Austin – Cool Springs & Fine Dining

view of Austin from Auditorium Shores

We didn’t have long to discover all there was to see in Austin but, the day we did explore, we loved what we found.

First order of business was finding a place for breakfast. I really wanted to try the original Kerbey Lane but upon arriving we found it closed for the day. Second choice was Magnolia Café South which happily turned out to be a great pick!

 

Magnolia Cafe South

 

The restaurant has a very eclectic, quirky decor including their sign out front which says “Sorry We’re Open”. It is a popular place but we got lucky and were seated immediately. However, soon after our arrival there was a line out the door. All we could think was it must be good!

Austin MigasNow, never having been to Austin, I had never tried migas, an Austin tradition, so I knew what I was going to order – the traditional migas made with scrambled eggs, onions, tomatoes, bell pepper, cheese, jalapeno slices and tortilla strips served with black beans.  This one, I was told, was slightly different as the tortillas were on the side instead of mixed into the eggs. It reminded me of a breakfast burrito but with an extra kick from the peppers. Other orders included the Love Migas, which are cooked in spicy butter, Eggs Benedict with avocado slices which looked fantastic and served with enough home fries for the entire table and an omelet called “The Magnolia” with avocado, tomato, black olives and cheddar/jack cheese covered with a lemon sour cream sauce. Oh, and we got one side order of the gingerbread pancake I wanted to try and boy was it good. The service was also excellent and if you like your coffee cup filled up continuously this is the place to go. All in all, it was a delicious and filling breakfast for a very reasonable price and we all came away happy campers.

Barton SpringsOnce done with breakfast, our first stop was Barton Springs, a natural spring watering hole. It was just what was needed in Austin’s mid-90’s heat. The spring itself was a cool 68 degrees and took a bit to get in but, once in, it was so refreshing. Of course, you could have used the diving board like my brother-in-law and get the shock over all at once but some of us prefer the slow immersion method. lol They have plenty of grassy areas for sunning as well as some shady areas to beat the heat  and there is even a short nature trail around the springs for exploring. I have to say that at the end of the trail there was a sign that said to watch out for poison ivy, nice of them to tell us that beforehand, so keep a lookout if you walk the trail. If you want to eat there you have to exit and eat at the tables near the snack bar, your food or theirs, and then re-enter when done.

After our quick dip, my niece brought us to Auditorium Shores to see the statue of Stevie Ray Vaughn. This park offers some great biking and jogging trails as well as a great view of the Austin skyline over the river.

Mandolas Italian MarketAfter a relaxing stop at my niece’s apartment she introduced us to a fantastic little Italian deli and restaurant for happy hour called Mandolas Italian Market. It smelled so good walking in the front door with pizza cooking in the brick ovens and mouth watering temptations surrounding us in the market. Walking up to the counter we ordered a very reasonably priced half-carafe of wine, which I swear was the same as a whole bottle, a meat and cheese board, bruschetta that was fresh and tasted heavenly and some hot tasty bread for dipping. You can eat inside or out on their covered patio and the service is friendly and efficient no matter where you sit. They bring you your food when it is ready and check to make sure all is to your satisfaction. Loved this place and wish we had more time to visit again.

Peche interiorEvening brought us downtown to the Warehouse District to a small place called Peche. The restaurant was long and narrow with a beautiful bar running the length of one side. Open ductwork, exposed beams and a wall of brick completed a picture of casual elegance and warmth. It is Austin’s first absinthe bar and has a great mixologist preparing all sorts of pre-Prohibition cocktails. Upon being seated, the owner stopped by to give us drink recommendations and, of course, my husband and I had to try the absinthe.

Verlasso Salmon A La Plancha

He suggested a “Death in the Afternoon” for me, a mixture of absinthe and champagne, which turned out to be a licoricey effervescent drink and, for my husband, an absinthe over ice. I preferred mine over his since his was a little bitter. All of our meals were absolutely fantastic from the Verlasso Salmon A La Plancha served with a wonderful Romano Bean Succotash (which I would like the recipe for), Grilled Hanger Steak with Roasted Marrow (could have done with more of the juicy steak and no marrow), Seared Scallops with morel mushroom, corn & fiddlehead fern hash to the Pepper-crusted NY Strip done absolutely perfectly and served with smashed yukons. The desserts all sounded fantastic but with little room left in our satisfied stomachs we opted for espressos and the pot de creme. Overall, a very enjoyable night to remember, and although a bit pricey, a great place for a special occasion.

Unfortunately we didn’t finish dinner on time to see the bats but, come to find out, they don’t always fly out in the evening. My sister and brother-in-law went to see them another night and waited until after 10PM and they still didn’t get to see them. I think staying at the restaurant made for a much better evening.

All in all a wonderful day and a nice ending to our trip. Hope to see Austin again soon.

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About Vacationplanit

Linda Warren is a former marketing director and now owns her own vacation planning website, Vacationplanit.com. She has traveled extensively throughout the United States, the Caribbean and Asia and is sharing her experiences and love of new places with her fellow travelers. Very curious and organized, she researches each trip and plans itineraries with the intent of getting the most out of each exciting destination. Join Linda on her website, www.vacationplanit.com, and take advantage of her vast knowledge and research to make your vacation planning simple and fun.
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