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Go to Austin for the tacos.

I could move to Austin. Tomorrow. Easy. If I were to move to Austin, I would get a few more tattoos, bleach my hair again, go vegan and start a succulent boutique store. I’ve spent almost the entirety of my free time in Austin thinking about this, and I could totally pull it off. It took me awhile to understand this ultra quirky, trendy city, mostly because I was there to work during SXSW, but I seized every opportunity to explore. The thing is, all the cool kids live in Austin. And they’ve all mostly moved there from somewhere else. They’re easy going, wear jean jackets and flannel, love their dogs and shop at Whole Foods. Sounds familiar? Portland is so similar to Austin that it’s just weird and confusing, but I still loved every minute of my visit. There are some things I enjoyed especially more than others: 

Ten Things I Loved About Austin, TX

1. The radio stations. I was one of the drivers so I got to cruise the crew around in a red SUV and I blasted that 98.1 FM all day long. If you can’t do it in Texas, then where CAN you? Their music became a soundtrack to the sunny landscape around us, and I loved that it was always a guy singing about a girl he loved when they were younger, and how good she looked in tan skin and cowboy boots (or something like that). I don’t think there could be anything more romantic than a cowboy on his guitar, singing love songs to an Asian girl in Keds. 

2. Sitting outside. Almost every eating establishment has outdoor seating, and sometimes (esp. at food cart pods) that’s all they offer. This is amazing when the sun is out, and sucks when it’s raining. Thank goodness it’s almost always sunny! 

3. Live music. Outdoor stages were common as well, and live bands would be playing almost each time I ate out. Being the live music capital of the world, it quickly became normal for me to bob my head constantly to songs and bands I’d never heard before. Sometimes we would be hearing multiple bands playing over each other until it all became background noise as we sipped on cans of cheap Lonestar beer. 

4. Tacos and BBQ. Fine, Texas does have the best BBQ and tacos in the world. We binged on Torchy’s Tacos, Franklin’s BBQ and La Barbecue as well as every other taco truck we passed by. I’m pretty sure I’ve gained ten pounds and I’m ready to go vegan now. SERIOUSLY. 

5. Tattoos. I thought we Portlanders were known for collecting tattoos, but we’ve got nothing on Austinites. I’ve never seen so many thigh tattoos in my life! I saw some mighty fine tattoos around town, and if I had one extra day I would probably have gotten some more ink myself! Next time, Austin, next time…

6. A river. Austin is surrounded by desert but there ARE places to play in the river! Their ‘hikes’ are more like flat gravel paths but it’s still nice getting out of the city. I checked out Barton Springs and the Green Belt hikes. In Portland terms, Barton Springs is Blue Lake (cement, entrance fees and kids), and Green Belt is Punch Bowl Falls (natural, trees, booze) Actually, this part makes me sad. I can’t drive out to the coast and see the Pacific Ocean, nor can I drive up to the mountains to snowboard for a day. This may be Austin’s biggest drawback. But then again…there’s plenty of sunshine to go around! At least there is a way to survive the heat once summer begins. 

7. Street art. They’re just so cool, vibrant, everywhere and make great IG photos. If I had more time, I would have loved to explore these around town. Why don’t we have more in Portland? WHY. 

8. Being in Texas. They say that Austin is the least ‘Texan’ city in Texas, but since it’s also the coolest city I don’t mind. People say ‘y’all’ and ‘howdy’ and the boys do open doors for you and cowboy hats are spotted everywhere. I saw a lot of ‘No Guns’ signs and horses being rode down the streets. I could be wrong, since I’ve been wrong many times before, but the most ‘Texan’ place I popped into was the famous White Horse. No number of visits to Bushwhackers or Dukes could have prepared me for this place-people here are obsessed with two stepping and they’re GOOD. I learned that if you stand too close to the stage then there’s a 99.9% chance someone will pull you out to dance! I imagine that’s how school dances used to be like in the south, and whichever teenage boy asked you out to dance the most would eventually marry you and then you’d live in an airstream together.

9. The breakfast taco bar at Whole Foods. Just go see for yourself. Did you know that Whole Foods started in Austin? Their flagship store is amazing. If I lived in Austin and I was having a bad day, I would just hang out there. 

10. Southern gentlemen. Fun fact: Austin is the also headquarters for the Bumble App, my mobile dating app of choice. My first week there, I met up with CEO’s and well-traveled tech bros that just weren’t my cup of tea. One gave me a tank of his company logo on it, that was sweet of him. Then one day I finally met The One Austin Boy. He wore plaid, played in a band, insisted on walking on busy sides of the sidewalk, and we partied all over the city together like it was Vegas. We talked about break ups and brunch, mentoring kids and loads more that I can’t remember. I laughed more with him then I have in weeks. We ran into our friends here and there, and I DO remember sitting on a crowded back porch at Side Bar, sipping on my whiskey and happy that Austin has at least ONE boy that I could have dated, which is more than in Portland. Teheheheee. 

But back to point #6. I’m a Pacific Northwest girl. I need to feel the cold mist on my face and breathe in sharp, crisp mountain air. I don’t want to leave the Gorge, and our beers, and our forests, snow and stunning coastlines. I’ve left before and I was so happy to come back! So…if I lived in Austin now, I’d probably move to Portland tomorrow. 

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