Last weekend I snuck off to Austin to meet my dear college pal Kate for a long weekend and it was just the trip I needed to get me through these last doldrums of upstate winter.
We stayed at a little spot I’ve had my eye on for a few years now called Hotel San Jose. It was hip but not distractingly or annoyingly so. And as always, it was absolutely delightful to be on the other side of the Front Desk for a change!
Our room was tucked away on the second floor as far from the pool and bar as we could get which I had not requested in advance but was totally key since I was not exactly pounding the frosé and micheladas with the rest of the guests…
It was a great spot to call home for a few days— the blooming wisteria and the bamboo bowing in the gentle breeze made the place feel so calm even when it was packed with people. It was also really conveniently located for all the neighborhoods we’d been told to explore.
Both Kate and I had rounded up a bunch of recommendations before arriving, oh so many more than we would ever be able to eat/see/do in just three days, but I figured I’d pass along the ones we particularly enjoyed:
FOOD & DRINK:
Elizabeth Street Café. Sweet little Vietnamese spot just a few blocks from the South Congress stretch. So good we went twice!
Launderette. Classy new-American spot tucked away in a residential neighborhood. I had prawns in shishito & Iberico ham butter something or other with grilled sour dough and ooh I’m drooling again just thinking about it.
Odd Duck. Kinda pricey but totally delicious and experimental farm to table. We tasted everything from goat chilli egg noodles to pork belly to curried carrots.
Torchy’s. Franchised taco spot that looks cheesy but was really damn good. The South Congress location was an easy walk from the hotel. Must admit that everyone had talked up the fried avocado taco but both Kate and I wound up liking the barbacoa and green chili pork ones more much to our own surprise.
La Condessa. Fancy Mexican worth every penny. The smokey octopus something or other was just amazing. Both Kate and I felt kinda trashy thinking the chips weren’t salty enough though, haha!
Lick Ice Cream. Looked super sterile and boring as a location but OMG the beet & mint and the goat cheese & thyme & honey flavors were so well balanced and delicious!
White Horse. A low key but popular honky tonk spot that totally hit the spot for us. They happened to be live recording the band that night which was cool. We saw my brother’s freaky doppleganger and Kate hit the dance floor with an old man named Dick who reeeeally wanted to take this pregnant lady for a spin too, but by that point our rather epic day was catching up with me and the idea of two-stepping my belly around for an entire song felt insurmountable. I would totally go back and get out there next time though!
Franklin’s BBQ. We went but we went too late— overheard chatter in the long line about everything that was sold out already so that’ll also have to be a next-time spot.
Room Service. We had rooms service the first morning at the hotel in our matching striped robes and it was a really fun treat.
SHOPPING & ART & SWIMMING ETC
Tesoros Tradiing Company. I had an afternoon on my own before Kate arrived and I happily spent a solid hour of it at Tesoro’s fawning over textiles and jewelry and pottery. I wound up getting a few straw baskets and hats as well as a beauuuutiful vintage Bolivian blanket that’s hot pink, bright orange, and teal. (Where should it live??) Easy walking distance of the hotel.
Allens Boots. Also on South Congress. It’s where Steven bought Amina her little black cowboy boots when he went on tour for Fred & The Lumberjack when she was just a few weeks old. I somehow managed to not buy myself a pair and frankly I’m still shocked.
Uncommon Objects. No photos allowed in this vintage spot that’s set up like an antique store had a baby with a museum. Found some good weird treasures, like a peach colored metal tape dispenser for Steven which sounds odd but trust me, the guy loves his old, hefty, metal office gear. * shrugs *
Barton Springs. I was totally dubious that a spring fed public pool would be at all my jam, but we went on Monday morning so it was just us and handful of senior citizens doing laps and it was sooooo lovely. Barely a ten minute ride from our hotel too!
It was restorative and fun, even with all my ridiculous flight connections and ending the whole thing with a drive from the Albany airport at 2 in the morning!
It was also the longest I’ve ever been away from Amina which was good and hard for all the obvious reasons. I missed her (and Steven!) like whoa, but I was also having plenty of fun and enjoying some independence. I think the fact that Steven and I regularly split childcare 50/50 made the trip easier for me than first big trips have been for some of my other mom friends who usually shoulder more of the day to day baby care— there was no filling Steven in on what her routine is or hoping she’d be ok with him doing everything. And being able to FaceTime them for even just a few minutes each night was so dang tender. I mean, iPhone kisses aren’t real kisses, but I’ve never been happier to see a little blurry face up so close!
All in all I obviously recommend Austin as a quick vacation spot!