5 BEST PIZZA PLACES IN AUSTIN, TEXAS

Austin (and Texas) may be known for Tacos and BBQ, but after scratching the surface you’ll quickly learn there is far more than meets the eye. Sure, we have Franklins BBQ and Torchy’s, Veracruz and LA Barbecue, but we are also the home to incredible pizza.

You don’t have to travel to NYC to get thin sliced delicious pies, or hit Detroit for their square deep dishes. I’ll save you the research and give you five of my favorite pizza spots. Go check them out for yourself – you wont be disappointed!

1    HOME SLICE (South Congress)

Home Slice ranks in on number one of my list. Their employees often go on training at New York’s iconic pizza spots, so if you’re looking for close-to-authentic New York style pizza, this is the spot. They have a vibrant staff personality as well as rich Sicilian pies, margherita, and mozarrella, to mention but a few.

2    VIA 313 (Rainey Street)

The VIA 313 is a location that will bring out the glutton in you. Their pies are made with the Detroit style pizzas in mind. Four square and thick pillow-like crusts that are extra crunchy because of the additions of caramel of cheese makes for a perfect bite. I can share one of their personal pizzas and still have a full meal. Two to three slices is enough to fill me up, but if you want to head straight to bed, four will do the trick. It will be an added adventure or treat if you try it with double pepperoni Detroiter.

3    BUFALINA (East Cesar Chavez)

Due to Bufalina’s great pizza, it is sometimes crowded, and you may take longer finding a seat. However, when you do find one, your pizza will take less than 60 seconds in reaching you. No more.

Pies here are made with the Neapolitan style in mind; delicate and delicious. Here you can enjoy classics like margherita, calabrese and other pizzas like harissa and chorizo & potato.

4    EAST SIDE PIES (East End)

The east side pies was opened in 2006, but there is a vintage feel about this place. When compared to the VIA 313 and Bufalina, the east side hospitality may be seen as a little floppy, but the creativity of their sauces like squash and chimichurri does best to make up for the difference. 

5    LITTLE DELI AND PIZZERIA (Crestview)

This sandwich shop is located on the vintage and attractive Crestview Mall strip and their pizzas are made in the northeast-style, which implies they are often big slices and are cooked in hearth ovens that are two-inches thick. There may not be much going on here, but if you desire wholesome pies and Ancient Grains gluten-free crusts, then Little Deli and Pizzeria is where you want to go.

SXSW in Austin, TX – 2 Week Sprint

Crayon Pop filming at SXSW Austin Texas 2015.jpg
By Bonnielou2013 

SXSW – or South by Southwest – is a large annual event spanning two weeks in Austin, TX. This popular and growing event showcases the latest musicians, bands, artists, and entertainers to the world. The event has also become a central portal for technological, film production, and video game companies to showcase their latest apps – products – services – movies – and gaming titles to the nation and world. As the premier annual interactive media festival, SXSW started in 1987 and continues to grow and expand at alarming rates.

SXSW is Broken into Four Events:

Interactive

Interactive is the first week of SXSW and is tech-centered. Hundreds of companies flock to Austin for official conventions, happy hours, meetups and events. The “Official” SXSW Interactive events require an official badge. The badge gets you into talks and presentations, after parties and more onsite at the convention center and at various venues throughout Austin.

For Austinites or visitors who want to get in on the action without dropping the money for an official badge, hundreds of companies throw “Unofficial” SXSW events. These are after parties, lunches, dinners, happy hours and more that do not require a badge. Often an online RSVP is needed prior to the event, but the parties are generally free and have everything from food to booze to amazing performances.

Along the interactive portions is the SXSW Tradeshow. The Austin Convention Center fills with hundreds of companies featuring technological advances and product launches. From hardware to software and apps, the Tradeshow offers something for any visitor. The Tradeshow is not open to the public, but instead an official SXSW badge is necessary.

Using Meerkat App at Nas Concert at MRY SXSW party

Gaming

The SXSW Gaming Convention takes place over the weekend of tech week. Spanning 3 days, the Austin Convention Center fills with gaming developers, hardware companies, app developers and more. Tons of free demos with the latest VR headsets, free swag and the opportunity to meet companies you know and love are just a few reasons to check out the Gaming events for SXSW. Most of the SXSW Gaming requires an official badge, but as always keep your eye out for after parties and pop-up events.

Film

SXSW has long-since had a film festival week. Indie films, documentaries and award winning directors present films to an intimate crowd at different theaters in town. If you have a movie badge, be sure to show up to the theater early! The crowds have really grown over the years and there is no guarantee you’ll get inside the premieres you don’t want to miss.

Music

SXSW Music Festival is a huge claim to fame for Austin. The music week during SXSW is calling card the festival. Originally, about 250 artists performs in a couple dozen venues for the total of $10. Today a music pass costs about $500 and could get you into hundreds of shows. Just as film week’ badge does not guarantee entrance for performances, headliners have lines waiting around the corner and venues reach capacity very quickly. If there is an artist you’re dying to see, show up early.The “unofficial” SXSW music week is nearly as robust as the official SXSW music selection. Thousands of bands come to Austin to play gigs across the city. Each restaurant, bar, and venue hosts bands in hopes to capture crowds and benefit millions of dollars flooding Austin during SXSW. You do not need a badge to catch great music. RSVP for shows that companies like Pandora or Spotify throw get you in for free.

Kate Nash SXSW 2017.jpg

By Justraveling.com,

Limousine Service and Party Bus Rental Tips

Until recently, thinking of limo rentals made me think of weddings and prom night – tuxedos, champagne and fancy dinners. Since renting a party bus and hitting the town with friends, my perspective has changed drastically.

Brewery tours, bachelor parties and nights on the town are just a few ideas for the right time to rent a limousine or rent a party bus. We’ve taken party busses from Austin to Dallas for big concerts, and I can say the drive was just as much fun as the show. Control your own music, bring your own cooler, and pack the bus with your favorite people.

Price Quotes

Limousines charge by the hour, but not all events have a set start and finish date. When booking your limousine, make sure to have a clear expectation of price increases due to parties running late or simply extending the night. Also, tax and gratuity may or may not be included in the initial quote. 20% gratuity is standard in the business, so think of it as the main cost, not a tip. Ask your driver if there’s a way to wrap in extra hours in a bigger package for full day service. Limo companies often bulk in a few free hours if you exceed 6 hours of service.

Company Reviews

Yelp and Google+ are a great place to start for researching limousine companies. Customer reviews are a reliable source of information, but also be sure to read the negative reviews. Traffic on a wedding day is out of a driver’s hands, and customers are ten times more likely to report a negative experience than a positive one. One or two bad experiences are to be expected from a company that runs people to special occasions each weekend (in Austin traffic?!)

Contemporary party bus interior 2013

By Elite Chicago Limo [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

Limo vs Party Bus

Stretch limousines have been the long running classic of specialty transportation, but party busses have changed the game. If it’s not a wedding or prom, I prefer party busses. Space to stand, room to move, and the ability to pack in double the people from a stretch limo makes the party bus far more appealing, but also more expensive. Fortunately, with more people participating, the price per person balances out.

Drinking and Riding, not Driving

Birthday party barges (or any other occasion) are a perfect summer getaway. Sun, water, food and booze, what could be better? After getting off the boat, the 35 minute drive back to Austin should not be taken lightly. Amp up your trip with a party bus shuttle from Austin to the lake and you can rest assured your friends get some safely. You can bring the cooler on the bus and pre-game the lake trip.

This article was brought to you by Luxury Savannah. Providing the best limo service Savannah has to offer, Luxury Savannah & Car Service makes any night special.

Hurry Up and Wait – Franklins BBQ in Austin, TX

Franklins BBQ has been the long-standing king of barbecue in Austin, TX, and Texas takes barbecue seriously. So, are you visiting and want to try the world-famous Franklins? Be warned, it’s not quite as easy as it sounds. Franklins BBQ is just as famous for its 3-hour line as it is for the delicious BBQ.

3 Hour Lines…?

That’s right, guests start lining up for Franklins with breakfast still in hand. Rain or shine, Franklins is open from 9am-Sold Out, and they sell out each day around 2:00pm. Guests start to arrive as early as 8am bringing coolers, chairs and umbrellas. Around 11am, an employee takes orders from guests in line to determine where the cut off or “sold out” mark will be.

The Franklins line has even created it’s own economy. Hawkers are found renting chairs to people as they wait, and in the event of a rainy day one can rent ponchos or umbrellas. Although currently outlawed, many people made a living by waiting in line for others. At $20/order, they’d place your order and delver the world-famous BBQ to you.

For many, braving the line is well worth the wait. It is like a pre-game for a sporting event as anticipation and hunger builds. Like tailgating, people bring card games or footballs, beer and food. Students study for tests or play games on their cell phone. My friends brought Java beer, each with the same caffeine as a cup of coffee, to celebrate a Sunday Funday at Franklin’s BBQ.

Come Prepared

Needless to say, a trip to Franklins is a full commitment for your day. Whether you’re a local or tourist in town for just the weekend, make sure you prepare prior to hopping in line. Bring waters, snacks, chairs and something to do. By the time you make it through the doors and get a whiff of what awaits, you’ll know it was well worth the wait.

The Big 5 – where are the big name acts in Austin?

Austin has long since been known as a famous music town, but there are some factors that have limited big acts from playing regular shows in ATX for some time. Until recently, the largest theaters and venues could only hold a couple thousand people, and the location (deep in the heart of Texas) is out of the way for a lot of bands. Sure, Houston, Dallas, San Antonio and Austin create a nice run once you make it all the way to Texas, but the next city to the east is New Orleans, and to the west is Albuquerque. With the huge geographic barriers and size of venues, Austin didn’t catch huge acts until the 360 Amphitheatre was built. Below are a list of venues where you might catch the biggest names in the industry.

Circuit of the Americas 360 Amphitheater

Built as a race track, the Circuit de Americas has a huge amphitheater that can hold about 20 thousand people. About half of the venue has permanent seating covered by an overhanging ceiling, while the remainder of the theater (the back) is a grassy field. Bring blankets, sunglasses and sunscreen for summer shows. Like all venues, beer and food is expensive but the biggest names in the business perform at the 360 Amphitheater.

Stubbs

A long time name stay in Austin, Stubbs BBQ is far more than the name suggests. Sure, the BBQ is great and Sunday Gospel Brunch is a favorite of mine, but the Stubbs Back Yard takes the cake. Holding about 2,000 people, the yard is big enough for mid-sized acts that tour the country. Due to noise ordinances (check out my ramblings on Austin’s noise ordinances here) the outdoor venue closes around 11pm. Don’t worry, your ticket gets you into Stubbs Indoors for the after party. The restaurant converts into a venue after hours and the shows go as late as 2pm.

Moody Theater

The long-time famous Austin City Limits Live edition has played from the Moody Theater in downtown Austin for decades. Large names and great acts perform in this intimate theater often for live recordings. Tickets are higher priced, but sound quality is incredible and musicians always perform at their best.

Beauty Ballroom

UPDATE: The Beauty Ballroom is now permanent closed. Tucked away on Riverside Rd south of downtown, The Beauty Ballroom is an unassuming warehouse surrounded by shopping centers. Inside, you’ll find a space that holds about 600 people and a schedule that boasts touring acts from all over the country. Owned by the same folks that purchased Antone’s, The Beauty Ballroom keeps the rock, blues, soul funk spirit alive.

Antone’s

One of Austin’s most famous blues bars has re-opened on 5th street in downtown Austin. Known for incubating greats such as Stevie Ray Vaughan and Gary Clark Jr., the legendary Antones is a favorite for incendiary live music. This small space has a loyal customer base, selling out mid-week shows as large acts pass through and weekend gigs alike.

5 burgers you should try NOW

Hopdoddys

Hopdoddys, located on South Congress or north on Anderson, has been a long-time favorite for craft burgers in Austin. Home baked buns, fresh Texas beef and a slew of unconventional options, Hopdoddy’s menu always has us coming back for more. Try the Goodnight burger with a side of truffle parmesan fries. The veggie burger and salmon burger options provide a healthier alternative while staying hearty.

Hot Mess

Hot Mess is a food truck located on E 6th street in front of Zilker Brewery.  Just as its name suggest, the food comes out hot and delicious, falling off the bun. Boasting classic Texas grub, Hot Mess’ menu ranges from barbecue and burgers to tacos and fries. Don’t miss the HTM Burger – fresh made with local beef. Add jalapeños and a fried egg and a side of hand cut French fries to top off this delicious pick. If you’re looking for catering for a big event or special occasion? Be sure to reach out to Hot Mess for food truck catering. Website.

Svante’s Food Truck

What can I say about the Space Jam burger at Svante’s food trailer? It’s AMAZING. Topped with candied bacon, arugula, garlic aioli and sautéed onions and stuffed with jalapeno Havarti, the Space Jam is a perfect blend of salty and sweet. Made with grass fed beef and served with an order of delicious hand cut fries, do yourself a favor and try it today. Website.

Black Sheep

Black Sheep located on South Lamar is a favorite neighborhood dive for many Austinites. Local brews or cheap “white trash beer” are a great accompaniment for their high stacked burgers or wings. Add a side of sweet potato fries, and you have a meal fit for a king. My personal favorite is the veggie burger with spicy aioli. Website.

The Nightcap

Nightcap, located in Clarksville, has a great Sunday evening special pairing wines and burgers stacked high. Skip brunch and save your appetite for this incredible dinner. Build your own burger with staples ranging from eggs to peppers, or make it fancy with black garlic, fois gras, or truffle aioli. Want to do a wine flight with your custom burger? Come the first Sunday of the month for a wine special.  Website.

Three Factors that make Austin Tough on Musicians (Opinion)

Austin TX is a great place for any live music lover. Sounds of rock, blues, DJs and grunge permeate downtown, with venues lining 6th Street, Red River and parts of Guadalupe. Neighborhoods dives range from intimate bars that boast an underground music scene like the Sahara Lounge or The Gallery to larger venues like the Beauty Ballroom or Threadgils. A music goer could stay busy for months before checking out each place and finding a favorite.

For musicians trying to “make it” in Austin, the scene looks quite different. Long boasting the Live Music Capital of the World, just like any major music city, Austin is not an easy place to break through the noise. Below are a few factors that I think make it tough to be a successful artist in Austin, TX.

Other Musicians Play For Free

As the music goer looks at do512.com for a concert, it’s easy to feel there’s so Musicians Playing for Freemuch to hear and so little time. Literally hundreds of musicians play each weekend, and each day you can find dozens of empty bars with live musicians singing to the wait staff. Being the Live Music Capital of the World means musicians have a high level of competition. How do you convince strangers to make it to your show instead of every other option in Austin on any given night? Well, there is no answer. It’s just hard work.

With the abundance of musicians, there are many people who play for nearly free to get gigs. Entire bands are forced to split $200 ($50/each) for four hours of playing. After the thousands of hours put into learning an instrument, creating original material and learning to sing, working for $12/hour is a tough pill to swallow. Play a show 7 nights a week at $50/night and you won’t be able to make ends meet. Trying to make more money and charging a cover at the door? The number of free or nearly free ($5 cover charge) shows in Austin makes it tough to build a crowd for less known artists.

Geographic Isolation

So you’ve built up a name for yourself as a band or musician. You have hundreds of people who show up each time you play, and you’re ready to take it to the next level. You can’t play the same show every week, much less twice a week, before you begin to see a drop in clientele. Why? Because why would someone come see you if they can see the same show this weekend. Any why pay to see you again? It’s time to spread out and play in other cities before you wear out your fans. Well, musicians in Texas have another problem set: you’re in the biggest state in the continental United States. It takes FOREVER to get anywhere outside of Texas.

There are some options of playing outside of Austin. Houston and Dallas are huge cities and certainly playing across suburbs there is an opportunity to spread out. There’s also San Marcos just an hour and a half away. After that… nada. Your options are limited as you become weekend warriors going to and from Houston or Dallas. Hotels add up. Gas adds up. 6 hours every weekend adds up quickly. Want to try and tour? Austin is really far away from other major music towns. Once you get past New Orleans, you have a long way to go before Atlanta. The balance of playing enough to survive and not overplaying the same material pushes many musicians to play in multiple bands or play cover music to get by.

Lack of Industry

Over the recent years, Austin’s music industry has grown but still has a few gaps. Prior to 2013, high quality recording studios and record labels where nowhere to be seen. After the drop of the industry 10 years ago, many artists have learned to self-promote, self-produce and record on budgets, but there is still some growth that could benefit the musicians of Austin. There are wonderful programs providing advice and health care to musicians of Austin, such as the Austin Music Foundation or HAMM.

Local Favorite: The Continental Club Gallery

I have mixed feelings writing this post about “The Gallery” because it has long been my favorite spot in Austin. Over the years, it has grown in popularity, and with a max capacity of about 75 people it can never be too crowded, but it’s nice to have a place that feels like your own. The Gallery serves as a source of amazing live music for locals all week long, and it hits the top of my list as a place to explore.

Getting There

The Gallery is on South Congress Street above the famous Continental Club. Disguised as an unassuming doorway to the left for the tattoo parlor attached to the Continental Club, it’s easy to pass right by and never know you missed it. The main room just atop of the stairs holds about 75 people. Walls are lined with a collection of work from a local artist that rotates seasonally, giving The Gallery its name. Head up the stairs in the back of the room for a game of ping pong between sets. There’s really nothing else like it.

A little taste of jazz with the talented Mike Flanigan and the B3 Trio. Shot by djlinalovely.

Who plays?

The musicians that perform are on residency, so the schedule remains the same week to week. My favorite nights have always been Wednesdays and Thursdays, bringing a lively crowd together for a mid-week funk/soul breakdown. Longstanding resident Tameca Jones played here for the first few years that I moved to Austin and she quickly became one of my favorite acts. Always playing on a Thursday to an excited crowd for just a $5 cover, Tameca brought soulful covers to melt your heart and make you groove.

With a new lineup of residencies rolling through each year and 7 days of music a week, The Gallery’s music ranges from jazz to soul to funk and blues. Guests appearances from Ephraim Owens (who plays regularly when not on tour) Blues Traveler’s Johnny Popper, Tom Jones, and Jimmy Vaughan just to name a few. The early show starts around 8:30 and is more acoustic and relaxed (generally) while the late show starts around 11:00. It’ll take a while to see every musician, so get started!

Music on the Street: Noise Ordinances and Busking in Austin (Opinion Piece)

Albeit a great city boasting live music each day, Austin has a few peculiarities that limit the music experience. Prior to ever visiting Austin, I had been to other major cities know for music: Chicago, NYC, San Francisco, etc. They are all vibrant in culture with shows of plenty, but a factor that stood out was the street performers and late night scene. NYC and Chicago seem to have talent bursting at the seams, from train stations to rounding random corners downtown, saxophones playing carols near Christmas or bucket drummers crushing it on stoops.

So, what’s the deal? Why doesn’t Austin, the “Live Music Capital of the World” have street musicians? Why don’t we see blues guitarists laying their hat down collecting singles at bus stations? In short, it’s illegal, but the future seems bright for this aspect of Austin’s live music. Turns out Austin has limited busking significantly. Yes, those of you who have been here have seen a percussionist or two on the edge of 6th street, but Austin has nothing compared New Orleans where entire bands setup for impromptu shows across the French Quarter. Recent legislation is pushing to legalize busking. Check it here.

Musicians CAN busk (play for money on the street) in Austin, but only on private property where the owner of said property gives permission. This means government property (bus stations, streets, sidewalks, etc.) is off limits, and musicians are required to find a local business owner who is generous enough to allow late night busking. Could a talented street musician bring an appeal a local business, agreeing to pay at the entry to bring folks in? I guess that is up to the musician to argue.

What happens to musicians who busk in Austin? Well the penalties range from warnings to tickets to getting equipment taken away. Seemingly extreme measures, but Austin’s police department has their hands full during festivals such as SXSW and ACL. Speak softly and carry a big stick – the risk of losing equipment isn’t worth playing for many musicians.

Neighborhoods in Austin have long since been limited to music ending at midnight. Given the city has been booming with new bars and clubs opening daily, it makes sense to protect the long-standing residents. 6th street, on the other hand, is a different story. Walking from “Dirty 6” to “West 6th” after midnight and you’ll see that sound ordinances have limited bars, patios and venues to cut off amplified music (decibel requirements can be found at https://www.austintexas.gov/faq/noise-issues-what-noise-ordinance) at midnight. Why? Well, the same apartments that advertise “Come live downtown, where the beer is cold and the music lasts all night!” have residents complaining of music going until 2pm. Seems like if you’re buying a place above Austin’s premiere nightlife, you shouldn’t be able to complain about the noise.

A local shooting a video boasting how he has called the cops at 10:30pm on West 6th

Many open rooftops, patios and bars struggle to keep clientele with these music bans. What was originally the host hopping, profitable times (midnight-2am) are now dead zones. With restrictions like this, how was Austin self-proclaimed as the Live Music Capital of the World? I’ll research and write about that soon.

Welcome to My Blog!

Hey folks! Welcome to my corner of the internet. Slate Austin is new cozy home for me to ramble about my interests while exploring my home, Austin, TX. Getting back to Austin after a year of traveling has left me excited to explore my city with fresh eyes. In an effort to keep myself adventuring, I’ll be checking out new venues, restaurants, bars and clubs and sharing them with you… my lovely readers. Whether you’re visiting Austin for the first time and are researching places to see OR you’re a long-time resident, I hope to mine up some gems and bring them to light.

So, what topics should you expect? Well, I’ll be writing about my passions. I play music and moved to Austin because of the live music scene, so shows, concerts, bands and venues will all be featured upon occasion. Next up, food. Of course, everyone loves to eat and Austin has a TON to offer. Expect some informal restaurant reviews and recommendations, new excited fusions, local classics that hopefully get you excited and exploring like me.

Slate Austin is a new blog and will take time to grow, so please check back from time to time for updates. You’ll see a few posts below where I jumped straight into restaurants in Austin and featured brunches you should definitely try, BUT I wanted to take a second and say hello. Read, explore and enjoy.