the native’s guide to avoiding SXSW

picture from 365thingsaustin.com

No, I don’t really hate you, but sometimes I hate SXSW. While the festival brings some kickass art (and a lot of money) to our not-so-tiny Texas town, it’s no secret that the presence of thousand upon thousands of LAers kinda drives us Austinites a little batty. Too often the art is overshadowed by the incessant marketing and media coverage that it’s hard to see where the festival originated. The restaurants and roads are full, everyone is dressed better than you, and apparently you’re not cool enough to get into the party, even though you live in the coolest city in the world. You’ve got a right to be a little frustrated. So I’ve made this for you: The Native’s Guide to Avoiding South-by.


hike in the greenbelt
photo from hillcountryoutdoors.com

Whenever people ask me what to do when they come to Austin, I find my advice is always centered around food or one of the many watering holes. Given the SXSW crowd will be swarming some of my favorite haunts, I find myself leaning towards swimming suggestions. But as always, Austin weather is unpredictable, and this year unseasonably cold. While swimming might not be an option either, the massive Greenbelt should be beautiful for a little hike. And after all this rain, there might even be some water in the creek, a truly rare sight.

Austin Greenbelt – Use the Capital of Tx Hwy entrance for maximum traffic avoidance


hide out at Aviary

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Sshhhhh! I am sharing one of Austin’s best-kept secrets with you, so cherish it. What opened as a home décor store quickly turned into South Lamar’s secret wine bar, which turns out to be the perfect combination. Lounge around on the comfortably modern sofas while playing cards against humanity with Marco, the owner, bar tender, and badass while he tells you about that time he fell asleep on a beach in Thailand, or was it Greece? A more recent addition and even better secret is John, culinary extraordinaire and hot plate genius, who whips up some incredible small plates in the makeshift kitchen. When the weather’s nice there’s always the patio for some people watching on South Lamar. This place is more of a second home to me than just a wine lounge, so a more extensive description will be reserved for a later time, but let it suffice to say that you won’t see any SXSW badges here.

Aviary – 2110 South Lamar Blvd., Austin, TX 78704


 for the thrill seeker

A blessing and a curse, SXSW coincides with the spring breaks of all Austin area school districts and college campuses. It’s as if Black Friday and July 4th on the Guadalupe River had a baby. Where you may avoid the hipster overload, you’re more likely to run into spring breakers. While these places might be buzzing with the energy of 12 year olds hopped up on Monsters, at least you won’t be scoffed at because your mustache is genuine, not ironic.

K1 Speedway – 2500 McHale Ct, Austin, TX 78758

Indoor Skydiving – 13265 N Hwy 183, Austin, TX 78750

Blazer Tag – Southwood Mall, 1701 W Ben White Blvd, Austin, TX 78704


 don’t starve

Don’t worry, you’ll be able to go back to Elizabeth Street in a few weeks, but you have to eat sometime right? There might even be some specials around town showing appreciation for local endurance. In the mean time, head out to the hill country to try the Parisian owned Baguette et Chocolat, or Café Blue. Craving French food a little closer? Try épicerie! Kind of risky since the rise of Burnet’s kitchen district, but a cinnamon roll at Uppercrust and a pancake at Pacha never disappoint. You won’t get a table at Clay Pit, but you can try their little sister Tärka down on Brodie Lane. Instead of Hopdoddy’s, check out Wholly Cow on South Lamar, or maybe trek up to the Hopdoddy’s location on Anderson Lane. While badges have been spotted as far out as The Salt Lick in Spicewood, Moontower Saloon might just be far south enough to deter the festival goers without cars/copious amounts of cash for Uber fares.


 get the hell out
photo from viator.com
photo from viator.com

New Orleans happens to be my own personal MO. Just get the hell out of dodge. While all the tourists flood downtown, I’m happy to take a road trip with friends and be a tourist somewhere else for a while. See you later Ruby Red and breakfast tacos, I’ll be sippin’ on hurricanes and nommin’ on some beignets.


go camping

At the foothills of the hill country, it only takes a 30-minute drive to realize Austin might not be the sprawling metropolis Austinites sometimes mistake it for. From beautiful Cyprus trees lining the Guadalupe to an environmental history to explore, this is the perfect time to take advantage of Central Texas’s ecological assets. Take a step out of town and realize that Texas is bigger than Austin, and it should be appreciated as such. Might just convince you Tim Riggins was right: Texas forever, man.

Enchanted Rock – 16710 Ranch Rd. 965, Fredericksburg, TX 78624

Perdanales State Park – 2585 Park Rd 6026, Johnson City, TX 78636

McKinney Falls – 5808 McKinney Falls Pkwy, Austin, TX 78744

Pace Bend – 2011 Pace Bend Rd N, Spicewood, TX 78669


take a day trip

You don’t have to watch Friday Night Lights to fall in love with small town Texas. Sprechen Sie Deutsch? Fredericksburg has embraced its role in the scheme of Texas towns as home of peaches and German heritage. A few Austin establishments have tried, but bratwurst just tastes better in the hill country.


make the great pilgrimage
photo from insideanabreadshead.com
photo from insideanabreadshead.com

Face it: you won’t be eating at Franklin’s. While the east side joint is nothing to scoff at, there’s nothing like a city practically built around barbecue. Make your own barbecue tour in Lockhart, the undisputed Capital of Texas barbecue. Visit all the hot spots like Black’s, Smitty’s, and Kreuz’s and educate yourself on all the family drama. Plus, do the math: the drive to Lockhart is 45 minutes. The line for Franklin’s is 3+ hours. Hardly even a choice there.

Black’s BBQ – 215 N Main St, Lockhart, TX 78644

Smitty’s Market – 208 S Commerce St, Lockhart, TX 78644

Kreuz’s Market – 619 N Colorado St, Lockhart, TX 78644


tour a brewery

Banger’s will be packed. Easy Tiger will be packed. Ale House, Craft Pride, every beer joint you love will be packed. Can you still get beer? Duh! But make a trip of it and find it at the source. There are tons of breweries in the Austin area and they can give you a tour of the place. So learn a little about what you consume why don’t you (you might even get a little free beer while you’re at it).

Jester King Brewery – 13187 Fitzhugh Rd, Austin, TX 78736

Independence Brewing Co. – 3913 Todd Ln #607, Austin, TX 78744

512 Brewery – 407 Radam Ln, Austin, TX 78745

Austin Beer Works – 3009 Industrial Terrace, Austin, TX 78758

Spoetzl Brewery (home of Shiner) – 603 E Brewery St, Shiner, TX 77984


suck it up
photo from yelp.com
photo from yelp.com

You know you want to, so just suck it up and go to a show. There’s an incredible amount of talent that comes in for just a week, and while their groupies might be a tad on the irksome side, there is really a lot to be appreciated about sentiment of the festival. Everyone else is enjoying it, so you might as well, too. You don’t have to get drawn into the ‘who’s who’ and ‘OMG what party should I go to,’ because what makes SXSW cooler than any other festival is that at least some people still try to make it about the art. Find somewhere where music fits your taste, the beer is cold, and the people aren’t too trendy, then go home whenever the hell you feel like it because no one really needs to stay out ‘til 2 Monday thru Friday. Because when life gives you a music, film, and interactive festival, make lemonade (not a Moscow Mule, you hipster).


Have your own way of avoiding SXSW madness? Comment with your own tips!

on youth

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I want to stay up until 4 one weekend and not bat an eye if the next weekend I’m in bed by 10.

I don’t want this to be the best time of my life because the thought of reaching a point where everything will only get worse is down-right terrifying.

I want to have debates about important things and not have my youth thrown in my face as a counterargument.

I want to tell the powerful, middle-aged men at the adjacent table at breakfast that it’s not okay to say things like “dating younger is like dating down, like dating dumb,” because I know some pretty damn intelligent young women half their age and twice their worth that will probably be their bosses some day.

I want to tell the world just how spectacularly creative and determined my peers are because they haven’t been beaten into the ground yet by a society that tells them they’re naive. Because what are we doing this whole life thing for anyway if not to make our world a better place?

I want to stop being told that my generation’s methods of communication, of working, of creating, that our gadgets and gizmos are making us dumber and are a detriment to society. I’m proud that I can learn about a problem fast enough to be able to possibly do something about it.

I want children to know that you can effect change at any age.

I want to ask my little sister hard questions so she will be ready when the world confronts her with their reality; but I want to listen to her answers and explanations, because how can she possibly become a thinking adult if no one treats her like her answers have weight?

I want adults to know that you win a child’s respect by respecting them and their humanity in return.

I’m tired of feeling like I’m not ready for anything.

Like I’m not good enough. Not smart enough. Not worldly enough.

Like I’m too young.

But I’m ready to embrace the fact that I never will be.


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gooey butter cookies

enchiladas-6032


It’s hard to take pictures of these cookies, because once they come out of the oven, they just seem to disappear. It’s either a mystery of science, the greatest long-running heist, or magic. I vote magic. This has been on hold for a while, but given I’m just sitting here in a test review session with nothing else to do, what the heck, here it goes.

I’m not a huge chocolate fan, though I’ve come to love the NYT version of the Jacques Torres masterpiece, a go to during the holidays. Hey, I think I still have a roll hidden away in the freezer… But I really am a vanilla person. I’d like to take as second to redeem vanilla. Often used to dismiss a person, place, or thing as boring or without character, I find vanilla to be quite the opposite. Vanilla is the pearl necklace of the flavor spectrum, the Chanel of pastries, a classic in a world of experiments. Hardly without character, vanilla has had eternity to build its base and develop into what is assuredly the most recognized flavor in the western taste profile. Vanilla is beautiful, clean, and wholesome. Common, but far from easy to actually do well.

Still with me? This discovery came about following disappointment after disappointment in my search for a good sugar cookie recipe. Everyone knows that cookie dough is way better than actual cookies, which is what makes these babies awesome, because they’re on the chewier, doughier side.

So have at it!


enchiladas-6017


gooey butter cookies

This recipe was borrowed from the web, but unfortunately I’ve had it for so long, I can’t find the site I originally took it from. Let it be known that though this recipe is not my own, my family greatly appreciates the contribution from a lovely internet stranger. This recipe was cut in half because, though I love cookies, no one can eat that many cookies. I did it for your own good.

ingredients

  • 2 ¼ cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 package cream cheese
  • 1 stick butter, room temperature
  • ½ tsp vanilla bean scraped
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 1 egg

directions

  • preheat oven to 325˚F
  • mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt
  • cream the cream cheese, butter, vanilla bean, and sugar until fluffy
  • mix 1 egg and vanilla extract into creamed mixture
  • add in the dry ingredients and mix
  • chill dough for 30 minutes
  • roll into small balls and toss in powdered sugar
  • bake 12-16 minutes (don’t let brown) *more on the side of 16
  • remove and sprinkle with more powdered sugar
  • let cool in the fridge