24 Hours in Austin

I love a getaway, even a short one.  (Check out my post, 26 Hours in Chicago on Kind Kiddo.) That’s why when my husband and I had an opportunity to have a quick overnight without the kiddos recently, we took it.  So we set out on the 3-hour car ride from Houston to Austin on a Sunday morning, looking forward to green rolling hills, good food and less humidity.  Here’s what we squeezed into just 24 hours in Texas’ Capitol City.

Our first stop?  Food, of course.  We headed over to South Congress Cafe for brunch.  It was a bit crowded, as I expected, so we decided to try out their back patio for immediate seating.  Sure, it was 98 degrees outside, but they promised shade and fans.  Plus, we’re from Houston.  Without the ridiculously high humidity we’re used to in The Bayou City, we could totally handle 98 degrees in the shade.  We sat at the bar and enjoyed quick, friendly service from the bartenders.  First thing’s first…drinks.  Ice water, because 98 degrees (anyone else thinking of The Lachey Brothers every time they read the temp?), and a mimosa for me and bloody mary for the husband.  We started with the Salsa Sampler, which comes with 3 different types of salsa, chips made from scratch and optional add-on guac.  For our entrees, I went with the Migas.  And although I was skeptical about the refried black beans (or just black beans, in general), they were actually quite good.  My husband, Ryan, went with a featured omelet that was loaded with veggies and venison.  Both were served with a smoked gouda potato pancake, and wow.  Delicious.  All of it.  Go there.  (FYI, you could totally take your kids here.)

Next we were off to the Capitol Building, which is beautiful and surrounded by miniature green rolling hills with interesting historical statues scattered about on the property.  No time to go in, but we enjoyed a quick stroll on the grounds and got plenty of cool pics, of course.

Now that we were nearing check-in time, we decided to head to our hotel.  The Omni Resort Barton Creek is nestled just outside of the city in beautiful West Lake Hills, which is an affluent suburb of Austin.  And although it’s technically out of the city, it’s still just 6 miles from downtown.  This lovely resort and country club is about to undergo a major renovation, which is exciting, because it’s already a great place.  I can’t imagine how fantastic it will be after the changes are completed.  With a beautiful hillside view, our room was super spacious and clean and decorated with a Texas twist.

After getting settled into our room, we did one of our fave things when at a cool resort, which is to simply wander around and explore.  The lobby of Omni Barton Creek is so cozy with a variety of comfy seats. There are views, galore.  And they even have a shop and boutique right off the lobby.  Plus, all of you golf lovers rejoice, because not only do guests have access to four (yes, four) golf courses, but you can also utilize the driving range for free.  While we were checking out the pro shop, a young gentleman fetched us a cart and 2 bottles of water so that we could cruise down to the driving range for a bit.  We also checked out the hotel bar downstairs for an afternoon cocktail and some delicious parmesan truffle fries.  It was Stacy, the bartender’s, first day on the job, and she provided excellent service.

It was now time to get ready for a steak dinner at Jeffrey’s, which was about a 5 mile Uber ride away from the hotel.  We try to visit a cool restaurant, many times a great steak house, when we travel.  Jeffrey’s seemed perfect for us.  It’s a cozy place, dim lit, with cool art and a fireplace near the bar.  Drinks in the bar area went well.  They offered some yummy popcorn with our cocktails that was perfectly salty.  Next we moved to a table to start dinner and were quickly served a complimentary chilled smoked tomato soup.  Now y’all, this was my first experience with cold soup, and I must say that it was divine.  It was garnished with miniature avocado balls, olive slices and small croutons, and it was wonderful.  The next thing the server brought over were complimentary popovers with whipped ricotta topped with local honey.  Oh. My. God. Certainly they serve these in heaven.  They were nothing short of amazing.  Finally, it was steak time.  The steaks were cooked just as requested with a nice char on the outside and a good salty flavor.  We chose the potatoes as our side, which was perfect.  They were creamy and smooth and tasted great on the same fork as a bite of steak.  At this point, why not go ahead and have dessert, right?  Baked Alaska, it was, and again, wow.  So. Damn. Good.  Oh, and did I mention that they do 1/2 off wine bottles every Sunday night?  Yeah.  What upscale steak house does that?  Not any one that I’ve ever been to.  We went with a Spanish Red – a Rioja.  It’s a wine we’ve been enjoying at home for a while and were excited to see they offered a small selection of them at Jeffrey’s.  This was most certainly one of the best meals we’ve ever had.  It was the perfect combo of traditional steak and potatoes with the unique popovers, soup and dessert serving as a fun little twist.  I highly recommend Jeffrey’s of Austin.  Go there.  Now.  Or if you like wine, wait until Sunday.  But, just go.

On Monday morning we woke up to a beautiful, sunny sky view and some complimentary coffee in our hotel room.  Since we slept in (duh, we were kid-free), we decided to skip breakfast and aim for a fun lunch on the way out of town.  But before we left the resort, we explored the grounds some more.  They have a great pool area, a giant-sized checkers game board and pieces, miniature golf and lovely views every way you turn.

Before we left town, we stopped by Franklin BBQ, even though they’re closed on Mondays.  My husband is a big fan of Franklin’s BBQ methods and wanted to grab a quick photo at Texas’ most famous BBQ joint.  After the photo opp, it was time to head out of town, but not before driving through my fave burger chain, In-N-Out.  You see, up until just recently, I only got to have In-N-Out when I was in Los Angeles.  But they have gradually made their way into The Lone Star State, just not in Houston yet.  So I wasn’t going to be just a few miles from those delicious burgers and cheese fries and not go, of course.  So we grabbed our burgers and cheese fries and a chocolate shake, for good measure, and headed back to H-Town.

Here are my top 3 tips for getting the most out of a quick 24-hour getaway!

1.  Be prepared to hop in the car and head to your destination first thing in the morning so that you arrive with plenty of hours left in the day to enjoy.
2.  Since the check in time for most hotels is 2pm or later, plan things to do before you even check in to the hotel.  On this trip, we had brunch, visited The State Capitol Building and snapped some photos of University of Texas all before we went to the resort.
3.  Prioritize and plan.  Decide what’s most important to you for this getaway (for us this time it was clearly food and drink), and make that a priority.  Plan out all of the important things, and if you happen to squeeze in an extra adventure or two spontaneously, that’s cool.


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