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1 week in Texas, help ?

My wife and I are going to be taking a trip (flying) to Texas for a week. We have no exact plans except to enjoy ourselves. I am from Boston, my wife from Bavaria, Germany. She speaks perfect English so that isn't a problem. My plan is to show her some of the best BBQ and music in our wonderful country, what better place than Texas ??

Can someone refer us to what city would be nice for this, close to airport ,maybe. What place to stay at, where to visit, etc.

What time of year is the best, and why. temp. ? storms ? We are thinking around November or so.

Any and all info would aid us in our decision.

I am thinking Austin after seeing a few places on T.V. and know that it is the home of one of my favorite blues legends - Stevie Ray Vaughan. Please give me some input and what to see and where because I have no real depth of knowledge of Texas.

We love BBQ, Tex-Mex etc.

How is San Antonio, Dallas, Houston, Austin, etc ....Help !!! Where should we go.

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  1. The Best BBQ in the state is definitely in Central Texas and Austin is a great base city to explore all the BBQ options in that region. Check out Texas Monthly's 2008 BBQ Feature for a survey of the top BBQ spots in the state: http://www.texasmonthly.com/magazine/bbq

    I took a tour of a few of the legendary Central Texas BBQ places in March and you can read a full report (with photos) here: http://donnacooks.wordpress.com/2008/...

    Austin is also within easy driving distance to San Antonio if you want to hit up the Texas must-see (The Alamo). Mexican food in San Antonio is some of the best in the state.

    Houston and Dallas are also about 3-4 hours away from Austin. Although if you're just doing a weeklong trip, I probably wouldn't waste that much driving. You can easily spend a week in the Austin/San Antonio (Hill Country) area exploring the charming little towns around there. If you can stand the Texas heat, the Hill Country wineries (yes, please explore our up and coming wine industry while you're here) have free tastings during the August Harvest Wine Trail, more info at http://www.texaswinetrail.com

    Also, I think your wife might find some interesting connections between the central Texas culture (lot of things influenced by German/Czech immigrants of the late 1800's) and her German upbringing.

    1 Reply
    1. re: donnaaries

      Thanks for your reply, I think Austin is where we will start since I have seen a few programs on the Top 4 BBQ in Austin, Smitty's, Kruett's (Sp) and a few others. I am a lover of blues music and have read alot about 6th street, I think it is. Is November a good time to go there ?? I know it start to get cold around here (Boston).

      Not to sound non-american but we are not really on a historic sight seeing tour, we are more looking to have a great time and enjoy the culture of different parts of America. Like you say, why drive 3 to 4 hours if fun is under your nose.

      I ordered the magazine, Texas Monthly, to help get some ideas before we go.
      I guess a rental car and my GPS system will come handy.

      Thanks for everything !!

    2. Well if you are here in Sept - December. I would plan on going to a football game (my choice would be a UT Longhorn game)! A spectacle in itself! If you are here in say Late Sept - Oct....the Texas State Fair is going on in Dallas. Temps seem to be cooler in the Fall months but it can still be hot at those times to.

      A few tips:

      1. Bring your camera (You will want to document where you just had that awesome piece of smoked brisket and/or sausage)
      2. Do your research on the links Donna gave you and also on the Austin board for BBQ places (Top 5 continually are Smitty's in Lockhart, Kreuz in Lockhart, Louie Mueller's in Taylor, Cooper's in Llano and City Market in Luling)
      3. For great music 6th Street in Austin is probably the best place to catch local music. I believe in Oct is when the Austin City Limits festival is going on (could be wrong). Most large cities will have their own local music scene. If you make it to Dallas during the trip the Dallas Symphony at the Meyerson and also the One O'Clock Lab Band at University of North Texas are both legendary.
      4. Also in the Hill Country are local cheese producers...so if you get some wine try out some of our up and coming cheese producers (Notables are La Cuesta Farms in Clifton, CKC Goat Dairy in Blanco, Pure Luck Farm and Dairy in Dripping Springs, and my favorite Haute Goat Creamery in Lubbock(not in the hill country))
      5. Foodie landmarks close to the Hill Country are Blue Bell Creamery in Brehnam (ice cream factory), Shiner Brewery in Shiner, TX
      6. For more cultural towns (i.e. German influenced and Czech influenced) try out New Braunfels, West (close to Waco), Fredricksburg.

      3 Replies
      1. re: LewisvilleHounder

        I did see the Wurstfest listed in New Braunfels but my thought on that is why would you go to another region to see what you grew up with. I surely wouldn't want to see New England Clam Chowder in Germany. Just my opinion.

        We want to see all things truly Texas. Maybe we need to see a Rodeo or just some nice horses and cattle, somethings are truly lacking in the Northeast. Usually we go to Las Vegas once a year but we decided to travel a little through Texas this time.

        Thanks - Jim

        1. re: Jimbosox04

          You'll have to wait until 2009 if you've really got your heart set on a rodeo or some famous state event like that. Houston rodeo happens in March, San Antonio Fiesta is during April. Although... the State Fair of Texas (in Dallas) happens in Sep-Oct: http://www.bigtex.com/

          1. re: Jimbosox04

            I have been living in Texas almost 3 months, San Antonio specifically. A few nights split between here and Austin is your best bet, I believe. San Antonio does have the Alamo and missions, which are historic, but they are very "Texas". The people here are very very proud of their state. Most museums are based on Texas history, art,culture, etc. Also there is the Riverwalk, very nice and even peaceful in less explored parts. I would recommend Acenar or Los Canarias for food on the Riverwalk. Also Biga on the Banks or Boudros for high end food. My favorite dining experience here has been Francescas at Sunset, a picturesque restaruant in the Westin La Cantera hotel. The hotel looks old world Texas, and the food is amazing. The most authentic food and rest. is Los Barrios, complete with mariachi band and famous "puffy tacos", although I prefer the enchiladas! They have a mixed plate of 5 different kinds to try them all in one sitting. There is a small "old west" style town called Bandera, in the Hill country where you could also stay at a dude ranch, complete with horserides and cattle (google- Texas longhorn cattle).
            Please head to your local bookstore and pick up a Frommers or Lonely planet type travel guide. They are usually pretty helpful.

        2. Texas is big. Real big. Beaumont to El Paso is about the same distance as New York to Chicago. Area-wise, it's comparable to all of Central Europe (including Germany). A week is enough time to see most of the state, but only if you drive fast and don't stop. Besides, there are big chunks of real estate that have little to recommend them. (No offense intended to my distant cousins in places like Hereford and Groom.)

          I concur that Central Texas is a good place to start. You could spend a week in Austin with side trips to San Antonio and the hill country and feel like you've barely scratched the surface. Hear some blues at Antone's. Check out the honky tonk scene at the Broken Spoke. Wander from live music bar to live music bar down Sixth Street. Eat your weight in barbecue. (Kreutz Market in Lockhart is a sentimental favorite, even though it ain't the same as in the old days). Discover that "Tex-Mex" isn't always a pejorative (be sure to have migas for at least one breakfast, and order a bowl of Bob Armstrong dip with your margaritas one night). Have a gourmet Mexican meal at Fonda San Miguel. Try rattlesnake croquettes and Bambi On A Bed Of Very Bitter Greens at Hudson's.

          Your options are limitless. I lived in Austin for four years in the early '90s, and every time I go back it seems like there's way too much to do for whatever amount of time is available. For a list of what's going during any given week (or just for some local flavor), check out the local alternative weekly at www.austinchronicle.com.
          But if you do feel a compelling urge to see Dallas and/or Houston, Southwest Airlines has frequent (and relatively inexpensive) direct flights.

          November might be ideal for you. The weather should be moderate (although that's never guaranteed) and the legislature and the University will both be in session (so there's more going on). Plus, the first week of the month is when New Braunfels (the "German Heritage Center of Texas") has its Wurstfest.

          Enjoy!

          1. The problem with your question is that none of us realy know what will turn your crank. Or your wife's. So my best suggestion would be for the two of you to work up wish lists, do a little internet touring, narrow down the field to maybe three cities (max) by November, then rent a car and see them all!

            The only thing that I can think of that may be useful for you to know about is that should both or either of you be particularly interested in ancient Egypt, the Tutankhamun exhibit will be on display at the Dallas Museum of Art, from Oct 3 2008-May 17 2009, tickets available on-line through Ticketmaster. I believe the exhibit is only making it to three cities in the whole country this trip, but this is only meant as a "just so you know" kind of thing.

            Other than that, you have a huge platter full of goodies to sort through to make your minds up. My experience is that the less I try to pack into one trip, the more I enjoy the trip. And the more I remember about it later, which means more bang for the buck when it comes to that trunk full of memories. May the planning be as much fun as the execution! Happy travels.

            Oh, and for the record, I think it's a state law that every city, town, and village in Texas MUST have a barbecue joint. And my experience is that some of the less famous are better than those held in high esteem. You'll find barbecue wherever you go.

            1. Pardon the interruption folks, but we have a narrow mission here on Chowhound. Please limit your replies in this thread on where to find the best chow in Texas. Discussions of places to stay and so on are considered off-topic for our forums.

              Thank you.

              1 Reply
              1. Being a native Texas who has lived in Austin, Dallas, and San Antonio, I suggest you come directly to Austin. Then I would do the following, in no particular order:

                (1) Grab juice at Daily Juice, and walk around Lady Bird Lake (formerly called Town Lake); (2) Head to the flagship Whole Foods on 6th street; (3) Take a day trip to the BBQ meccas of Lockhart and Luling; (4) Eat breakfast at Habenero Cafe; (5) Have a cold beer and listen to live music at Freddie's on First Street; (6) After a night on 6th street (actually 4th and 5th streets are better), go to Sam's BBQ at 2 am for mutton; (7) eat at Uchi; (8) See the bats on South Congress and then eat the suppli at Ennotecca; (9) Take a day trip to San Antonio for Tex-Mex and to walk the riverwalk--don't eat on the riverwalk, but search these boards for suggestions; (10) Search the boards for a good panaderia in San Antonio; (11) Eat carnitas tacos at Angie's

                Early November is a great time to come. Austin City Limits Festival is in September and it is generally still hot then. If you can come on a weekend when there is a UT homegame it never fails to amaze people. Even if you don't attend the game, you can usually find a friendly tailgate who will invite oyu to have a fajita and a beer.

                3 Replies
                1. re: Honey Bee

                  Hey JimboSox,

                  As another native Texas who has lived around the state and finally found a home in Austin, I concur with just about everything HoneyBee said. My hubby was born in Boston and is still a huge Sox fan (we cheered 'em on for years before they reversed the curse and now are loving watching the wins). Anyway - some other don't miss spots to hit for music and BBQ: Gospel brunch at Stubb's on Sunday morning. Threadgill's has one that is a good option as well. Don't miss BBQ at the Salt Lick. Bring a cooler of beer to sip while you wait because it is a dry county and listening to the guitar player and sipping cold beer while you wait is part of the charm of the place. For music don't miss the Elephant Room for great Jazz and Antones for just about anything. Check the AustinChronicle.com and Austin360.com closer to your trip for full listing of all the bands in town - and there will be a ton.

                  Other great places to visit. The LBJ museum is free, air conditioned and has some very good exhibits. It might inspire you to travel out to Johnson city to the LBJ Ranch (pack a picnic and enjoy the gorgeous grounds) and the last resting places of LBJ and Lady Bird. You can see some of the hill country and some cute little towns. Skip Fredericksburg - it is a tourist trap and just a ton of shops selling country crap. The Texas State Cemetery on 7th is also very interesting. Sounds creepy - I know - but it is quite a history lesson. The Bob Bullock museum isn't bad and the Blanton Museum of Art gets some great exhibits.

                  Don't miss Habanero for great Mexican and skip Matt's El Rancho at all costs. For a good burger go to Fran's or Dan's (I prefer Fran's but they are really similar). Go to Threadgills for Chicken Fried Steak while you listen to live music.

                  Search the Austin board for more advice on food.

                  You'll love Austin - everyone does. But don't move here! Everyone seems to be doing that these days too. ;)

                  1. re: Honey Bee

                    Honey Bee, I'd add driving out to August E's and having their Mesquite Fired Tenderloin Trimmings Burger and sitting on the back patio. That might be one of my favorite places in the State!!

                    1. re: Epicurious Esquire

                      Never been to August E's, but it is on the list the next time I am out that way. However, if in Frederisckburg I do like to get a treat at Rather Sweet.
                      Thanks for the tip.

                  2. If in the Texas HIll Country, I normally end up at Cooper's BBQ in Llano, Texas. It is simply the best....and definitely not fancy. You can also visit a number of Texas wineries in the area. For more information on wineries in the Hill Country and around the state, go to:

                    http://www.gotexanwine.org/findwinesa...

                    Also, please realize that Texas had a big immigration of Germans and other Europeans starting in the mid-1800's. The German heritage is really strong in Texas and particularly in the HIll Country centered around Fredericksburg, Texas. Therefore, you still have an influence in the cuisine and wine tastes.

                    Regards,

                    Russ
                    http://vintagetexas.com