Best Street Art and Street Food in Austin - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

A Marriage Made in Heaven: The Best Street Art and Street Food in Austin


If character is a collection of distinct qualities, Austin has character in spades. And one of the qualities we particularly loved in our recent visit to this vibrant Texas city was its embarrassing wealth of art. While there were incredible museums and parks, we are firm believers that some of the most important art can be found in public spaces. The pieces are often in unexpected locations: back alleys and vacant lots, across the walls of abandoned and neglected buildings or commissioned by neighborhood businesses. It’s the kind of art that viscerally reflects the rich histories and diversity of cultures of the communities in which they are located.

We’ve spent much time scouring New York City for similar treasures, and we’ve documented many of them in our summer series here. And so it seemed only natural we should include some of the incredible examples we discovered during our stay in Austin.



Best Street Art and Street Food in Austin - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Best Street Art and Street Food in Austin - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

A post shared by G52 (@g52cube) on

When it comes to murals and street art, HOPE Outdoor Gallery is a necessary stop. This community paint park is managed by a non-profit (Helping Other People Everywhere) and is recognized as one of the Top 10 artistic destinations in Texas. Shepard Fairey helped it get off the ground in 2011. According to the website:

It is the only paint park of its kind in the USA and was developed to provide muralists, street artists, arts education classes and community groups the opportunity to display large scale art pieces driven by inspirational, positive & educational messaging.”

Best Street Art and Street Food in Austin - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Best Street Art and Street Food in Austin - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

That statement doesn’t include street art-loving bloggers but after documenting so many incredible works and meeting some of the amazing artists, we thought why not give it a shot ourselves? And that’s what’s great about HOPE Outdoor Gallery, by obtaining the appropriate credentials and materials most anyone can try their hand crafting the next masterpiece, from novices (like ourselves) to established artists. Painting is free, though we were happy to donate to the cause.

Location:
1101 Baylor St

Hours:
9am-7pm

Paint Pass pick up at the HOPE Information Trailer: Sat-Sun 11am – 4pm



And if you are looking for inspiration prior to trying your hand at it, you won’t need to venture very far. As we discovered during our stay, there’s no shortage of incredible murals and mosaics. Here are some of our favorite pieces:

Best Street Art and Street Food in Austin - Mad Hatters NYC Blog
Artist: Jorge P. Location: S Lamar Blvd
Best Street Art and Street Food in Austin - Mad Hatters NYC Blog
Artist: Casey O’Connell and Don Pendleton. Location: W 3rd and Guadalupe
Best Street Art and Street Food in Austin - Mad Hatters NYC Blog
Artist: Stefanie Destafano. Location: Cesar Chavez and Chicon



Best Street Art and Street Food in Austin - Mad Hatters NYC Blog
Artist: Federico Archuleta. Location: W 10th and North Lamar
Best Street Art and Street Food in Austin - Mad Hatters NYC Blog
Artist: Louis Masai. Location: E 6th and San Jacinto
Best Street Art and Street Food in Austin - Mad Hatters NYC Blog
Artist: Dan Grissom. Location: Radio Coffee & Beer

If you’re a big street art fan, be sure to follow Street Art Chat on Twitter. There’s a monthly chat date where you can share your own finds, but they also post great pictures and articles on a regular basis.



Pair it with:

Street food

Just like New York City, street food is part of Austin’s DNA. And some of the best food in the city can be found at the ubiquitous food trucks parked haphazardly on what seems like every street corner, or corralled in nearly every other parking lot. Here are some of the best Austin has to offer:

Kerlin BBQ

Best Street Art and Street Food in Austin - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Okay, so everyone knows Franklin Barbecue is Austin’s best. But when there’s so much to do and see and eat in Austin, and you’re only there for a long weekend, is it really practical to stand in line for three and a half hours? Hell, no. Enter Kerlin BBQ, which still makes many best-of lists. You’ll find jaw-droppingly delicious brisket, with all the usual fixin’s, as well as purportedly fantastic kolaches. (To our great chagrin, they had just sold out when we arrived.) There’s a simple picnic setting, with little to no wait. Yeah, you heard me: No wait. Eat BBQ and carry on.

Location:
1700 E. Cesar Chavez

Hours:
Thur-Sun: 11am-4pm (or until SOLD OUT)

Veracruz All Natural

Best Street Art and Street Food in Austin - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Best Street Art and Street Food in Austin - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

When Veracruz All Natural’s first tiny trailer opened, it was just a simple snow cone, smoothie and juice stop. Then they started selling tacos and tortas and the whole thing exploded. They’ve since opened their third trailer and their first brick and mortar location. Food Network rated them as having one of the five best tacos in America, if you care about such things. We will attest that their Migas tacos and Fish tacos were straight up to-die-for, so much so we visited them twice.

Pro Tip: Migas is scrambled eggs with tortilla chips mixed in and cheese sprinkled on top. It’s common in Tex-Mex cuisine and should definitely be on your list of things to eat in Austin.

Multiple locations

Gourdough’s

Best Street Art and Street Food in Austin - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

The quintessential saying goes: Everything’s bigger in Texas. Now, pair that idea with Gourdough’s tagline: Big. Fat. Donuts. And maybe you have an idea why we would stop here. We dare you to check out what they’re cooking up in this Airstream trailer. The insane menu includes such creations as the Mother Clucker, with Fried Chicken Strips and Honey Butter (yes, on a donut). We decided on the Cherry Bomb, with Glazed Cherry-Topped Holes, Cinnamon, Sugar & Cake Mix Topping. We’re still recovering from the experience, in the best possible way.

Multiple locations

Torchy’s Tacos

Best Street Art and Street Food in Austin - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Best Street Art and Street Food in Austin - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

You can find a ton of solid tacos in Austin. Folks talk passionately about their preferences the way New Yorkers talk about pizza or bagels. Torchy’s is probably not going to win awards. Some might even relegate it to the “fast food” category. Ignore them. Torchy’s is exactly what their tagline says: Damn Good Tacos. They are the no-frills, tasty, when-you-need-them, where-you-need-them, Jimmy Stewart-everyman of tacos. Give us a couple of the Fried Avocado tacos and we’re happy campers.

Multiple locations

***A hearty thank you to everyone who sent recommendations our way!***

Like it? Pin it!

– L. & J.

I’m done – take me back to the top!

20 thoughts on “A Marriage Made in Heaven: The Best Street Art and Street Food in Austin”

  1. L&J,
    Wonderful article. Thanks so much for the short trip back home (almost, we hail from the Metroplex). Made us a little homesick! We never had the chance to see Austin in this light. We were always too busy sitting in traffic. But after NYC, we now look at places differently. And now we have a place to start next time in Austin. Hope you enjoyed your trip!

    1. Hi Tip! Thanks for reading the first in a few posts about our trip. Hopefully, they won’t make you too homesick, though we now understand that you have quite a lot to be homesick for 😉

      Most importantly, thank you so much for recommending Torchy’s. We loved it! Justin actually went so far as to chastise his little brother, who lives in DFW, for not taking him there when he visited. We’ll definitely be returning to Austin again soon 🙂

  2. Now, what a coincidence this post is 🙂 Love the frogs, and the woof [?]. Now that is what I call talent! Art that softens the hardness of the concrete jungle. Good for you two for giving it a go, famous in no time 🙂

    1. I thought the same when I saw yours but didn’t want to give anything away, Suz! And thanks for the kind words, though I’m fairly certain we’ll need a lot more practice before we become anything close to famous. We have a much better shot at infamy.

  3. This was a fantastic read through and through! I LOVED seeing the pictures of the graffiti park, especially the tree – and how cool is it that Shepard Fairey helped found it?! I’m assuming you guys have already seen Exit Through the Gift Shop and don’t need me to make that recommendation for you (but if you haven’t…it’s a must!). Also…OMG…Gourdough’s…I’m dying. I would’ve paid good money for some fresh imports! haha. Hope the coffee in Austin was good too and that Justin didn’t miss Toby’s Estate *too* much 😉

    1. Thank you so much, Lauren. It’s hilarious how we’ve received a number of comments on the tree. Turns out it’s against park rules to paint them, so we’ll be removing that pic soon so as to not inspire copycat hooligans. 😉

      And of course we’ve seen Exit Through the Gift Shop. Loved it!

      I actually thought of you when we went to Gourdough’s. I believe I mental noted it as a Lauren-approved destination. 🙂

      I didn’t miss Toby’s AT ALL. Turns out Austin has an incredible coffee scene. Plenty of good stuff, all readily available.

      1. Oh wow! You know, the art historian in me never even considered how harmful it would be to the tree! Good call on taking down the picture, even though it *did* look pretty cool.

        I am glad to know that my love for doughnuts is so memorable! haha, oh man. Maybe I should change the focus of my blog…

        So glad to hear you didn’t go through caffeine withdrawal! (I won’t tell Toby). With such good coffee AND doughnuts, if NYC ever fails me, I think I’ve got a backup town in mind…

  4. It looks like you all had fun exploring…public art always feels like a discovery, doesn’t it? I like that g52cube photo with the eye on concrete and the pig – surrounded by so much more – nice juxtapositions. As you’d expect, I cringe thinking of paint damaging that tree, but it IS really terrific looking. So OK, I guess. 🙂
    I don’t know how you guys got though all that food, esp. the donut, which I guess was a conservative menu choice there? And Lynn, your white blouse stays spotless, right? 😉

    1. Could not agree more. Art in general is all about discovery, Lynn. And that pic with the face and the pig is one of my favorites as well. Now, on this painted tree issue. I also cringed, but didn’t think anything more of it. Turns out it’s actually against HOPE Outdoor Gallery’s rules to paint trees. We’ll actually be removing that pic so as not to inspire others hooligans to follow suit!

      We barely made it through all that food, though the suffering was bliss. Let’s just call it a valiant pursuit of the truth! As for the white blouse… chocolate and coffee stains add character, right? 😉

  5. The combination of street art and street food is a marriage made in street lover heaven. Could not get enough of the art and the food. Now only if I could reach in through this screen!

  6. SO glad you two made it to Austin! I was there for 24 hours last year, and couldn’t get enough of it. Sadly, we spent more time on Dirty Sixth Street than checking out street art and street food… after reading your post, we definitely need to go back soon!

    1. I was really surprised at how much I liked Austin. I was looking forward to the trip, but had no particular expectations.

      We didn’t spend much time on Dirty Sixth Street, and unfortunately, didn’t get over to Rainey Street Historic District. But no matter, one always needs places to visit on that next trip. 😉

  7. I clearly have to get out more! I’ve lived in the Austin area for over 30 years, and you have tons of new ideas for me. Why is it that so many people (myself included) never see the cool places in their own backyard. Thanks for the inspiration!

    1. Hi Stacy! Thanks for commenting. We’re thrilled a local would find value in this post. Our trip to Austin was amazing, so it sure made writing it easy.

      We can absolutely relate to the sentiment that we often miss what’s right in our backyard. Point in fact, we lived in AZ for a number of years and kept putting off visits to Mexico and South America. Our rationale was that we’d get around to it eventually. That never happened, of course.

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