Love New York City Austin Travel Guide - Mad Hatters NYC

Love New York City? This Is The Austin Travel Guide For You

New Yorkers suffer exorbitant rents and ridiculous commutes, but we get amazing pizza and Central Park in return. We are masters of the trade off. So when you propose an escape from the city, a skeptical New Yorker might ask, “What exactly am I giving up my breakfast bagels for?” Well, if you’re headed to Austin, the answer is: A LOT.

For the Coffee Lover

The coffee scene in New York City hasn’t always been one to celebrate, but thankfully in the past few years we’ve made some great strides (and imports). So one might be apprehensive about going back to the lost years. Fear not, Austin has a robust coffee scene. Here are some of our favorites:

Houndstooth Coffee

Love New York City Austin Travel Guide - Mad Hatters NYC

If we were in Austin right now, there’s a very good chance you would find us at this coffee shop.  Lynn would be sipping an iced coffee while she checked her email and Justin would be sitting at the bar, jawing with the barista (something he rarely does). But Houndstooth Coffee is not your average coffee shop; it’s a coffee nerd’s paradise. This locally owned and operated business has a solid reputation for curating an eclectic selection of coffees from local and national sources. When we rolled up to the bar and ordered a drink with espresso, they asked, “Which espresso would you like?” Cue the angels, Justin was immediately in love. Turns out they always have at least two options on hand. If you’re overly serious about coffee, find your fellow obsessives here.

Multiple locations

What’s similar in NYC: Culture Espresso or Toby’s Estate Coffee

Patika Coffee

Love New York City Austin Travel Guide - Mad Hatters NYC

With its humble roots as a popular trailer on West 4th in downtown Austin, Patika expanded to a brick and mortar location on South Lamar back in 2014. This shop is passionate about consistently producing great, locally-sourced coffees and delicious, house-made, seasonal menus for breakfast, brunch (weekends), and lunch.

2159 South Lamar Blvd

Daily 7:00am – 6:00pm

What’s similar in NYC: Two Hands or Bluestone Lane

Vintage Heart Coffee

Love New York City Austin Travel Guide - Mad Hatters NYC

When you are looking for a quiet, comfortable, open space to get some work done while drinking some good coffee, Vintage Heart Coffee is where you need to go. Partnering with local businesses is part of their philosophy. Their coffee comes from Austin’s Third Coast Roasting Company, pastries from Russel’s Bakery, and vegan offerings from Red Rabbit Cooperative Bakery. They also make their beverage syrups in-house.

1405 East 7th St

Daily 7:00am – 8:00pm

What’s similar in NYC: Gregory’s Coffee (for the space, ubiquitous plugs for phones/laptops, and fast WiFi) and Café Grumpy (for the solid, no-fuss, tasty coffee)

For the Art Lover

There are over one hundred museums and cultural institutions in New York City, from the gargantuan Met to the cozy Frick to the hyper-specialized Ukrainian Museum. There’s no shortage of spaces to explore. But Austin has its own store of impressive art finds, as we discovered. Be sure to check these out on your visit:

Betty & Edward Marcus Sculpture Park at Laguna Gloria

Love New York City Austin Travel Guide - Mad Hatters NYC
Some New Yorkers might recognize the Tom Friedman sculpture: a version temporarily adorned Park Avenue last year

Love New York City Austin Travel Guide - Mad Hatters NYC

Love New York City Austin Travel Guide - Mad Hatters NYC

This art and nature destination affiliated with The Contemporary Austin is located on the gorgeous grounds of Laguna Gloria, adjacent to Lake Austin. Its incredibly diverse ecology serves as a dramatic backdrop for the fantastic array of modern sculptures from such renowned artists as Ai Weiwei, Tom Friedman, Superflex, Tom Sachs and many more.

3809 W 35th St

Driscoll Villa
Monday Closed
Tuesday-Sunday 10:00am – 4:00pm

Monday–Saturday 9:00am – 5:00pm
Sunday 10:00am – 4:00 pm

What’s similar in NYC: Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden at MoMa or Storm King (okay, this one’s outside of NYC)

Blanton Museum of Art

Love New York City Austin Travel Guide - Mad Hatters NYC

Love New York City Austin Travel Guide - Mad Hatters NYC

Love New York City Austin Travel Guide - Mad Hatters NYC
If there’s such a thing as the perfect photobomb, this might be it!

The Blanton Museum of Art is part of the University of Texas at Austin, so education is at its core. The faculty, staff and students are active participants. The calendar is chock-full of events and temporary exhibitions, but the permanent collection is enough to capture (and hold) your attention. There’s an extremely well-curated collection of European, American and Contemporary Art. We were particularly impressed by the robust Latin American Art collection.

200 E. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd

Monday: CLOSED
Tuesday: 10am–5pm
Wednesday: 10am–5pm
Thursday: 10am–5pm
Friday: 10am–5pm
Saturday: 11am–5pm
Sunday: 1pm–5pm

What’s similar in NYC: Brooklyn Museum (for its eclectic offerings), with art you might just as easily find in MoMa or the Whitney Museum

Ai WeiWei’s Forever Bicycles

Love New York City Austin Travel Guide - Mad Hatters NYC

The Contemporary Austin collaborated with Waller Creek Conservancy for its Museum Without Walls Program to bring two large-scale installations by Ai Weiwei to Austin’s public. One piece resides at Laguna Gloria, while the other has been installed at the Waller Creek Delta. Forever Bicycles (2014) consists of 1200 bicycles and is displayed where locals can enjoy it as they run and play on a daily basis.

74 Trinity Street

What’s similar in NYC: The public art installations in Madison Square Park curated through the Madison Square Arts program, like Big Bling

For the Food Lover

Okay, it’s not an exaggeration when we say our trip planning often starts with food research. In fact, it’s likely we’ve traveled entirely FOR food. (Japan comes to mind.) So if you’re concerned about not having access to your local pizza place or not being able to get your favorite Peruvian food delivered, relax. Austin has GREAT food. And we’re not just meaning tacos. They have plenty of those, and they are awesome. We’re talking about award-winning restaurants serving top-notch food. These are the ones you shouldn’t miss:

Kemuri Tatsu-Ya

Love New York City Austin Travel Guide - Mad Hatters NYC

Love New York City Austin Travel Guide - Mad Hatters NYC

Love New York City Austin Travel Guide - Mad Hatters NYC

There’s an understanding that Texas makes everything its own. So it should come as no surprise that the team behind Austin’s uber-popular Ramen Tatsu-Ya would conjure up a marriage between a Japanese izakaya and a Texas smokehouse. Kemuri Tatsu-Ya merges the two cuisines with a healthy dose of zeal and ingenuity. This was, far and away, our favorite meal during our stay in Austin. And that says a lot, since we had many incredible meals. The play on flavors, the complex textures, and the unusual presentations left us speechless, only our eyes betraying the delight we experienced during the many courses of that meal. And when we said award-winning, we didn’t mean from a dubious Austin periodical. Kemuri Tatsu-Ya made Bon Appetit’s list of Top 10 Best New Restaurants in America for 2017.

2713 E 2nd St

Tuesday – Thursday: 5:30pm – 11:00pm
Saturday & Sunday: 5:30pm – Midnight

What’s similar in NYC: Estela, for its creativity

Épicerie Cafe & Grocery

Love New York City Austin Travel Guide - Mad Hatters NYC

Love New York City Austin Travel Guide - Mad Hatters NYC

Love New York City Austin Travel Guide - Mad Hatters NYC

We’d show up at Épicerie early in the morning just for the excellent coffee and an order of their hot, fresh, enormous beignets. We salivate even thinking about them. And yet, that would gravely undersell the breakfast, which is quite respectable as well. It helps, of course, that the quaint exterior is covered in ivy and the interior space is bright and open, with an integrated gourmet market offering wines, cheeses, meats and other various kitchen staples.

2307 Hancock Dr

Sunday: 10:30am – 3:00pm
Monday & Tuesday: 10:30am – 9:30pm
Wednesday & Thursday: 8:00am – 9:30pm
Friday & Saturday 8:00am – 10:30pm

What’s similar in NYC: Jane or Court Street Grocers


Love New York City Austin Travel Guide - Mad Hatters NYC

Love New York City Austin Travel Guide - Mad Hatters NYC

Love New York City Austin Travel Guide - Mad Hatters NYC

Tucked into an otherwise quiet residential area, this former laundromat is now a hip, elegantly-designed neighborhood cafe with a cozy patio. And it serves up some of the best food on the East Side of Austin. Chefs Rene Ortiz and Laura Sawicki whip up contemporary Mediterranean cuisine, with myriad regional influences, and incredible desserts. (Sawicki is a three time James Beard Award semifinalist for her pastries). From everything we tried–and we tried nearly everything–there wasn’t a loser among them. There were the fried oysters with jalapeno, lemon and coriander dressing. And the Piri Piri Prawns with crsipy rice salad, tamarind and mint chutney. Launderette was an experience, and one we’ll very happily repeat.

2115 Holly St

Weekday Lunch:
Monday – Friday 11:00am – 2:30pm
Dinner Nightly:
Sunday – Thursday 5:00pm – 10:00pm
Friday & Saturday 5:00pm – 11:00pm
Weekend Brunch:
Saturday & Sunday 11:00am – 2:30pm

What’s similar in NYC: Spotted Pig, The Smile, or Bar Sardine

If you need ideas for where to stay, we covered some Downtown Austin lodging options in this post. If you know someone who might be considering a trip to Austin, we hope you’ll pass this along!

Like it? Pin it!


– L. & J.

21 thoughts on “Love New York City? This Is The Austin Travel Guide For You”

  1. This was a FANTASTIC post – one of my favorites! I sincerely hope you guys reached out to the vendors to see if they’d like to share, you totally sold them/Austin – I’m looking for plane tickets as we speak! 😉 I love how you did the “What’s Similar in New York” comparison – especially with the coffee, haha. VERY cool idea!

    PS – A restaurant in a former laundromat? That sounds SO New York (I recently went to a comedy show in a barber shop, so…lol)

    1. Thanks so much, Lauren! We really wanted to create an Austin guide with a New York City filter, and really had that in mind as we worked on it. We’re so glad it came across, because we feel strongly that Austin is a great destination!

      Now, I really hope this comedy show/barber shop post is coming… 😉

  2. Y’all look happy! I don’t wonder why – food, art, food, coffee, food…Austin was already on my list but it’s moved up. I like the comparisons with NY places, that’s helpful. (Culture was the place I used to go when in midtown.) I would run to the Blanton Museum, and Ai Weiwei’s pieces, and Houndstooth & Patika. I like the combination of great coffee, art, and a relaxed, outdoors atmosphere. It all sounds fabulous, thanks for putting this together.
    We have dates! We’ll be spending lots of time with family/friends and will be in the city 10/13, 14/ 15…I think. We leave the 18th, arrive the 10th. Details TBD and it would be great to see you guys for coffee or a meal or whatever.

    1. Thank you so much, Lynn! We truly felt Austin’s offerings stood up to NYC’s, and we’re pleased that it translated so well. We think you’ll quite enjoy Austin, perhaps as a pit stop while you explore the rest of the great unknown that is Central Texas 😉

      And we’d definitely love to meet up when you’re in town! Can’t wait!

  3. I was waiting for the street art!:) I hope it will have a blog of it’s own! I love your comparison of New York with Austin- clearly both are very cool cities!

    1. Thanks so much, Cathy! We did do a post on street art and street food, we’ll send you a link! 🙂 Austin and NYC have so many great things in common, but still retain such distinct personalities. We love them both!

  4. That is a lovely shot of the two of you and I must say that you make a solid case for Austin. The exacting New Yorker might yet be persuaded to leave that breakfast bagel alone and set out for Austin! 😉

  5. Oh my… yet another destination for my bucket list! I would go just for the awesome food places you recommended (Kemuri Tatsu-ya looks intriguing) but the Sculpture park looks amazing. The bike installation is also fascinating, I’d love to check it out from all the different angles. Great post – thanks for sharing your Austin experiences!

    1. We really enjoyed this. The whole things starts just before sundown, so even before the bats migrate, you get a full sunset view from the vantage point of the river. That alone would have been worth it. But with the crowds on the bridge and boats and kayaks in the water, it feels like this big celebration, which is amazing.

      1. Oh, I just found out I’m not getting notifications of your responses here in the comments section – I’ve probably missed most of the older ones. Just found out because I revisited the bat… ahem… Austin posts. How strange… that’s despite my ticking all the boxes. I’ll be keeping an eye from now on but just thought to let you know in case I did miss something previously.

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