20 Things I Love About Austin

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People are moving to Austin at an incredible rate. Weather, jobs, quality of life … everyone has their reasons. Many move here thinking they will love it. Those of us who live here know they will. There are a million reasons to love the Austin area, so we decided to name a few. In this week’s Austin360, my colleagues and I name 175 things we love about Austin. Below are my 20, and here is the link to the story that includes all of ours. Let us know what some of yours are.

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He may not have been born here or started his career here, but Willie Nelson put Austin on the map musically. He is the Godfather of Austin, embodying the city’s spirit. His natural ease and Zen nature beautifully represent that to which many Austinites aspire. Some of my earliest memories are of hearing his music and going to his fun run. (willienelson.com)

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Fittingly, Nelson starred in the pilot episode of “Austin City Limits,” the greatest music television show ever created. Nelson is justifiably memorialized in bronze outside the beautiful new studio. The show has evolved over the years, and I’ve been lucky enough to see acts like Willie, Wilco, Jack White, Sufjan Stevens, Sarah Jarosz, Radiohead and many perform for tapings. The intimate old studio was the best live music experience in town, and the new one at ACL Live is even better. The show represents Austin to the world, and it does us proud. (acltv.com)

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David Bull, Shawn Cirkiel, Tyson Cole, Todd Duplechan, Ned Elliott, Bryce Gilmore, John Lewis, Aaron Franklin, Janina O’Leary, Vilma Mazaite, Rebecca Meeker, Rene Ortiz, Paul Qui, June Rodil, Laura Sawicki, Mark Sayre, Iliana de la Vega, and the hundreds of other chefs, restaurateurs, sous chefs, line cooks, bussers, servers, and front of house folks who nourish this town with their creativity and incredibly hard work.

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My favorite way to end any meal is the foie nigiri with a glass of sauternes at Uchi, a world-class restaurant that marked a turning point for Austin cuisine when it opened in 2003. They sear the foie gras, glaze it with fish caramel and top it with candied quinoa for a perfect blend of texture and flavor. It’s a sensual experience. (uchiaustin.com)

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Sipping a glass of bubbles while slurping down oysters on the patio at Perla’s feels like vacation in your own town. (perlasaustin.com)

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I can get quality New York (Home Slice), Detroit (Via 313), New Jersey (Little Deli), Connecticut (Salvation Pizza) and Neapolitan style (Bufalina) pizzas in this town.

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Tam Bui and her sister, Tran Ngoc, infuse Tam Deli with their ebullient spirits and treat diners like friends. They’ve also reinforced the idea that I must visit Vietnam before I die.

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Lions Municipal Golf Course is just three miles from the heart of downtown, tucked into residential West Austin. I love the layout, the old-school grill, the temptation to drive the green on number 9 and the fact that it hosts the greatest golf tournament in Texas, the Invitational. I’m gonna miss the old girl when the University of Texas comes to take it from us. (ausitntexas.gov)

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The Paramount Summer Classics Film Series transports me through time and space and reminds me why I love cinema. It also allows me an opportunity to interact with the charming red coat ushers like Flo Thompson. I love hearing their takes on music and movies, both classic and modern. You might be surprised by what some of them like. (austintheatre.org)

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Whether it’s for the Austin City Limits Music Festival, which I’ve never missed, walking my dog, playing soccer or tossing the Frisbee, I’m always happy to be out on Austin’s Great Lawn — Zilker Park. And the views of downtown are spectacular. (austintexas.gov)

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The camaraderie among aspiring and accomplished writers at the Driskill Bar during the Austin Film Festival inspires me. A decade ago I would walk through the bar, wishing in some way to be a part of the action at the festival. I’ve covered it for 10 years now and dig it every time. (driskillhotel.com, austinfilmfestival.com)

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The sky in Austin at twilight hums with the beauty and ache of the world. Taking it in as I walk across one of the bridges over Lady Bird Lake is an ethereal experience, and soaking it in as I walk through my neighborhood (be it Zilker, Hyde Park or Crestview) has always made me feel at home.

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Few Austin businesses capture the electric, spontaneous and harmonious spirit of Austin the way JuiceLand does. (juicelandaustin.com)

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With its rebellious yet inclusive nature, the Mohawk ushered in a new era of live music and nightlife in downtown Austin when it opened in 2006. I’ve communed with great friends and seen some amazing shows there. Some I even remember, like Miike Snow, Spoon, Dinosaur Jr., Ghostland Observatory, Bob Mould and Too Short. (mohawkaustin.com)

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Every time I visit the Four Seasons, whether it be for a meal, a drink, a visit to the spa or to interview a visiting celebrity, the staff makes me feel like I’m the one who’s special. They do that for everyone. (fourseasons.com/austin)

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Stay a night at the Hotel St. Cecilia or visit friends at the hotel’s bar or pool and you’ll feel like one of the many rock stars who have stayed there. (hotelsaintcecilia.com)

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Every great city should have a club that celebrates America’s great art form — jazz. I’m grateful every time I’m able to dip into the underground catacombs of the Elephant Room. (elephantroom.com)

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A great jukebox, ice cold beer (nothin’ fancy), shuffle board and pool tables, and the polished gravel of a bartender like Ms. Dixie, equal parts hospitable and no-nonsense, is everything you’d ever want in a dive bar. The Horseshoe Lounge endures. Thankfully. (horseshoeloungeaustin.com)

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When I can summon the funds or the gumption to be stylish, I go to Service Menswear. Cool threads, great staff. (servicemenswear.com)

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Matthew McConaughey. “Alright, alright, alright.” “You just gotta keep livin’ man, L-I-V-I-N.” More than 20 years on, the words from Richard Linklater’s “Dazed and Confused” live on, thanks to the man who made (who is?) David Wooderson. His recent renaissance (“Mud,” “Magic Mike,” “Bernie,” “Killer Joe,” “The Dallas Buyers Club,” the sublime “True Detective,” and November’s “Interstellar”) has been a joy to watch. He’s Austin’s Spirit Animal. (jklivinfoundation.org)

 


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