I’ve decided to once in a while try and participate in #TravelTuesday, where on Tuesdays I will try to share some travel tips of places I’ve visited. I’m sure you won’t be surprised if a lot of the travel tips comprise of deliciousness in the form of food and drink.
I always seek out local when I travel. That’s certainly true of food, and the next thing I look for tends to be beer. When I was on a brief couple day stay in Austin, Texas for work, I picked out a hotel that was walkable to Rainey Street on purpose. I was fortunate in that my co-worker let me pick where to go, and we were off to two specific places I had in mind, and we knew and agreed that the goal was local beer.
The first stop was called Craft Pride. It’s very casual – they only serve food if you count going to the back patio and going to the pizza truck there as “food service”. You may see a little sandwich board with a beer joke out on what barely qualifies as the sidewalk of Rainey street, so don’t bother wearing heels on this street.
The main attraction here is the beer chalkboard above the bar, which boast all and only local beers. You go up to the bar to order, and you can feel free to ask them for recommendations which may result in getting a little taste or two before investing in a full glass.
It definitely does have a very local feel, which I loved, down to the granola-y tattooed bartenders during my two visits (I couldn’t try all those beers, even sharing with my co-worker, in one visit) and chatting at the bar with other beer drinkers about Portland and Austin and in general craft beers. Although they are very Texas proud, there is no beer douchery or snobbery here – it’s all a friendly community – unless you come in here trying to ask for cocktails and shots. Go down the street to another place bros.
We got hungry and needed to eat, and wanted something besides just pizza. So the next stop I had was only a few minutes walk down further on Rainey street to Banger’s Sausage House and Beer Garden. The size of Banger’s is probably twice the size of Craft Pride on the inside, and four times as big of an outside patio, including a little doggie-care gated area and an actual stage for the live music they host.
If you love beer, you will probably be like me where these two places are enough of a stop already and you will be unable to visit anymore. That’s because both stops of Craft and Banger’s have a HUMONGO beer selection – in truth you could just stay at one beer bar if you wanted. To give you an idea, Banger’s has 100 beers to choose from, and Craft’s board had almost 50 beers. In particular, Banger’s Seasonal and Limited Beers impressed me with beers I had never seen in Portland or other cities and I cursed a little bit that I was nearing my liver limit for the day (particularly after I ordered the Brewdog Paradox Smokehead, where Smokehead Whisky is infused into the beer to add atlantic smoke, peat, and oak to the flavors of roasted toffee of the Imperial Stout at 10 % ABV, from Fraserburgh, Scotland).
But when it comes down to the menu, I really loved the options at Banger’s, which also happens to, as they advertise at least, have the largest sausage selection in Austin. I wish we had come to Banger’s for a second time during my trip (we went to another beer place that I was not as impressed with and will not mention here) because there is more on the menu I wanted to try, and I definitely plan to come back here again. To give you an idea, during our visit we ordered the
- Dak Bulgogi (Bulgogi Chicken Sausage topped with sriracha, kimchi, oyster sauce, cilantro, carrots, and jalapenos on a kolache bun with a side of soy caramel lime and house made kimchi salad and sun dried shrimp chips),
- Drunk Chicken (sausage with beer, Serrano peppers, red pepper flakes, cilanto, and more beer),
- Jalapeno Mac and Cheese with Cheddar, manchego, jalapeños, bread crumbs, and bacon lardons, and
- Fried Cheese Curds (Wisconsin cheese curds breaded & fried, served with a side of Olaf Sauce).
Other options that tempted me included Turducken (sausage with Turkey Duck and Chicken), they even had TWO veggie sausage options alone (one of which was a Beet and Goat cheese veggie sausage) with the 4 traditional and 6 exotic/wild game sausage options (including a Duck Bacon and Fig, or a South Texas Antelope and Venison Merguez), and that was not all the menu offerings either like Fried Chicken, Jalapeno Cream Corn with Onion Gratin, a Housemade Snickers Ice Cream Jar…
I highly highly recommend both these places if you are in Austin and looking to try some local beer. I know I can’t wait to go back to these two places whenever I’m back in Austin next! The hotel we stayed at was the simple but comfortable Holiday Inn Austin-Town Lake Austin, which was very conveniently walkable to Rainey Street but affordable, and close to highways for our other business. Other hotels nearby include the Hilton Garden Inn Downtown, Hampton Inn and Suites Downtown, and Radisson Downtown among others in the walkable vicinity.
Have you ever been to Austin, and if so did you try any local Texas beer there?