Local's Guide to Austin
Texas native and UT grad Jennifer McKenzie Frazier shares what makes the outdoorsy home to Whole Foods and Longhorn football the city with the most swagger in the South.
When Perla's Seafood and Oyster Bar first opened last spring, the South Congress 'hood wondered if an oyster place would make it in a Tex-Mex town. Make it? Perla's made the biggest food splash since the trailer tacos phenomenon. The freshest catch is flown in daily and served under giant oaks out front. perlasaustin.com
A store that sells only black items may sound depressing. Au contraire. Blackmail Boutique on South Congress is a perfect example of Austin style. From rock-and-roll T-shirts to vintage cowboy boots to, yes, the little black dress, this place shows off a stylish, monochromatic color palette. blackmailboutique.com
Most people think of margaritas. I, however, lean toward the "Fire in the Hole" at Ranch 616. It's a freshly cored jalapeño filled with equal parts Tito's Handmade Vodka, Paula's Texas Orange Liqueur, and fresh lime juice. Chase it with a Lone Star beer. theranch616.com
Airstream cuisine. That's what we call fast food in Austin. Retrofitted Airstream trailers parked all over the city's south side sell everything from crepes and waffles to cheeseburgers and Korean bulgogi. The king and queen of this movable feast are Hey Cupcake! and Torchy's Tacos. heycupcake.com; torchystacos.com
The enclave you might not know of is called Clarksville. It's within earshot of the Whole Foods Market company headquarters and Book People but enough streets away to feel tucked-in. Have a milk shake at Nau's Enfield Drug Store, a hand-tossed pizza at Cipollina, or a candle-lit dinner at Jeffrey's—all on West Lynn Avenue. Then hit the 4.6-mile Shoal Creek Hike and Bike Trail. historicclarksville.org
Best Classic Venue: The Broken Spoke has been here forever. It's even listed in European travel guides. Catch live music, or take country and western dancing lessons. Owner James White is a local icon. brokenspokeaustintx.com
Best New Voice: The hoarse-voiced Ryan Bingham is a former rodeo bull-rider turned Oscar-winning songwriter (for the song "The Weary Kind" from the film Crazy Heart). And he's not even 30 years old. Download: "Country Roads"
Best Festival: Austin City Limits Music Festival. The lauded South by Southwest is overrun by industry insiders, so we say the diverse ACL fest is tops. The downtown festival is held in Zilker Park in October. aclfestival.com
Best Recording Shop: Waterloo Records and Video on North Lamar. These audiophiles know everything about Austin music. waterloorecords.com