Austin, Texas is a bi-polar blend of foodie fair and raucous partiers. For the foodie in search of new experiences, Austin offers up everything from clever food trucks to high-end artesian cocktails. The town is a delightful blend of high-rise prosperity and down-to-earth historic landmarks. There is an emporium of oddities, complete with a Fiji mermaid. There are light towers from the turn of the century. There is a magnificent parade of bats that emerges from a local bridge every evening. And monkeys in bars!
Yet, when the sunsets, it’s a crap shoot whether someone is going to kick a chair into your table, throw a half-eaten slice of pizza across the street at you, or simply empty the contents of their stomach at your feet.*
Austin may be known for SXSW and its music venues, but when there isn’t a festival in town, it seems like a lot of people who came for the music stayed for the beer. Bars even on the “nice” part of 6th street are bursting on weeknights and the notorious “dirty sixth” is lined with police cars and fire trucks ready to pull drunk-and-disorderly coeds into a repurposed soup kitchen that is regularly converted into a temporary booking station to handle the deluge of belligerent revelers.
The popular expression plastered on shirts and bumper stickers of “keep Austin weird” might as well refer to the populous as well as a desire to preserve the quirky local businesses that distinguish Austin from any other silicon-valley wanna-be. As one of our friends noted after having lived in Austin since 2011, the scene has shifted from tattooed bad-asses to San Francisco rejects over the last few years. Yes, there is reason to campaign to keep Austin weird. You can feel the delightful grunge running deep in this city, it’s just that, now, you need to work a little harder to find it. But finding it is worth it. The food is worth it. And, by Jove, the weather is most definitely worth it!
We will return again, and again, and again. But we will obey the wishes of the locals, and not stay too long.
* Two out of those three things happened while we were around. You guess which two. The other still happens at a regular occurrence.