365 Things Austin

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As a website that’s all about finding unique, hyper-local, and cool things to do, we’ve written a lot about Austin’s famous HOPE Gallery over the years. For the uninitiated, decades ago a condo project was abruptly abandoned leaving behind a sloping concrete foundation on a prominent hill in the city’s historic Clarksville neighborhood. Over time it became a destination for partying teens and a huge draw for neophyte street artists. As the murals and graffiti accumulated, it became a mandatory stop on the tour of iconic Austin places.

Rechristened as the HOPE Outdoor Gallery in 2011 with the help of famous contemporary artist Shepherd Fairey, the wall also served as a compelling educational project—a place for school field trips, live art projects, and gardening classes, among many other benefits to the community. But one year ago the gallery was closed so the owner could develop that incredibly valuable plot of land. As Curbed reported at the time:

“HOPE, which had known the redevelopment was inevitable and has a seemingly congenial relationship with Ayad, embraced the opportunity to move from a site that had become increasingly hard to reach and to maintain as its popularity grew alongside Austin’s population and tourist economy.

HOPE found a place to build a new home near Carson Creek Ranch, a space near the airport that has become popular as a venue for camping-style weekend music festivals and other events.”

Now after a few rumors about the timeline, their website confirms the new space will open in 2020 at a location near the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. Check back for progress updates and more specifics on an opening date. We love stories about Austinites banding together to preserve the weirdness of this amazing town. This is one of the best.

Have you been axe throwing yet? It’s totally a thing now and more fun than you might be expecting. Now that this social game has arrived on the scene, there are a few local spots to try for a bullseye. But our favorite is Hatchet Alley! They have axe throwing, naturally, but also offer other popular games. Check out the details below and round up your crew for a night out that’s something totally different. Hatchet Alley is BYOB, but to keep things safe, they limit your “B” to beer and wine only. They also have special events like the upcoming Yoga and Axe Throwing.

Axe Throwing

Similar to darts (substitute a massive wood chopping tool), axe throwing is a sport where competitors propel a hatchet at a round target.

Football Bowling

An infusion of football and bowling, football bowling combines the accurate passing of professional football with a 10-pin game of recreational bowling.

Bocce Ball

Known by the Italians as lawn bowling, bocce ball is one of the most widely played sports in the world, not to mention one of the oldest yard games.

Learn more and book your experience here!

The U.S. Census happens just once a decade, and it takes a lot of American workers to pull it off. In fact, it is the largest peacetime deployment of civil servants across the country. These positions offer competitive pay, flexible hours, paid training, and weekly paychecks. If you are looking for a temporary gig, this could be the perfect opportunity. Pay rates in Travis County range from $17.00 to $23.00 per hour.

The selection process for census taker positions begins in January 2020, with paid training occurring in March and April. The actual counting of non-responding households runs throughout the nation from May through early July. The census officially begins on April 1, 2020, and for the first time ever, it will have an online option, which will make filling out the form easy, safe, and secure. ​Learn more about the census here.

Click here ​to apply for a list of available positions, which also include recruiting assistants, clerks, office operations supervisors, and field supervisors. This is your chance to be a part of history.

What are you doing New Year’s Eve? It’s the age old question that really stresses people out. Well here’s a plan that’s very Austin and completely festive. You’ll feel like you really did the thing!

Austin’s Central Library, which was named one of  TIME Magazine’s 2018 World’s 100 Greatest Places, will host the second annual Very Austin New Year’s Eve in the rooftop garden! Enjoy breathtaking views of downtown and Lady Bird Lake and get a front row seat to the fireworks.  With a performance from White Denim, DJ sets throughout the night, food from your favorite Austin restaurants and a full open bar—this is a NYE plan to end all NYE plans.

Tickets are available for $250 per person and include the following:

* Open bar (beer, wine, and spirits; upgraded bar available for purchase)
* Heavy apps and late night snacks from ELM Restaurant Group
* Midnight champagne toast and rooftop view overlooking the Auditorium Shores’ Fireworks Show
* Performance from White Denim from 10–11 p.m.
* Live DJ tunes to ring in the New Year
* Photobooth
* Raffle contest with giveaways benefitting Keep Austin Beautiful
* Party favors
* Parking in the Central Library Garage

The fun kicks off at 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, December 31st. Click here to get your tickets—then all you’ll have to worry about is what you are going to wear.

In a city like Austin, filled with a new kind of 55+ Active Adults who love to move, soak up culture, and make the most of every day, we need residential options that are just as dynamic.

Overture Domain gets this and is redefining the retirement experience for adults who want a carefree and maintenance-free life, but have no intention of slowing down. Located in the heart of The Domain, which features over 100 upscale and mainstream retail stores, restaurants, and four hotels, this brand new apartment home community offers a ton of regularly scheduled parties and gatherings. From mix & mingles to yappy hours for resident pets, cooking demos, formal dances and dinners, they are truly committed to ensuring their residents are always active and entertained. This is 55+ Austin living at its best! 

 

Residents also have access to over 13,000 square feet of amenities within the community, from a chef’s demonstration kitchen and daily fitness and instructor-led classes to a resort-style swimming pool and more! Best of all, with the ever-growing list of things to do and see in The Domain right at your doorstep, it’s an ideal way to start a new chapter. Overture Domain’s vibrant community truly nurtures the mind, body, and soul. 

If you or someone you know is looking to simplify their life, but is by no means ready to hang up their boots, this could be the answer. Learn more about the Overture experience.

 

Have you been searching for the perfect Christmas present for the whole family this year? You have until Sunday, December 15th to take advantage of the best deal our friends at Springfree put out all year and get your trampoline in time for Christmas!

Their famous holiday sale is on and you can get up to $549 off a trampoline and accessories! Here’s how it all breaks down:

  • Up to $350 on a trampoline
    • + FREE FlexrStep Ladder
    • + $100 off Installation
    • + Free Shipping

That’s a pretty crazy deal on the world’s safest, highest quality, and longest lasting trampoline. Use the promo code USHOLIDAY19 to bring one home. The innovative design, which was developed over 15 years by a mechanical engineer and protective dad, makes it totally different than anything else out there. And if you spring for one, you’ll be supported with a full 10-year warranty. 

Check them out in person at one of the company’s two Austin locations—The Domain and Bee Cave. Once you see this fun machine, we are pretty sure you will be hooked. Give the gift that gets the kids outside this year! 

 

The Austin restaurant landscape stayed true to the tradition of the last ten years with incredible growth. Over 100 restaurants opened in the city this year, and we lost some longtime staples as well. 

Attempting to eat at every new restaurant this year would be delicious, but also nearly impossible. We here at 365 Things Austin gave it our best shot, and these are a few of the new spots we hope will stick around for years to come. 

Tune in for our podcast with Jane Ko (@atasteofkoko) detailing our favorite openings of the year, and mourning the restaurants we lost in 2019. 



Nixta Taqueria 

The name Nixta is derived from the word nixtamalization, which refers to the process by which the Aztecs used corn and lime juice to make the world’s first corn tortillas. Owners Edgar and Sara claim that the secret to their amazing tacos starts with those traditional recipes and preparations passed down from generation to generation. 

The colorful spot on E 12th is dangerously close to our office here at 365 Things Austin, and we’ve been gorging ourselves on tacos and drinking agua frescas ever since they opened. 

What we’re eating: the Beet “Tartare” Tostada, and the breakfast taco … often for lunch. 

Nixta Taqueria
2512 E 12th Street


Domo Alley-Gato

Walking into this patio restaurant and bar feels like stepping through a portal to Japan. The high walls make the ambience immersive and entertaining, and the food is incredibly authentic. This concept from the Tatsu-ya team won’t be the only new opening from them on this list. 

What we’re eating: Katsu Curry (paired with frozen foam-capped Kirin drafts).

Domo Alley-Gato
1600 E 6th Street


Swedish Hill

The latest concept from Larry McGuire and the MMH Group is a counter-service bakery, deli, and rotisserie by day, that turns into a vibey dinner spot with an extensive wine and cocktails list at night. 

Check out their Friday Market Dinner for a special three-course dinner and dessert weekly from $40 per person. 

What we’re eating: bagels and lox for breakfast, and ANY of the signature sandwiches in the afternoon. 

Swedish Hill
1120 W 6th Street


DipDipDip Tatsuya 

The second concept the Tatsu-ya team launched in 2019 may have opened to even more hype than the previously mentioned Domo Alley-Gato. DDD is a “Shabu Shabu” restaurant, which translates to “Swish Swish” and traditionally involves a plethora of meats and veggies that are dipped into a communal pot to cook. At DDD guests receive their own pots and choice of broths, but we highly encourage trying the other broths at your table as well. 

The food at this place is crazy good, but the experience itself is even better. It’s our current top pick for date nights in the city. 

What we’re eating: one of the omakase options, Truffle Sukiyaki for dipping, and a handful of items from the tableside carts that come through the dining room. 

DipDipDip Tatsuya
7301 Burnet Road


Vaquero Taquero

There are only a few options on the menu, but this hole in the wall near the UT campus serves some of the best al pastor tacos in the city. Order a couple and a Topo Chico and watch as your pork is carved off the spit and grilled right in front of you. 

What we’re eating: Al. Pastor. Tacos.

Vaquero Taquero
104 E 31st Street


Comedor

Philip Speer has opened several superlative restaurants in Austin, but his latest might be our favorite. Comedor lives in a newly constructed building downtown and the beautiful space is complemented by exceptional service and even better food. 

What we’re eating: the bone marrow tacos are definitely the crowd favorite here, but we recommend cozying up at the bar and allowing the bartender to take the wheel on ordering. 

Comedor
501 Colorado Street


As mentioned previously, there are restaurants that likely should be on this list but aren’t, simply because we haven’t been to them yet. Here are a few we’ve heard good things about but have yet to try:

  • Hestia
  • Uroko
  • Vixen’s Wedding

104 New Restaurants Opened In Austin In 2019, see the full list here.

Did we miss your favorite new spot? Feel free to fill us in at hello@365ThingAustin.com

You may have heard the news that the University of Texas is getting a brand new arena that will replace the Frank Erwin Center.  And as an added bonus, Matthew McConaughey, the Minister of Culture himself, is going to have a leading role in the project.

The public is invited to the official Moody Center Groundbreaking Ceremony on Tuesday, December 3, at the site of the new arena south of Mike A. Myers Stadium. Bring the kids to this and they can say they were there when they broke ground on an Austin institution! Bevo XV, UT’s famed mascot, will be available for holiday photo ops along with Texas Cheer and Pom.

The event features a live concert by Moon Taxi and includes lots of free perks for attendees.

All fans in attendance may also claim a free  ticket to the Texas Men’s Basketball vs. UAB game following the concert. Fans get to choose free food from one of Austin’s best food trucks, including Austin’s Pizza, Chick-fil-A, Evil Weiner, Four Brothers Venezuelan, Garbo’s Lobster Rolls, Pok-e-Jo’s BBQ, Ranch Hand, Redfin Seafood Kitchen, Sugar Rush, and Torchy’s Tacos (these could change, but you get the idea!) Free sodas and water will also be available.

Plus, there will be happy hour pricing on beer and wine.

Now this is super important if you want all of the free stuff: Make sure you RSVP in advance and use the code MOODY.

Hook ’em, horns!!

When: Tuesday, December 3rd

Ceremony timeline:
4:30 p.m. – Grounds Open
4:30 p.m. – Photo ops with Bevo XV and Texas Cheer
5 p.m. – Moody Center Groundbreaking Ceremony
5:30 p.m. – Live Concert by Moon Taxi
7 p.m. – Texas Men’s Basketball vs. UAB (at Frank Erwin Center)

Now in its 55th year of existence, the Austin Trail of Lights powered by H-E-B gets more festive every year. It’s not the holiday season without a visit to this mecca of cheer.

The Trail will be open to the public on December 10 and run through the 23rd, but you can get a head start on all the fun this year by taking the family to Night Lights the official preview party at the trail on Friday, December 6 from 6–10 p.m.

Night Lights Preview Party is the Trail of Lights Foundation’s annual fundraising event that helps keep the Trail accessible for all in the community. As you get a sneak peek, there will be live musical performances from Jackie Venson and Mother Falcon and complimentary Ferris Wheel and Carousel rides all night long. Food and drink will be plentiful with light bites from a ton of Austin area restaurants and complimentary beer, wine, and cocktail tastings.

Tickets are $85 and can be purchased now. Don’t miss your chance to beat the crowds and make the most of this amazing Austin tradition. 

If you can’t make the Preview Party, we have two pro tips for enjoying the trail. ZIP Passes are a favorite of families and small groups, especially on busier nights. You’ll be close to the action and you’ll stay cozy in the heated ZIP hospitality tents. You also get to enjoy the festive lineup of nightly entertainment on the Zilker Stage. Skip the lines and enter early! You’ll thank us later. 

And if you really want to make things extra merry this year, go Platinum with concierge service and a VIP experience. You and your guests can hang in a private lounge with lots of amenities like comfortable seating and an exclusive bar! It’s the ultimate venue for a holiday party. Spring for this one and you’ll be as beloved as Santa this year! 

Austin is filled with fantastic dining opportunities. From tender barbecue to tasty Tex Mex, you’ll find a little bit of everything in the Texas capitol. This makes choosing a place to eat in Austin relatively easy. But what if you’re dining with a large group? We all love a good hole in the wall or food truck, but small eateries aren’t usually accommodating for groups, especially if you’re planning a private dining event.

Finding the perfect restaurant is only the first step of organizing a group dining experience. You’ll still have to think about how your guests will get there. Hosting a 40-person corporate happy hour at Banger’s sounds great until you get a call (or five) from colleagues trying to find a parking place around Rainey Street. Book a charter bus to simply shuttle everyone instead. GOGO Charters Austin has a large network of minibuses and charter buses that will make your group’s evening much easier.

A charter bus rental will save guests the frustration and cost of parking along Austin’s busy roads. A professional driver will pick everyone up from your office, home, or any other designated location and whisk them away to your dining reservation. It’s that easy. No trying to parallel park in a spot way too small for your SUV or paying $45 for two hours of parking.

Now let’s think about the food. Where is the best place to take a big group?

Well, it depends.

If you’re organizing a rehearsal dinner or a birthday celebration, you’ll want a restaurant with a private room. If your company is hosting a laid-back social gathering, reserving a big patio table is a better bet.

Private Rooms

Booking a private dining room is as much about the ambiance as it is about the food. Are you looking for a classy space with tasty family-style Italian fare? Il Brutto in East Cesar Chavez is your go-to spot. Their private dining room can seat up to 40 people, while bigger groups of up to 100 can rent out the shaded patio. Enjoy all the pasta and wine you want—with a private bus rental you’ll have a built-in DD.

Is contemporary Mexican more your thing? Try La Condesa in Downtown Austin. Taste test their many types of guacamole and chow down on dishes like savory carne asada or an array of ceviches. La Condesa serves up family-style menus for parties of 11 or more in the main dining room. The restaurant also has a private dining room called The Flour House which can seat up to 20 guests. Groups over 20 should ask about renting Malverde, the restaurant’s indoor/outdoor private event space.

If you want chic decor and delicious New American cuisine like bison tartare and delectable hush puppies, look no further than Eberly for your private dining needs. This Bouldin Creek eatery has six separate dining spaces available for private events. The Study at Eberly is the perfect intimate space for wedding dinners and can seat up to 40 people, while The Cannon Room is a wonderful space for a company or organization’s cocktail hour.

Spacious Patios

Patio restaurants and bars are a dime a dozen in Austin, but picking the best outdoor space can still be tough.

Beers, brats, and big patios are a great combo. Fortunately, you’ll find all those things at Easy Tiger on Sixth Street and Banger’s on Rainey Street. Both patios have large communal tables that are great options for drinks with coworkers, birthday celebrations, or kick-offs to an evening of bachelor/ette party festivities.

Easy Tiger has individual patio table reservations that can seat eight to 10 people, as well as the option to reserve different sections of the patio. If you’re having an exceptionally large event, you can reserve the entire patio for 250 guests standing or 120 seated. Banger’s only offers table reservations Monday through Thursday for groups of 12 or more. Full buyouts of the iconic Banger’s yard are also available upon request.

“Fresh” and “farm-to-table” are a match made in restaurant description heaven. Contigo brings fresh, local ingredients together to create American cuisine like burgers, ox tongue sliders, and chicken wings. The restaurant has a sprawling deck with community style tables that can be reserved for private events of up to 50 people.

Food and drinks are always best when enjoyed with a group. So why not make your next gathering even better with great ambiance, cuisine, and private group transportation? Call 512-640-4096 to get a personalized charter bus quote for your next flavor filled Austin outing!