No Car In Austin
We'll be in town in September for ACL. We're staying in the Holly neighborhood and are hoping to not have to rent a car as we hear parking at that time is virtually non-existent. We're down with Tex Mex and one of our traveling partners says he'd like to eat carne asada every day...and we don't think he's kidding. Recommendations? Should we get a car to make sure we can access good restaurants?
I think that taking the Dillo and/or calling cabs will wind up cheaper than the cost of renting a car to drive to some restaurants, although cabs are very busy during ACL.
Take the Silver Dillo for free---it goes east/west along 5th/6th :
There are certainly worse places than downtown to be "stuck" without a car!
We always liked having a leisurely brunch at Shady Grove (with lots and lots of big iced teas to hydrate ourselves), then walking down Barton Springs to ACL.
By Holly neighborhood, am I wrong in assuming you mean South Congress and Holly/Annie/Etc?
Plenty of places in that area that are walking distance.
Freddies - a must - really very "old Austin" and great chicken fried chicken and they have a wonderful oak tree back yard with live bands. Just all around perfect Austin.
Polvo's - I think they have the best fajitas in austin, which has been disputed to death BUT they're within walking distance.
Vespaio/Ent. Ves - Same place, essentially. One is a more casual area, one is upscale Italian.
Joe's - good walk-up coffee and sammiches for the area.
Never been, but in the area and have heard good things - Congress Street Cafe.
A bike is the answer! You'll be a couple of blocks from the trail in the Holly neighborhood and you can stay on the Town Lake trail all the way to ACL. Bicycle Sport Shop is near the ACL. http://bicycleaustin.info/getaround/
Los Comales is great. Also on 7th is El Azteca. Closer to you will be:
• Las Cazuelas for tacos al pastor (and just about anything else, including beer) at Cesar Chavez and Chalmers. Open very late.
• Mr. Natural for vegetarian--but tasty, I swear!--Mexican food, CChavez & Chicon
• Azul for breakfast, lunch, or dinner sandwiches, nice garden, and cheap beer and wine, CChavez & Chicon
• Chapala for okay Mexican food, nice atmosphere, CChavez around Robert Martinez
Check the board for East side eateries further afield and for those around Zilker Park, and have fun.
Have you been to ACL before? It is a huge three-day music festival, with multiple stages and options, much fun and some amazing sets. But it is Austin in September and it will be HOT, and there isn't much shade especially in the music venues. They don't rip you off nearly as much as most concerts for water and food. But there are long walks to and from parking, and even to the metro buses. So examine your programs for the acts you really don't want to miss -- you can get close if you catch the previous act same stage, then ride it out and move up for your favorites. But it is not a venue where you can come and go back to your hotel and return.
Note -- when I say hot I don't mean 80. When I attended as a guest of my local family in 2005 and again last year it was over 100 and constant sun every day. Crowds got huge for the headliners, but the vibe was friendly.
Haven't been to ACL, but I'm a New Orleans Jazzfest veteran. Is the humidity as high in Austin (sheesh, hope that wasn't a stupid question)? We're poised with hats and chairs with small canopies. I appreciate all the tips. I think we're leaning towards renting a car which will postively maximize our food experience!
Just in case the rental doesn't happen, you have a couple of good options during the day. The # 22 bus will take you up to Manor and Chicon where you will find Vivo, El Chile, Hoover's, Eastside Cafe, Mi Madres, El Chilito and The Red House all in a pretty little row. The # 21 will take you past Austin High (were you will eventually get out to walk across to the fest itself) and over to Hula Hut and a few other places on the lake, or hop out downtown were there are any number of places near the convention center (Iron Works), on Congress Ave (Las Manitas) or in the new 2nd street district.
BE WARNED - both buses stop running around 8:30 or 9 PM, but cab fare should be pretty cheap considering the short distance you are going.
re: Alan Sudo
In case you haven't found it already, ACL has a very good website with a lot of fan-friendly festival information. One of the major sponsors is radio station KGSR that has a website as well. If you do end up renting a car, my prediction is that you will use it mostly to and from the airport and maybe for an early breakfast or late snack. There are shuttles from downtown to and from Zilker Park for ACL. You will definitely end up being thankful you lugged some fold-up chairs, but I don't know how realistic a canopy is -- it is crowded, you'll go from stage to stage, and people won't be happy if you block their sight lines. We froze many water bottles (after pouring some out to allow for expansion) and snuck them in and were very glad we did.
ACL is one of the best festivals I've attended. Great bands, they stick very closely to their schedules, very friendly. Real low-key -- lots of families, very little open pot. But with the heat, the sun, and the long walks in and out and between the stages, it is really exhausting.