The problem is, "What is Chad going to do in Austin, Texas on Thursday night?"
I have recently been appointed to the APS Committee on Informing the Public, which is having a meeting in Austin this Thursday, January 14th. Of course, as neither Austin nor Albany is a major airport, the travel to and from Austin takes up pretty much an entire day on either end, so I'll be staying over Wednesday and Thursday nights, and leaving Friday afternoon.
I've got dinner plans for Wednesday night, and I'm going to meet a former student for lunch on Friday, but I have no concrete plans for Thursday night. Austin has a reputation as a pretty nice city, though, so I'm sure there are worthwhile things to do there.
So, if you were going to be in Austin for one night only, what is the can't-miss thing you would do there?
Sunset dinner at the Oasis on Lake Travis. Beautiful views.
About the most amazing collection of bar/live music venues anywhere in the world. If you enjoy having a beer and listening to a live band, the choices are staggering.
The Oasis does have a great sunset view, but I personally would head farther south and have my dinner at the Salt Lick Bar-B-Que.
Bring your appetite, and bring your own beer, as it's in a dry county.
I suppose it depends on what sorts of things you enjoy. A lot of the outdoors stuff is on hold right now due to weather, although by the end of the week it's supposed to be back up into the 50s.
For first timers, the State History Museum is a few blocks north of the Capitol building, which you can walk to if you're staying downtown (or maybe you can catch a shuttle or bus). The University of Texas is another 2 blocks north of that, and there are art museums and the LBJ presidential museum.
I happen to live here in Austin, and if you wanted to do what the locals are more prone to do, then for me that'd be catching whichever local singer-songwriter happens to be playing at Flipnotics Coffeespace -- For this next Thursday, that'd be an open mic night, so who knows? Not walkable from downtown, but on a bus route. If you get down there, Chuy's Fine Texmex is a landmark and staple. As well.
Catching a movie at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema @ The Ritz is usually a good time, and once again walkable from other downtown locations. On the 14th, there's a late-night 1999 sing-a-long show (Music videos from 1999, sub-titled. half concert, half movie, audience participation). Before that is a Pulp Fiction Quote-And-Shoot-A-Long (with cap guns and such).
Damn, now having looked it up I think I need to go to one of those!
Just hanging out on 6th or 4th is a pretty can't-miss proposition as well, though.
Breakfast at Las Manitas on Congress is a must must must. All eating in austin, especially for the noob, should be mexican food. For that night, have drinks at the san Jose, and then walk to dinner at Guero's or south congress cafe.
The only bands I see playing are Dana Falconberry or Frantic calm. Could be worth catching, for the full austin effect, though.
Stubbs (www.stubbsaustin.com) is a great way to ruin your New Year's Resolutions, almost regardless of what they were.
6th street for college age shenanigans.
go down to 4th and hit the Ginger Man, 300 kinds of beer! if you like that sort of thing....
Salt Lick? Stubb's? Feh. Go to Lockhart.
Huh. Crazy coincidence. I too will spend all of Thursday flying from Albany to a Texas town (but not Austin). Three flight trip. Maybe I'll see you on the first leg and introduce myself. But with all that royalty money you'll be in first class.
Sixth Street. Lockhart would be good, but then you'd have to drive out of Austin.
Unfortunately you're too early for the Congress Avenue Bridge bat season. However, someday I'm just sure you'll go to Austin during bat season and then you could call the Bat Hotline for times they're expected to emerge. 512-416-5700, ext 3636.
And then after that you could go to Sixth Street.
I recommend Javier Chaparro's Eclectic combo at Z-Tejas on W. 6th St. at 6:00 PM. Great jazz. Javier plays like Stephan Grappelli, and he has Paul Glasse on electric mandolin (one of the world's greatest jazz mandolinists), and Mitch Watkins on guitar (Lyle Lovett band). Good food as well.
For Tex-Mex, I second Guero's. For interior Mexican (and more expensive), Fonda San Miguel. For Tex-Mex and Venezuelan, Curra's.
For barbeque, I prefer Artz Rib House on South Lamar. Some people adore their country-style pork ribs, which are like really thick pork chops. I get the baby back ribs.
Not sure about music on Thursday night.
If you're looking for something after your dinner on Wednesday, and you like blues, maybe hit Antone's for Pinetop Perkins and Willie "Big Eyes" Smith.
One warning about Austin music: shows tend to start late and run late. For a three-band bill, the headliner often doesn't hit the stage until 11 or so.
For breakfast, the Migas con Hongos at "El Sol y la Luna" on S Congress can't be beat. Get corn tortillas, then roll them up tight like a cigarillo and use them as a utensil.
If you are by the university, wander up to Trudy's for a Mexican martini.
If you are close to downtown then Stubb's and the Ironworks both offer great barbecue.
If you want a place to hang out and get a little work done in the afternoon, then try The Spider House up by the university, or Flipnotics on Barton Springs road. If you make it to Flipnotics order yourself a Moonquake shake. Also, their tuna sandwich is a revelation.
Sixth street is *not* your best bet -- most of the places down there are similar to the sorts of bars and clubs you'll find in any college / high-tech town. You're better off checking the music listings for something interesting, and going where ever that takes you.