While planning a power-bonding group activity for my co-workers recently, I was struggling with the decidedly un-cool nature of the options. A pub on wheels? No thanks. A Segway tour? They’d never forgive me. Or trust falls? Oh God, no. I didn’t want to embarrass these people, I wanted to have a fun with them!
Thankfully, because of this very site, I came across Your Biker Gang, which bills itself as one of the funnest things to do in Austin. This company helps you create your own motorcycle gang, but subs in fat-tired electric minibikes for the motorcycles, which are so much safer and completely glee-inducing.
I can tell you now that when I surprised my beloved colleagues with this outing, I became, for that brief shining moment, the hero of our office. When we arrived at their headquarters in West Austin, our little gang of nine were outfitted with helmets and bandanas by our fearless leader and road captain, Cope. We also had what’s called a “sweeper,” a super nice guy who held up the tail end of the crew and kept us all very very safe.
After a quick tutorial and training on the bikes in a parking lot, we were out on the open road, with Cope blasting classic biker gang tunes from a giant speaker on his bike. I immediately wanted to buy one of these bikes and I still do. It’s a little intimidating at first, but once you learn to trust this speedy little machine and lean into your turns (top speed is 20 mph) you become one with the bike and basically feel like you can do anything. Anything! Like riding in Downtown Austin traffic.
As someone who has grown up in this city, and takes its beauty for granted on a daily basis, I can tell you that this is an amazing way to see Austin. As we biked over the pedestrian bridge on Lady Bird Lake, through Zilker Park, and along Waller Creek, I fell in love with this place all over again. The wind was blowing our hair back, people were looking at our crew with total envy, and Cope was doing stunts at the front like a badass. We were the happiest Hell’s Angels you ever did see.
If you need an activity to entertain a crew, whether they are family, friends, coworkers, or total strangers, Your Biker Gang will be a hit, I promise. They will customize the tour for your group so you can get history and trivia and see the big sights like murals, statues, the UT campus, and more. Or—if you are locals like us—you can just have a joyride and stop for tacos on the way. These bikes are easy to ride and the concept is as feel-good as it gets.
It’s time to jump on your electric hog and get lost for a while. Be a group-activity-planning hero for once. The road is calling!
On a drizzly Saturday morning in January, after leaving the loving embrace of Lazarus Brewing Co. on East 6th Street, our guide Adam told the origin story of the food tour we had just set off on. It goes something like this: On a trip out to Los Angeles, the founders Lindsey and Andy had signed up for a culinary tour of the city. After three hours of walking around, they were still hungry and had no buzz to speak of. Well this isn’t good, they thought to themselves. Surely,we can do better!
And do better they did, by starting Austin Eats Food Tours in January 2011 and ensuring that people who put down their hard-earned money for a tour of Austin’s finest food and booze offerings would leave with full bellies, and full hearts. “We love the Austin vibe—live music every night of the week and local restaurants that take as much pride in their unique décor as their original recipes,” Andy says. “We wanted to develop a vehicle that highlights local Texas born establishments throughout the city.”
Seven years in and many many tours later, the couple has perfected the art of touring Austin like a local—so much so that roughly 65 percent of their guests are actually from here. My husband and I are old townies who grew up in Austin and have watched in awe as it’s changed and morphed over the years. The Brunch, BBQ, and Brewery Tour was the perfect way us to check out a bunch of new spots in one go, and observe the ever-changing eastside like a couple of anthropologists.
We were instructed to come hungry, and by the time we met Adam and our new friends at Lazarus Brewing Co., we were starving. Adam—like an angel sent from above—pointed out a long table reserved for our crew and said that orders of breakfast tacos (little, adorable tacos) were already on their way. We immediately loved and trusted Adam. “This is not just a food tour,” he told us, “it’s a support group.” A flight of beer followed, and we got to know our new posse. What struck me right away was how subtle and non-touristy this felt. We just looked like a crew of people who were chatty and friendly. There was nothing about the format of the tour that shouted TOURISTS. Basically, a passing observer would have probably thought we were friends of the owner who were getting some extra TLC.
What followed were brisket kolaches at the Kerlin BBQ trailer where Adam ran across the street to get us a 12 pack of Shiner (again, the man is an angel), chicken and waffles and cactus pear mimosas at The Hightower, and crazy-good gelato at Gemelli. I got the lemon curd and it tasted like the best cheesecake of my life. The tour ended at Zilker Brewing Company, where we tasted more great local beer, and hung around like people with nothing to do but enjoy our city for a few hours. It was sublime.
Along the way Adam pointed out more of his favorite spots in the area and had menu recommendations for each. He was funny, informative, and chill—a guide/friend hybrid that made the tour a total pleasure. The mechanics of the tour were seamless. Everything was paid for, timed beautifully, and thoughtfully put together. They are pumping money into the Austin economy by showing off burgeoning local businesses that are doing something different.
If it’s been a while since you tried some new food in Austin, or you are checking out the city over a short period of time, try an Austin Eats Food Tour. It’s the best way I can think of to get a real taste of Austin—and leave completely satisfied.
Investing in a new restaurant concept probably sounds like something only rich people do, but we’re living in the golden age of crowdfunding, so we can all get in on the ground floor of something big. Eight years ago, the founders of Peli Peli teamed up to bring South African fusion cuisine to Houston. From their initial start in Vintage Park, the team of Executive Chef Paul Friedman, Michael Tran, and Thomas Nguyen have now expanded to three locations throughout the metro area. Both Tran (BS ’99) and Nguyen (BA ’98, JD ’01) are UT Austin grads, so when it came time to expand beyond their home in Houston, they set their sights on ATX.
Plans are for Peli Peli Austin to take over a space in the downtown 2nd Street District and open its doors in September of 2017. The team now has an active expansion campaign on the NextSeed platform where the community can uncover more specifics on the business, team members, and follow up on updates about the restaurant.
To fuel its growth, Peli Peli had resounding success with a campaign in May 2016, raising $358,000 for its Houston Galleria location on NextSeed’s platform in Texas. The funds allowed the restaurant group to increase its working capital and invest in its infrastructure. In just eleven months, the team paid their investors back—well ahead of schedule—returning $409,513 to the members who invested.
Since its launch in 2015, NextSeed has facilitated over $4 million in crowdfunded investments in restaurants, bars, and other local businesses in Texas and around the U.S. using state and federal crowdfunding rules. For as little as $100, investors can invest in a project or concept that they feel passionate about—supporting local by investing local.
NextSeed provides the investor with an overview of each campaign, a detailed description of the business model and leadership team, market analysis, all of the investment details, and the opportunity to ask questions in a virtual community forum.
NextSeed was the first SEC-registered regulation crowdfunding platform in the country and is now operating from coast to coast.
To learn more about opportunities like Peli Peli, all the active as well as fully funded campaigns nationwide, visit NextSeed.
Any views expressed in this article reflect the personal views of the author only for discussion purposes and should not be viewed as investment advice or recommendation, and does not constitute any legal or tax advice with respect to any securities. Rendering of Peli Peli Austin dining room. Courtesy of NextSeed Rendering of Poitin interior. Courtesy of NextSeed Rendering of Poitin interior bar area. Courtesy of NextSeed.
PDQ (aka “People Dedicated to Quality”) the award-winning restaurant with two locations in Austin and many many devotees, has just announced a bunch of new menu items that have us counting down the minutes to an acceptable lunchtime.
Fans of the restaurant know that the food is ready fast, but that’s where the comparisons to “fast food” end. The new dishes were created by PDQ Executive Chef Michael Brannock and Chef Bryce Bonsack, and include seasonal bowls like the Thai Peanut and Smokehouse BBQ with hand-fried pickles, and premium chicken sandwiches like the Southern Pimento Crunch and Grilled Hawaiian. There are also four new salads, including a healthy Garden Citrus salad and a new Kale Caesar, with shaved brussels sprouts and shaved Parmesan, Asiago, and Romano cheeses.
They’re also rolling out unique sides like roasted garlic broccoli, oven-roasted sweet potatoes with marshmallow fluff and pecans, and hand-breaded fresh zucchini fries. Nearly everything on the menu features PDQ’s 14 homemade sauces and dressings, all made from scratch in-house every day.
PDQ is open for lunch and dinner seven days a week and each location has dine-in, take-out, drive-thru, and event catering. Ok, that’s enough talk about food, we’re off to eat some zucchini fries …
If you haven’t taken the kids to Austin’s Park N Pizza yet, the fam is missing out. Imagine the arcade and Go Kart track of your youth, and then multiply it by about 100. This massive entertainment center in Pflugerville is officially the largest in Central Texas (23 acres!). They already have bowling, three Go Kart tracks, 18-holes of mini-golf, rides, laser tag, and two restaurants, but they’ve just announced more attractions.
The XD Dark Ride Motion Theater is a fully interactive 7D adventure for up to eight riders at a time. The XD Theater includes special effects, wind machines, strobe lights, and rapid motion seats. Participants will grab their own blaster guns and compete for scores as they fight against on-screen enemies.
There are six brand-new climbing walls reaching over 28-feet high and featuring a variety of climbing surfaces: metal, piping, and a zipper climb, all illuminated with LED lighting.
Finally, the arcade has been expanded by 3,000 square feet and 25 new video and prize games have been added to an already expansive selection.
Get the crew out there this summer and see all the craziness for yourselves .
If you can’t get yourself and your giant hat to Louisville this year, don’t fret—the Austin version is every bit as fun. The third-annual Derby in the City Music Festival, an event that fuses everybody’s favorite horse race with live music, is the best way to catch the 143rd running of the Kentucky Derby in Austin. This is, by far, the biggest Race for the Roses party in the city. Dress to impress and head downtown for an amazing lineup of live music featuring Black Pistol Fire, Sweet Spirit, Los Coast, The Watters, and headliner Citizen Cope with his full band!
Odd Duck will be crafting their Makers Mark mint julep, Kentucky mules, and other fabulous cocktails and there will be a solid beer list with Oskar Blues, Odell Brewing, Sierra Nevada, Deep Ellum Brewing, and Schilling Cider. Also check out the food trucks and massive Jockey Club Tent with flat screen TVs.
Cost: General Admission Tickets – $31.50 for a limited time – price increase coming soon!
VIP – $100, includes:
Intimate area tucked beneath the oak trees for the ultimate shaded experience
Complimentary food provided by Odd Duck
Complimentary massages provided by Austin Massage Company
Dedicated bar with exclusive choices not available in general admission area
UPGRADED Luxury VIP toilet station
Ticket holders receive a swanky VIP GIFT BAG with access to exclusive discounts, products and experiences from companies/merchants such as Kendra Scott, Odd Duck, Austin Massage Company, Soul Cycle and more
Tables and chairs for seating (seating on a first-come basis)
The problem with traditional exercise is that it never involves food—amiright? Luckily this has been rectified by John Hancock Hosts the Cooking Light & Health Fit Foodie Festival & 5K, just the sort of fitness event that a food-obsessed town like Austin can really get behind. Runners will eat their way to the finish line with healthy and amazing bites at every mile, then celebrate at the post-race John Hancock Vitality Village Food and Fitness Festival.
Billed as “the most delicious run ever” (and really, who can argue with that?), the Fit Food Festival & 5K will be serving up a ton of fun on Saturday, May 20, 2017 at Old Settlers Park in Round Rock. The mouthwatering festival proves that a calorie burned is a calorie earned and brings the pages of Cooking Light and Health to life to help you achieve a balance of delicious, healthy food and a fun, active lifestyle.
Inside the John Hancock Vitality Village Food and Fitness Festival, runners will be rewarded for making healthy choices with bites from local restaurants, a beer and wine garden, mini-workout classes, cooking demonstrations, meet-and-greets with John Hancock elite athletes—Olympic marathoners Ryan Hall and Desiree Linden, and more.
Your registration includes:
· Race registration and bib
· Bites at each mile
· Finisher’s medal
· Delicious tasting stations
· Goody bag with gifts from top health and wellness brands
· Cash reward for top finishers
· Included donation to No Kid Hungry
An invaluable part of the Fit Foodie journey is giving back to the community, which is why the series has teamed up with No Kid Hungry as the Official Charity with the mission to encourage runners to form teams, fundraise, and increase awareness for No Kid Hungry. The No Kid Hungry campaign connects kids in need with nutritious food and teaches their families how to cook healthy, affordable meals and also engages the public to make ending child hunger a national priority.
Race registration is open now, so click here to sign up! The cost starts at $35 per person and goes up to $45 on April 17. Spectators receive complimentary admission to the post-race festival.
When: Saturday, May 20th
Time: 8-11:30 a.m.
Old Settlers Park
3300 E Palm Valley Blvd.
Round Rock, TX 78665
One of the markers of any great city is its dedication to the arts—and on that score, Austin is pretty darn great. It’s a thriving art city and this annual event is your chance to see a ton of talent in once place. Art City Austin, a three-day art fair and festival will return for its 67th year March 31 –April 2 at the Palmer Event Center. Individual artists from across the country (125 to be exact) will showcase their work. A combination of street art and contemporary art from local and national artists will be on display.
The festival grounds will also feature multiple art installations created by local artists and commissioned specifically for the occasion by Art Alliance Austin. Noteworthy artists this year include award-winning photographer Clifton Henri, Austin fine jewelry designer Haley Lebeuf, and Jay Long, a long-time Art City Austin artist.
Food and drinks will be available for purchase and live music from a wide variety of local musicians will be coordinated and curated by Black Fret. As always, this is a family friendly event that offers designated children and family areas featuring hands-on arts and crafts activities with support from community partners Umlauf Sculpture Garden & Museum and The Contemporary Austin.
Tickets to Art City Austin range from $10 for a single-day admission to $25 for the Collector’s Pass which includes access to the Friday, March 31st VIP preview reception plus weekend access to the festival. Children 12 and under receive free admission. Parking will be available with priority to Art City Austin attendants at the Palmer Event Center Garage for $8. For more information on Art City Austin and to purchase tickets, click here.
Here’s the full schedule:
Friday, March 31st
4-8 p.m. Community Preview Event
6-8 p.m. VIP & Collector’s Reception
Start practicing those drives, friends—this should be all the motivation you need to improve your golf game. The Hole-in-One to Win, presented by Jaguar Land Rover Austin, will give golfers the chance to win a new Jaguar F-PACE®. Yes, you read that right! Picture yourself driving off into the sunset in a brand new Jaguar. Now run to Topgolf and start practicing for your big moment.
Any registered resort guest or club member who books a tee time at Fazio Canyons on Feb. 25 will be eligible to compete in this exclusive competition.
The first player to “ace” hole No. 3 of the championship golf course will win the brand-new luxury performance vehicle. Golfers will be monitored throughout the day to witness this amazing shot. Only this first person to accomplish the task will win.
When: Saturday, February 25th
Time: Tee times are available from 8 a.m. to sunset.
Book early for the limited-time promotion by calling 512-329-4653.
For more information on the Hole-in-One to Win golf competition, Canvas for a Cause live art show, and other packages or special offers, click here or call 1-800-336-6158. And follow Omni Barton Creek on Facebook and Twitter.
Have you resolved to be good this year? No meat, no dairy, no alcohol, no refined sugar, no caffeine, and no fun? Well, join the club. We’re all trying to be the best version of ourself in 2017, but some days are much harder than others. That’s why your friends at Favor will bring whatever you are craving right to your door, with their No Judgement $3 Deliveries.
Whether you’re starving because that juice cleanse didn’t come with any food, or you’ve fallen off the wagon again and had a double burger for lunch, Favor can help.
Now through Sunday, January 15th, their deliveries from the following places—which feature healthy and not-so-healthy options—are just $3. Again, no judgement! Eat whatever you want.