Dear Tim Ferriss,
Welcome to Austin, Texas! This is a very special place as I’m sure you’ve come to realize. I wanted to personally share some of my favorites about the city as a “thank you” for all the wisdom I’ve gleaned from your podcast.
I try not to speak about things I’m not super familiar with, but when it comes to restaurants, meat, and barbeque I’ve got some strong recommendations (and opinions). I’ve lived in central Texas / Austin area for almost 20 years.
The BBQ list is at the end and if your AMA is any indicator, you’ll find that intriguing.
Here is a little table of contents:
- Butcher Shops / Meat
- Farmer’s Market
- Co-Working Spaces
- Coffee Shops / Cafe’s
- Archery / Hunting
- Outdoor Recreation
Butcher Shops / Meat
- Dai Due – Far and away the best butcher shop and best meat you will find in Austin. I have no personal ties, but it is curated by the stereotypical Austin-ite that seems to have an almost insane love for one very particular aspect of life (good meat). Still all very down to earth people, of course. (Link)
- Salt & Time – Another great butcher shop, but from my experience secondary to Dai Due. It might be a little less pricey, though. (Link)
- Farmer’s Market – I’m sure you’ve already realized, Austin is a hub for great farmer’s markets. I’ll provide a list of my favorites next, but high quality meats of all kinds can be sourced here.
- Barton Creek Farmer’s Market (Saturday) – Out of all the markets, this is probably my favorite. Best selection of meats and vegetables without too much fluff (vendors). (Link)
- Texas Farmer’s Market at Mueller (Sunday) – This market is a bit larger and has great surroundings so it is as much of an event as a source of great food. (Link)
- The Hightower – It’s hard, but if I had to rate my “favorite restaurant” in Austin, it would be The Hightower. The quality is amazing, but the price is not outrageous. Better yet, it’s super simple to walk-in or get a reservation (whereas many other places of this caliber is not so). Best value hands down.
- Heo Eatery – Small, hole in the wall Asian place with a ton of character in N Austin. Unbelievably tasty plates of food and doesn’t get any recognition city-wide.
- Casa de Luz – In the heart of downtown; fully vegan spot where I try to eat at least once per week. I eat plenty of meat so a nice vegetable-filled meal in a soul-oriented environment is worthwhile.
- Thai Fresh – When I’m feeling like Thai food and want good quality ingredients (oils etc)
- Ramen Tatsu-Ya – Self-explanatory
- True Food Kitchen – Another great spot for food with good quality oils, plenty of gluten and dairy free options.
- Odd Duck – Somehow they take any dish and make it spectacular. Expect a wait if you haven’t been already (it’s popular for a reason and always changing).
- Launderette – Good, but not my favorite and a bit overpriced for what you get.
- Impact Hub – Both this and Vuke are owned by a friend who is incredibly talented as a designer. The experience in these coworking spaces is incredible (and that’s why I’m hosting my Austin BBQ off here).
- Vuka – The Vuka location (downtown / South Austin) is a bit smaller than the Impact Hub north Lamar location, but even cooler ambience in my opinion.
Coffee Shops / Cafe
- Houndstooth Coffee (N Lamar) – Small place, but good coffee (more of that fanatical Austin-ite type). Also, next door to Taco Deli so that’s major points.
- Spider House – This is a must-see spot. Food / drinks are okay, but live music and the vibe is super eclectic and fun. Very enjoyable north of campus.
- Vintage Heart – Just east of I-35; very small, but downtown and great drinks (I like the red rooibos the best). Also, next door is Kammock HQ and gear shop (if you like and want good outdoor gear equipment).
- Cafe Medici – There are a few, but the S Lamar is the best vibe (near the Alamo Drafthouse theater)
- Epoch Coffee – My ex-girlfriend raved about it. Although I’ve never been, she is a coffee shop aficionado so I take this seriously.
- Thunderbird Coffee – On Manor / East Austin and it has a lot more space so I like it.
- Bennu Coffee – Many great alternative, homemade creations. This is the coffee shop where Chameleon Cold Brew started as well.
Archery / Hunting
I know you’ve mentioned doing archery before. I love the practice, but also love it as a conduit for hunting and being closer to the harvest of the food I eat. My 3 year goal is 100% food I kill, grow, or trade.
- Two-90 Archery & Pawn – This is the further of the two in town, but definitely the best (might be closer if you live in west Austin). It’s a 20 yard range, but both Seth Noble and Dan Zinn are expert bow techs.
- Hunting (Guided) – You may not need a hunting guide for education purposes, but Texas land is mostly private (very little public land). If you wanted to go out on hunts, it is nice to know people. Luckily, Seth Noble at Two-90 is a good contact for that. Another is Marc Warnke. I would say that I’ll make an intro, but I reckon you need none…
- Pedernales Falls – Unbelievably gorgeous and camping is worthwhile. My ex-partner and I did a high dose of plant medicine and found ourselves low on water in a dangerous position. We drank the flowing water for two days and were completely fine too.
- Colorado Bend State Park / Gorman Falls – This is a bit further of a drive, but worth it. The wildlife is relatively undisturbed. We saw javelinas, deer (bucks), and heard coyotes literally 10 yards outside our tent at night. The juxtaposition of woodland with vibrant greenery at Gorman Falls is a surprising sight to behold.
- Pace Bend State Park – Relatively close camping spot to get out of the city without much of a drive. Also, great spots for cliff jumping (when the lake is high enough).
- Green Belt (Spyglass Entrance) – Plenty of great spots within the city, but I like spyglass. Perhaps also because it is near a Taco Deli.
- Hamilton Pool – You might need reservations a bit in advance to go, but it is VERY worthwhile. It’s an oasis in the middle of woodland. It’s private too, which means you could bring enough outdoor gear (hammock?) to hang out the entire day and jump in the water as you desire.
- Barton Springs Pool – Hopefully self explanatory / you have been.
Barbeque is a big deal for me. In fact, on April 8th, 2018 I’m hosting an Austin Charity BBQ Off & Authentic Connecting event that is bringing together 20-40 of the best BBQ spots in Austin and the central Texas area (for a good cause of course).
This list notably leaves off Salt Lick and Franklin’s. I love them, but I’ve sure you’ve heard of them or added them to your list to try. Here are some of the lesser known options.
If you wanted to try some of them beforehand, here is a list of my favorites:
- Whole Foods HQ – Yes! I know how odd it sounds, but one of my top 5 favorite BBQ places in Austin is actually the HQ of Whole Foods. Ask most natives and they will tell you, Whole Foods is great BBQ, it doesn’t cost a lot of money, and there is usually no line whatsoever (plus you can pick up other goodies). The only caveat is that it is inconsistent. When it is good, it’s great. When it is bad, it’s super bad.
- Terry Black’s BBQ – New-ish (last couple years) spot, but becoming notably popular and for good reason. Some of the best brisket in town, but ribs, turkey, and just about everything else is unbelievable. I made the mistake of coming here on a 3 day fast with two friends one time…
- Snow’s – If you’ve never heard, this has a small cult following for diehards. It’s out in Lexington and they are only open on Saturdays. Even worse, they sell out early, but it could very well be the BEST of all the BBQ spots. Even Yeti did a 5 min video on this amazing pitmaster.
- La Barbeque – Starting to become more well known and very good (without the long wait of Franklin’s).
- Micklethwait – Probably one of the best “up and coming” BBQ spots in town. Barbacoa especially good, but brisket and chicken also great.
- LeRoy & Lewis – Another lesser known place with amazing pitmaster.
- Cooper’s – The original is out in Llano and if you’re going, make sure to hit the original. The new one in Austin just isn’t as good.
- Brown’s BBQ – For some reason Brown’s is almost always underrated or under recognized, but it has a great location and makes amazing BBQ.
Tim, I’ve thrown a lot at you, but maybe save this as a reference as you desire some new things to try. Compiling the list was the least that I could do given the wisdom I’ve learned from your guests through your interviewing skills.
Much appreciated and much love.
P.S: If you want to get in touch about the BBQ off just shoot me a FB message or email mansal [at] nootropedia.com.