There's nothing quite like Texas football - from high school level to the NFL, fans around Texas flock to cheer on their favorite teams. Many will agree, one of the best parts of football is how it brings family and friends together in the All-American pastime known as the tailgate. Open up that tailgate, put up your antennas, and get the BBQ smoking - here we unveil the 5 must-haves for the ultimate Texas tailgate.
1. Yeti CoolerThe Seider brothers, both avid hunters and fishers, started Yeti in 2006 with a vision to create coolers that would exceed the expectations and needs of the outdoorsman's lifestyle. What they created with their home-grown Austin company completely revolutionized the cooler industry. Designed with 2-inch thick polyurethane walls, these coolers are not only durable enough to keep out grizzly bears, but keep ice frozen for days on end. A Yeti will be sure to keep your beverages cold for an entire day of tailgating so you don’t have to worry about the ice running out. Now these incredible coolers come with collegiate designs, including a handful of Texas schools: UT, A&M, TCU, and Tech. If you don't need a whole cooler, Yeti also offers a Rambler Colster to keep your 12 oz. beverage of choice crisp and refreshing for hours.
2. Local BrewsThe cheap country songs Nashville churns out today may reminisce of glory days spent drinking PBRs and other cheap brews, but any good Texan likes to keep it local and crafty when it comes to stocking their tailgate bar. The state is brimming with stellar craft breweries and distilleries to keep the crowds around your watering hole happy. Some of our favorite places to stock up in and around Austin include:Live Oak Brewing Company: With a name that pays homage to our state tree, this local brewery has been whetting the palettes of Austinites since 1997. While favorites like the Big Bark Amber, Hefeweizen, and Pilz have long been available on tap in local bars and by the keg, the Company promises that these brews will also be available by can this winter. For big tailgates this fall, you’ll have to stick with Live Oak by the keg, but who's complaining about 62 pints of refreshing deliciousness?!Thirsty Planet: If you’d rather have bottles to fill up your Yeti, Austin brewed Thirsty Planet can accommodate, with their popular Thirsty Goat Amber, which is available at HEB, Whole Foods, Spec’s, and an assortment of other retailers. This particular brew is a crowd-pleaser, and bonus, Thirsty Planet is also planet conscious - re-purposing and recycling the materials used during production...so you are basically helping the environment with every gulp.Real Ale Brewing Company: Another favorite in Austin bars, Real Ale Brewing Company brews less than an hour away in the small town of Blanco, nestled in the folds of the Texas Hill Country. Their most popular year-round beer is Fireman's #4, a smooth and balanced blonde ale so good that it medaled at the Great American Beer Festival. Canned, kegged, or bottled, you can pick up a supply of Fireman's 4 at a number of local retailers.
3. BrisketMost Texans would tell you they are proud of Texas' heritage - there's a distinctly Texan nostalgia and mystique shrouding this vast, variable, and sometimes unforgiving land where cowboys of old toiled to raise cattle and earn a living. During the 1800s, in the boom of Texas ranching, Texan cowboys drove millions of cattle north for rail distribution to other parts of the US. Ranching is still a big deal here, and if you know anything about Texas BBQ, you know that the quintessential meat of Texan tailgates, born out of Texas' ranching heritage, is the beef brisket. Fine Texan brisket requires 4 essentials:
- Quality beef: Look for a cut with marbling and a fat cap that render a melt-in-your-mouth experience.
- Wood chips: Soak them in water before throwing them in the pit to lend extra smokiness to your end product.
- Dry Rub: Typically a mixture of good ole salt and pepper, with additional spices as you see fit.
- Patience: Plan on smoking that brisket slow and steady (up to 2 hours per pound of meat), but this is no problem since there's plenty of football to be watched.
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You may have noticed a slight crispness in the early morning air this week - a hint that fall, and with it, promises of cooler weather, is right around the corner. Here in Texas, we may not get the dramatic autumn foliage that sweeps through the East or get to experience the joy of picking the fresh apples of the trees as Northerners do, but there are plenty of ways to enjoy fall and the reprieve from scorching temperatures in and around the Austin area. Here are some of our favorite fall getaways and events in Central Texas:Stanley's Farmhouse Pizza tucked underneath. The handcrafted pies use fresh, locally sourced ingredients and go well with its neighbor's brews. With plenty of picnic tables, string lights, and space to bring friends, you could easily spend a lazy fall afternoon here.
5. Johnson CityWhether you pronounce it "pe-can" or "pa-con" (the Texan way), there's no denying the deliciousness of this buttery nut. Though locals have been munching on them for hundreds of years, it wasn't until 1919, that the Texas Legislature made pecans the official state nut of Texas. There are plenty of places you can buy locally sourced pecans (try Navidad Farms), but it's also fun scouting out the fallen nuts yourself. Johnson City, and several other small towns have pecan trees surrounding the courthouse in the main town square; these are great places to scout out pecans. Grab some bags and get to gathering the fruits of fall. If the pecans aren't enough to satiate, you can head across the street to the Pecan Street Brewery for some delicious burgers and beer.Royer's Café and save room for the legendary homemade pies that are alone worth the trip.
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With school starting again next week for most Austin students and teachers, it may feel like summer is almost over, but we know the summer heat will last for several weeks to come. Here are 11 things you have to do before bidding farewell to summer!
Go For a Swim
Float the RiverThe Colorado: Drive over the Mopac bridge on any given weekend, and you'll see hoards of people out kayaking, paddle boarding, and canoeing on Lady Bird Lake. Join the crowds and rent a watercraft from one of several docks around the lake.
7. ATXcursionsTo maximize your experience, consider hiring a service that will pick you up and drop you off in downtown Austin, such as ATXcursions. They provide everything (including the cooler and ice) except for the actual drinks and food, and offer float trips on rivers within about a 45-minute radius of Austin. ATXcursions offers float trips on most Thursdays-Sundays into mid-October. Check their booking feature for up-to-date availability.
8. Kayak CampingIf you're craving more adventure, consider taking an overnight kayak trip on the Colorado River. The small islands in the middle of the Colorado are public land, which means they may be used for camping. Pack your kayak (and waterproof bag) and find an island of your own to call home for the night.Just 30 minutes east of Austin, the Bastrop River Company has everything you need for your kayak camping adventure. Go the self-guided route, and BRC will send you off on your voyage with instructions and your kayaks for a 2-3 day excursion. BRC also offers a glamping trip for those that aren't quite as into being one with nature. Like an abbreviated summer camp for grown-ups, this cushy trip comes with guides, catered meals around the campfire, tents & bedding, and even a toilet! Open Sunday-Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
WaterparksWhether you have kids or are just a big kid yourself, you're sure to have fun screaming your way down spiraling waterslides and splashing through the chlorinated and shark-less wave pools at these nearby waterparks:
With an average of 228 sunny days a year, Austin is the perfect place to dine outside. Here we bring you some of our favorite patio restaurants in Austin.
This unassuming hipster hangout is one of the hot spots in the newly revamped 78702 zip code (previously mentioned in our blog as one of the trendiest zipcodes in Austin). Shrouded in bamboo and shaded by oaks, the pup-friendly outdoor space makes you feel as if you are miles away from the city. Relax and enjoy a cold drink and some tasty, reasonably priced grub. While the Frito pie is a delicious and guilty pleasure, the menu accommodates healthier eaters with a variety of salads and sandwiches to choose from.
Just above the Tom Miller Dam, on the eastern edge of Lake Austin, Mozart's coffee offers a spacious deck to take in lakeside views. Mozart's opens early and stays open late, so it's equally perfect for a peaceful morning cup of joe or a late night dessert run with decaf. In December, Mozart's puts on a delightful and impressive holiday light show at the top of every hour.
Named after the head chef and co-founder Alma Alcocer, El Alma serves up delicious Mexican dishes in a warm and inviting atmosphere. You can't miss the Sunday brunch here, replete with Bloody Marias and breakfast tacos. Aside from the food, one of the best features of the restaurant is the flora-filled hillside deck space that lures you to stay for just one more round of margaritas.
Tucked along a small inlet of Lake Austin near 2222 and 360, County Line on the Lake has been offering Texans delectable BBQ and a taste of Texan culture since 1975. Bedecked inside with Texas paraphernalia, one of the charms of this place is the audio perpetually playing in the bathrooms that teaches non-Texan patrons "how to speak Texan" by expanding their vocabulary to include such terms as "y'all" and "fixin' to". If you're overwhelmed by the level of Texan inside, mozie out to the deck to enjoy the view of the lazy creek that is home to many a turtle and occasional boats passing through. The place even offers turtle food if you are eager to feed the turtles who swarm for easy eating.
The inspiration for this place was a ranch by the same name in South Texas. The owners loved the original ranch so much that they decided to bring it with them to Austin and open this restaurant on the fringes of the now booming Mueller development. The open concept restaurant is almost entirely outdoors, with just the kitchen, bar and a few tables actually under a roof. Most of the seating consists of long rustic tables with string lights overhead and a gravel floor that makes you feel like you're dining in the middle of a ranch. The menu boasts carefully crafted versions of favorite foods such as the melt-in-your-mouth grilled cheese with housemade brioche and scrumptious beef tongue hash.
Along the winding and hilly Mount Bonnell Drive, overlooking the opulent Lake Austin mansions, is a little bar called Dry Creek Café that is so unassuming that you might miss it the first time you drive by. A friendly, seasoned bartender greets you with a smile as she hands you a beer and tells you to grab a koozie from the colorful pile by the door. Upstairs on the deck, you can take in the sunset while the juke box hums with old tunes. A great place for hanging out on a unhurried Saturday afternoon, this place is so popular by word of mouth, it doesn't even need a website.
The original sits in Westlake Hills, at the corner of Bee Caves and 360, with a 2nd location in Lakeway and a 3rd that just opened downtown on 6th street with views below of Shoal Creek. The original may be our favorite, with its massive deck, brilliant string lights, and laid back atmosphere. The Grove offers an assortment of fine wines, with some available to try by the flight, and has a menu that's sure to whet your appetite.
Central Market on N. Lamar
You don't often think of spending a relaxing evening at a grocery store, but Central Market is an exception. Inside, this grocery offers a foodie's paradise of fresh produce, the finest meats and cheeses, a wine collection sure to satisfy even the pickiest palette, and a bakery with some of the best tortillas in town. Outside, a two-story patio overlooks a stage where bands will often play several times a week and a playground for the smaller customers. This is a fun place to go for a bottle of wine (you can buy it in the store and have it uncorked at the cafe) or for a gathering of the whole family. It's a great place to go when you don't feel like getting dressed up to go out.
This new restaurant took over the space on Barton Springs previously occupied by Umama Mia and completely transformed it. As you come in from the parking lot (yes, it has its own parking!) you are ushered into an inviting outdoor oasis that is for the most part shaded by awnings and trees so you won't fry in the scorching Texas sun. If you'd rather sit inside, you'll be equally delighted by the careful attention to detail that makes the space feel refined but appealing. The menu offers Italian inspired dishes sourced from right here in central Texas.Even though summer is drawing to an end, you still have plenty of time to get out and enjoy one of these great patios before any cold weather hits, and we hope that you will!