Eating (and everything else!) in Austin for ER&L 2015 Attendees

In just one week I’m heading to my first Electronic Resources and Libraries meeting – I won one of the DLF/CLIR + ER&L Cross-Polinator Awards for this year! I’m really excited to go to a conference that’s a bit different than my standard, meet new people, and learn some new things. I’m also really excited for FOOD in Austin – I lived in ATX way back in 2010 and have family and friends in the area, so I’ve visited a bunch, too. Here are my recommendations for eating and other Austin activities for first-timers:

Tacos or DIE, taken at Torchy's in 2010.
Tacos or DIE, taken at Torchy’s in 2010.


  • Torchy’s Tacos: There are many, many delicious tacos in Austin, but I’ve always been a big fan of Torchy’s fried avocado tacos.
  • Tacodeli: Reputedly the best breakfast tacos in town, and another favorite of mine.
  • Ken’s Donuts: – Donut heaven! Seriously, when I first visited ATX, I made a joke that I’d move there for the donuts alone – they’re that good. Open 24 hours a day and also serves samosas. My favorites are the maple glazed and the cinnamon twist.
  • Kerbey Lane Cafe: Like Ken’s, often packed with students, but the pancakes and queso here are both worth a wait.
  • P.Terry: I love a good cheeseburger, and P.Terry is a local fast food chain that delivers a nice, high quality burger and delicious fries.
  • Hopdoddy: Craft burgers and beer, right on South Congress.
  • Hut’s Hamburgers: The first place I visited when I moved to ATX – I road-tripped from DC to TX with some friends, once of whom brought along a copy of Road Food. We stopped at several of the recommended road-side eateries along the way, including Hut’s, and were never disappointed – get the buffalo!
  • Gourdough’s: Back in my day, Gourdough’s was a single food trailer on South 1st, but now it has a brick-and-mortar location and a second trailer as well. This is where to go if you want fried chicken on a donut, or bacon on a donut, or any kind of elaborate donut sandwich.
  • HEB Central Market: My favorite TX supermarket – like a Whole Foods, but a bit cheaper (the Whole Foods flagship store is also worth a visit, though).
  • Green Mesquite: I know, I know, the best BBQ in the area is in Lockhart (or maybe Driftwood), but I’m assuming most ER&L attendees won’t have cars or time to head out of town, so Green Mesquite is a good option for BBQ in Austin. Since I live in close proximity to the “BBQ Capital of the World,” so I’m not too fussed.


  • The Hideout: Some of my favorite iced lattes, free wifi, and walking distance to the Capitol. It’s actually an improv theatre, so that’s worth checking out too.
  • Jo’s: Now more famous for the “i love you so much” graffiti at the South Congress location, but good coffee and they serve Tacodeli breakfast tacos as well.
  • La Tazza Fresca: I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention my old stomping grounds – I worked as a barista at La Tazza a few summers ago! The hummus sandwich is very tasty, and I lived on frozen dirty chais. Free wifi, as well.
  • Bennu: 24 hour coffee shop with free wifi! Working very late might not be applicable for most ER&L attendees, but I definitely used Bennu’s wifi post 10 PM on more than a few nights while living in ATX (I didn’t have wifi at home, and so was especially attuned to free wifi spots around town), and it’s always nice to be aware of the option.


  • Whip In: “Convenience store and pub” with tasty Indian fusion food and a great craft beer selection. This place is down the street from where my TX family lives, so I’ll definitely be popping in at least once or twice.
  • Ginny’s Little Longhorn: If the words “chicken shit bingo” mean nothing to you, then you need to spend a Sunday night at Ginny’s. There’s usually good live music there too, and occasionally potluck dinner.
  • Broken Spoke: I may be a native northerner, but I loooove to two-step.
  • Donn’s Depot: Another dancing-and-Lone-Star spot, closer to downtown than the Spoke (but minus the country legend museum room).
In front of the Capitol Building, winter 2012.
In front of the Capitol, during a visit in winter 2012.


  • Texas State Capitol: I remain convinced that this is the most beautiful state house in the U.S. – it’s basically a light pink version of the U.S. Capitol building.
  • Bullock Texas State History Museum: I liked this place, but I’m also an easy mark for local/ regional history museums.
  • Zilker Park: It’s pretty, it has a beautiful view of the skyline, and there’s usually tons of dogs. What’s not to like?
  • UT’s campus: It’s beautiful! Not much more to say other than it’s worth wandering around.
  • Harry Ransom Center: I’ve actually never been there (can you believe?), but I plan to check it out on this visit, and it’s one of the best archival collections in the world.
  • LBJ Presidential Library: Good exhibits, and completely worth it just for the animatronic LBJ robot.
  • Alamo Draft House: Terror Tuesdays and Weird Wednesdays were a family tradition when I lived in TX, but the Alamo is worth going to see a regular ol’ movie at too. I went to the Ritz most often, but there are several locations around the city.


  • Buffalo Exchange: The best Buffalo Exchange I’ve ever been to (and boy have I been to a lot) is the one on Guadalupe.
  • Goodwill Blue Hangar: Cheap, but lots of sifting required.
  • Uncommon Objects: I don’t think I’ve ever actually bought anything there (it can be pricey), but a very neat store to look around in.
  • Allen’s Boots: This is window-shopping for me, but if you’re on South Congress, you ought to check out the best boot store in ATX.
Swimming in Austin, summer 2010 - on the right, a trip to Hamilton Pool, and on the left, jumping off rocks on the Greenbelt.
Swimming in Austin, summer 2010 – on the right, a trip to Hamilton Pool, and on the left, jumping off rocks on the Greenbelt.


* OK granted, it might be too cold for most to go swimming in February… but I tend to believe any weather is swimming weather.

  • Greenbelt: The quintessential ATX swimming spots! Finding where to swim can be tricky and requires at least a few minutes of trekking along a wooded path, so I recommend going with a local.
  • Red Bud: Easy to drive to and usually has ample parking, Red Bud is a leash-free dog park where you can also go for a dip (and swim to jumping cliffs and a rope swing, if you’re a strong swimmer).
  • Deep Eddy Pool: Cold and non-chlorinated, there’s a small fee to enter.
  • Hamilton Pool: you’ll need a car to get to this swimming hole, and in the summer there can be a wait to even get in. But it’s beautiful, and worth going to at least once.