Category Archives: Austin

78704 Roundup: Breakfast Tacos Galore

Does anyone remember that Shit Austinites Say video, the one with a bunch of college kids just standing around, chanting “TACOS, TACOS, TACOS!”? Well, if there’s one true stereotype you can pin on this city, it’s that we love us some tacos. Particularly ones of the breakfast variety. From taco stands and trailers to nice restaurants, this city is a taco lovers paradise: but you needn’t stray far out of the ’04 to find a big variety of them. Below I have compiled a list of my favorite places to get breakfast tacos in 78704, and evaluated them based on my own personal preferences. This list is very subjective, and with all the tacos in this zip code I wouldn’t be surprised if I missed a few. Drop a line in the comments if your favorite down-south breakfast tacos didn’t make the cut!

Melizzo’s

IMG_0517Melizzoz takes the cake. These are THE best tacos in the city, hands down, Torchy’s be damned. I know, saying that might be blasphemous in Austin, but Torchy’s has grown a bit too big for their britches in my opinion, and their breakfast tacos are massive and very greasy. Melizzoz is slightly similar to Torchy’s in menu only: they make “designer” tacos, with interesting ingredients and cute names. But in execution, Melizzoz tacos are way fresher, and as the truck says, “made with love”. Located in a trailer on South First street, you can pick them up or enjoy your tacos outside on a colorful picnic table. Pro tip: stay for lunch and get the fried avocado taco. You will not regret it. It might be the best decision you ever made, in fact.

Benefits: Amazing tacos made with love, and a beautiful outdoor setting.

Drawbacks: Closes early on some weekdays.

El Tacorrido

-Postcard_of_El_Tacorrido-20000000004540227-500x375El Tacorrido is a great Mexican taqueria on the corner of Oltorf and South First street. It’s walk up or drive through only, so its perfect when you’re in a hurry or on the go. You can build your own breakfast taco for $2. Pro tip: you can add things that aren’t listed on the menu under “breakfast taco ingredients”, such as avocado or even chicken. Open from 7 am until midnight every day, El Tacorrido is one of the most reliable places for quick tacos in 78704. Everything is made fresh to order, and tacos are reasonably sized (small), so get a couple of them if you’re really hungry.

Benefits: Convenient, cheap, and reliable.

Drawbacks: You might want to learn a few words in Spanish if you want your order made correctly. (Is that a drawback, though?)

Taco Deli

lsTaco Deli isn’t exactly what I would call “authentic” by any measure, but they make some damn delicious tacos nonetheless. They have multiple locations around town, but my favorite is the one tucked away on Spyglass. It has a great outdoor seating area– when it’s not too crowded– and is right next to the greenbelt. The tacos are what I would call “Americanized”, or even “Austinized”, with ingredients and combinations you would never see in Mexico. Regardless, it’s absolutely delicious and their breakfast tacos are always fresh and never greasy. Definitely the healthy hippy place to get tacos. Taco Deli is also the leader in exporting breakfast tacos to local coffee shops fresh and early every morning, so even if you can’t make it over there, chances are you can grab one somewhere. I usually get them at the Irie Bean on South Lamar.

Benefits: Fresh and healthy, available everywhere.

Drawbacks: They stop serving breakfast tacos at 11 am on weekdays and 3pm on weekends, which is akin to treason in my book.

La Mexicana

6167195La Mexicana brings all the authenticity to the South Austin breakfast taco scene. A traditional Mexican Panaderia (bakery), they have way more to offer than just sugar cookies and churros. Besides being a great place to grab fresh fruit juice, La Mexicana makes some absolutely killer breakfast tacos, and very cheap. Their handmade flour tortillas are fluffy and real, which is no less than you would expect from a Mexican bakery, but it will amaze you every time you bite into one. This place gets overlooked in my opinion, and as long as its been around I still consider it somewhat of a hidden treasure.

Benefits: Open 24 hours a day!! (Also on an unrelated note, get a slice of their Tres Leches cake. You can thank me later.)

Drawbacks: Not exactly the best ambiance for dining.

Rosita’s Al Pastor

lRosita’s Al Pastor is another place that earns the title of “authentic”. I learned about this gem of a trailer from Melissa, my go-to friend for everything food related in Austin. It’s a bit outside of 78704, situated on Riverside a few blocks east of 35. It is cheap, quick, and amazingly delicious. The menu is surprisingly huge for a food truck, but they seem to manage it just fine.

Benefits: Convenient and cheap.

Drawbacks: The line can be long on weekends. Also, the outdoor seating is limited so you might want to take it to-go.

Habaneros

2011-03-03-Habanero-Cafe-Austin-TXLast but in no way least is Habaneros Mexican Cafe on Oltorf. This is the place to go if you want to sit down and enjoy your breakfast tacos with a nice coffee or horchata. Only open for breakfast and lunch, the service is awesome and the place is always pleasantly busy. Family owned and operated for 20 years, Habaneros is consistent and delicious. They make their own toritllas as well, and for a sit-down dining experience the price is really cheap. This is definitely the place to go for brunch, or after a night downtown when you just want to sit and watch the world go by.

Benefits: Sit-down dining with food truck prices.

Drawbacks: There’s usually a wait for brunch on the weekends (worth it, though).

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78704 Roundup: Dance Party with Monica

1526632_197896657077988_1791837052_nFor the 78704 Roundup, I planned to write about everything from profiles of cool south Austinites to awesome things to do in this particular zip, and I get to do both in my very first post. Say hello to Monica, the best dance+fitness instructor around. My best friend Melissa and I discovered Monica’s Zumba classes at Gold’s Gym a few years ago, and we have followed her around ever since- and we’re not the only ones! Monica turns “an hour at the gym” into pure fun. She now teaches at Lifetime Fitness as well as local dance studio Tiempo, right on South Congress. She’s also a born-and-raised local, a rare breed in this ever growing city. In addition to working a full-time job and teaching dance classes, she’s also nearly 8 months pregnant, so a big thanks to Monica for taking the time to answer a few questions about herself, and Austin. 🙂

Why is Dance so much more fun than a boring gym workout?

 The music, moves and energy you find in a Zumba class is what makes Zumba a more fun workout than your regular gym routine. The music is fast and upbeat, the moves are fun and easy to follow, and the energy is addicting and exhilarating. You also leave class with a feeling of euphoria from releasing endorphins.

What is your “day job”?

 During the normal work hours, I am an Enforcement Coordinator for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. I monitor compliance schedules and implementation of ordering provisions for formal enforcement actions until a case is resolved or closed; I conduct reviews of technical reports and determine compliance with applicable statutes, rules and orders.

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She shares my love for dachshunds, too.

Where are you favorite places to eat in south Austin?

 Arandas! My favorite authentic Mexican Food in Austin. Umi – The longhorn roll is amazing! They also have a great happy hour! Amy’s Ice Cream – Desert is my favorite meal of the day! Chuys – I love their Tex Mex! Pho Thaison – Their vermicelli bowls are amazing!

What are you favorite “hidden gems” in the city that not many others know about?

Hamilton Pool – It’s very nice and relaxing. McKinney State Falls Park – Nice hiking and good swimming spots. Thirsty Planet (this one is a little outside of Austin but worth the drive): I don’t really like beer or visiting breweries but my husband loves them. This one is my favorite to go to and I actually enjoy it there. The people who work there are friendly and inviting. The facility is small and beautifully located in the hill country. Bull Creek District Park – Nice place for hiking and swimming. Juice Spot – The best smoothies and juice I have ever had. The service is always great and the drinks are amazing! Absolutely the freshest in town!

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 Thanks for the awesome tips, Monica!

If you want to have a blast, check out Monica’s class schedule over on Facebook.

The 78704 Roundup: News, Reviews, & To-Dos for South Austin, Texas

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A friend of mine recently moved from Albuquerque, New Mexico into my garage apartment here in Austin, Texas. Excited to show my city off, I made him a list of great places he simply must visit, and things he should do, all within the awesome 78704. I quickly realized that I should expand this into a series, so that’s what I’m doing:

Welcome to The 78704 Roundup, a collection of news, reviews, and to-dos for people in and around South Austin. Even if you’re not new to the area, Austin is full of hidden gems, and there are always new (and old!) things to be discovered. Where are the best places to grab breakfast tacos? Where are the entrances to the greenbelt? When are the farmer’s markets? Where can I grab a drink without fighting the downtown crowds? And most importantly, I’m going to write features on some of the awesome people that make this zip code so unique (starting, of course, with my friends.)

There’s a bumper sticker out there that reads “78704: We’re All Here Because We’re Not All There”… I guess this series will serve to illuminate who, and where, we are 🙂

Which Austin Neighborhood Do You Live In?

Do you know the official name of the Austin neighborhood that you live in? I didn’t know mine until I made my foray into realty. As an agent I’m required to be up to date on this city I know and love so much. In my eight years of steady residence in South Austin I’ve learned all I need to know of the local parks and indie coffee shops, but official ‘hood names were not something I learned until a few weeks ago.

Here’s the map. What neighborhood do you live in?

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Last days in Mexico

After six weeks, it was time to say goodbye. I was so sad to leave. I realized how much I’d miss my host family, and the city I’d come to know and love. But all good things come to an end, and the end of this adventure couldn’t have been better.

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My last Friday in Mexico was the beginning of the end, and it couldn’t have been a better (or longer) day. It was the first official day of spring– the equinox– and by 4 am I had already eaten breakfast and was waiting for a van that would take some of the students and volunteers to a nearby Mayan ruin to watch the sunrise. The Mayans situated so many of their structures to coincide with celestial events. In the pyramid we saw, the sun shines through a small window for just a few brief moments at dawn, only on the equinox. We weren’t the only ones who drove out to see it, either; the place was crowded with locals and tourists, but it was a very calm and peaceful gathering nonetheless.

After a few morning hours at the ruins, I came back to the house to finally pack. Packing is never fun, and nothing seems to fit back in my suitcase the way it came. In between gathering all my stuff I visited with Tere, Maria Jose and Milo, telling them how much I’d miss them as we ate our last (delicious, homemade) lunch together.

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My dad showed up around 3 that afternoon. He had originally said he wanted to rent a car and drive into Merida to get me, but I pleaded with him to take the bus instead. After he’d finally made it into the city he was glad he’d taken my advice (Merida is huge, crazy and impossible to navigate). He visited for a while with my family, which was such an amazing and surreal experience for me. It was like two worlds finally colliding. Between my Spanish and Milo’s English, we managed to introduce ourselves and chat for a while. Dad and I expressed our gratitude to them again, we said our final farewells and were off.

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The next few days in Merida were fun– we managed to see and do a lot. We visited El Museo del Mundo Maya, and saw the zoo downtown that I hadn’t been to yet. We walked around the city a lot, ate some awesome food, and I showed him the old Cathedral in the main square. On Sunday we went back to the same cenotes at Cuzama that I’d visited a few weeks earlier. Larry, for all the time he’s spent in Mexico, had never seen a cenote. We took the horse-drawn train carts through the jungle, saw a super poisonous snake in a restaurant, and Larry swam lap after lap in the huge underground pool. All very fun.

Now that all is said and done, I can look back and say with certainty that this trip was the experience of a lifetime. Coming home to America was surreal, even though I was only gone a little over two months. I went straight to my parents house. It was great to give my mom a hug, and the most amazing thing of all was being greeted by my precious baby wiener dog, Duchess. All the exhaustion that had built up over the past seven weeks finally caught up to me– I went to bed and slept for a long, long time. After a few days catching up to my parents I hit the road for Austin, to make my return complete:

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Those two! I love them both so much. It was such a wonderful trip, but I must say it is great to be home. 🙂

Exciting Life Updates & Mexico Bound

It’s been quite the eventful week for me… A year ago I decided to go for a Texas Real Estate license. After overcoming a few challenges along the way, I’m proud to say I’ve finally earned one! My liberal-arts-educated mind didn’t take so easily to all the rote memorization of legalese required in the Real Estate courses. Write an essay on indigenous ontology? Sure. But memorize laws regarding agency and promulgated contract forms? Please no. But I stuck with it, completed all the classes, took a review course, and finally passed the exam last Wednesday. I got my fingerprints taken, and as soon as my  background check clears I will have an official (yet inactive) Texas Real Estate Salesperson License!

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IMG_20140130_200916The next day my girl Alisia came over to cook me a celebratory dinner… and what she made was too incredible not to blog about. After stuffing chicken breasts with prosciutto (!) and gruyer cheese, she breaded them with crushed up pork rinds and baked them. They were phenomenal; Alisia is the bomb. 🙂

On Sunday I had a nice get-together with some friends for the Super Bowl. We ate some of my guacamole and awesome pig-in-a-blankets that Melissa brought, and watched the Seahawks murder the Broncos (before switching back to the Puppy Bowl, of course!) It was a nice chance to say goodbye to some friends before heading to Mexico. And now I’m busy getting ready for that, and I couldn’t be more excited! On Wednesday I head to Houston to spend a bit of time with my parents before they take me to the airport on Friday, and then off to Merida I go! I can’t wait.

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One thing on my to-do list this week was to find a gift for my host family in Mexico. The school recommends bringing your host family a small present symbolic of where you come from. I wanted to get them something that said “Austin” and not just “Texas”, and something they might actually be able to use. Luckily I found this at a gift shop: an Austin-inspired cutting board, with the “Greetings from Austin” graffiti printed on the underside. Cute, huh?

Well that’s it for now. All I have left to do is pack, and spend some quality time with my boyfriend, dog, and parents before I leave on this adventure!

My Left And Right Brain Found Some Harmony Today

right leftIts been ages since I’ve spent quality time in Book People— and damn do I love that place. Any book store can suck me in for a few blissful hours, but Book People is by far my favorite. I only bought two items, and on the way out it struck me how opposing they were. For my left brain I snagged my favorite planner– the simple “August to August” weekly calendar that my mom and I have been devotees of for years (and is only sold at Book People and The Container Store). The second book was a gift to my so-called “right” brain: a coloring book of 100 bold, beautiful, psychedelic mandala patterns. They’re so relaxing when you really engage in coloring one. The book’s intro had an interesting perspective on whether one begins to color on the inside or the outside. Working toward the center is an exploration of one’s inner self, while working outward is a reflection on one’s connection with the outer universe. Super cool. Either way, they look kick-ass when they’re finished. 

Roundtop Festival Scrapbook

This post is long overdue, but it’s too good not to share. I went to the Roundtop Antique festival in April with my mom, and we had a blast. What a cool little corner of Texan culture. The merchants and sellers that come from far and wide, the locals happy to be hosting, and all the people that get together to rifle through the junk and the treasures. These are just some of the shots I took that day, but even a million pictures couldn’t capture it all.