Where to eat in Austin: Radio Coffee and Beer & Veracruz All Natural

I ran out of coffee beans a few days ago and thought, “Oh, no problem. I’ll just stop by Radio and get a cortado and two breakfast tacos before work.” Nooooooo. Unfortunately, they were all the way in Texas and I’m in California.  Radio Coffee and Beer wins the award for MVP: Most Visited Place in Austin.  One day, we even went to it twice: once in the morning for coffee, and then again at night for beer.

The perfect  Austin breakfast @radiocoffeeandbeer. Cortado, Stumptown cold brew, migas, and breakfast tacos.

Radio Coffee and Beer is a cafe (and bar) conveniently located off of the 290 (aka Ben White).  It’s on Manchaca, which I was shocked to learn was pronounced “MAN-shack” and not “man-CHA-ca” like someone who grew up in Los Angeles would expect.  When the weather is good, it’s a treat to sit on the patio sipping a cortado or a glass of nitro cold brew. I don’t know if it’s because of the beer glass or the nitro, but the cold brew tastes just like a chocolate stout.

While the espresso drinks and cold brew at Radio are great, I would advise against ordering any of the brewed coffee.  The hard water coming into the cafe makes brewed coffee taste a little soapy, which is most noticeable in a mug of brewed coffee.

At night, Radio turns from a cafe into a bar.  The wifi is shut down at 5pm, there’s a bluegrass band playing on Mondays, people are encouraged to sit on lawn chairs on the grass facing the bandstand, and a general sense of calm that only sitting outside with a cold glass of beer can bring on.  I had a nice chat with a family sitting on a picnic bench near ours while watching people sip beers.

And if a good glass of coffee and beer is not enough, there’s also the Veracruz All Natural food trailer that shares Radio’s patio.  It’s not fast food, but it is good food.  My favorite order for mornings is migas on flour tortilla and a breakfast taco with egg and bacon.  For those not in the breakfast taco mood, they do a mean chicken molé taco.

Veracruz also has a handful of vegetarian and even vegan options, but be prepared to repeat your order a few times because none of the vegan orders are pre-entered into their system, so they have to manually put in adjustments.  We didn’t realize till the day we were leaving that ordering migas without eggs or cheese is $3.00, but ordering a breakfast taco with salsa, avocado, and tortilla chips is only $2.50.  One of the women working there helpfully suggested the later.

A part of me is deeply saddened that there’s nothing like the one-two combo of Radio and Veracruz near me. But another part is slightly relieved because that is not a combination that my waistline needs every day.

Radio Coffee and Beer
4208 Manchaca Rd
Austin, TX 78704
(512) 394-7844

Veracruz All Natural
(same spot as Radio, same hours as Radio)

Things to do in Austin: Alamo Drafthouse

When we talked to locals about things to do in Austin, one thing that kept coming up was Alamo Drafthouse.  I asked myself, how good could a movie theater be that everyone keeps talking about it? Giving it the benefit of the doubt, I went online and checked what was showing. It was my favorite John Travolta movie! Face/Off!

faceoff-1

If you haven’t seen this and you like corny action movies with ridiculous explosions, Face/Off is right up your alley.  I don’t want to give up too much of this complex plot away, but two men switch faces. Explosions! Crazy Nic Cage being Crazy. John Travolta playing Nic Cage.  It’s everything I could ever ask for in a popcorn movie.

So of course, we went to Alamo Drafthouse to watch Face/Off. We bought our tickets at the lobby and walked into the theater. The seats were large and roomy with a little table in front that holds the menu, the order sheets, and any food or drinks that are brought.  I thought that having a server going through the theater would be distracting, but it wasn’t.  Before the beginning of the movie, a server comes through, explains everything and gives you a chance to write down your order if you know beforehand. If you want something in the middle of the movie or a refill, just write your order on the sheet of paper and place it vertically on the stand on your table and a server will whisk it away and return with the goods.

But that’s not the only thing that made Alamo Drafthouse awesome. There were in-theater pyrotechnics! So they weren’t exactly like Backdraft from Universal Studios, but there were enough flames shooting out of the flame thrower thing during explosions in the movie and enough confetti exploding everywhere to make the visit worth it.  It was a nice surprise and upped the cornball factor of the movie.

As for the food, it wasn’t half bad based on what I tried. I got some fries and queso and Will got popcorn. He claimed his popcorn was too salty. Maybe that’s how they get you to not take advantage of endless popcorn. I liked that it came in a stainless steel bowl, for that “I just made popcorn at home” experience.  My fries were perfectly crisp, hot, and the queso was trashy in a convenience-store way.

Alamo Drafthouse is definitely worth visiting, especially if you don’t want to brave the puke smell of going to a crappy college bar on dirty 6th, but want to do something fun during a night out.

Alamo Drafthouse
Several locations in Austin

Things to do in Austin: Whole Foods

While researching things to do in Austin before our trip, Whole Foods came up a lot on other people’s lists.  At first, I laughed at that. We already have plenty of Whole Foods in LA, why specifically visit a Whole Foods when traveling? Then I thought more about it.  I love going to super markets in different countries just to see what weird stuff is on the shelves.  Whole Foods started in Austin.  Someone on the food forums claimed that the barbecue at Whole Foods wasn’t half bad.  Sold!

The Whole Foods in Austin is huge. Not only is it almost Costco-sized, but there’s just so much stuff in it! Honey dispensers? Check! Lots of different types of made-to-order food and prepared foods? Check! Barbecue counter? Check! Wine and beer? Check! Walk-in beer closet? Check! Vegan donuts? Check! Luckily, our hotel was about a half mile walk from the market, so we visited it a couple times during our trip.

I was really curious to try the barbecue, but having just had dinner, didn’t want to order a whole sandwich. I asked the man behind the counter to cut me just a slice of moist brisket and he gave me a generous piece on a sheet of tin foil and said, “Here you go, on me!”  How nice!  I brought my slice of brisket to the eat-in counter, drizzled it with a little sauce and dug in with my bare hands.  It was moist, it was tender, it smoky, it was everything I wanted barbecue to be.  And if I had any doubts about the barbecue being made on location, a whiff of the barbecue smoke drifting in the downstairs parking lot cleared those doubts away.

This brisket at Whole Foods was surprisingly good! Best brisket I've ever had. Texas!

One thing I particularly liked about this Whole Foods is that there’s a basket of free fruit in the entrance for kids 12 and under to munch on!

So yes, when in Austin, make sure to visit the Whole Foods on Lamar.  Come with an appetite and you can get a pretty decent meal of barbecue and fixin’s.  Then, when you’re bored of that, you can walk across the street to Book People and browse the shelves and shelves of books.

Whole Foods Market
525 N Lamar Blvd
Austin, TX 78703
(512) 542-2200

Book People
603 N Lamar Blvd Austin, TX 78703
(512) 472-5050