Hello hello!! I am sitting at Epoch coffee shop sipping on an iced coffee with a pile of school work staring me in the face, but I figured I’d allot myself about 30 mins to blog until the caffeine kicks in. Good plan, right?
I have really been looking forward to writing this post. March 16th DJ and I decided to do a staycation when our spring breaks overlapped.
We booked at the Fairmont in downtown Austin, which was actually within walking distance for us. We packed up for a couple night stay. It was nice that if we forgot anything, we could just walk down the road to pick it up. We were craving a true getaway vacation somethin’ serious, and there just wasn’t time for one… so this was our best alternative. It ended up really feeling like a real vacation and was so refreshing for us both. There was an interesting study done looking at benefits of short-term vacations if you need help convincing someone 😉
Anyway, here we gooo!
We checked in around 3 pm. As we were walking over, DJ said he was pretty sure he saw Dave Chappelle. We googled if he was in town that weekend, and sure enough, he was!
As soon as we dropped off our luggage, we walked over to check out the view.
It did not disappoint. We could see Ladybird Lake, Rainey street and I-35 all from the window.
We quickly realized we were pretty hungry- we had a late dinner scheduled that night but needed something to tide us over. We sauntered down to the restaurant in the lobby, Fulton, and check out their options. It was fun being on “vacation” but not feeling pressure to do everything a city had to offer in a few days. It made it that much more spontaneous and relaxing.
The decor is super eclectic in here, but somehow worked. I feel like I use the word “eclectic” to describe quite a lot around Austin- but it really just fits the city as a whole.
I mean, they even had this massive tree in the middle of the restaurant.
We ordered a cheeseboard with warm olives and a glass of pinot grigio. The whole combination was unreal. We’ve had a lot of luck with good food in hotels- remember when we had some of the best pasta of our life randomly at the Doubletree in El Paso? Anyway- this cheese served with honeycomb was seriously the greatest combination and the warm olives were addictive as all get out. We still talk about this! After our linner, I was hitting an afternoon slump. I noticed they had a coffee shop in their lobby, good things, so it was not even a question. I grabbed a semi-bitter cup of jo’, but it had caffeine and that was all that mattered at that moment.
Once the caffeine kicked in, I had the energy to get ready for the evening.
Then we headed out to explore the city as tourists do!
We walked around with no real plan, just venturing into parts of the city we haven’t yet while enjoying all the artwork.
We had our reservation around 7:30 for dinner that evening. It was at a spot I have wanted to try ever since we’ve moved here located at the end of Rainey street- Emmer & Rye.
This restaurant will appear on pretty much every list you find of “Best Restaurants in Austin”. And for good reason. This was an unforgettable meal from start to finish. We were seated outside on their patio with twinkling string lights which just set a great romantic, cozy ambiance. The weather that evening was particularly lovely too. Their entirely farm-to-table menu changes often, so some of these items are not on their menu anymore- but the one “must try” is a constant.
I started with their beet dish that was soo yummy.
Deej sampled a beef tartare dish (I think that’s what this was)- he loved it, and I think this is still on their menu!
Now for the star of the show. When I compile a “must try” dishes in Austin- this is near the top of the list. This is their famous cacio e pepe (This is the dish I was referring to in a previous post). I think this is perhaps the best pasta dish we have ever tried (sorry Doubletree, you’re a close second). The truffle mushroom pasta from Il Mulino at Disney is in there too.
For dessert we tried their black garlic ice cream, chocolate, orange and tomato. Wait! Before you schedule an eye appointment- yes, you read that all correctly!! We have a theory that if something is on the menu that sounds absolutely disgusting, it must be extra good because how else is it on there? Y’all… wow wow wow…. this was unusually good, meaning both unusual and unusually delicious. I don’t know why the heck it is, and it tasted unlike anything we had tried before- but do yourself a favor and give it a go if you ever are in town.
That night we turned in early. We had said we were going to stay out on the town originally like we would if we were really on vacation, but we’re old now, you see. So we promised ourselves we would stay out later the following evening.
The next morning we slept in a little bit, and around 8 am I went down to workout in the hotel gym. How awesome is this view?
And after working out, we ordered some room service breakfast which is probably our favorite part about staying in hotels.
Those pancakes! Perfection, along with everything else.
We then headed out for our next day adventures. Since we didn’t park at the hotel (we just wheeled our suitcases through town), we walked back to our apartment to pick up the car.
And next on the docket was a hike at the Barton Creek Greenbelt. I can’t tell you how many people have recommended this spot to us, and finally we tried it out.
It was a wonderful walk/hike. Usually there is water and the picture right above shows where little waterfalls form. It was bone dry while we were there, but I bet it’s flowing now given how much rain we’ve had.
After our about 5-mile hike, we drove back to the hotel around one in the afternoon. We lathered up the sunscreen then headed down to the hotel pool. Now this is vacation!!
We listened to podcasts, read books (I was working my way through Hillbilly Elegy– great read- thank you Maureen for the recommendation) and sipped on our margs in the sun.
When we got a bit too warm, we took a dip in the pool.
We didn’t want this day to end!
But then our stomachs started growling.
We had a dinner reservation at odd duck, another restaurant we’ve wanted to try for a while. I loved the whole atmosphere of this place.
We were hungryyy after our day in the sun, so we went all out on this meal.
Once again, the first dish of the night was a delightful beet dish.
Probably my favorite part of the meal was next- Cast iron cornbread with cheddar and green garlic butter. Oh my. I crave this.
We then tried their carrot quesadilla with oaxaca cheese and coriander flower dressing. This was unique and probably my second favorite of all the courses. I think DJ said this was his favorite.
We shared a scallop dish too- can’t go wrong with these. So delicious.
And ever since I tried quail with my mom in San Antonio, if it’s on the menu I feel like we have to get it. I don’t particularly like meat, which is part of why I eat mostly plant-based, but quail is an exception! This quail was fried with creamed corn, peppers, peaches and spicy honey. I think that description speaks for itself!
We were pretty full, but their dessert menu looked too good to pass up.
And it was too good to pass up. We tried their lime panna cotta with almonds, ginger, graham crackers, and toasted meringue. TOP 5 dessert of our lives.
As we promised to force ourselves out on the town, we discussed what to do next over dessert. It was actually St. Patrick’s day, so we thought it’d be fun to go down to Rainey street since we figured it’d be poppin’ and it was close to the hotel. We walked around for a while enjoying the energy that has been absent for so long in the city and then went to Javelina at the end of the street. We were sitting out on the street when we noticed a little visitor near us.
I caught this raccoon out of my periphery scaling the tree to my left. He was clearly not bothered by humans, which is quite the red flag. But he was darn cute. It reminded me of a time in high school when DJ and I were eating Penn Station sandwiches in a park and a raccoon scurried out of a trash can near us- I jumped up on the picnic table and freaked out, protecting my Penn Station with my life.
After trying to make an entrance into the restaurant (he clearly just wanted in on the St. Paddy’s day fun too), our little friend found his place under the porch out of sight. The rest of the evening we played trivia which was so much fun.
It was around 11 before we headed back to the hotel, and as we were walking back we spotted a Via 313 food truck. As soon as the thought of Via crossed our minds, there was no question about putting in an order. It was quite chilly at this point in the evening and the hot, fresh Via 313 was unlike anything else! Side note, but very exciting,…. DJ said he found a pizza place in OH that “is not Via, but is very close”. This was just the greatest news, and I can’t wait to try it out.
And sadly, we had to check out the following morning, March 18th. We weren’t ready to totally go back to studying just yet, so we went to Snooze for brunch. Perfect way to hit the “snooze” button on reality, eh?
And that wraps up our little Austin staycation. It was a wonderful few days and just what we needed to reinvigorate us for the rest of the semester.
P.S. it has been way more than 30 mins, but oh well, I was having too much fun writing this!
I’d love to know:
- What is your favorite staycation or vacation you’ve ever taken?