3.11.2012

SXSW: What You Need to Know.

Spring Break is here! You know what that means? South by Southwest! Austin is one of those special places for me. After living there a few years, I seem to always be trying to find an excuse to go back. It's such an incredible city. As many of you probably know, Austin's annual South by Southwest music/tech/fashion/food/everything festival has begun this past weekend, and I cannot wait to get down there! The weather in Texas is quite unpredictable, and this week will be no different. Here is one of my outfits for the week to give you a better idea of how to dress for this partly cloudy/rainy/sunny unpredictable mess of what we here in Texas like to call Spring! 

I love tortoise shell, always have, always will. It's like the lazy person's version of buying something in both black and brown. It works with everything and simple is always a plus for me. Bring your phone. I repeat. BRING YOUR PHONE. And if you don't have a twitter account, make one. Because a lot of the events/specials/deals are announced on twitter using the hashtag #SXSW, so if you want to get in on all of the exclusive events, that would definitely be a good starting point. 

Since many of you (unless you are from the Northwest) are so befuddled by these grey rainy mornings and suddenly bright and beautiful afternoons, let me let you in on a secret: NO ONE GETS IT. Which is exactly why I love the color black. If it rains, it won't show up on your shirt, and if it's nice out- well, you just look great anyway. 

Shorts: I still love my cut offs. I'll grow out of it one of these days. True Religion and Siwy make great denim shorts. Yes, I said that correctly... True Religion. *Gasp* I know, I know, they are SO 2005, but quite frankly they are comfortable and fit well. So sue me. 

Shoes: Get ready to walk people! When SXSW comes to town, Austin SHUTS DOWN. Literally. Most of the downtown is blocked off from street traffic and you are free/forced to walk everywhere. It's really not that bad, quite enjoyable actually and will help you work off that P.Terry's burger you indulged in earlier.

If you're wondering where to go in town while you're there I'll give you a few places to go. Now I won't give all of my secrets away because, no offense, but I don't want to have to wait in lines at my favorite places all the time. But here's a few to get you started.

Food:
Hut's Hamburgers: Old fashioned greasy burgers- Your heart will hurt, but your stomach will thank you... maybe.
P.Terrys drive thru: MY personal favorite. LOVE their veggie burgers, and I'm not even a vegetarian. 
Kenichi: Good sushi, easy to walk to because it's right downtown.
Uchi or Uchiko: Remember that guy who won Bravo TV's Top Chef Texas? Yeah me either, but apparently he owns/works at Uchiko. Both are very popular sushi places so be prepared to wait. And wait. And probably wait some more. 
Gingerman: So this is more of a bar but I had to add it here because they have the most A-MAZ-ING big soft pretzels ever. DEADLY. But so worth it. They also have pretty much every beer ever known to mankind on tap besides Miller Light, Bud Light, or Coors- But who really drinks that stuff in Austin anyway? I suggest trying some local brews such as Live Oak Hef, 512 Wit, 512 Pecan Porter, or Austin Amber. 
Hopdoddy: Awesome burger place on South Congress. They have the biggest portions ever and I love it! Try their chipotle ketchup.
Perla's: Also on South Congress. Awesome patio, fun atmosphere, great seafood. If you're preppy, go here. If you're not, just make sure to brush your hair to the side.
Homeslice: One more for you Soco folk. Pizza from the heavens, which is another way of saying "Good luck, you will never get in here unless you wait 6 hours." Try the To-Go counter right next door instead of waiting in line, because I can only imagine what their waits are going to be like.
Black Sheep Lodge: Good burgers and beer, even better sweet potato fries. 
Maudies: Solid Tex-Mex and good drinks. The best part? They use real cheese. Like the white kind? Yeah, I know. I was excited about that part too. 
Hula Hut: Right next to Abel's on the Lake which is another cool place to go. Basically you get to eat good Mexican food while overlooking Lake Austin (or what's left of it). Awesome stuffed avocados and tortilla soup. Afterwards, go next door to Abel's on the Lake and grab a Texas Tea.
Kerbey Lane: Austin's version of IHOP, but better. Get the Kerbey Queso... It's sinful. Their gingerbread pancakes are amazing too. My personal favorite? The Hippie Burger. 

Shopping:
By George: Two locations. One on 6th and Lamar and one on South Congress. Fun store but bring your pocketbook because it 'aint cheap. It's been a staple of Austin for the past 20 years so it is definitely worth checking out. They have a great men's store too.
Stag: Right next to Homeslice- so while you're waiting 6 hours to get a piece of pizza, you can do a little shopping. Lots of fun men's clothes and trinkets- no women's. But that's OK ladies, you have plenty of places to shop anyway.
Service Menswear: VERY small men's boutique. But don't let the size fool you, they have everything.
Estilo: in the 2nd street district. If you're looking for short hemlines, sequins, and big price tags, go here.

During the Day:
Zilker Park: Fun place to lay around and hang out. It's where they hold ACL every year.
Barton Springs: Swim in a natural pool. Not even sure this is open right now honestly. But it's definitely cool! Literally. 
Town Lake/Lady Bird Lake: LONG 10 mile trail. Really fun to walk/ run around and enjoy the beauty of Austin. You can do stand up paddle boarding here through SUP ATX, or rent a canoe from one of the docks.

Nightlife:
6th St: Now, I know you've heard of this place before, but there is something important that you need to know. There are TWO different sides to it. I repeat, TWO DIFFERENT SIDES. Here's where it gets complicated. One is called East 6th, and the other is called West 6th. It's very confusing I know. But honestly there is a huge different between the two sides. West is more of your young professional, "Why are you not wearing a button down?", "Let's network" kind of area. While East is more"OMG where is Maddie... We must have lost her in between our 9th and 12th tequila shots!?!?!" Both are fun, in their own right, but definitely deserve some distinction between the two. If you're on West, go to Kung Fu, Dogwood, the Ranch, and J.Blacks. East- go to Dizzy Rooster, Cheers Shot Bar (and ask for the blue wave), Library, Maggie Mae's, and the Blind Pig.
5th St: If you shopped at Estilo earlier in the day, you're probably going to end up here. Or, if you just like gorilla juice heads and want to dance. Hudson has a patio and back room for dancing so if you start to choke on Ed Hardy cologne, you can escape... maybe.
4th: Some more bars and restaurants. I love Halcyon: you can make your own s'mores here while sipping on a Thin Mint Martini. YUM! Fado's is also a really cool bar over here. It's an Irish Pub actually, but the atmosphere is really laid back so that is always nice. Cedar Street is over in this area. They have 80's nights with a cover band called the Spazmatics. Such. A. Blast. Seriously.
East East Austin: Laid Back Hipster bars like Shang-Ri-La. Cool place to grab a Lonestar and sit on a stump in someone's backyard... if you're in to that.

OK! Well I think I told you WAY too much, but enjoy. Bottom line- Austin is incredible, so get out of your hotel room and enjoy it. And don't sit there all week trying to hippie-ify yourself to try and fit it. That's the beauty of this town- All the cool kids DON'T fit in.

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