In late February, we found ourselves escaping the cold Midwest winter for a 3-day adventure in Austin, TX.
The trips where we spend time exploring a city tend to be harder to do on the cheap. But we still like to eat and drink our way through a city that is not Milwaukee on occasion.
Our 3 days in Austin turned out to be a great trip full of music, food, drinks, and some much need outside time.
And I can’t forget to mention the tacos! Not simply because of the name of my website, but because they are absolutely delicious in Austin!
I knew Austin was all about the tacos, especially the breakfast tacos.
But it’s just a taco. How could it be so much better than the tacos I can get in Milwaukee?
Well, it turns out the tacos in Austin are that much better.
I think it’s the tortillas. They melt in your mouth. And they were so good that 5 out of 8 of our meals consisted of trying various tacos.
We really enjoyed our trip wandering the streets of Austin for 3 days, and are dreaming about the next time we can experience those delicious tacos.
Before I get into the details of our 3 days in Austin, let’s briefly talk about the cost.
Cost Savings Strategies for Long Weekend In Austin
As I mentioned, it tends to be more difficult for us to do a budget trip in cities. When we explore cities, we don’t want to be thinking about our spending the entire time. So we simply plan for the larger expense of a city trip in our annual money plan and try to save where we can on the trip.
1. Save On Flights
We have not paid for a flight (outside of our credit card fees) in years.
For this trip, we used the Southwest Rapid Reward points and our Southwest Companion Pass earned in early 2020. We paid $268 in credit card fees to help us earn our companion pass. Because this was our first trip using the Companion Pass, I’m going to say our flights cost us our credit card fees + $22.40 in additional flight fees for a total cost of $290.40.
2. Save On Ground Transportation
We walked where ever we could and took the bus once while in Austin and to and from the airport in Milwaukee.
Walking helps us work off all of the food and drinks we consumed while helping to reduce the cost of the trip.
For the rest of our transportation around Austin, we used Lyfts.
Trip Cost Breakdown:
AirBnb (4 nights) : $462.62
Entertainment (Food, drinks, fun): $766.90
Total for 3 full days in Austin: $1655.48
A 3-day Austin, TX Itinerary
- Skipped breakfast and got in line for an early lunch at la Barbecue
- Strolled down East Cesar Chavez for some shopping and patio drinks
- Made our way to East 6th Street for some unique drinking holes
- On our way to check out why 6th Street is called dirty 6th, grabbed tacos at Pueblo Viejo
- Topped the night off with drinks at one of Austin’s many speakeasies: Midnight Cowboy
- Headed down the Stubbs for their Sunday Gospel Brunch
- Made our way down South Congress for shopping, great patios, more food, and of course, music
- Grabbed an Iced Turbo at Jo’s Coffee and sat on their patio for some stellar people watching
- Reserved a table at Suerte to indulge in the best homemade tortillas you’ll ever have (No lie)
- Started our day with breakfast tacos
- Rented bikes and spent time exploring Lady Bird Lake
- In the afternoon, strolled down Rainey Street for awesome patios
- Caught an early happy hour dinner at Hillside Farmacy
- Finished our trip with some great ambiance and cocktails at Whistler’s (check to see if the Mescal bar is open upstairs)
Check out the Google My Map we used for our trip and feel free to make a copy for your own trip: Austin, TX.
If you want to learn how to make your own customizable Google My Map for your next trip check out this step-by-step tutorial: How to Plan a Trip Using Google Maps
East Austin Airbnb
We chose the East Austin neighborhood for its walkability to restaurants and bars as well as its affordability.
There were many great Airbnbs to choose from, but we settled on this East Austin above garage apartment hosted by Nicole. The location was great and our hosts left us a ton of guidebooks and suggestions.
Austin is known for its tacos, especially their breakfast tacos, so make sure to eat as many as you can while you are here.
Franklin’s is probably the most famous of the Austin barbecue joints, but we weren’t interested in spending our Saturday standing in line for hours for the experience.
Instead, we decided to check out la Barbecue. And it did not disappoint. Mr. Taco is still talking about the brisket. We got there about 30 minutes before it opened and there were about 20 people in line ahead of us.
Luckily, la Barbecue shares a space with a grocery store so we were able to grab a few drinks and enjoy some people watching while we waited in line.
Once the place opened, the line went fast and we were rewarded for our patience. Our time at la Barbecue was spent enjoying the food while conversing with a local la Barbecue regular.
One thing I learned about Austin is that the locals were super excited to share their favorite restaurants and bars, and we found a few gems by listening to their suggestions
Known for their queso they are one of the quintessential taco places in Austin. The queso was delicious and a perfect snack while strolling along South Congress.
Check out one of several locations around the Austin area.
We stumbled upon this gem that is attached to a music venue while looking for food around Dirty 6th Street. These were our first Austin tacos, and they were delicious.
This was a recommendation from a local, and O.M.G!
I am still gushing over how good the Suadero Tacos were. The dish consisted of 4 small tacos made with homemade tortillas, confit brisket, black magic oil, and avocado salsa cruda.
These were the best tacos I’ve ever had. The beef was to die for and those tortillas were so amazing that I couldn’t stop saying how amazing they were for our entire meal. (PS. It’s a sure sign that I love the food I’m eating when I can’t stop talking about how good it is after each bite)
If I ever head back to Austin, this is a place I will be returning to.
Apparently, breakfast tacos are the morning go-to staple in Austin. We saw them advertised everywhere, so we knew we needed to try some during our stay. We did a little research and found Veracruz All Natural taco truck near our Airbnb. They’re known for their Migas breakfast taco.
We moseyed up to the brightly colored taco truck, ordered our tacos, and relaxed at a nearby picnic table while we waited for our breakfast. Like many of the tacos we had in Austin, these we delicious. Yes, the ingredients were amazing, but it’s those darn tortillas that make me drool just thinking about them.
This was a great place for happy hour. They had an oyster special and we indulged in some drinks and a charcuterie board. They had a great little patio that we sat on, but the inside of the place was also super cute as it was an old-timey pharmacy.
There are several locations of Tacodeli in Austin. But we managed the find ourselves at one in the airport prior to our departure. And I must say that it was one of the best airport meals I’ve had in a long time.
If you like sour beers, don’t miss this place.
For a sampler, you get to choose a glass size and pick 4 samples for a super reasonable price. They had a great little taproom with helpful staff and even a space to hang outside. Highly recommend.
For a blast into the past, a great patio, and some fun cocktails check out Kitty Cohens.
We went based on a recommendation from a bartender at Blue Owl Brewing and it did not disappoint. We enjoyed sipping drinks alongside a very tiny pool in the courtyard.
This was my favorite bar in Austin, which was also a recommendation from a local.
Whistler’s is a cocktail bar in an old stone building with high ceilings that make you feel like you are transported to a different world. During the day, the bar was flooded with sunlight from the windows near the ceiling. But at night the place is purely lit by candles positioned throughout the bar. The ambiance was perfect for an after-dinner drink.
Midnight Cowboy is one of the many speakeasies speckled around the city of Austin.
Located off of Dirty 6th, it’s an intimate bar with limited tables and a reservation is required.
We reserved a table for two hours and were treated to thoughtful cocktails made right at our table. It was a fun experience and highly recommend it.
Wander Through the Diverse Neighborhoods of Austin
East 6th Street
On East 6th Street, we found our favorite watering holes and restaurant. The neighborhood is located just outside of the main bar area referred to as dirty 6th. It’s a great spot to get away from the wildness of dirty 6th and find places to relax and enjoy Austin.
East Cesar Chevez
This neighborhood felt like it was up and coming with all of the breweries, restaurants, and unique coffee and bike shops. Mr. Taco could have spent all day checking out the breweries. But unfortunately, this girl doesn’t drink beer.
This was a fun street to explore on the weekend. There was live music everywhere and it was fun to bounce from shop to shop while taking a few breaks for a drink or taco. The people-watching was great too as the street was lined with people enjoying the day.
Guero Taco bar was a great place to stop to enjoy some music and a cocktail in their outdoor oak garden.
While we didn’t get the full experience of Rainey Street (it was a Monday and many places closed), this neighborhood looks fun as hell to hang out in. The street was lined with houses that were converted to bars and restaurants, and many of the patios looked amazing to relax in.
If we head back to Austin, I would make it a point to wander this neighborhood on a weekend.
Check out some live music
Stubbs Gospel Brunch
Stubbs is a staple in Austin’s live music scene.
While I enjoyed this experience, it was pricey and it isn’t something I would do again if I came to Austin. But I would recommend it to first-time visitors wanting to enjoy some live music with their brunch.
The Continental Club
We stopped into The Continental Club while wandering around South Congress. This small retro music venue felt intimate with a perfect combination of kitsch and cool. Drinks were reasonably priced and the bands rocked and twanged, which seems like the epitome of the Austin music scene.
C-boys Heart and Soul
C-boys Heart and Soul was another great divey haunt with some outdoor space and strong, cheap drinks. The band would break between sets to announce the winners of the ongoing rounds of Chicken-Shit Bingo.
One place we did not get to was Antone’s Nightclub. This establishment is known for its history in the Blues music scene but today you can find music of all kinds.
Several people recommended Antone’s but, unfortunately, we were not able to make it work on this trip.
Check out the Bats
This was another thing we were not able to experience as it wasn’t the time of year for observing the bats.
From March to early fall, millions of bats flock to and convene under the Congress Avenue Bridge. From what I’ve read, it’s a unique experience to see the bats exit the bridge each night, so I would recommend checking it out if you are in Austin when they are active.
Rent Bikes or Kayak and explore Lady Bird Lake
On our trip, we rented bikes and cruised around Lady Bird Lake. It was great to get out and do something other than walk, and the lake is a nice respite in the middle of a large city.
If it were warmer, we would have likely rented kayaks and explored the lake that way.
You Got This
If you are looking for a great city to explore with mouth-watering food, unique neighborhoods to explore, and friendly people; Austin is a great choice.
We really enjoyed our time there and could see ourselves venturing to the city in the future. I don’t know if I could live my life without having those delicious tacos again.