Last week I flew down to Austin, Texas, to report two stories for our upcoming modern-across-America-themed issue (stay tuned!). I met with several architects, enjoyed coffee at the home of a soon-to-be-featured couple, went camping, feasted on tacos from a food truck that came highly recommended by Dwell Twitter followers, and even fed a longhorn. Click through the slideshow for more!
Coming from San Francisco (where food trucks and carts serve up everything from torched-on-the-spot crème brûlée to Indian curry wraps), I did not expect to be impressed by Austin's mobile eatery scene. I was, however, blown away. On what seemed like every corner, there was a little kitchen on wheels cooking something up. On Friday, I stopped by South Austin's Trailer Park and Eatery on South First Street.
Since it was the most recommended must-do from Dwell Twitter followers (from the likes of @sarahrich, @ladygodiva1234, and @bayne16thstate, among others), Torchy's was my truck of choice. The gal at the counter recommended a green chili pork taco and a chicken fajita taco (though I wished I'd had had room for a fried avocado taco, too!).
The Bouldin neighborhood, in which I parked to walk over to the Trailer Park and Eatery and where the house I visited in the morning was located, is characterized by an eclectic mix of aesthetics. While this new home might not have been the most graceful on the block, it was typical of what I drove by: a mix of old and new as well as traditional, modern, and even wacky all right next to each other.
Friday afternoon I drove east toward Bastrop and Smithville to the 9E Ranch bed and breakfast, where I spent all of Saturday on the photo shoot of an exciting camper that we'll be featuring. Just a half hour from the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, the ranch is located well into the countryside and shows off the great Texan landscape—and some of its animals.
The 9E Ranch owners took us on a tour of their 300 acres, and we were given the special treat of getting a close-up hello from their 12 longhorns. From the back of their pick-up truck, we were even able to hand-feed a few.
Also on the ranch were several miniature donkeys!
Before I headed out to the 9E Ranch, a friend mentioned I'd likely pass by somewhere that I had to stop: the Berdoll Pecan Farm. On my way back to Austin on Saturday night I arrived at its shop on Highway 71 just in the nic of time to pick up one of its "famous" pecan pies.
On Sunday, under the gloriously blazing sun, I headed downtown for a walk with a friend that started near the Texas Capitol building, which was completed in 1888.
To find some shade, we walked down some of Austin's narrow downtown alleys. In the distance is the Frost Bank Tower.
We walked down Sixth Street to take in the Pecan Street Festival, which featured a mix of art and other items for sale (some of which were pretty amazing, like the Mistura watches), carnival food, and even a petting zoo. The night before we'd enjoyed Guero's tacos and meandered around South Congress (including walks by the San Jose Hotel and Swag, recommended by @jenniferegbert and @christopherwynn, respectively). We missed seeing the bats fly off the Congress Street Bridge at dusk (recommended by @sidenotesays) since I wasn't yet back from the ranch, but we did walk around Sixth Street—which, at night, more closely resembles New Orleans's Bourbon Street.
Though we didn't get a chance to stop, we did drive by Austin's City Hall, designed by Antoine Predock Architect PC, several times. In the summer, the exterior steps become auditorium seating for an afternoon concert series.
We had hoped to go to the Eastside Cafe but Mother's Day made for hour-plus waits. We were, however, able to walk around the gardens, from which the restaurant sources much of its produce.
Another group at the Eastside Cafe recommended a spot across the street, where we enjoyed ribs, black eyed peas, and mac and cheese—'cause you can't go to Texas and not have a little barbecue.
After an all-too-quick trip, it was back to the airport and back to San Francisco. I had one more Austin treat before I departed—ice cream from Amy's—but thanks to all the recommendations—Taco Deli, the new W hotel, and many more—I'll certainly need to make another trip out soon.