Tag Archives: Recommendations

When Friends Move To Austin

A couple months back, two of my dearest friends relocated from Detroit to Austin.

Nathan Montgomery Jen Montgomery Detroit Austin Music Travel Relocation

Along the way, I’ve been sending them tips for weekending fun in the Austin area and I’ve collected them here for you.

Guero’s
1412 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704
They have free music in their garden under the live oak tree on Thursdays and weekends. At home, I specialize cooking a runny “Charro-style” pinto bean. The recipe I wrote was inspired by that restaurant. (It also happens to be something I served at the Nate & Jen Learn to Say Howdy Ya’ll party I hosted for their going away.) I really like their enchiladas & margaritas. Guero’s is absolutely not the best place for Mexican food in Austin. But I love the vibe of the patio & the first inside room… so I cut their food some slack. Plus they always have fun friendly servers.

The Oasis on Lake Travis
6550 Comanche Trail, Austin, TX 78732
One of the first times I ever went to Austin with Jake, he took me there on a date. It’s one of the only places I’ve found where you can enjoy some food and the waterfront of beautiful Lake Travis. (If I lived in Austin, I’d miss the Great Lakes here in Michigan.) I believe they also have music, cover bands like 7 Million Jigawatts used to be.

My idea of one sweet Sunday in Downtown Austin’s SoCo neighborhood. ❤️🎶😀

Jo’s Coffee
1300 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704

Joe’s is my favorite coffee shop in the entire world. The Sunday Morning Jo’s Coffee Brunch Band on South Congress is totally worth getting motivated in the morning and going to listen. After you have a coffee, tea or Lone Star beer there, walk South, away from the river to get some brunch.

South Congress Cafe
1600 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704
Plan on waiting (unless there are open seats at their tiny bar). If you have calories to burn, eat the carrot cake French toast. If not, there’s loads of other good Southwestern style options there.

Amy’s Ice Creams, they have multiple locations.
(my favorite is 1301 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704)
I always have Mexican Vanilla and/or the Mexican Chocolate. It’s my favorite sweet treat there and one of the best flavors around.

Oh yeah, everyone must drink a Topo Chico for me at any restaurant on any night.

Then, I took a trip to Roma, so I focused on all things that are Italian in Austin…

Spaghetti warehouse- wait we’ve never been there! So, sorry not that one. 😂👎

Whole Foods Market on Lamar and 6th. In their take out section, they have great ethnic sections, including Italian favorites. I think they still have ice skating on the roof, but it’s been years since I’ve been in that place. (I had owned the stock at one point in my portfolio. I did sell it at a profit, but I believe in this company and their mission still today.)

Vespaio
1610 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704 and their Enoteca next door offer rustic Italian. They have a great dinner and offer a nice weekend brunch too. Actually, good authentic inspired Italian food. Enjoyed it and the sister restaurant next door several times.

Botticelli’s
1321 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704
Once, I had the best most amazing ravioli’s in there. To die for. They have a garden behind the restaurant, so don’t let the tiny interior fool you.They also have live music sometimes on the weekend.

Here’s an Austin related activity you can do from the couch while you’re vegging out 😀.

Watch anyone of the following films with some of Texas’ favorite stars & locations:
✔️Dallas Buyers Club (Mathew Mconahey’s Mom lives in Jake’s Mom’s Dell Webb community 😂)
✔️Chef (Shot in a food truck in & around Austin. One scene is shot in one of my favorite restaurants, Trulucks)
✔️Bernie (Morbidly funny shot around Austin & Georgetown)
✔️Urban Cowboy (just in case you need lessons on how to fit in also shot in Austin)
✔️Dazed & Confused (just in case you miss your stoner friends from high school or home – also starring Matthew Mconahey)
✔️Whip it (Because when you want to make a movie about Roller Derby girls, you should shoot in Austin & Detroit. Makes sense to me.)

Then Hurricane Harvey came to town, so I needed to think of fun things for a rainy weekend in Austin. What’s there to do?

Well, I suppose you could go shopping at The Domain
11410 Century Oaks Terrace, Austin, TX 78758. It’s a fancy name for a place to shop for things you might or might not need. Referred to on Google as a “sprawling upscale outdoor mall”. (Doesn’t sound that fun to me, especially in the rain 😂.)

The Alamo Drafthouse Cinema (They also have multiple locations & I don’t have a favorite for this one.) Watch a film, have a snack, dinner and a beer/soda. On Sept 6, they had a “Garlic Festival”. When David Bowie died they had a music video party commemorating his lifes work. If you wanted to get scared, go there and see Stephen King’s IT.

The bad thing about Harvey, the weather was so bad they couldn’t even leave their apartment. So, I suppose when it’s winter, they will check out the inside stuff.

I’ll have more installments as Nate & Jen aclimate to the temperature, lifestyle and location in Austin, Texas.

New Orleans A First Time Tourist

I know there are a million sites to look at for places to visit in New Orleans. NOLA has a charm, a fairy tale, haunted, distinctly unique Southern hospitality meets quasi-Parisian flair meets drunken fool and a Creole Voodoo Queen. What you ask am I talking about? Well, check out some of these places on your first trip to New Orleans to get a handle on the history and the depth of their culture.

First, just orient yourself with the city on a map. It sits on Lake Ponchatrain and Lake Borgne,and also is bordered by the Mississippi River as it flows into the sounds that start the Gulf of Mexico. When you get there you’ll be better oriented if you keep some of these boundry areas in mind.

 

NOLA map New Orleans Louisiana
New Orleans Louisiana

 

I know many of you don’t want to “look like a tourist” and are afraid you stick out like a sore thumb. Well, guess what, you do. Unless you really are from a place, or visit it frequently, you really truly are better off just doing some main tourist things to get a lay of the land in any new city. NOLA is no exception. I think that using the Hop On Hop Off Sightseeing bus is an excellent way to take in the major sights of any city in a short period of time. From our days of traveling, many of our major trips start with the Hop On Hop Off. Once you see what the main sights are offering you can choose to dig deeper at any of their recommended stops or you can just move on and ask the locals for their favorite haunts.

Hop On Hop Off Sightseeing Bus
Hop On Hop Off Sightseeing Bus a great value for seeing all the sights any major tourist area has to offer

The most famous neighborhood is the French Quarter.

It is an absolute must for any first timer. Some folks who visit NOLA for the first time never really leave this area. This is after all the center of all the drinking and debauchery most people find New Orleans famous for. The French Quarter is where the old Spanish architecture with the hanging baskets of ferns are best viewed. The French Quarter is where all the action in the streets happens. Anyone can have a parade in NOLA, just be sure to get a permit.

When you’re in the Quarter, there are some famous places that are must-see, must-eat, must-do’s in the travelers life.

  • Take a photo at Jackson Square – This is one of the most famous views in New Orleans.
Jackson Square New Orleans Louisiana
Jackson Square New Orleans Louisiana
  • Just up the street from Jackson Square you can visit the French Market where folks of all kinds are selling their wares, food, voodoo dolls, hats, leather goods, you name it and I’m sure someone has it for sale at there. Ask about the historical significance of the original French Market in NOLA.
Melissa NOLA French Market
Melissa back in 2011 in NOLA at the French Market
  • Rest your feet after all that walking and have a cup of the famous chickoree coffee and benjiet at the Cafe Du Monde.
Cafe Du Monde Coffee Benjeit
Cafe Du Monde
  • Hit Coops Place for some authentic Cajun Creole Cuisine.

 

Coops Place famous for Cajun Creole Food New Orleans NOLA
Coops Place famous for Cajun Creole Cusine
  • Check out Preservation Hall and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band for a real sampling of Creole influenced jazz music. I remember seeing this group for the first time with my Mom back in 1995 or 1996 in the hall before the Flood. Since then, I’ve been past the building, but support the group whole heartedly. Jake & I saw the Preservation Hall Jazz Group’s touring show for A Creole Christmas performing at the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. Their saxophone/vocalist hails originally from Detroit, Charlie Gabriel and his family has stong musical and jazz ties here in Detroit. (All I can say is lucky us, that means they come to my city frequently!)
Preservation Hall Jazz Band Music DSO NOLA
Preservation Hall Jazz Band performing at the DSO

 

  • Listen to the street musicians up and down Burbon and Royal Streets. A variety of styles of music can be heard throughout the city. It’s like every musical ghost has taken up residency in someones body
Just One of the Bands of Street Musicians throughout the French Quarter.
Just One of the Bands of Street Musicians throughout the French Quarter.
  • Check out the concert series at Louis Armstrong Park. (When we were last there were performances on Thursday evenings.)
  • Drink a Hurricane at Pat O’Brien’s and sing along at the top of your lungs to the guys in the piano bar.
  • Visit a famous above ground cemetery like the St. Louis Cemetary #1,  #2 or #3. There are guides for hire in the city and online with the appropriate permits to get you in and also show you around. (This is still on my to do list for NOLA.)
  • Take a Haunted History Tour of the French Quarter, there are family friendly tours and ones for people who like bars and want to drink their way around town.

 

But there are some other neighborhoods that are also worth considering while you are in NOLA.

Garden District NOLA
Garden District & Other Neighborhoods in NOLA

First and foremost for me is the Garden District and Magazine Street. This is really where you get a feel for the locals. This area has huge mansions, gardens to die for, also small shotgun shacks with traditional NOLA paint jobs in the Lower Garden District had Jake and I just drooling. As far as how to get there, just hop on a Street Car and ejoy the leisurely paced friendly relaxing ride along St. Charles Ave. Hop off a Napoleon, Jefferson or the Audobon Park. There is so much to see and do in this area.

 

Atchafalaya Restaurant NOLA
Atchafalaya Restaurant NOLA

 

Walk toward the River to hit Magazine Street with all their great restaurants and quirky shopping. Or go the opposite direction and check out the mansions of famous NOLA residents like vampire author, Ann Rice.

 

On the edge of the Lower Garden District near the freeway, is a sweet little brewery in an old refurbished warehouse. They have chairs from 6th grade classrooms and old wire spools for tables. Every night they have a different food truck in the parking lot and loads of great brews on tap.

 

Courtyard Brewery NOLA
Courtyard Brewery Lower Garden District NOLA

We’ve covered New Orleans a few other times on Permanent Workation.