Establishment neighborhood
Pueblo Viejo
121 Pickle Rd., South Austin
This truck was a local secret for a while. But places this good don’t stay secret for long. Pueblo Viejo’s breakfast taco is nothing short of an institution in Austin: a perfect egg, potato, spicy chorizo, and a generous amount of cheese. For an indulgent treat or a little soakage after one too many margaritas (the margaritas tend to taste better when you’re this close to Mexico) the chicharron taco—crispy pork rinds with salsa verde and heaps of fresh cilantro—hits the spot.
Granny’s Tacos
1401 E. 7th St., East Austin
For Armando Vazquez, tacos are a family affair. His two daughters run the outrageously popular Veracruz, while he and his wife, Maria Rios, turn out their own version of the food they grew up with. In this case: Granny’s chilaquiles taco is a breakfast special we—and pretty much the rest of Austin—happily stand in line for. Tender shredded chicken, cheese, spicy jalapeños, and a smattering of onions are liberally drizzled in Rios’s grandmother’s secret mole sauce.
El Primo
2011 S. 1st St., Bouldin
El Primo is a member of the old guard. Reliably good, affordable, and unchanging, the breakfast tortas and salsas served out the hatch of this teeny-tiny south Austin trailer are the stuff of local legend. Michoacán chef Humberto Reyes has been flipping tacos here for thirteen years, and unlike at many of the other city trucks, the meat to cheese ratio sandwiched into every tortilla is always just right. Stop by for breakfast, pick up a cold brew next door from Once Over coffee like the Austinites do, and take note: El Primo is cash only.
Odd Duck
1201 S. Lamar Blvd., Zilker
Like many of Austin’s most beloved food spots, Odd Duck started out in a trailer—a Fleetwood Mallard camper, specifically. The menu is, at its base, Southern, but the flavor combinations and resolute use of local produce add an element of farm-to-table California. Lunch could be a chopped smoked chicken salad, while dinner might be delicate roasted quail with collard greens or meltingly tender bavette steak with charred-onion salsa. Plan for a long, lazy evening out on the patio and start with a cocktail. Drinks here are good—really good—and all the classics have an Odd Duck spin to them. The Paloma, made with a hint of tarragon and topped with a salty foam, is our standing order. Be smart and come for happy hour: Many of the entrées are half-price, so you can justify ordering double and leaving stuffed.
Four Seasons
98 San Jacinto Blvd., Downtown
We’re always delighted when a trip involves staying at the Four Seasons. Who isn’t? And to be clear, there are things to love about the Four Seasons Austin. The grounds are beautiful, the cocktails have alcohol in them, and the lake-view rooms have views of the lake. Then there are the things that are harder to love. A recent renovation transformed the property from charming Texas hotel to soulless Texas hotel—with overall décor that is somehow a combination of greige and lonely. Even the suites feel impersonal and corporate—and showers are unreliable at best. But all that failed water pressure doesn’t come cheap: A suite for one night will run you a few thousand dollars.
Emmer & Rye
SkyHouse, 51 Rainey St., Rainey
Emmer & Rye is an unusual, heavy-on-heritage-grains concept we cannot get enough of. New American cuisine is served dim sum–style, which translates to best-of-the-farmers’-market small bites that come around on a cart as you work through your mains. Chef Kevin Fink cut his teeth at Copenhagen’s Noma, which is reason enough to come here, and the resolutely seasonal, farmers’ haul influence is apparent on every plate. Menu standouts include a peppery-to-the-point-of-spicy (we’re not complaining) cacio e pepe with heritage Blue Beard durum wheat pasta, and a buttery Carolina Gold rice pudding.
Ah Sing Den
1100 E. 6th St., East Austin
Ah Sing Den is a newish discovery for us. The only appropriate descriptor for the Mickie Spencer–designed space is: beautiful. It is just beautiful. Nostalgic wooden shutters, round marble tables so small you can easily lean over to your date and whisper. Contrasting textures, like plush velvet, leather, and brass finishes, add to the elegant, romantic vibe. The kitchen serves up food—we’d like to suggest the dumplings—that you’ll want to pair with a cocktail and stay past…whenever o’clock.
The Spa at The Joule
1530 Main St., Downtown
The sleek subterranean spa beneath the Joule hotel is amazing for both traditional and experimental facials. Go early for the steam room—which has a giant amethyst, thought to encourage tranquility, shining in the corner—plus the sauna, showers, and a body-temperature pool with jets that gently massage the skin, encouraging circulation and lymphatic drainage. Facials here combine ultradeluxe, super effective products from Biologique Recherche and Environ with microdermabrasion, LED light therapy, and face massage.
Cherry is an on-demand platform that offers classic and gel manicures and pedicures throughout Dallas. It’s the brainchild of three Texans, Bumble’s Whitney Wolfe Herd and rewardStyle’s Amber Venz Box and Baxter Box. Services are waterless, and technicians come armed with ten popular Essie shades, though you’re welcome to provide your own. (Basic treatments start at $15.) Everything, from the choice of service to the location and tip, is handled through Cherry’s user-friendly app.