You’ve heard of April in Paris. How about April in Austin? April in Austin is one spectacular experience. Austin, Texas – the capitol of Texas, home of UT Austin (University of Texas at Austin), the tech center of the South, part of Texas Hill Country, wildflowers everywhere, perfect spring like temperatures, warm friendly people, great food, awesome music, and beautiful scenery, Austin is one gorgeous city in April.
When most of us think of Texas including me (and I lived in Houston and Austin for a large part of my life before marriage) we think of hot, dry and arid. But visiting Austin in spring brings new perspective to this area.
What happened to Austin in the three decades since I graduated from UT Austin? When I went to college here Austin was known as the capitol of Texas, for UT Austin, and great music – that’s it. When did Austin become the hipster, trendy, street art embracing, vegan and vegetarian friendly, truck food loving, awesome city it is now? I was blown away by my recent visit in springtime. Austin in April has to be the best time to visit. The weather is cool and pleasant, wildflowers are blooming everywhere, and not everyone is on break, which means we tourists get to see all the sites without the crowds.
When did Austin become a mural city? The most beautiful street art can be found driving around Austin. Cantinas, bars, parlors, parking garages, heck even auto body shops are embracing street art in this town. Each one beautiful and unique as the establishments themselves. I hope this trend continues because it makes the city so unique and fun.
Seen enough? This is just a fraction of the murals I saw driving around town.
Food Truck City
Gosh, this city is food truck crazy. Food trucks are so popular here that the locals know which ones are great and are willing to stand in line for that coveted taco or chalupa or barbeque ribs.
There are even food truck parks where a bunch of food trucks congregate together so you can try a variety of foods. These are so popular that even on week nights we saw loads of people eating their way through food trucks on a balmy cool April evening.
When I was going to school at UT the only vegetarian options available to me were sandwiches, fried okra, hush puppies, biscuits, French fries, and wimpy salads. This town sure has changed since I was there. Now Austin is a foodie town you all. Every single restaurant, cafe, food truck, and coffee joint has not just one vegetarian option but multiple vegetarian choices, including vegan. There are so many vegetarian choices that I went nuts not being able to decide what to get 🤔😳😋.
A hot dog joint on the drag near UT Austin with vegetarian hot dogs
Licha’s Cantina (translation Come in)
A few standout places where we had amazing food were Licha’s Cantina, Tacodeli, and Veracruz food truck. Licha’s was an especially happening Mexican restaurant with outstanding food, great service, and an awesome vibe. With a menu like this, we have to go their multiple times to try everything! Notice the vegetarian options? Crazy many right? I wonder if Licha’s would open in Northern California?
GUACAMOLE (V) (G) $6 pumpkin seeds, queso fresco
ESQUITE (V) (G) $5 toasted corn, queso fresco, mayonnaise, paprika, lime, cilantro
CAMOTE (V) (G) $9 roasted sweet potato, goat cheese, piloncillo-chipotle sauce, herb salad, pumpkin seeds, sweet milk
CHORIQUESO (G) $12 melted queso asadero & chorizo, served with guacamole, pico de gallo, queso fresco & homemade tortillas
CHAMPIQUESO (V) (G) $12 melted queso asadero & roasted mushrooms, served with guacamole, pico de gallo, queso fresco & homemade tortillas
CEVICHE (*) (P) $15 mahi mahi & bay scallop cured with salt & citrus, with coconut cream, pico de mango, chamoy & avocado, served with tostadas
ARROZ CON HUITLACOCHE (G)(V) $10 corn smut sautéed with epazote, rice, corn, avocado, queso parmesano
CHIPOTLE CAESAR (G) (*) $10 romaine, watercress, toasted pumpkin seeds, cilantro, queso fresco
ACELGAS CON ADERESO DE NOPAL (V) (G) $10 swiss chard, endive, cactus dressing, toasted amaranth, sunflower seeds, parmesan cheese
SALPICON DE REZ (G) $15 cold shredded brisket salad, cucumber, tomato, avocado, radish, romaine, citrus vinaigrette, parmesan cheese
SANDWICH WITH GUAJILLO PEANUT SALSA-SOAKED BOLILLO, LAYERED WITH GUACAMOLE, CREMA, QUESO PANELA, NAPA CABBAGE, CHOICE OF:
PAPA CON CHORIZO (P) $13 potatoes and chorizo
CONCHINITA PIBIL (P) $13 achiote braised pulled pork
TINGA DE POLLO (P) $13 chipotle-orange braised chicken
VERDURA (V) (G) $15 sweet potato, mushrooms, corn, watercress, napa cabbage, pumpkin seeds
AL PASTOR (G) $15 spicy-sweet marinated roasted pork, pineapple, onions
LENGUA (G) (P) $15 – beef tongue, guajillo-peanut salsa, onions, escabeche
MUSLOS DE POLLO ENCEBOLLADO $15 chicken thighs a la plancha with morita-orange salsa, Bohemia beer stewed onions & garlic, radish
ALAMBRE DE PESCADO Y CAMARON (G) $16 mahi mahi & shrimp, bacon, queso asadero, onions & peppers
TINGA DE POLLO (G) $9 chipotle-orange braised chicken, crema fresca, napa cabbage, queso fresco, chicken skins
COCHINITA PIBIL (G) $11 achiote braised pork, pickled red onion, avocado salsa, queso fresco
QUESADILLAS Blue corn meal tortilla, queso asadero, served with avocado salsa and sesame crema
CALABAZITAS (V) (G) $9 roasted squash & zucchini
FLOR DE JAMAICA (V) (G) $9 hibiscus flower
HUITLACOCHE (V) (G) $11 corn smut sauteed with epazote
TOCINADA (G) $11 pastor, chorizo, bacon
CARNITAS EN GORDITAS DE CHICHARRON (G) $12 pork belly carnitas stuffed in masa pockets made with chicharron masa, black refried beands, tomatillo salsa & queso fresco. served with herb & onion salad
MOLLEJAS DE RES EN CHIMICHURRI (G) $12 beef sweet breads a la plancha with chimichurri, stuffed in chicharron masa pockets, black refried beans, queso fresco & escabeche
CHAMPIÑÓN (V) (G) (P) $12 roasted mushrooms, guajillo-peanut sauce, queso asadero, sesame crema, parmesan cheese
TUETANO (G) $12 Bone marrow, black beans, avocado salsa, herb salad, parmesan cheese
MOLE CON POLLO (G) (P) $12 mole poblano, chicken tinga, queso asadero, shaved onion, queso fresco
CAMPECHANO (G) $12 black refried beans, steak chorizo, sauteed cactus, queso fresco, tomatillo salsa, cilantro
TLACOYOS Black bean filled blue corn masa cake
CONCHINITA PIBIL (G) $13 achiote braised pulled pork, pickled red onion, avocado salsa, queso fresco
CAMARON CON MOLE (G) (P) $16 shrimp, watercress, mole poblano, sesame crema
DE NOPAL (V) (G) $13 cactus salad, avocado salsa, queso fresco, crema fresca, napa cabbage
PULPO Y CAMARÓN A LA PLANCHA (G) $23 Octopus & shrimp a la plancha, charro white beans, chorizo, bacon, charred tomatoes, watercress
STEAK TAMPIQUEÑO (P) (G) $27 Chimichurri marinated strip steak cooked medium rare; dobladas de mole, black refried beans, creamed poblano peppers, guacamole, queso fresco
COCHINITA PIBIL (G) $22 Achiote braised pulled pork served in a clay pot, spicy pickled red onion, guacamole, queso fresco, refried black beans
BARBACOA DE CHIVO (G) $23 All spice braised goat served in a clay pot; garbanzos, guacamole, with refried black beans, queso fresco
CHILE RELLENO CON QUINOA (V) (G) (P) $20 Poblano pepper, quinoa salad, chipotle sauce, black beans, queso fresco, pumpkin & sunflower seeds
ENMOLADAS DE PATO (G) $21 Roasted duck, mole poblano, black beans, queso asadero dobladas topped with guacamole, queso fresco, pico de gallo and orange
MIXIOTE DE CORDERO (G) (P) $26 Banana leaf wrapped braised lamb shank over fideo seco, morita-tomato broth, goat cheese, avocado, watercress, pumpkin seeds
HUACHINANGO TIKIN XIC (G) $25 Tikin xic rubbed red snapper, spicy potatoes & chorizo, cactus, Swiss chard salad, avocado
CONCHA BURGER $15 Black angus hamburger patty cooked medium, tocinada, queso asadero, lettuce, guacamole, pico de gallo on a Concha bun, served with spicy potatoes. (Concha is Mexican sweet bread)
CHAMORRO DE CERDO ADOBADO – $30.00 Adobo marinated wrapped in banana leaf braised pork shank (for 2), roasted potatoes, chicharron, refried black beans, rice, tortillas
MAHI MAHI A LA PLANCHA (G) – $21.00 Seared mahi mahi, pozole broth, hominy, rice, radish, avocado, Napa cabbage
ENCHILADAS A LA POTOSINA (G) – $15.00 Guajillo salsa soaked tortillas layered with potatoes and chorizo, queso asadero, black refried beans, crema, queso fresco, guacamole, pico de gallo, escabeche
CHILE RELLENO EN NOGADA (G) – $16.00 Roasted poblano pepper stuffed with beef picadillo made with epazote, potatoes, raisins & almonds topped with pecan cream sauce and pomegranates
Artisinal Coffe Shops for all the Coffee Snobs
Austin has great coffee shops. Not just Starbucks and Peet’s but cool local coffee joints that serve awesome coffee👌.
Sixth Street and Rainey Street in Historic Downtown
When were going to school in Austin Sixth Street was our go-to drag for great music and bars to hangout all night long. Sixth Street has changed a lot since then, it’s still the same with great music and lounges but it has more of raw and gritty bend to it now. The street looks like an old familiar street where one can still catch a good band and grab a laid back drink.
On the other hand if one is looking for a trendy, hip, happening, music, lounge, and eats street, check out Rainey Street, the new it street in town. Located in a historic part of downtown Austin. this street is bustling with people young and old all looking to have a good time. Very close to hot hotel Vandt Zandt, Rainey Street is full of cool restaurants, cafes, food trucks, bars, lounges, and outdoor cafes. What makes this street so fun is that there is a bit of everything for everyone here. High-end restaurants, cafes, street food, and cool watering holes. On the weeknight that we were there the street was packed with people. I can only imagine how it mist be on the weekends. Check it out folks those of you who like Indian food there was a cool casual outdoor Indian cafe on Rainey Street called Garage Mahal. Get it? It’s a word play on Taj Mahal 😀.
The up and coming Silicon Valley
I’ve heard it being said again and again that Austin is like Silicon Valley with loads of tech companies. It sure is. Even the work culture is like Silicon Valley – casual, fun and friendly. Funnily, the tech attire here is so casual that they make us here in Silicon Valley look fuddy duddy, and that’s saying something!
Things to do around town:
Austin is a fun place to visit in spring because the weather can’t be any more perfect. You also get to see some pretty beautiful wildflowers that can only be seen in the spring. Springtime in Austin is a great time to check out a few fun outdoor activities too. Here is a look at things to do in and around Austin.
Tour the Capitol
The capitol building in Austin is pretty impressive. The building is grand and the story goes that Texas intentionally made their capitol building taller than the one in Washington D.C. Hitesh looked it up and it turns out the building in Texas is fifteen feet taller than our nation’s capitol.
Stroll UT Austin (The University of Texas at Austin)
UT Austin is a beautiful campus. Full of giant mature trees, beautifully landscaped grounds, stately buildings, and home to the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library and Museum, this campus is not only beautiful but one of the top universities in the country.
Some of the buildings on campus reminded me of those in the Stanford Campus back home in California.
Visit Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library and Museum
This is an awesome museum. Not crowded at all making our museum viewing experience so pleasurable. This was truly one of the highlights of our trip. I will be doing a more detailed post on this educational and enlightening museum.
Walk on the trails at Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
Being that it’s spring and bluebonnets are blooming in the millions in Texas I HAD to check out the garden dedicated to these wildflowers. Naturally, the best time to see this garden is in the spring when Texas wildflowers are at their peak blooming season.
Forty-five minutes outside of Austin are beautiful caverns that one can tour. We chose to see Natural Bridge Caverns, which was an awe-inspiring excursion.
Cruise Down River
Renting a boat and cruising down the Colorado River is so relaxing and fun on a cool sunny April evening.
More Museums, San Antonio and Whitewater Rafting
Other noted museums in town include the Bullock Texas History Museum and the Blanton Art Museum among many more in town. Just an hour or two from Austin whitewater rafting down the rapids in San Marcos and driving to San Antonio to see the River Walk and the Alamo are wonderful ways to make day trips.
Since my cousin Pradeep lives in Austin and Hitesh’s company has an office in Austin we asked the locals what were the best places to eat in town. Here is the list of local eats as recommended by the locals. Enjoy!
Tacos: Tacodeli, Veracruz Food Truck
For the good ole Tex Mex: Chuy’s still is busy. Maudie’s, Matt’s El Rancho, and El Chilito also serve up dependable margaritas, chips and queso and guacamole.
Sushi: Uchi, Uchiko, Ben-Yuri Tatsuya (Ramen and Japanese food made rich.Veg friendly
American/Farm to Market: Dai Due, The Odd Duck (Farm to Table cooking with an inventive Chef, small and large plates)
Meat focused: Pitchfork Pretty, Salty Sow, Odd Duck
Nicer: Geraldines in the Vandt Zandt Hotel, Counter 3/5/7, Barley Swine, Olamie (Southern), Dai Due is really good, if you want a nice dinner with some meat.
Thai: Dee Dees (Trailer), Sway, Thai Kun (spicy!), Elizabeth Street Cafe (Like Vietnamese food you would get in San Francisco’s Chinatown only triple the price—however, the presentation, flavor, and ambiance make it worth it)
Coffee: Houndstooth, Cuvee, Fleet Coffee
Pizza: Buffalina (Neapolitan) , Via 313 (Detroit Style, which is in between New York and Chicago Deep Dish)
April in Austin
Spring really is the best time to visit Austin. Fair warning, I can’t promise you will have as great a time at another time of year because as the locals kept reminding me “You came at a great time. It gets very hot and humid in another month and it’s pretty brutal here in the summer.” When you are considering places to visit in springtime where the temperatures are warm and pleasant, take a look at Austin, Texas. It will be an awesome April in Austin to remember.
The perfect time to visit