Barton Springs

Zilker Park is enormous and beautiful. It just kept going and going. 

Zilker Map

"Within Zilker Park's 358 acres, lies one of the crown jewels of Austin, Barton Springs Pool. Three acres in size, the pool is fed from under ground springs and is on average 68 degrees year round. Over the years, Barton Springs Pool has drawn people from all walks of life, from legislators who have concocted state laws there to free-spirited topless sunbathers who turned heads in the seventies. Even Robert Redford learned to swim at the pool when he was five years old while visiting his mother's relative in Austin. Today, Barton Springs still attracts a diverse crowd of people."

Millions of years ago Barton Springs, the fourth largest natural springs in the state, was created as a result of a landshift that created the Balcones Fault.
Named in honor of Andrew Jackson Zilker. "Colonel Andy", as friends called him, donated the land now known as Zilker Park. In 1884, at age 18, Zilker, who had left his native Indiana to seek his fortune, came to Austin with only 50 cents in his pocket and got a job at an ice plant, which he eventually bought. He then became the first Coca-Cola Bottler in Austin. Shortly after Zilker bought the land in 1901, he built a small concrete pool and amphitheater for members of his Elks Club organization, at the site of one of the three springs, where people had gathered for centuries."

The water, which maintains a constant temperature of 68 degrees, was a cold shock at first. I couldn't imagine diving in like the majority of the visitors. I wish New York City had a natural spring for the summers. It was fabulous to stick my toes in, take in the beautiful nature surrounds and relax.

Like most people, except for myself, Kimi is addicted to coffee. Therefore, it would make sense for her to have a favorite coffee shop. Bouldin Creek Coffeehouse, or as Kimi calls it, Caffeine Dealer, was our next stop of the day. 

After we satisfied her craving with her signature iced latte, it was time to satisfy mine. Cupcakes would only make sense and it just so happened Sugar Mama's, the most talked about cupcakes in all of Austin, was directly across the street. 

Kimi had her usual, Jack's Lemon, while I tried the Strawberry. We later went back with the other girls after brunch on Sunday and shared the Mud Pie, chocolate cupcake with mocha frosting topped with oreos,  and Southern Belle, their take on a Red Velvet. The strawberry was my favorite with the Southern Belle a close second. 

After my tour of Austin for that day, we headed back to Kimi's house to meet Kylie and Shannon, who had just arrived into town!

Kimi is absolutely amazing. She gave us each a present filled with must have items for our Austin trip. These gifts included umbrellas, cherry carmex, Tyler's cozies, gum, facial wipes, collapsible brushes with a mirror, on the go coffee mugs, fake eye lashes for our night out on the town and some other adorable items. 

 Since it had been years since we had all hung out, Kimi decided it would be nice if we stayed in and cooked dinner. This way we could eat and get ready while catching up. After some ground turkey tacos, which were delish, we headed downtown to the West 6th District. 

Let's just say, from what I remember, it was a very fun night on the town with my girls! The next morning, instead of hitting the gym, which was planned, we went to Torchy's Tacos for some breakfast tacos! When I asked my brother if he had any favorite spots I needed to visit on this trip, Torchy's was it. 

Torchy's Tacos

We each had two tacos. I tried one of each, the Migas and the Monk Special. Both were amazing. If there is anything I would prefer for breakfast or brunch, it's anything Mexican. I love breakfast tacos, burritos and quesadillas more than anything, even pancakes. 
The Migas were unbelievably delicious with the crisp corn tortilla strips within the eggs.

After breakfast, we headed downtown to visit the Austin Farmers Market on Guadalupe and 4th. Everything was so colorful and fresh. There were beautiful fruits, vegetables, flowers, and plants. Kimi ended up buying a plant for her house and Shannon tried some fancy organic Budda Brew blueberry juice. 

On May 3, 2003, the Austin Farmers’ Market (AFM) opened to a bustling crowd of 3,500—which propelled AFM into the top 10% of markets.

The Austin Farmers’ Market is a project of Sustainable Food Center (SFC), a local 501 (c)(3) non-profit that creates opportunities for individuals to make healthy food choices and to participate in a vibrant, local food system

After checking out the local farmers market, we headed to one of the most popular areas in Austin, South Congress, also known as SoCo. This district is a couple of blocks long surrounded on both sides of the street with funky shops, restaurants, bakeries and bars.

We checked out pretty much every single shop including Big Top Candy Shop. No, we didn't splurge on candy, we were just checking it out.

We also perused the Merchant Square Flea Market where I found some great photographs for some friends back home. I even had a chance to have a feather weaved in my hair! Kidding, not my thing. In fact, I had not even heard of this whole feather thing and I live in the fashion capitol of the USA! The flea market was full of arts, crafts and jewelry which was hand made by Austin residents. 

We stopped into Uncommon Objects where we each bought a little antique lock charm and antique chains. Yes, we now have matching necklaces. We also each got old antique keys with matching antique chains, well matching as best as we could since they are antique.

The four of us with our matching necklaces! 

After a long day of walking around in the heat and humidity, we needed a little treat to cool us off. Kimi was determined to bring us to as many "Austin Staples" she could. With that said, Amy's Ice Cream was a must on her list. 

Amy's Ice Cream is like a Cold Stone, where you choose your flavor, then your toppings and they mix it all together. I wanted to try new things while in Austin, things I couldn't get in NYC, so I went for the Mexican Vanilla, one of their original flavors, topped with oreo's and toffee (because I couldn't choose between the two).

Along with our cold sweet treat, we needed a cold treat for the rest of our bodies as well. Thus leading us back to Barton Springs to soak our feet and enjoy being outside without melting. 

Once we were back on the road, Kimi had a few more "Austin Staples" she needed us to check out. The first was Home Slice Pizza, the Queen of pies. It was a nice change from the Mexican food we had been eating. Home Slice has two locations, which happen to be right next to each other. The first and original is the sit down restaurant. They also opened, as I mentioned right next door, a take out location where you can order inside or outside through a walk up window. There are some bar tables inside along with outdoor seating. 

We were trying not to be such fat kids and decided sharing a slice would be in our best interest. In the end we got three slices, meatball and onion, pepperoni and Margherita. 

Our final "Austin Staple" stop of the day was The Mighty Cone. Kimi had been talking about this interesting edible contraption all day and since it was also located on South Congress, we walked from Home Slice to get the second course of dinner. 

The story of the cone begins with a simple, yet delicious breading developed for fish by the late Hudson's on the Bend sous chef, Courtney Swenson. Hot 'n' Crunchy Trout became a mainstay of the famous Lake Travis restaurant, for year's holding top honors as one of the most ordered entrees.
In 2002, the Austin City Limit Music Festival contacted Hudson's owner Chef Jeff Blank to help them spearhead their efforts to entice local restaurants to join the festival's food court. Their goal was to create festival food that would emulate the unique heritage of Austin cuisine.
Blank began to experiment with the famous Hot 'n' Crunchy breading on a variety of foods. Chicken proved to be a good, festival-friendly candidate--delicious, popular and relatively inexpensive (especially compared to the more typical Hudson's fare of pheasant or trout). He wrapped the chicken in a tortilla and popped it into a paper drink cone (to make it easier for festival-goers to eat and walk to the next stage), topped it with a mango-jalapeno slaw and ancho sauce and Voila! the Hot 'n' Crunchy Chicken Cone was born. Cone sales at ACL Festival went through the roof, and the chef eventually expanded his Hot 'n' Crunchy repertoire to include avocado and shrimp.
As the cones' iconic status at ACL Festival continued to expand, Blank began toying with the idea of making the cones available year-round, and in March 2009, launched the opening of The Mighty Cone on South Congress Avenue in downtown Austin.

Kimi made sure we ordered properly and had the Hot Crunch Chicken Cone which is chicken baked in a sesame seed, almond and arbol chili flake, sea salt, sugar and corn flake batter topped with a coleslaw and tasty sauce. We only got one to share between the four of us. It was fantastic!

That evening we decided to take it easy, watch a little basket ball, since Oklahoma City and Dallas were playing.

We headed to Third Base, a sports bar, to watch the game and hang with the boys. 

After Oklahoma City lost, we decided to hit up another bar, since we were out and all. Josh and Kimi had talked about going to Lustre Pearl, which is this old house which was renovated to look old and made into a bar. There was a nice size front yard, multiple rooms within the house and a huge back yard with hula hoops, stages, ping pong and anything you could possible need including a taco truck. 

Lustre Pear was awesome. If it wasn't for the fact we pretty much used all of our energy Friday night, we might have stayed out all night. However, our age is showing and we were exhausted. Plus, we had brunch early the next morning. 

On Sunday morning, went to brunch at Z'Tejas on West 6th Street with ten of Kimi's Austin friends. It was a huge space that just kept going and going, literally. Sections were attached with walkway bridges. I almost felt like I was in a tree house or fort. 

We were seated in this huge room surrounded by windows, on the backside of the restaurant. Of course the cuisine was Mexican, what else! The best thing about being with all your best friends is you get to taste everyones dishes. My favorite was Shannon's breakfast quesadilla!

Shannon, Kylie and I were leaving later that afternoon and it was starting to sink in. Our Best friend trip of 2011 was almost over.  

There was only one more item left on Kimi's to do list and she was determined to make it happen. Kimi wanted a photograph of the four of us in front of the Austin mural. Luckily we had the boys there to take the photo!

It was such an amazing weekend with my best friends. Kimi, thank you for being such an amazing and gracious host. Shannon and Kylie, thank you so much for making a road trip to see me! I can't wait until our next trip. We're thinking New Years Eve 2012 in Chicago! Love you girls!


  1. Wow, how did you manage to cram all that activity into one weekend? I'm exhausted just reading about it. LOL.

    I think I've seen those cones on a TV show. They *look* bizarre, but I believe you when you say it was fantastic. :D

    Glad you had a great time!

  2. Looks like you ladies had a great time in Austin. So glad you came by to check out the mural on our building. If you're ever back in town and are curious to find out what's behind the wall, visit