Special Content Collaboration with Texas Lifestyle Magazine
Photos courtesy of Texas Lifestyle Magazine.
Spring (Break) has sprung. Check out these places located in the heart of Austin for new adventures, historic views and a variety of delicious food from around the world, all in your backyard.
Austin Marriott Downtown
The Austin Marriott Downtown staff is incredibly friendly and helpful, from the front desk to the valets. The sitting area in The Lobbyist, Austin Marriott Downtown’s lobby bar, is a large, beautiful and downright comfortable place to spend several hours working and people-watching along South Congress Street. Not to mention, the hotel is located conveniently on South Congress, the perfect central location from which to explore Austin in any direction.
milk + honey Day Spa
Downtown’s milk + honey spa is just a block from the Lady Bird Lake Trail and near the Second Street District. Whether you want to pop over for an express treatment, like a 45-minute facial or a lunchtime massage, discover this haven of calm amid the downtown chaos.
You might splurge for their 60-minute signature massage or 60-minute signature facial, with the day spa offering both spa and med spa treatments. Facial products are very gentle on your skin, so just bring along some sunscreen and tinted moisturizer with a little lip and eye color to throw on afterward, or nothing at all to reap the benefits of all milk + honey’s nourishing products and services. Robes and slippers are provided for a small relaxation lounge with healthy refreshments. Access a full shower as needed after your services to feel fully refreshed before continuing your day. Without additional amenities, you won’t need to plan for a long visit, just enough to get you rejuvenated!
Fareground food hall on Congress Avenue features six eateries serving over 120 dish offerings, with cuisine inspired by global fare from Asia, the Middle East, Europe and the Americas. We love its central location and outdoor seating. Fareground is ideal for groups of friends with differing palates or those wanting to try a variety of foods. Head inside and pick your culinary delight; then enjoy your meal in the courtyard with some vitamin D on those nicer Austin weather days.
- Our favorite pick was Little Wu led by Chef Ji Peng Chen (Wu Chow, Swift’s Attic, Rosedale Kitchen & Bar), which features dumplings, potstickers, shumai and a variety of noodle and la mian dishes including Sichuan red braised beef, spicy pork wontons with bok choy, shrimp and crab cake.
- The Market features salads (cobb, kale caesar and rainbow quinoa), pizzas (margherita, funghi and carne) and sandwiches (avocado, caprese, grilled chicken panini, ham and cheese panini and tuna and turkey wraps).
- Austin Rôtisserie offers rotisserie chicken (whole, half and quarter bird), salads, soups, sides and bowls (salade de chèvre, roti bowl, salade niçoise, potage de carottes and petite patates) and baguette sandwiches.
- Taco Pegaso boasts small bites such as chips and guacamole and salsa and queso, as well as a variety of tacos and burritos including carne asada, pescado, al pastor, chicken tinga, picadillo and champis.
- Henbit offers the Henbit Burger, fried chicken sandwich, salmon bowl, kale and avocado salad, harissa chicken bowl. Their sides include crispy sweet potatoes with chiltepin aioli, house chips with chipotle and fresno hot sauce and coleslaw.
- TLV is where to go to get manot dishes (plates with pita) including a classic hummus plate and falafel plate, Bepita dishes (pita sandwiches with a side of pickles) including sabich and schnitzel sandwiches, as well as salatim dishes (assorted sides) such as babaganoush, fire-roasted eggplant, summer cucumber salad and more.
- DRINK is the place to get your beverages all day, from coffee and kombucha, to cocktails and mocktails. Their menu features a variety of wines and beers, as well as frozen cocktails (frosé and mango punch), draft cocktails (hibiscus margarita, red sangria, raspberry lemonade and classic Old Fashioned) and craft cocktails (watermelon mezcal margarita, The Grind and Yucateco). Choose from a chilled chardonnay, midday specials like $5 Bloody Marys and mimosas; and after 5 p.m., you can find specials like $4 draft beer.
TacoDeli on Congress
Love this option for lunch downtown on Congress at Third. Walk up to order fresh tacos from chicken to beef, pork, shrimp or veggie. Ask for the “blue plate,” which combines two tacos with a side of rice and beans. Get in by 3 p.m., though, as they close early!
Well-known for their popular food trucks that float around Greater Austin, Garbo’s has been around these parts since 2015. Their newest brick-and-mortar location opened in the old Opal Divine’s along North Mopac in July 2021. This family-owned establishment was started as Garbos Lobster Austin, Texas | New England Cuisine by a family hailing from Maine. Step into this fun and casual coastal dining environment to find out why their tagline is “New England Cuisine with an Austin Twist.”
Choose from a variety of Maine- or Connecticut-style rolls, all served on New England top-split buns for an authentic lobster shack experience. Our favorite small plates are the mahi-smoked fish dip, Maine crab cakes and spicy shrimp fries. Weekly specials include Tuesday’s fish and chips, featuring fried cod filets beer battered in Live Oak Hefeweizen beer. In addition, every Wednesday (all day) you can order $2 New England Oysters flown in from Island Creek Oyster Co. Enjoy Garbo’s Cheeseburgers on Thursdays, including kids meals complete with a frozen treat of Connor’s soft-serve ice cream. Sunday brunch is served from 10 a.m.- 3 p.m., with lobster versions of avocado toast, eggs benedict and flatbread like no other within the Austin City Limits.
On the fourth floor of Hotel Van Zandt, enjoy the winter outdoor igloos, which are poolside at Geraldine’s, a restaurant that has reigned supreme in the popular Rainey District. Their menu is one full page of tapas options like roasted brussels sprouts with mint and basil, savory oxtail rigatoni, short rib and grilled sweet potatoes. Pair those with a motito (Tito’s Vodka), the A-wreath-a Franklin (gin) cocktail or a bold cabernet wine. Don’t skip the buttermilk biscuits with maple-butter honey for an undeniable Southern delight.
Inside the igloo, you’ll dine on a soft couch piled high with throw pillows and blankets, using a coffee table as your dinner table and a space heater for cooler nights. It’s one of Austin’s most unique dinner environments for cozying up with your favorite people amidst sunset views and fireside ambiance.
Pro-tip: If dining only (no hotel stay), don’t assume you can park in the attached garage if the hotel is at capacity. Paid street spots can be found within a five to 10-minute walk, and try to carpool if you can. From the North, consider taking Capital Metro’s red line train to the downtown station, also a half-mile walk or quick Uber ride to the restaurant. Just be mindful of schedules, with the last train leaving downtown close to 12:30 a.m. on weekends.
Marika Flatt, named Outstanding Austin Communicator 2021, is the travel editor of Texas Lifestyle Magazine. She can be seen on TV shows across Texas offering travel tips, in addition to her long-running “Weekend Trip Tip” on NPR’s Texas Standard.