10 best cafes in Austin to work

Austin has a massive amount of coffee shops and cafes to hang out and do work. At the best spots, expect to find high-quality coffee, breakfast tacos, and bright airy spaces. Below are the few places I’m vibing right now to grab a coffee and get some work done.

Juan Pelota


Juan Pelota is inside Mellow Johnny’s Bikeshop, owned and started by Lance Armstrong. If you didn’t understand the name right off the bat, ‘Juan Pelota’ refers to Lance’s one testicle. Don’t get too hung up on that. Juan Pelota serves delicious coffee from Coava Roasters and has an upbeat vibe with cyclists and locals hanging out and sharing communal tables. It’s located right outside of downtown and is a good jumping off point for other activities around the city. Also, one of their baristas is a model for locally owned Criquet Shirts. He’s basically famous.

Epoch Coffee

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Epoch Coffee has a couple of locations north of downtown but definitely try their cafe on North Loop. It’s open 24/7 and has a standard menu of coffee drinks and tea in a casual space. Afterwards, check out some of the boutique and resale shops along North Loop and get a drink at Workhorse Bar or Drink.Well.

Caffe Medici

Cafe Medici has five locations around Austin, but go to the original in Clarksville. It’s in an old house which Medici’s website describes as ‘the neighborhood’s living room.’ It’s so true. Grab a table outside and watch as folks from the neighborhood filter in and out. You can’t go wrong with any of their espresso drinks, especially their cortado.

Radio Coffee

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Disclaimer up front: Radio Coffee doesn’t have Wi-Fi. So you can actually get work done without constant e-mail distractions. The coffee shop is in a nondescript house with wood-paneled interiors and a huge outdoor patio. They serve Stumptown Coffee but also have a rotating list of beers and kombucha on draft. The top reason to hit Radio, however, is not for the coffee but the tacos. They have a Veracruz Taco truck out back every day. Their migas taco is nationally recognized. It’s legit.

Bennu Coffee

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Bennu Coffee is a cavernous cafe filled with mismatched tables and seating. This is a go-to spot for UT students to study and is one of the few 24-hour coffee shops in town. They have pastries from Russell’s Bakery, breakfast tacos from Taco Mex, and pre-packaged sandwiches from Fricano’s. The founder of Bennu also started the fast-growing Chameleon Cold Brew.

Houndstooth

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Houndstooth is one of the best coffee shops in the city, known for their espresso-based drinks. Their latte is perfect and I’m 100% OK paying $5 or $6 every time. They have two locations but opt for the North Lamar shop as you can couple it with Tacodeli for breakfast tacos. Get the Otto or Jess Special. They won’t disappoint.

Thunderbird Coffee

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Thunderbird Coffee on Manor Rd. has loads of seating both inside and out and serves coffee, beer, and a limited food menu. It’s a chill spot with a mixture of people working on laptops and others meeting quietly over coffee. It’s also near two great taco spots in Mi Madre’s and El Chilito so grab a couple of breakfast tacos beforehand. The machado (beef and eggs) at Mi Madre’s is incredible but you can’t go wrong with any of their other options. These tacos are enormous and they have unreal tortillas.

Mozart’s Coffee

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Mozart’s Coffee is an awesome place to work outside. It’s located right on Lake Austin. They roast their own coffee and have a ridiculous array of pastries and other sweets. That said, the drinks and food are OK with most people come here for the views and large outdoor patio. When you’re done working, pop over to Abel’s or Hula Hut for a more adult drink.

Cenote


Cenote is the best coffee shop to hit if you’re looking to grab some food as well. They offer delicious breakfast tacos and sandwiches and great salads for lunch. The mango fields salad is a personal favorite. Add salmon and it’s out of control. Cenote is in an old house on the east side of downtown and has a huge outdoor patio with tons of shade.

Cherrywood Coffeehouse

Cherrywood Coffeehouse is a unique little cafe with ample seating both inside and outside. Much like Bennu, you’ll find a lot of UT students here studying or meeting for group projects. They have a solid food menu but I always find myself caving and succumbing to the delicious Chocolate City smoothie. As an added plus, they offer yoga every day at 8 a.m.

10 things Texans love to whine about

1. Traffic

The opening scene of Office Space – when the main character is stuck in a traffic jam and an old man with a stroller beats him to the end of the street – was filmed in Dallas. It’s not as though traffic and bad drivers are complaints unique to Texas. But when there’s a traffic jam on I-10 and you’re stuck in 100+ degree heat and having to choose between turning off your AC to save your engine; or leaving it on and saving yourself, then you know you’re in Texas traffic.

2. How bad the Tex-Mex is outside of Texas

Not real Mexican, but Tex-Mex – the greasy, salty, wickedly delicious concoction of foods that only Texans truly appreciate. I don’t know why it’s impossible to find decent fajitas in other major metropolises. I can only conclude that 49 states decided they wanted Texans to stay in their home state. As the Texas band Bowling for Soup has said, “The Mexican food sucks north of here anyway…”

3. How much non-Texans complain about the heat

We know to watch our butts when there’s a searing hot seat belt buckle in our cars – and just how many beers it will take before we stop sweating (…maybe). Southerners generally know these wisdoms. Most non-Texans don’t have a clue, and love to fan themselves with tourist pamphlets, making guttural sounds and expecting sympathy. Not from us.

4. The bars stop serving at 2 AM

Residents of every have their own gripes when it comes to liquor laws – and most people adjust their expectations accordingly. Nonetheless, I’ve often heard born-and-raised Texans whining to bartenders about the injustice of a 2 AM cutoff for alcohol; and the vicious Texas liquor laws’ cruelty to those who want to buy a beer before noon on Sunday – and didn’t think ahead.

5. Any temperature below 50 degrees

Just at fifty degrees, our carefully assembled wardrobe of t-shirts and shorts become useless and the Facebook posts about how cold it is start pouring in.

6. Taxes

Just kidding. We don’t pay state income tax, suckers.

7. Out of state football teams playing here, much less winning

I was indoctrinated to believe OU football was the devil during my time at UT. Don’t worry, there aren’t any lingering feelings of wanting to destroy them on the field… none that I’ll show, anyway. While there’s certainly some healthy competition between Texas teams, having another state swoop in and even try to win can bring out the ire in every Texan.

8. Where you can take your guns

When it comes to open carrying, think of Texas as New York before the smoking ban. Except we don’t want to smoke in courthouses and movie theaters: we want to bring our guns with us. When open carry became legal a while back, nearly every business open to the public responded by posting signs stating they would not allow customers who open carry. As a result, gun owners are still seething from the loss of their “rights.”

9. Mosquitoes

Die, you blood-sucking parasites.

10. Non-Texans moving to Texas

You’re the reason housing prices are so high in Austin. You’re the reason there’s just a little more traffic than there should be. We welcome your money and your jobs, but can’t you just stay in LA?

Outdoors adventures in Texas

1. Hiking at Big Bend National Park.

Big Bend National Park, one of the few N.P.’s in Texas, is hundreds of miles away from major cities, in the southern part of the state along the Rio Grande River. You could easily spend a season or a year or more hiking, exploring and camping here. If you’re not looking for a long hike, the Boquillas Hot Springs are accessible less than a mile from the Hot Springs Road trailhead. Meanwhile, one of the best places in Texas for a sunset is through the Window, a pour-off in a cliff overlooking the Chisos Basin and reached by hiking through Oak Creek Canyon from the campground.

2. Swimming in Hamilton Pool.

When Austinites are not hiking Enchanted Rock or stopping in Llano for some Cooper’s BBQ, you can find many of them going for a dip in one of Texas’ most iconic watering holes. Deep in the hill country but still easily accessible by car, Hamilton Pool is probably the most well known for being fed by a 50-foot waterfall.

3. Horseback riding with Palo Duro Riding Stables.

Texas adventures

Photo: Maciej Kraus

I always feel more in touch with my Texas roots when I’m sitting on a leather saddle on a horse, clutching the reins in my hand and waiting for my steed to figure out that I have no idea what I’m doing. Do this in Palo Duro Canyon, the closest natural wonder the Lone Star State has to the Grand Canyon, and you’ve got an exciting summer adventure.

4. Tubing on Lake Travis.

Texas adventures

Photo: Aaron

Even locals who frequent Barton Springs and Deep Eddy, know there are greater bodies of water with more opportunities to beat the Texas heat nearby. Try tubing, and remember that there aren’t a lot of places in Texas suitable for taking a speedboat out. Lake Travis, close to Austin is a welcome opportunity for a wet weekend adventure.

5. US-90 road trip

The US-90 takes travelers past colorful cliffs and through small towns loaded with character and history. Marfa is best known for its outlet stores, art and culture scene, good food and mysterious lights. The little community of Marathon has a visitor center in which you’ll find comments from hundreds of international travelers passing through rural Texas. In addition, it isn’t a bad choice for a lunch stop at the 12 Gage Restaurant. And big attractions like Big Bend aren’t too far away by Texas standards.

6. Rafting through Santa Elena Canyon on the Rio Grande.

Texas adventures

Photo: David

Santa Elena, while not the Grand Canyon, towers over those running the Rio Grande River on rafts, and is easily accessible with a booking on Big Bend River Tours. Rafting offers glimpses into Mexico before you disembark and finish the trip with a drive through Big Bend National Park.

7. Impromptu bluebonnet top

It doesn’t matter where you’re going in Texas — between Dallas and San Antonio, out east towards Shreveport, or even near San Angelo, at some point in the spring, you’re going to find an ocean of Bluebonnets spreading out across the plains.

8. Stargazing at Fort Davis.

Texas adventures

Photo: Frank Cianciolo via McDonald Observatory

West Texas near Big Bend is one of the darkest spots in the country. You don’t really need a telescope to see the Milky Way and appreciate views of Venus and Jupiter, but they host star parties at nearby McDonald Observatory in Fort Davis just in case you want more.

9. Visit Padre Island National Seashore.

Texas adventures

Photo: Frank Cianciolo via PAIS

Most people don’t associate Texas with sandy beaches or any wildlife aside from rattlesnakes and armadillos, but South Padre Island could educate them. Although plenty of the island has been developed with fancy hotels and overpriced restaurants, a completely uninterrupted open stretch of shoreline exists on the northern Padre Island. You’ll need a four-wheel-drive vehicle to make the drive.

10. Texas Renaissance Festival

Scarborough Fair may get all the glory in North Texas, however, to those in the south-east near Houston, there’s no better place to experience the outdoors than in the woods near Todd Mission. From feeling like you’re a knight in shining armor watching the joust, to listening to the antics at the Ded Bob Show, you’ll find yourself taking full part in this medieval — yet Texan — celebration.

Best Airbnbs in Austin, Texas

Austin is one of the fastest growing cities in the US. It’s got music, it’s got movies, it’s got food and wine and beer and just about everything you could want in a destination. But if it’s your first visit, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with the mind-staggering possibilities for accommodation. Don’t get frazzled; we’ve put together a list of our top Airbnb options in the city.

$952/night, East Austin

Photo: Airbnb

If you are keen to hang out in gentrified East Austin, this bungalow is a solid rental. House is walking distance to some of the neighborhoods best cafes, restaurants and bars, such as: Figure 8 Coffee, Quickee Pickee, Hillside Farmacy and Whislers Cocktails.

Photo: Airbnb

$79/night, North Loop

Photo: Airbnb

The owners of this 80-sqft vintage camper describe their property; “If HDTV & Pinterest had a little affair baby, this would be it!”. Need we say more?

Photo: Airbnb

$120/night, Holly

Photo: Airbnb

This tiny house is just 1.5 miles from the convention center, and 10 minutes from the airport. Be sure to check out Blue Owl Brewing, a sour-mashed beer microbrewery one block away.

Photo: Airbnb

$1,395/night, Zilker Park

Photo: Airbnb

The four bedroom house looks over downtown Austin. It’s close to the Town Lake running trail, less than a mile from the flagship Whole Foods Market, and within 5 minutes from everything in downtown Austin.

Photo: Airbnb

$1,000/night, East Austin

Photo: Airbnb

Constructed in 1909, the 3,500 square foot house has been restored and can be rented for just over a grand. The property includes a massive backyard, including a covered dining table, BBQ and fire pit.

Photo: Airbnb

$995/night, Lake Travis

Photo: Airbnb

This lake front house has a private dock, so you can pack your boat and fishing rods. The pool and hot tub look out over the water. You can imagine that the sunsets here are pretty special. Downtown Austin is 20 or so miles away, but I’ve no doubt it’s worth the drive for the location. It will serve as a good jumping-off point for other places in the area.

Photo: Airbnb

$925/night, Lake Austin

Photo: Airbnb

The property has a rooftop deck overlooking the lake, patios and a huge waterfront lawn — the perfect place to rent if you have a big group of people for a long weekend. It also sleeps 13 people which somewhat takes the sting out the price.

Photo: Airbnb

$1,185/night, Little Bee Creek Falls Estate

Photo: Airbnb

While this one’s expensive, the chateau is managed by The Renters Club and goes all out in the way of perks, with free concierge and management service.

Photo: Airbnb

$1,039/night, West of Austin

Photo: Airbnb

The villa, located close to Barton Creek Habitat Preserve, offers panoramic views of the Austin skyline. The property sleeps eight and boasts abundant outdoor space. This location is pretty damn beautiful. Check prices with the owner as you might be able to score a discount.

Photo: Airbnb

$99/night, Bouldin

Photo: Airbnb

This place makes our list because it offers a compact studio close to attractions in downtown, Lady Bird Lake, South Congress, Barton Springs, Zilker Park, Auditorium Shores, Palmer Auditorium – and it’s minutes from East Austin.

Photo: Airbnb

Incredible places in Dallas

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The park on a highway

Parks may be found next to highways, but they aren’t usually “on” highways, but that’s the case for Klyde Warren Park. It’s right on top of the Woodall Rogers Freeway, which separates downtown Dallas from Uptown. Klyde Warren Park is 5.2 acres of spacious green lawns, a stage for events, children’s playground, and small putting green. Lark on the Park is on the north side and is an upscale food establishment, while food trucks line up on the south side of the park daily.

Klyde Warren Park provides daily free programs like yoga, meditation, and dance classes. It’s also home to many events such as free concerts or film screenings, fairs, and races. Beyond the free programs and events, other perks of the park include a small library area with racks of magazines, books and games that can be checked out like ping pong, chess, board games, petanque, and croquet. The park is also pet-friendly, and a destination for many dog owners in the city.

A red castle in downtown

“Old Red,” is a castle in the middle of downtown Dallas on S. Houston Street, adjacent to the JFK Memorial and Dealey Plaza. The Old Red Museum was built in 1892 as the Dallas courthouse. The name for the castle comes from the red bricks of the exterior. Today, Old Red is a museum that focuses on the history of Dallas. Artifacts on display range from mammoth tusks to the handcuffs that bound Lee Harvey Oswald, John F. Kennedy’s assassinator.

A nature preserve

Dallas is an extremely urbanized city of concrete, steel, and glass, though it holds a few surprising elements of nature. Oak Cliff Nature Preserve is a 121-acre natural preserve in the middle of the Oak Cliff neighborhood on the south-west side of Dallas. There are eight miles of trails, including wooded areas and broad open wildflower fields. While visitors can hike these trails, the Preserve is well set up for off-road bikers with wooden ramps placed throughout the trails to add to the natural dips and mini-hills of the land. Sculptures and displays are found along the trails, such as a larger-than-life metal spider and a small wooded area filled with road signs and bike parts attached to trees, a pink Christmas tree, and found objects.

Free space to create

The Fabrication Yard, Dallas’ first “free art wall” is located at 621 Fabrication Street. It’s an abandoned warehouse where graffiti artists can have free reign with their artistic expression. Created as a way to help limit illegal graffiti throughout the city, the Fabrication Yard is ever-evolving art, with original displays changing weekly as new artists come out to showcase their skills. Though it generally draws artists, visitors are welcome to walk throughout and take pictures. On weekends, there are generally photographers, models, and videographers using the edgy background for shoots.

The building that rotates

Dallas

Photo: @torchvenom via Reunion Tower

The Reunion Tower is a lollipop-shaped building that rises high on the west side of downtown. It’s home to two restaurants and a GeO-deck that allows visitors to take in 360-degree panoramic views of Dallas from 560 feet in the air.

Guests must buy day or night passes to visit the GeO-deck, which has indoor and outdoor platforms, plus interactive displays that provide information about the city. You can also visit Cloud Nine Café, a laidback restaurant, or the fine dining establishment of Five Sixty Dallas, Wolfgang Puck, both of which have rotating dining rooms on the uppermost floors to enjoy the 360-degree views.

If you’re driving by downtown Dallas at night, you’ll notice that the Reunion Tower lights up with displays which usually feature colors and messages in support of local sports teams like the Texas Rangers or the Dallas Cowboys — or reflect an upcoming holiday or major event in the world.

The longest-running state fair in the country

Fair Park in Dallas is home to the State Fair of Texas, the longest-running state fair (and one of the largest) in the country. The State Fair of Texas has been running since 1886 and had over 2 million visitors in 2016. Big Tex is the fair’s most recognizable feature. He’s a State Fair classic since 1952, standing 55 feet tall, wearing a 95-gallon hat and 96-gallon boots while he greets visitors.

Every year the fair features 24 consecutive days of games, amusement rides, art exhibits, auto shows, and concerts, as well as foci on Texas-based agriculture like livestock competitions and petting zoos. Fried food is a big deal at the fair (and all of Texas). Some reports claim that the first fried corn dog was invented by Carl and Neil Fletcher between 1938 and 1942 and introduced at the Texas State Fair.

A yard with old car parts…for you to visit

Dallas

Photo: Truck
Yard

Porches and patios are a main staple of Dallas restaurants, but the Truck Yard, in the Lower Greenville neighborhood, has one of the most iconic porches in Dallas. The Truck Yard is a large outdoor yard filled with old truck parts. Truck beds have been made into booths, menus are made from license plates, and tires and hubcaps decorate the wooden fence walls. There’s even an old airstream RV turned bar.

On the weekends, musicians perform on a small stage. An indoor bar serves drinks and much-loved Philly Cheesesteaks. Three food trucks line one side of the Truck Yard’s patio and rotate daily, providing extra food options to guests. It’s generally crowded with patrons and their dogs.

An urbanizing river area

The Trinity River Corridor is a developing neighborhood in West Dallas, the city plans to make one of the largest urban parks in the country at 10,000 acres. It’s set to be completed in 2021 if all goes as planned, but for now, there’s plenty to do and see here.

Trinity Groves is a large warehouse building filled with 12 restaurants and two food shops, all of which have indoor and outdoor dining. Food here ranges from Asian cuisine to Mexican and even upscale Mediterranean food. Luck is particularly popular at Trinity Groves for its beer pairing events which have include Girl Scout cookies and doughnuts with flights of beers.

After a meal or drink at Trinity Groves, visitors can head next door to the Continental Avenue Bridge (also known as the Ronald Kirk Bridge and Felix Rozada Gateway) which crosses the Trinity River. The Continental Avenue Bridge connects Trinity Groves to downtown and is filled with a playground, chairs, plants, and views of the Dallas skyline and the Margaret Hunt Bridge. Fitness classes and daily programs like yoga and Zumba are held here too. Bike paths lead under the bridge and cut through and alongside the Trinity River.

Music, art, and wine

Dallas

Photo: @markheybo

Deep Ellum is a hip east Dallas neighborhood located between Indiana and Canton Streets. Established in 1873, it was primarily a residential and commerce neighborhood for African Americans and European immigrants.

In the 1920s, the neighborhood became a center for jazz and blues artists like Huddie “Leadbelly” Ledbetter and Bessie Smith. In the 1980s to 1990s, the scene changed to one of rock and grunge, but still maintained its musical roots by bringing through artists like the Toadies, Radiohead, Nirvana, and Pearl Jam. Today Deep Ellum still focuses on music with live shows held weekly such as at the huge concert venue of the Bomb Factory, or in the more intimate settings of the clubs and bars that line Elm and Main Street like Trees, Dada, Twilite Lounge, and the Curtain Club.

Deep Ellum is also a huge center for the arts in Dallas with multiple art galleries, weekly gallery art wine walks, a Deep Ellum Arts Festival held every year, as well as beautiful graffiti displays throughout the neighborhood. It is also home to Elm Street Tattoo, whose owner, Oliver Peck, is a long-standing judge on Spike TV’s Inkmaster. Though the neighborhood has always had a bit of a grunge-like, underground vibe, in recent years, rooftop bars, boutique shops, and high-end restaurants have been added to the mix bringing in diverse crowds from all over Dallas.