A few weeks ago I spent some time in Austin—my sister and brother-in-law have lived there for many years now—and it's one of my favorite places to visit. Especially this time—I was solo. The only requirements of the trip—eat & shop. The reason I love Austin so much? Aside from the live music and great food—so many amazing independent shops. I have a few favorite locations on both South Congress Avenue and 2nd Street—but my sister and I also spent a lot of time using Jewell—a local shopping resource and the city magazine Austin Monthly to guide us. I think one of the biggest differences between Austin and many other cities is how much support the local shops receive—and other local vendors/designers. It's such a healthy environment for a small, local business.
Another big thing in Austin—food trailers. While I was in Austin we ate at about six trailers and attended the Gypsy Picnic Trailer Food Festival. The lines were insane (for a six month pregnant eater) but it was so exciting to see how much crazy delicious food is available out of a trailer! (Ice cream sandwiches, BBQ, crepes, coffee, tacos.)
Here are some highlights from the trip ....
The Jalopy: Rostisserie & Press. Sandwich truck—I had the Poke In Da Eye. When your sandwich is done—all made from juicy rotisserie chicken—they call your name and send it down a shoot.
My sister surprised me with a prenatal massage on my first day at the beautiful and calming Milk & Honey Spa in the 2nd Street District. It's small and charming and I left there with a relaxation hangover. Before my sister picked me up I was able to pop into some of my 2nd Street favorites: Wee, Finch, Mercury Design Studio, Eliza Page and Langford Market.
Two of my new favorite shops is the combination of Spartan annd bows + arrows. I loved Spartan. They had such a well edited selection of jewelry, paper and home items in the long and narrow shop.I loved all the displays.
bows + arrows was an amazing clothing store—with great, unusual labels for guys including 8.15 August Fifteenth and n.d.c. made by hand. Plus, loads of cool accessories and books. The boutiques were next to each other and shared a door inside the shops so you could easily pop back and forth between the two.
Did I mention we ate a lot of great food? Macarons and coffee at La Boite—a coffee shop in a storage unit.
Vietnamese Banh Mi sandwiches and super sweet Vietnamese coffee—from LuLu B's. So cheap and so good I would eat there every single day.
One of the highlights of the trip was the new Schatzelein jewelry boutique. Owner Chrsitine Fail has been selling her amazing stuff at local shops and open air markets—but finally has a brick and mortar where she carries other local and national lines.
My sister, below, and I both bought a variation of this necklace from local husband and wife team Bent on Design. They were both under $20—and I don't think I've ever had more people comment on any piece of jewelry I own.
My favorite place to shop in Austin is South Congress Avenue. It's shop after shop after shop of great vintage, locally made, and other cool items you can't find in many other places. My sister knows my first stop is always Parts & Labour. Since I first started coming to Austin it's moved from a bitty boutique further up the avenue to an even bigger space. The shop is a venue through which local artists and crafters sell their handmade goods. I've bought some of my favorite jewelry, headbands, and clothes from this store. This time around I bought a felt breakfast taco for my kids, a moustache onesie (yes, that's right) and some awesome postcards.
South Congress also has some great markets for local designers. There are open lots that are filled with all sorts of odd, beautiful, and silly creations. I loved these plant pots from Plaid Pigeon. My sister bought a dinosaur. If only I could have taken one on the airplane.
We also stopped at the new Stag—a men's apparel and lifestyle store. They just had a write-up in GQ. They also carry some great brands you don't see in Baltimore like Life After Denim and Penfield. I was happy my husband wasn't there—he would have done some serious damage.
It was a great trip. Filled with some of my favorite things. Including a Turbo at Jo's coffee shop—where i found this lovely graffiti sentiment.
What are your favorite shopping cities outside of Baltimore? —Janelle Diamond