Our 24 Hours in Austin guide comes to us from ceramicist Keith Kreeger. Although originally an East Coaster, Keith made the move to Austin with his family in 2009 and hasn’t looked back. He’s since reestablished his ceramics studio in the Texan capital and has embraced all this city has to offer. Today he shares some of Austin’s many gems in his ideal 24-hour itinerary. Thanks for taking us around your personal Austin, Keith! —Stephanie
Illustration by Libby VanderPloeg
Check out the full guide after the jump…
After 12 years on Cape Cod, we moved to Austin in 2009. My wife grew up in Houston and like so many people who have married a Texan…it’s clear that at some point you’ll become one. Austin is the perfect town for us to raise our three kids and I feel completely at home within its creative community. The city has grown tremendously since we moved here and I believe that a lot of the growth has to do with the creative community. People don’t horde favors here and are quick to help make any good idea happen. We’ll head all over town today and probably eat a little too much.
8 am: We’ll begin our day like so many here and go for a run on the trail at Town Lake. Gorgeous views of downtown and surrounded by trees – it’s a great way to start the day. You’ll run past Zilker Park where the ACL Festival is held and Auditorium Shores which is where my favorite musical festival is held, Fun Fun Fun Fest.
9 am: Houndstooth Coffee for a Macchiato. When I first moved to Austin I brought my Keurig brewer with me. After my first time at Houndstooth I gave it away. The coffee they serve is sourced, roasted and brewed with some serious intent. Quality and love of process is definitely something I can get behind. After Houndstooth we’ll head across town to my studio in East Austin. We’ll grab some breakfast tacos on the way. In Austin, breakfast tacos are king and I love Veracruz Taco Trailer on Cesar Chavez.
10 am: Check in at the studio with my assistant. I’ll work on anything that needs immediate attention. Anything that can wait until tomorrow will wait another day. It’s time to play hooky and enjoy the rest of Austin.
11 am: Time for a bit of shopping. First up is By George. They have a terrific men’s shop at their flagship store. It can be a bit pricey but the sale rack in the back usually has a few gems and every once in a while I’ll splurge on something there. Next we stroll down to Nest Modern for a quick look. A few blocks farther down is the Billy Reid store. I don’t know if I can pull off their Southern Gentleman style, but the clothing and the store are both just plain beautiful.
12:30 pm: Lunchtime, and since we’re near downtown we have plenty of choices. Clark’s, Josephine House or Daruma Ramen are a few of my favorites. Today, we’re going to Josephine House so I can be the guy who lunches with the ladies who lunch. The food is always fantastic and the white wooden walls remind me of my New England days. Today my wife and I shared a burger, a crepe with prosciutto, cheese and an egg and a quinoa salad.
1:30 pm: After lunch we’ll head south to the just-opened Dolce Neve Gelato for dessert. Fresh ingredients, a gelato machine right in front of you and a round, bearded gentleman who you’d swear was faking his Italian accent.
After dessert, we’re in a great neighborhood for another round of shopping. First stop is Nannie Inez, an amazing shop that is small but really stands out. Deeyn Rhodes, the owner, travels often to bring new and exciting designers into her space. The geometric shelves in the shop are simply amazing. Deeyn’s collection from Hay is great but today I was completely enthralled with scissors, pens and other office accessories made by Craft Design Technology from Japan. Another good shop is Mockingbird Domestics on South Lamar which features a lot of Texas artisans. I take another look at the table I’m coveting made by fellow ATX designer/maker Michael Yates.
3 pm: Coffee break on South Congress. Grab a quick iced coffee at Jo’s and do a bit of people watching while we’re waiting. By George has another shop here that is a more affordable but is women’s only – great for my wife but I’ll sneak into Service Menswear in the back of the same complex. Afterwards, we head across the street to Stag, another fantastic men’s store with fantastic shoes, clothes and some killer gifts.
5 pm: Any perfect day in Austin has to include Ramen Tatsu-ya. We’re stopping by right when they open to be at the front of the line. The Tonkotsu (pork) broth is easily the best I’ve ever had. Pair that with fresh noodles, chashu pork and the absolute best soft-boiled egg in the world and you have one of the simplest and best meals ever. I think you can come to Austin and not get BBQ…I don’t think you should skip Tatsu-ya*. The line forms early but they move it along quickly and once you’re at the table you’ll be served within minutes.
6:30 pm: Since it’s gorgeous out let’s head to Contigo. We need a bit of time to digest the ramen and Contigo is the perfect spot for a drink right now. Contigo’s cocktails are always good…I usually get the Old Fashioned. The restaurant and bar are mostly outdoors and the feel of the place is based on owner Ben Edgerton’s family ranch in South Texas. Co-owner and chef Andrew Wiseheart has a great menu of bar snacks (fried green beans), house made charcuterie (country rabbit pate) and a dinner menu (get the burger). If we hadn’t eaten the ramen we’d be camped out here for happy hour with a few courses. (They also have my favorite brunch in town on Sunday.)
8:30 pm: Dinner at Qui. It’s always great to check in with the staff and see what Paul Qui and his incredibly talented crew are serving up on my wares. Shameless plug…I made most of the dinnerware that is used at one of Austin’s newest and most celebrated restaurants. Paul and the kitchen are putting out incredible food in a stunning, minimalist space. Trust the servers to lead you through the menu. It changes daily and will push some of your boundaries. We had Madai with Chapulines (crickets), Saba with soft-scrambled egg and trout roe, Rabbit with Scallop and a few other dishes. You’ll have something similar and you’ll be grateful that you went on the ride. Bill Mann, the GM might also be coming back as a DJ in another life. Enjoy the entire experience and get the desserts…all of them! You cannot leave without having the cheddar cheese ice cream sandwich.
Other dinner options are Uchi/Uchiko (get the hama chili, madai and the fried milk dessert) or Bufalina Pizza (get the fresca pie and choose from an outstanding wine list). Both spots will make you want to come back to town for more.
11pm: Drinks at Whisler’s. It’s my new favorite bar in town with excellent cocktails in a great space. I’ll have a Penicillin and my wife will have a Last Word.
Midnight: It’s most definitely time for bed and we’re heading home. If you’re visiting my city you should head to your room at either the Hotel San Jose or Hotel St. Cecilia. Both are fantastic and both will let you wake up in a beautiful spot. You can start over in the morning with some coffee and breakfast in either hotel’s courtyard and get ready to explore another day.
Notes and things we missed.
Music-Austin bills itself as the Music Capitol of the World. The Mohawk, Stubb’s ACL-Live have the bigger bands but there is an endless number of spots to catch a show.
Food– Austin’s restaurant scene is booming and there are way too many spots to hit in one day. Here are a few more of my favorites:
Justine’s is one of my favorite places in town. It’s the first place I go to after I’ve been away. Walk through the gate and you’re in a different world. Chef Casey Wilcox is cooking French classics but you should also try anything on his daily menu. They also serve until 1:30 a.m. so they’re perfect for late night eating.
Foreign & Domestic– Chef/Owner Ned Elliot bills his fantastic North Loop neighborhood spot as good food and a badass time. He’s right on both counts.
Sway Thai, get the “son-in-law,” slow-roasted pork over rice with a fried soft-boiled egg..one of my favorite dishes in town.
*BBQ- Yes we chose Ramen. As far as I’m concerned there are two spots to get BBQ in the city. Franklin is as good as you’ve heard but you have to dedicate at least 3 hours to wait in line for your food. If you show up after 10:30 it’s probably too late and they don’t open until 11. If you don’t like the sound of that, head directly to LA Barbeque where the brisket is incredible and the beef rib is just plain absurd. Bonus…LA BBQ takes call-in orders.