Hello, Hi, News, Buy Jewelry, Etc.

Hi! So, your guys in the sky in charge of this whole thing, and by guys, I mean guy and girl, me being the lady involved here, are effectively, more or less, settled into Austin, Texas now! And what a change from Brooklyn. We’re getting the office together and plan on building up The Anti Tourist team ATX style (interested in being an intern? email us at shout(at)theantitourist.com).

I also have been spending some rare free hours making jewelry. I’ve used a lot of materials from my travels across the globe, so if that interests you, if you like jewelry, if you want to think about the holiday gift-giving sooner than the day before this year, check out my store on Etsy here. You can browse the jewelry (most of which is under $20) and even order a customized apron/tote bag/pillow case set. Plenty of other goods will be in there soon.

Will of this rambling over and done with, we’ll have more posts to you soon. We aren’t done talking about some of our rad trips from summer 2010, so just hold those horses of yours. In the meantime, stay up with The Anti Tourist Facebook page for more regular updates/on the spot iPhone picture-sending, etc.

Love you all,
Elizabeth

Enter The Anti Tourist Travel Photo Contest and Win The Care Package!

Interested in winning a big ol’ goodie bag from The Anti Tourist‘s most recent travels? Then enter the most recent travel photo contest on The Anti Tourist Facebook Page. All you have to do is post your favorite travel photos to the Facebook wall and then have your friends come LIKE your photos once they’re in the Contest Photo Album. The photo with the most LIKES by noon on Friday, October 8th will get shipped a box of special things from our recent travels.

Pictured above, the package includes:

Bay leaves from Grenada
Chunks of cinnamon from Grenada
Bath Salt from Grenada
Nutmeg from Grenada
Cloves from Grenada
Handmade soap from Grenada
Organic Cocoa Balls from Grenada
Pure Vanilla from Grenada
Caribbean Naturals Bug Spray from Grenada
Full nutmeg in pouch from Grenada

Ruby Port Red Wine Brownie by Mary Louise Butter from Austin, TX

“One Foot in the Gravy” cd by The Hillbilly Gypsies, from Morgantown, WV

9.22.10 West Virginia, Driving as far as we can.

The two hard-workin’ folks who bring you The Anti Tourist, Ben Britz and myself, are driving RIGHT NOW. We’re driving and hoping to get to Austin this weekend. We’re moving there. We’re experimenting with LIVE blogging. And I just wrote a blog on Facebook! I did it while… LIVE! LIVE from the 1996 Honda Accord with 268,000 miles on it! Keep up with our Facebook page for continued entries from this trip and check out the first chronicling of the journey here.

Elizabeth

The Mighty Cone–Ice Cream’s New Rival: Austin, Texas

1600 S. Congress Ave, Austin, TX
Hours: Tuesday through Sunday, 11am to 9pm

In true Austin fashion, The Mighty Cone sits in a parking lot in the ever-trendy South Congress district. Little more than a trailer and picnic benches, The Mighty Cone offers Hot ‘n’ Crunchy sandwiches in a cone. The Cone’s owner, Jeff Blank, began this fair-worthy food back in 2002 when the Austin City Limits Festival contacted Hudson’s on the Bay to help entice local restaurants to join the festival’s food court. At that time, Hudson’s on the Bay was already offering Hot ‘n’ Crunch trout, easily one of their most ordered entrees. Blank and Executive Chef Robert Rhoades began to test their breading on other foods and decided to go with chicken, breaded with their Hot ‘n’ Crunchy, wrapped in a tortilla, dropped into a paper cone and served with mango-jalapeño slaw and ancho sauce.
Just like that, the Hot ‘n’ Crunchy Chicken Cone was born. These cones proved to be a fan favorite at the ACL Festival for years, and they ended up expanded the menu to include avocado and shrimp. After the fair hype and sales, Blank knew he had to offer the Hot ‘n’ Crunchy Cone on a regular basis. In March 2009, he launched the opening of The Mighty Cone on South Congress. Blank’s motto: “If it sits still long enough, we’ll put Hot ‘n’ Crunchy on it.”

The Mighty Cone is an expanded version of the ACL Festival offerings. They now offer a variety of cones to include their chicken, avocado, and shrimp staples and combinations of those. The chicken avocado cone is tasty and filling. The Mighty Cone also offers a cone dog, which is made with grass fed venison and beef sliders. For vegetarians, the cone has All-Veggie sliders. Pair any cone with some fries or the even bolder chili-dusted fries and you’re in for a real fair experience. Finally, but certainly not least, wash it all down with fresh hand-dipped Blue Bell shakes that come in chocolate, vanilla, or fresh strawberry. The best part? The Hot ‘n’ Crunchy Chicken Cone is a mere $4.95. They offer delicious food that’s easy on the pockets, and FAST. This is lunch-break-approved and a definite destination for any traveler trying to avoid restaurant chains in Austin.

If you happen to find yourself on the South Congress block, look for the bright red picnic tables and big umbrellas. You might order a cone and chat amongst your friends while it cools in their fancy cone holders (each table offers many holders) and enjoy the foot traffic and music that South Congress always offers. The Mighty Cone: definitely giving ice cream a rival in the cone business.

By: Tanya Munoz

Geeks Unite at Local Watering Hole: Austin, Texas

In the midst of the many bars on West 6th Street lies a group of nerds. Not just any nerds–nerds that drink. Opal Divine’s Freehouse attracts geniuses, historians, random fact students, drinkers, and anyone who can answer questions. On a Tuesday night, when most families are eating supper with their children, 17 teams are playing Geeks Who Drink pub trivia. The quiz consists of eight rounds and teams can be no bigger than six people. Questions are read aloud and air all over the bar. These questions can range anywhere from 80’s TV Shows to lipstick lesbians. (So please note that while Opal Divines is generally a family-friendly establishment, the quiz is not. If you are sitting with a child, the quiz masters ask them to alert their server. Who knows what they do with those children?)

Geeks Who Drink is not for the faint at heart. It is competitive and includes bonus questions at the end of select rounds, where contestants and geeks alike can attempt to win a free pint of beer. This challenge basically comes down to who can write the fastest. The quiz masters also use audio rounds– which is always fun to try to hear in a noisy bar.

So why strain your ear and possibly your dignity just to come out for such a nerdy night? The prizes. Prizes include: discounts off your bar tab, free beers and a random prize (like an air freshener that says “My cat is the only one that understands me”). Also, Tuesdays are Pint Night–where you can get delicious tasty beers for under $3.25. If you arrive between 4 and 7pm (quiz starts at 8pm), you’ll hit their Happy Hour which has the ever-so-dangerous Prickly Pear Margarita for a mere $3. (Editor’s note: whaaaaaaaaat???!)

The teams last night ranged from dedicated Geeks who come every week to random people who just happened to be there on a Tuesday night. One gentleman I spoke with was so serious about the quiz that he did not want to talk to me, for fear that he would miss the scoring of the teams. The same gentleman also declined to have his picture taken. (Editor’s note: I hate him.) But do not fear! Many other Geeks proved to be much more social and friendly. Joseph, who was sitting by himself, kindly accepted my offer to join our team. This new found friendship proved to be most satisfying, as he ended up being a Historian with a lot of right answers (bonus!).

I must also put in a brief mention of the food, because it is…tasty. Whether you are in the mood for a side of fires with an array of dipping sauces or some pub style fish and chips, Opal’s has the menu that will satisfy all your pub needs. Since the actual bar has a plethora of seating, I recommend outdoor patio seating in Matt’s section. This lovely mohawked bartender knows how to pour a drink and give it to you in a timely manner. Just one Tuesday at Opal’s will show you why the locals flock here. Regardless if you are a geek or chic, nest up at Opal’s for Geeks Who Drink night. At the very least, you will find entertainment in the competition. You’ll laugh at the off-hand questions asked in such a sultry voice and you’ll find solace in a pint from this hot Texas heat.

By: Tanya Munoz

From Quiet Inns to Pinnacles of Opulence; the Quirky & Decadent Accommodations of Austin

Austin, Texas is a city renown for its beauty, quirkiness, famous music scene, outdoor recreation, and for being the capital of a state seemingly much unlike itself. A jewel in the center of the big ole state of Texas, Austin exists independently from some of its more conservative and “country” counterparts, creating the offspring of a mid-Texas melting pot, a common relocation spot for like-minded nomads, and a platform for music junkies, artists, techies, and still- cowboys and cowgirls. An unusual union it is and that is what makes it beautiful, admirable, a destination and a home. Like its anomalous ingredients, the very bewitchingly undefined (and unrestricted) core of Austin continues to exist in its myriad range of accommodations. Decadent or funky, quaint or majestic, Austin, Texas has it all- and more- and surprisingly, unlike other cities, within a very friendly distance of one another and within friendly distance for exploration of Austin’s favorite landmarks. And this is what we will explore.

Round One: The Driskill

Perhaps the most majestic hotel in all of Texas is the opulent and historic Austin landmark- the Driskill. Founded in 1886, the respected member of The Historic Hotels of America, boasts a history rich with presidential love, the success of a wealthy cattle baron (The Driskill’s founder: Jesse Lincoln Driskill), and as a setting for many movies including Sandra Bullock’s flick: Miss Congeniality. A favorite resting place of Lyndon B. Johnson, the Driskill was the location of his first date with future Mrs. Lady Bird Johnson, where they met for breakfast.

The Driskill stands majestically over downtown Austin’s famous 6th street, towering far above the city’s music venues, dive bars, art galleries, eclectic restaurants, and crowds consisting of the University of Texas college crowd, young professionals, trendy artists and musicians, country folk, travelers, and everything in between. You name it, Austin has it.

The Driskill prides itself on historical preservation and continual modernization. Original marble floors, columns fit to support a medieval palace, and a stained-glass dome exist amongst modern amenities, tastefully implemented as to not overpower the opulent history, yet to satisfy the modern traveler’s expectations. It’s a truly beautiful union.

Having two well-known, highly-(re)visited, and unbelievably delicious restaurants, the Driskill continues its luxe expectations in all avenues of its continued success as a luxurious hotel landmark and a culinary Austin, (hell, a continental US) jewel. The 1886 Cafe and Bakery has an eclectic breakfast and lunch menu as well as traditional baked goods and down-home cookin’ (alongside a casual, yet elegant setting). Seasonally changing as the chef’s creativities take new winds and avenues, the menu maintains its traditional staples while still offering surprisingly unusual pairings. Perhaps my favorite seasonal dish- the salmon Benedict with a mango hollandaise. But don’t overlook the gingersnap pancakes, jalapeno corn biscuits, or the Gulf shrimp and lump crab crepes.

For a more formal dinner, the Driskill Grill, is an award-winning restaurant exemplifying culinary perfection and an old-Texas yet extravagant atmosphere (think overstuffed leather couches, cow-hide rugs, and hidden nooks in the Driskill Bar area- and rich wood walls, white table cloths, and candlelight in the actual restaurant). The menu is local yet wordly- emphasizing expert twists of wild game and world-class ingredients. Both innovative and classic, the Driskill Grill is sure to please any pallete. Some house specialities include a cherry wood smoked quail with polenta and mushroom, an herb crusted axis venison with a wild mushroom risotto and fresh plum chutney, and a cinnamon dusted duck breast. The Driskill Grill also has an extensive caviar and artisanal cheese menu. Having two distinctively different establishments for dining, the Driskill fairly encompasses both casual dining and decadent four-star cuisine.

Whether seeking romance, indulgence, lavishness, or serenity, the Driskill offers exquisite flawlessness favorable to any traveler’s budget- from the intimate and reasonably priced Curio rooms to individually themed suites suitable for royalty.  Despite its grandeur, the Driskill is a truly unbiased destination.

Round Two: Lost Parrot Cabins

Located conveniently near Austin’s famous Lake Travis, is a delightfully tropical land of private, colorful cabins, island fever, live in-house music on summer nights, a quasi Mexican art gallery, and an unbridled view of hill country at its finest. Lost Parrot Cabins exemplifies a Caribbean-style mini resort tucked away in the central Texas hillside, with seven delightful bungalows with welcoming whimsical names like: Mermaids in the Night, Mexican Wind, Mango Moon, and Little Miss Magic. All are tastefully decorated with multifarious collectibles, hand-picked from world travels by the owners & innkeepers: Cat Flood and Cliff Bennett. With useful amenities like a mini or full kitchen in each bungalow, the assorted additions like fireplaces, private porches, hammocks, vintage hardback books, and retreat-like appeal are all flavorful extras.

The emphasis on uniquity in each quirky detail of the bungalows and the grounds adds a rich personality and colorful gallery-esque escape in the unexpecting country roads of Travis County.  It’s truly the offspring of Jimmy Buffet, Mexico, and a painter’s pallete at Lost Parrot Cabins, and still somehow tasteful, inviting, and mistakingly tropical.

The grounds of Lost Parrot Cabins include a BYOB bar, hot tub, pool, and a handcrafted stage poolside for musical performances and mingling on warm hill country evenings, all continuing the flow of Mexican art, collectibles, and idosyncratic beauty and color. Some nights, Cliff Bennett, one of the two innkeepers, busts out his guitar for a performance alongside his amazingly talented (pre-teen) granddaughter, playing everything from Janis Joplin to Johnny Cash in a harmoniously perfect show, with the comforting undertone of genuine familial love. It’s the small moments like this that emphasize Lost Parrot Cabins, as a family-operated passion, thus a cozy nook for relaxation and intermingling.

Stay up as late as you want poolside, perhaps with tropical beverages to highlight this hand-crafted paradise, soak in the hot tub under the Texas moon, cook out at the community grill under a canopy of artsy details, or hibernate in the private bungalows for exclusive peace and quiet. Join the communal breakfast at the BYOB bar each morning alongside the friendly innkeepers. Or trek off to Austin’s Lake Travis for a day of water sports or lakeside dining. Within a short drive there’s also Hamilton Pool, hill country hiking, or zip-lining through the forests. Whichever avenue you choose, this tropical escape is truly a rarity and a hidden masterpiece.

Only partway into our exploration of Austin accommodations and we can already see the distinctive array of places to tuck in and get some Zzzs. And we still have many more corners of this diversified city to traverse.

By: Ashley Halligan

Photos from: pillowsandpancakes.com