With Austin City Limits bearing down on us this weekend (and our clothing/survival gear already packed), we decided it was high time to talk to an expert in the local music scene to learn about some off-the-radar spots to hit up in Austin, Texas, when we're not busy jamming in Zilker Park to Neil Young, Red Hot Chili Peppers or the Weeknd.
So Fuse called up Aaron Ivey—whose socially-conscious, soaring rock outfit has called the city home since 2008—and got his personal guide to one of the coolest cities in the USA. Austin-bound music fans, listen up: While you already know to pack a change of underwear and stay hydrated, here are a few bars, coffee shops and brunch spots you should put on your "to do" list as well.
Top Watering Holes
Clive Bar: "It has a ton of local Austin beers and a great outdoor patio. It's in the Rainey Street District, which has a ton of bars that stay open really late. And it's close to Zilker Park."
Icenhauer's: "It's one of my favorite bars, period. It's pronounced like the president, but with ice. Lots of local beers on tap and they have killer whiskey selection. Whiskey is kind of their thing."
Contigo Austin: "One of our favorite bars in town. Contigo's has the best Old Fashioneds."
Best Local Breweries
Austin Beerworks: "Austin Beerworks is a killer brewery here and they have an IPA that's ridiculous."
(512) Brewing Company: "This brewery is named after the area code and they have all kinds of beer. They have a Pecan Porter, which is so Southern, and it's fantastic."
Thirsty Planet Brewing: "This might be my favorite beer right now. Thirsty Planet is the name of the brewery and the name of the beer is 'Thirsty Goat.' It's great. It's an amber, so it's an American red ale; real smooth. I can't even explain how good it is."
Weirdest Late-Night Food Item
Rabbit Dumplings: "This sounds crazy, but Contigo has incredible rabbit dumplings. That's so South, isn't it? It's like a skillet and it's got normal dumplings, but with rabbit meat in it. It sounds risky, but it's worth it."
Thunderbird Coffee: "It's like a second home for me. I'm probably there every day, which might be sad. All of their house coffee is French press, which is great.
Houndstooth Coffee: "This is another fantastic coffee place which is picking up steam as far as getting known outside of Austin. They're really smart brewers and they care about the brewing process and the beans—they're coffee nerds. Their cortados are ridiculous."
Ivey's Top 3: "The Parish is a killer place for music. It's on Sixth Street and one of our favorite places to play. Antone's is great, too; both are good for rock or singer-songwriter stuff. And the Austin Music Hall is awesome."
Town Lake/Lady Bird Lake: "If people are into the outdoors and running off some beers, running around Town Lake is beautiful. It's just a big running trail with a 3-5 mile loop, and it's a lot like Portland. It's actually a big river that runs through Austin even though it's called Town Lake."
South Congress: "This street has a lot of cool vintage shops and antiques shops and food trailers galore. That's a great place to walk around."
Second Street District: "That's where the ACL movie theater is, where they do all the tapings for ACL [Radiohead, for instance, just graced the PBS mainstay]. It's just a good place to walk around with restaurants, coffee shops, stuff like that."
Be sure to check out the Aaron Ivey Band this Sunday at ACL. And for everything from sunscreen tips to biking trails to how much water ACL lets you bring into Zilker Park, check out our Ultimate ACL 2012 Survival Guide.