Apr 24, 2017

The Classic Car Club MotoGP Guide To Austin Texas….F1 too.

The 2017 running of the MotoGP Red Bull Grand Prix of The Americas was, as always in Texas, oversized.  In Moto3 Romano Fenati took advantage of race favorite Aron Canet’s highside crash, which sent him into low orbit, to take the win.  Italian hair king Frankie Morbidelli made it three victories in three races for the hat trick and, as in the script, Marc Marquez crushed the competition to rack up another win at Circuit of the Americas – a track he’s never lost at since it was built and entered the MotoGP calendar.

But you can read about the race from more journalist people that us.  What about Austin itself?  Here’s the Classic Car Club recipe of getting the most out of a trip to see MotoGP or F1 in America’s capital of weird.

This is CCC, so we say rent a car at the airport.  The speed limit on most highways is a generous 80 miles an hour and the exit ramps are massive, with beautiful helixes and great camber.  You can nudge it up to about 87 without a problem, but don’t venture much further.  Also, drivers here are much more relaxed here than in NYC.  No one is running up the shoulder to cut you off and honking isn’t really a thing here, but concealed carry is, so choose your moments wisely.

Traffic in and around town can get very heavy, but without a serious municipal solution to getting to the track, give yourself 20 extra minutes.

If you’re heading to a bar or four in the evening, download the RideAustin app before doing so.  It’s Austin’s hippie feel good version of Uber, which is banned in the state capital.

Since the official food of Austin is the breakfast taco, you have to start with the AM meal.  There are too many versions and places to rank, but in our time here, we’ve had most all of them and we can’t say we’ve had a bad one.  They each have their own charm.  Eater put a list of them together here, but we’ll say we like the dirty authenticity of La Mexicana Bakery (you can leave with cookies!) and Mi Madre was up there too.

BBQ is the other favorite here.  John Lewis, pit master at La Barbeque is a master worth worshiping, according to the trusted locals.  Prior to LaBBQ, he worked at Franklin, a place with a line that starts at 6am that we’re never in shape to test, and John Muellers, one of the Mueller clan.  The Mueller clan brings us to the winner by a mile – Louis Mueller Barbeque, located in Talor, TX.  It’s a 40 minute drive, but so what, the speed limit is 80, if you remember.  Make the journey, thank us later.  Get there early though.  They close around six, but start running out of favorites by four.

Non BBQ?  Try Juliet Ristorante.  The food and atmosphere is positively relaxed luxury and this is our favorite Austin eatery by a mile.  High quality Italian food and an extraordinary pizza (New York perspective, remember).

Josephine House is another favorite.  Part of the McGuire Moorman restaurant group, Josephine House is literally a suburban house, but the food is anything but sub.   Fine dining in another fun Austin lofi vibe.

Congress Street has a slew of fun restaurants and there’s a food truck lot right by the South Congress Hotel.   The truth is, there are restaurants all over town and many of them are artisan, cheap and fun.

Rainey Street is the place to head.   A few years ago the residents of  Rainey Street in downtown Austin got together and had their street zoned as commercial.  Now, a row of modest cape houses have been transformed into brilliantly fun, kitch bars, often with a beer garden backyard.  Each has its own thing.  One is live music, one is Texas microbrews, one is sausages.  Check out the list of them here and hop from one to the next.  Banger’s, with its wall of more than 50 bars on tap, is our favorite.

While you’re here, make sure to check out Lala’s on Justin Lane. For three decades or so, Lala has been catering to Austin’s professional drinking class in a quality, get-the-job-done bar that happens to be festooned with Christmas decorations all year long.  The playlist is perfect, the beers cold, the bartenders experienced.

If you want to have a New Orleans feel, head to 6th Street, where trashy bars pour blue booze down your throat and people with beads fall down drunk.

There are a few hotels in Austin worth recommending, like the South Congress Hotel, newcomer Hotel Van Zant and the beautiful Hotel Ella dot the city and they’re all healthy versions of what you would expect, but we recommend go weird in Austin and rent an AirBnB.  The neighborhoods in Austin sport a great mix of architecture, and much of it modern.  Given that Austin is not only the home to MotoGp and F1, but also SXSW, Jazz Fest and other events, the locals have gotten wise and started building bungalows and second residences on their property, something the local law makers seem to be cool with.  After staying at a number of AirBnB rentals in Austin, we’d say they’re some of the best we’ve come across from around the world, with stocked fridges, fire pits, and great amenities.

With a rental home comes a kitchen.  Head to the local Whole Foods.  It’s the first one in the chain and believe it or not, there’s a bar inside.  One can order a white Burgundy and then hit the aisles, glass in hand, to make-ill informed, drunken granola purchases.

Other things to do?  Check out the bats of Congress Street Bridge, do some line dancing at The Broken Spoke or browse the oddities of the kookiest antique joint in town, Uncommon Objects.  The fine folks at Thrillist put an entertaining list of things to do in Austin – check it out here and start ticking boxes.