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The concept of downtown living is relatively new to Austin. Not so long ago, it was where people went to work and not much else. But over the past decade, the center of the city has experienced a major renaissance (much to the dismay of some native Austinites), with new restaurants, shopping, and vibrant businesses transforming the area into a soughtafter residential address.

For many newcomers and locals alike, buying a condo may not be the obvious choice, but it has a ton of great benefits. We’ve partnered with Fifth & West, a new boutique condominium tower in Downtown’s Market District, to spotlight a few big perks of the condo lifestyle. The people behind the project have thought of everything: service, design, and amenities for days. It may not be for everyone, but if you have the cash to invest in your own little piece of Austin, this will be a spectacular place to call home.

  1. Everything you need is right outside your door.

At Fifth & West, residents have a front-row seat to our world famous live music scene and are steps away from dozens of restaurants for any palette or occasion, from breakfast at Walton’s Fancy and Staple to a stylish night out at Fixe or Clark’s. It’s that rare walkable life in Austin—but with your car conveniently parked downtown.

You’re also never far from the lush green spaces that make Austin so unique, like Zilker Park and Republic Square. Hiking and biking trails thread through the city, and water activities like paddle boarding, swimming, and fishing at Lady Bird Lake, Barton Springs, and Deep Eddy Pool are just a few blocks away.

Lastly, there’s great shopping all around you. Just down the street, you’ll find Whole Foods Market, Trader Joe’s, West Elm, and Austin’s largest independent bookstore, BookPeople. Plus, don’t forget designer apparel at Lululemon and By George.

  1. No maintenance, no worries.

Owning a home can be full of highs and lows. That leaky roof? It’s all yours. But a condo gives you a lock-and-leave lifestyle. For Austinites who are looking to trim the stress out of their lives, it is a difficult option to beat.

  1. Service with a smile.

Imagine this: Your every want or need is just a call away. Breakfast tacos? Tickets to ACL? Sushi? A last-minute pedicure? It could  all be knocking at your door with 24-7 concierge service.

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  1.  Luxurious design and resort-style amenities.

In a gorgeous place like Fifth & West, it’s easy to feel like you are always on vacation. You’ll be surrounded with stunning finishes and sophisticated interior design. Everywhere you look, the atmosphere is stylish and inviting.

Additionally, there is over 20,000 square feet of amenity space—we are talking three full floors—that includes a welcome level, a pet verandah, fitness center, gourmet demonstration kitchen, media lounge, outdoor bar and grill, fireplaces, a stunning pool and sky deck, and a resident parlor.

  1. Safety and security.

Most importantly, you can rest easy with first-class security features like convenient parking with controlled access and a state-of-the-art building access system integrated throughout the building. Visitors, guests, and service providers check in at the welcome level desk.

All in all, the best part of life in a downtown residence like Fifth & West is that it marries the comfort and convenience of home with the excitement and luxury of a premier destination. If your home search hasn’t gone beyond sleepy suburbs and neighborhoods, it might be time to think about how living in the heart of the city could change your life for the better.

To inquire about a residence at Fifth & West, click here.

 

The power of the crowd has created a new normal. Did anyone imagine that, one day, we’d be fighting for the right to ride in a stranger’s car? Or that you’d hand over your apartment keys to someone you’ve only met online?

These days, those small personal interactions have not just become natural – we’ve grown to rely on them in our technology-filled lives. We’re connecting with people and sharing experiences in new ways.

Now, small businesses are also connecting with the crowd on a deeper level than just doing business. With a new twist on crowdfunding, businesses are inviting people to participate in their financial growth, making real investments and not just donations.

Luxury Hostel concept, "The Native."

Luxury Hostel concept, “The Native.”

When Austin’s SquareRut Kava Bar opened its first location in 2011, “relaxation drinks” were a foreign concept. The bar enjoyed early success the old-fashioned way, through a good product and stellar customer experience.

But when it came time to expand to a new location on Barton Springs Road last year, the owners decided to try something that not only got them the funds they needed, but also created advocates to help spread the word. SquareRut raised $100,000 for its next location through this new investment concept, which gave patrons an opportunity to invest in a business they could get excited about.

NextSeed is a new crowdfunding platform that makes it easy to invest funds in private businesses and start seeing financial returns quickly. Crowdfunding small businesses allows consumers to invest in the places they already love or in new concepts they want to see in their area. NextSeed’s Texas affiliate has facilitated over $1.2 million in small business investments within Texas over the past year (including SquareRut). And now, NextSeed has launched nationally under brand new federal laws, with plans to democratize investing across the country.

Several new Austin businesses are launching later this year, and they have an open invitation out to anyone who wants to be involved in their growth. A team of experienced bar and restaurant owners is creating a boutique, luxury hostel called The Native, the first of its kind in the region. Vigilante Gaming Bar is a full-service bar and restaurant that is creating a custom experience around board games. And a popular beer personality is rolling out a new craft beer and restaurant concept, The Brewer’s Table, in East Austin.

Rendering of the interior of "Vigilante Arcade Bar."

Rendering of the interior of “Vigilante Arcade Bar.”

Each investment varies, but investors could start seeing monthly payments coming from their investments in as little as a few months. Investing in the community is now a real alternative to savings accounts and stocks. SquareRut has been making monthly payments to its 31 investors with an 18% annual interest rate. Investors also enjoy perks by using the bonus rewards they received as investors in SquareRut, and many have brought friends to try it out.

So who can invest? Anyone, now. Due to recent changes in the law, people of all income levels can come together and support business owners they believe in. NextSeed carefully reviews every deal before presenting an opportunity to investors on its website. Investors can get information about each deal and choose which business they want to connect with and help grow.

Austin business owner Jenna Choe launched a campaign on NextSeed’s Texas platform earlier this year for the popular Jenna’s Asian Kitchen in Cedar Park. She raised $75,000 from investors to install a bar in her established restaurant.

Her investors didn’t need deep pockets to contribute – investments started at $100. By offering smaller portions of the pie, she was able to make it easier for everyone to get a piece. And giving her investors VIP perks like gift cards and party invitations also allowed her to connect with the community that supported the restaurant over the past year.

For NextSeed co-founder and CTO Bob Dunton, the secret to Jenna’s success and satisfaction with crowdfunding is the community.

Dunton says. “Instead of just borrowing from an institution that only cares about getting a monthly payment, Jenna was able to invite people from the community to invest and feel a sense of bond and commitment to her business and her success.”

Although NextSeed is new, community financing harks back to a more down-to-earth approach to building a business that was much more common before big banks took over. Now, Austinites are empowered to invest a range of dollar amounts to boost local bars, restaurants, salons, and other places they are passionate about.

For more information on this new crowdfunding platform, and to see which of your favorite businesses have active campaigns, 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.

Around these parts, melted cheese is serious business. Any great meal in Austin can and should begin with a velvety bowl of queso— locally, it’s one of our main food groups. A great queso recipe can not only put a new restaurant on the map, it can make it an institution.

Luckily Favor, your personal delivery assistant, understands that queso is the lifeblood of our fair city, and they are standing by to bring your favorite blend of queso straight to your door. With that in mind, here is a list of the quesos we can’t live without.

Use code ‘365Things’ to get your first Favor free!

#1 – Torchy’s Tacos

Their green chile queso may be even better than their tacos. That’s a major statement, but we stand behind it!

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#2 – Kerbey Lane

Save this one for a late night craving as this is queso is one you can enjoy 24 hours a day!

Kerbey

#3 – Matt’s El Rancho

 This classic Austin joint makes nearly every “best of” list for good reason. Bob Armstrong Dip is a truly heavenly version of queso. Just make sure you don’t go on Tuesday (they’re closed)!

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#4 – Chuy’s

Many moons ago, on a past Cinco de Mayo, we judged a blind queso tasting contest and this guy was the winner.

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#5 – El Alma

El Alma gets bonus points for the homemade chips that come with its queso. It’s a stellar combo!

Photo Credit: Gabriel Campbell Photography

Photo Credit: Gabriel Campbell Photography

#6 – Maudie’s

This bowl of melted goodness has a distinctive flavor that keeps the queso connoisseurs coming back. Is it butter? Garlic? It’s AMAZING is what it is.

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#7 – Magnolia Café

Another place where you can snag queso 24 hours a day, this one known as “Magnolia Mud” is dangerously addicting.

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#8 – Taco Deli

This white and peppery queso is rich and savory. It’s the perfect thing to distract you during those five looooong minutes you have to wait for their incredible tacos.

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#9 – Texas Chili Parlor

Don’t be fooled by its humble (and dark) appearance. This queso is worth the stop.

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#10 – Pelon’s

Melted cheese with hatch green chiles. Need we say more?

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#11 – Valentina’s / Violet Taco

The Vidal family’s food truck is famous for brisket, but their chips y queso are to die for as well.

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#12 Santa Rita

This bowl is old-fashioned and devoid of trendy nonsense. You can’t go wrong.

santa rita

#13 – Posse East

Down and dirty bar food is one of life’s simple pleasures, and this queso is pure bliss.

Photo Credit: Meredith V. Yelp.

Photo Credit: Meredith V. Yelp.

#14 – Hula Hut

Queso with a view? You don’t have to ask us twice!

hula hut

#15 – Curra’s

This is all you need to know: Land O’Lakes extra melt with whole black beans, guacamole and pico.

Photo Credit: Christi K. Yelp

Photo Credit: Christi K. Yelp

#16 – Polvo’s

This queso comes standard with bonus ingredients. You’ll love every bit of melted American cheese topped with guacamole, ground beef, and pico de gallo.

Photo Credit: adi7anand instagam

Photo Credit: adi7anand instagam

#17 – Zocalo Cafe 

Cream cheese is the secret ingredient that sets them apart from the rest!

zocalo queso

Get any (or all) of the quesos above, delivered right to your door with the Favor Delivery app.

Quilting is an art form that has seen exciting changes in the last decade, with constantly evolving techniques and contemporary designs. Don’t miss your chance to see award-winning quilts that showcase the outstanding creativity and innovation happening today at the 2016 Capital of Texas Quiltfest. It’s Austin’s largest quilt show and it only comes around once every other year!

Visitors can check out hundreds of fantastic quilts and fiber art works and shop at more than 65 vendor booths. There will be free demos, door prizes, a silent auction, a grand prize raffle quilt, and educational exhibits for all to enjoy.

When: September 16-18

Friday and Saturday from 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m., Sunday from noon – 5:00 p.m.

Admission: $8 in advance, $10 at the door

Location:
Palmer Event Center
900 Barton Springs
Austin, TX 78704

 

It’s no secret that Lake Travis Zipline Adventures is one of my favorite things to do in Austin. Through June they’re having a special “kids fly free” program where any person 17 or under for free with a full price adult. The “kids fly free” program is on Monday, Wednesday and Thursdays and ends June 30th, so get out there while there’s still time.

It’s an adventure from the beginning, as there are five ziplines for you to tackle. Now that the lake levels are back up the views are even more spectacular!  You reach speeds of up to 60 miles an hour. It’s such a rush! The guides are also friendly, knowledgeable and fun. They make the whole experience even better.

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Phone: 512-614-1996

Location:
Lake Travis Zipline Adventures
14529 Pocohontas Trail
Volente, Texas

http://www.ziplaketravis.com/

If you just glanced at the calendar and realized it might be time to re-up on that New Year’s resolution you’ve been ignoring, In Sweat We Trust could be exactly what you need. This 16-week series, brought to you by Austin Fit magazine and benefiting The Flatwater Foundation, showcases the city’s top fitness and wellness offerings through a healthy competition. It’s the perfect way to try a variety of activities and keep your body moving this summer.

Every other week from June 1-September 17, a different Austin fitness partner will host a workout featuring their individual expertise. Competitors will attend each class and their performance will be ranked and averaged into an overall score for the series. The top three males and top three females with the highest cumulative score will take home cash and prizes!

ISWT Series

Tickets are just $20 per workout or $130 for the entire series. Each workout will only happen once and there are no make-ups! Commitment is the key.

The series will wrap up with a final party that’s open to the entire community at Austin Bouldering Project on September 25!

For more details, click here.

If your second or third date with a special someone is on the horizon and you want to break out of the dinner/drinks/repeat routine, why not make it day date? It’s an ideal way to enjoy the city this summer and get to know your sweetheart out in the open. And the most efficient (and adorable!) way to get around town is by driving one of car2go’s two-seater Smart Cars from place to place.

At a time when the city’s transportation options are in flux, you can hop in and drive without stressing over romance-killers like planning ahead, monthly fees, parking tickets, and surge pricing. And now through June 19, members who use the promo code C2G15 will get registration (regularly $35) and 15 minutes of drive time for free. This is the first time in almost two years that the company has had an offer like this. If you’ve been considering joining, there’s no time like the present.

Having a hard time imagining just how great a match car2go could be for you? Here’s a guide to a picture-perfect day date, in three acts:

Act I: Meet Cute

Arrange to meet your lover on the sidewalk in front of Jo’s Coffee on Second Street. You’re practically in a committed relationship already, so don’t be shy about eating an enormous breakfast—three Crazy Carl breakfast tacos?—and loading up on coffee while you stare into eachother’s eyes. When you’re done, walk outside and whaddayaknow: It’s a chariot in car2go form parked at a meter right outside the door. This was meant to be.

Act II: Take the Plunge

As the day unfolds, you’ll see why car2go, which started right here in Austin, has become the No. 1 carsharing company in the world. Head south to Zilker Park and grab a parking spot. From there you can either end your trip or take the key with you. After walking through the park and snagging a nice patch of sunshine on the hill for your towels, jump into Barton Springs Pool and let the refreshment begin.

Act III: Drive Off Into the Sunset

After all that cooling off, you two will have worked up quite an appetite. Luckily South Austin is full of amazing options for a late lunch, like Sway on South First Street. Park your car2go on a quiet neighborhood street and then grab an intimate table in a darkened corner of this stunning Thai restaurant. Share your dreams over raw oysters, noodles, and salt and pepper blue prawns. Walk out into the warm summer air and realize the day is almost over. Hours have passed without you even realizing it. You look at one another and smile. So … where to next?

To take advantage of this super-special car2go membership deal, click here.

The 20th season of the Austin Skeeball League gets rolling (pun intended) soon!

skeeball1111

Both Tuesday and Thursday night leagues start soon, so grab two friends (teams of three, and an optional alternate) and start thinking about a creative team name. “Flock of Skeegulls” is already taken, I checked…

This season they’re at Gourmand’s Pub on the East Side. Personally, I think this is a great move, I love that place. One time, many moons ago I went there for lunch and ended up staying all afternoon playing games and enjoying too many cocktails for a work day. Everything from the atmosphere to the food is a home run. Easily, some of the best sandwiches in town.

As always, they’ll have great drink specials and since it’s continued to grow in popularity, this is also an awesome way to meet new people in a fun and relaxed environment.

Austin-Skeeball-League-Girls

They give away some pretty great prizes each night including bottles of booze, concert tickets, oil changes, gift cards, t-shirts and more! And when the season comes to a close, you’ll also be invited to a stellar ‘End of Skeeson’ party.

Here’s an easy signup form, all you need is a team name and email addresses for you and your teammates and they’ll contact you with all the details!

Teams that register by Friday, May 27th will get one roller FREE for the entire skeeson!  

 TEAM SIGN UP

Or email them directly at: AustinSkeeballLeague@gmail.com

See you on the slopes!

Where:
Gourmand’s Pub
2316 Webberville Road
Austin, Texas 78702

When:  Tuesday Night League // Thursday Night League

For more info: Austin Skeeball League

If you’re looking for a fun fitness activity to do with friends and family, nothing beats the Color In Motion 5K. This is unlike any race you have run before: As you sprint, jog, waddle, or stroll along the course, you’ll be splashed with bright colors that transform a group of ordinary runners into a moving rainbow! All ages and experience levels are welcome. If you can’t beat your loved ones in the speed department, see who can come out of the race looking the most vibrant, covered head to toe in color.

How many times have you paid to run a boring 5K with nothing more than a lame T-shirt and warm Gatorade? Why not color outside the lines while being active, social, and a little wacky? CIM5K gives you all these benefits plus unforgettable memories. Best of all, a portion of the proceeds from the race will benefit the Central Texas Food Bank. Come on out and make a splash!

Cost: $25-50 (Use code “365” for a 10% discount!)

When: June 11th, starting at 8 a.m.

Location:

Round Rock Premium Outlets

4401 Interstate 35 Frontage Rd.

Round Rock, TX 78664

ColorInMotion5K.com/austin

 

Our “A Day in the Life” series is presented in collaboration with Greg Walling of Moreland Properties. See the bottom of this article for his listing in the Bouldin Creek Neighborhood, or visit his website for more information on living in downtown Austin.  

One of the older Austin neighborhoods, Bouldin Creek, located just south of Downtown Austin and a bordered on the east by South Congress Avenue, was created in the early 1900s. The focal-point of the neighborhood, the ever-growing South First Street, is a bustling but not overwhelmingly busy strip that has everything you’ll need for a perfect day in Bouldin. Here’s that perfect day.

Stop in at Once Over for an espresso. No need to rush—ask for a small shot of seltzer water on the side, and head to the backyard deck. Sit and relax for a bit before that hunger of yours starts to grow.

Bouldin-Creek-Cafe

Next up, for breakfast, head north to Bouldin Creek Café. Carnivores be warned, but do not be scared: this hallmark Austin eatery is 100 percent vegetarian and vegan. Do not fret. Everything on the menu is delicious, but for breakfast, grab a glass of organic apple or orange juice and an El Tipico plate, which comes with scrambled organic eggs, homemade potato hash cake, and toast. Spice it up with a “fire” puree, and throw some cheese on it too. Why not?

Head back toward Once Over, where, next door, you’ll find what is in my opinion the greatest record store in the world. You can (and I have) spend hours digging through stacks of intricately organized vinyl records. New releases come in daily, so be sure to check that section out first. Make your way to the back of the store and check out the impressive vintage hi-fi and speaker section. For those who love to also create music, End of An Ear has added a small music shop back there, where you can splurge on a vintage Ludwig drum kit, if you feel so inclined.

The "Greetings from Austin" Mural at Roadhouse Relics.

The “Greetings from Austin” Mural at Roadhouse Relics.

Drop in at Roadhouse Relics, a vintage neon sign store and gallery, where you’ll get a chance to view some of the most quirky and authentically Austin pieces of art in town. If you’re feeling like a true patron of the arts, and you’re in the market for a piece of kitschy Austin signage, plunk down the plastic and take one home.

It’s lunch time, and one of the best Mexican joints in town is right there, on South First. Grab a seat on the patio at Polvos, order a house frozen margarita, and go check out the expansive salsa bar. Grab a couple to sample, plus some escabiche, and order some queso and the chili relleno al nogal— a stuffed poblano pepper with cheese, vegetables, and a choice of pastor, chicken, or ground beef, and topped with a pecan cream sauce and jack cheese.

Polvos-Austin

For dinner and drinks, you really can’t go wrong in this neighborhood, but if you visit the area, you have to eat at Elizabeth Street Café. A hybrid French bakery and Vietnamese café, Elizabeth Street has dozens of menu items and everything is great. Get an icy cold Kronenbourg draft beer or a sake punch, and order some poached shrimp spring rolls as an appetizer. For lighter appetites, try the spicy pork meatball bahn mi sandwich. The braised brisket pho is delicious too, though I love the drunken noodles—with chicken sausage, jalapeños, mushrooms, thai basil, and crushed peanuts when I’m feeling underfed.

Above: Elizabeth Street Café; photo courtesy Molly Winters.

Want to live in this neighborhood? Check out this listing from Greg Walling of Moreland Properties:

2303-Forest-Ave-Austin

2303 Forest Avenue.