Friday, April 18th

Friday Freakouts

Part of this post is sponsored by Ghirardelli Intense Dark and they will have a big presence in the 2014 Austin Food and Wine Festival. To learn more about this sophisticated chocolate, find recipes, or get inspiration for your own pairings, click here.

You guys, I’ve been pretty stressed lately. I’m trying to launch a big project (more on that later) while maintaining time at the gym, at home, read this giant stack of books sitting here, watching Veronica Mars before it’s due back to the library. (Yes, I might be just a tad behind the times on that last one.)

Veronica Mars

This weekend I’ll have family visiting from out of town and we’ll make our way around the city doing some touristy things and some hole-in-the-wall things. I always like to show off two sides of Austin.

HOPE Outdoor Gallery, Austin Texas

Next weekend I’ll be checking out The Moontower Comedy and Oddity Fest and hopefully seeing Kids in the Hall, who I love, love, love! Like, I’m a major dorky fan. I’m also hoping to see Hannibal Buress, Demetri Martin, Maria Bamford, and Fred Armisen. There’s a huge lineup, so if you’re hanging around downtown, you’ll likely run into some funny people.

Kids in the Hall

Also happening next week is one of my favorite learning events, WordCamp Austin. All the WordPress you could ask for, great people, sponsors, food and a board game after party. I love this event. But the most well-known event, again, happening next weekend is the Austin Wine and Food Festival. I attended last year and had a blast.

Slider

Guests mingle and watch respected (and famous!) chefs cook, grill, talk about wine, and most importantly, eat lots of great food. The event takes place in Butler Park and is a full weekend of foodie fun. There are tons of sponsors like KitchenAid, Stella Artois, Patrón, and Ghirardelli, so the eats are high quality and prepared with innovation and creativity. It’s fun to pair the succulent dishes with a seemingly endless selection of fine wines.

Speaking of pairings, recently Ghirardelli reached out to some of the local foodies to find out what we’d pair with their 72% Twilight Delight chocolate. I love really dark chocolate and truly, it is satisfying all on its own. A square of really good dark chocolate is the preferred dessert in the Betty household and we indulge regularly.

Chocolate goes with pretty much everything, but my go-to pairing is espresso either straight up or in a creamy latte. It’s an easy way to treat yourself during a busy Friday Freakout, or any other time. I also know a yummy chocolate square works equally well with a bold red wine and some aged cheese. I like a three or five year gouda with bits of caramelization throughout. So decadent!

So, Austin readers, will you be attending any of these events next weekend? If not, in what ways will you treat yourself to some decadent fun?

*This post is sponsored by Ghirardelli Intense Dark Chocolate.

Tuesday, April 8th

Aberlour and Odd Duck

Aberlour Old Fashioned

Got scotch?

Recently I was invited to taste the line of decadent Aberlour single malts at an intimate dinner at Odd Duck. The menu has changed almost completely since I’ve last written about Odd Duck and I was just as pleased with the new dishes as I was with the opening menu. But first, the scotch.

Aberlour single malt scotch

Aberlour single malt scotch

We smelled, sipped, and discussed a range of scotches aged 12 to 18 years, finishing up with the powerful A’Bunadh. They were all smooth with characteristics of sherry and fruity notes, but were distinctly different and we all had our favorites. I found the 16 year old to be the most drinkable, while Mr. Betty preferred the intense punch of the cask strength A’Bunadh.

All that scotch helped us work up an appetite and we tucked in to Odd Duck’s bread program. The pig head stuffed Parker house rolls are as good as they say!

Spent Grain Bread at Odd Duck, Austin Texas

Parker House Rolls at Odd Duck, Austin Texas

As we worked our way through a significant portion of the menu, I particularly enjoyed the mustard theme, finding seeds in the aforementioned rolls, the tater tots with pimento cheese, and the pinto beans with lamb sausage.

Tater Tots at Odd Duck, Austin Texas

Pinto beans at Odd Duck, Austin Texas

Colorful salads with beets, greens, charred broccoli, and pea hummus had us tasting the rainbow.

Beets with Cultured Cream at Odd Duck, Austin Texas

Charred Broccoli at Odd Duck, Austin Texas

From the ocean, we enjoyed an exquisite crab French toast (!) and perfectly cooked redfish. My previous favorite, the pickled shrimp and grits with chicharones remains one of the very best executions of the dish that I’ve experienced.

Crab French Toast at Odd Duck, Austin Texas

Redfish at Odd Duck, Austin Texas

Shrimp and Grits at Odd Duck, Austin Texas

We were already nearing full when the most substantial dishes arrived. The black olive pasta with braised goat was pure pleasure and Mr. Betty raved about it for a couple days. The stuffed roasted chicken was beautifully presented and we dragged each bite through the savory gravy, picking up brussels sprouts along the way.

Goat Pasta at Odd Duck, Austin Texas

Roasted Chicken at Odd Duck, Austin Texas

To cap off a spectacular night, we tried two desserts. The bread pudding had toasted marshmallow, beer caramel and malted ice cream. The buttermilk pie was elevated by celery micro-greens and dollops of sweet tea gel. Both were sophisticated and interesting, just like the scotch.

Bread Pudding at Odd Duck, Austin Texas

Buttermilk Pie at Odd Duck, Austin Texas

It was a night to remember and the symphony of flavors had us warm and giddy. Or maybe it was the scotch…

Wednesday, April 2nd

Food, Apps, and My Journal

I’ve been really busy lately with work stuff, blog stuff, and social stuff. It seems like my schedule starts to get crazy around SX and doesn’t let up for a few months. Here’s an update on what I’ve been doing.

I went to a media event at the much-anticipated La V, and as promised, it was chic and delicious. The light fixtures alone are reason enough to visit. AFBA had their monthly happy hour at the new brick and mortar G’raj Mahal and the bloggers enjoyed bites and sips in the cute outdoor space out back.

I also went to the soft opening of new American Chinese restaurant in South Austin, A-OK Chinese. The staff was nice and I wish them the best of luck, but I’ll continue driving to North Austin for my Chinese needs. Just wasn’t for me.

A-OK Chinese Dumplings

 A-OK Chinese

Keeping with the American Chinese food theme, the people from P. F. Chang’s sent me a gift card to try out their new menu items. But when we ordered, only one item from that menu was available at the location we visited. It was the Shanghai Waldorf Salad and the dressing was incredibly spicy. It was a nice twist on Waldorf Salad, which is one of my favorites. We also had egg rolls, dumplings, Kung Pao Shrimp and Scallops, and Beef a la Sichuan.

P. F. Chang's Shangai Waldorf Salad and Egg Rolls

P. F. Chang's Dumplings

P. F. Chang's Kung Pao Shrimp and Scallops

P. F. Chang's Beef a la Sichuan

In an effort to organize how I…well, organize, I’m trying out the Bullet Journal method. I normally have three to five notebooks lying around with notes and lists pertaining to different projects. It’s been great for me to do something new and have a little guidance into capturing it all in the same spot. I like the idea of using this journaling technique to keep a record of what I’ve accomplished on certain dates and get an accurate picture of how much I can really accomplish on any given day.

Bullet Journal

I’ve also been using a couple great apps on my iPhone lately. Headspace is a guided meditation app that I just started. I’m also using Duolingo to learn French. Maybe I’ll be able to communicate better the next time I go to Paris. So far I’m finding the French easier than the meditation. I’m also digging the Animal Face app because tiger heads on human bodies are hilarious. I’m really breaking the rules by putting animal heads on other animal heads.

Animal Face

Another thing I’m trying to learn is accounting and it is way outside my comfort zone. I took an accounting class in college and hated it. Now that I’m trying to do it for real, with real money, MY money…I still hate it. Anyone have any accounting books to recommend?

My latest kitchen adventures are taking the form of veggie bowls. Quinoa topped with a number of good and healthy things like beans, cheese, pepitas and hemp seeds, raw and cooked veggies, sweet potatoes. Pretty much whatever I have on hand.

Veggie Bowl

Ulysses Press sent me a review copy of the 1990′s Coloring Book and I love it. It would make a great gift for those 25 to 35 year olds in your life. You can win one of your own by following Ulysses Press on Facebook or Twitter. Just leave me a comment to let me know you did it and then I’ll draw the winners name on April 15th.

1990s Coloring Book

What’s the cool stuff you’ve been into lately?

Tuesday, March 25th

Get in My Winebelly

Winebelly Austin Texas

This post is long overdue as Winebelly is hardly the newest spot in Austin. The night I shared this candlelit meal with Mr. Betty and took these dark photos, well, it was at least a couple months ago. But the memories are vivid and I maintain that Winebelly is one of the best restaurants in Austin, in food, wine selection, and ambiance. It has, without question, stolen my heart.

Winebelly Austin Texas

The simple wooden tables and chairs, dark lighting, and instant coziness remind me of my favorite eateries on the East Coast. Old gastropubs, quaint bars, fabulous hideaways for relaxed nights. Hard to believe this little spot is on Oltorf, not in Philadelphia’s Old City.

Shishito peppers at Winebelly, Austin Texas

Chicken Liver Mousse at Winebelly, Austin Texas

We started with Shishito Peppers topped with ricotta salata, a pressed, dried, salty version of ricotta. I pretty much order shishitos whenever they are available. One thing I don’t typically order is liver of any type, but I’d heard good things about the Chicken Liver Mousse. I’m glad I gave it a try; it ended up being my favorite dish of the night. Accompanied by pickled shallots, baguette slices, and stone ground mustard, this was a plate made just for my tastes. Everything I love!

Cured White Anchovies at Winebelly, Austin Texas

Brussels sprout and parsnip soup at Winebelly, Austin Texas

Emboldened by our success with the mousse, we ordered Cured White Anchovies, another dish out of our comfort zone. They were fishy and strong in the very best way. The Brussels Sprout and Parsnip Soup was velvety and decadent. It tasted so fresh and green. The sweetness of the parsnips was cut with bacon, chili oil and fragrant lemon zest. Damn, this was a brilliant soup.

Panzanella Salad at Winebelly, Austin Texas

The Panzanella Salad was dressed with a tart vinaigrette and Idiazabal cheese, a pressed Spanish cheese made from unpasteurized sheep’s milk.

Pappardelle Duck Confit at Winebelly, Austin Texas

Braised Short Rib at Winebelly, Austin Texas

Our final, heaviest plates were to-die-for delicious. Duck Confit Pappardelle was sheer perfection. Not too heavy or rich. The succulent Braised Short Rib was glazed and beautiful, plated with celery root puree. We were too full to order dessert, but hopefully next time we can partake. Winebelly is a great addition to South Austin and we are thrilled to have it close by.

What are you favorite dishes (or wines!) at Winebelly?

Wednesday, March 19th

Exhaustion and Mixed Emotions at SXSW

No matter how much I try to prepare in the weeks leading up to SXSW, it’s always a scramble. Part of it is the nature of the conference and surrounding events; there’s little notice as to what’s really going on. I earnestly RSVP to everything I can in the hopes that I’ll make it into the must-do events, all the while knowing that I’ll never keep up with my overly ambitious schedule. The invites come later and later, so being flexible, yet prepared, is crucial. The day I had planned to really wander around and check out the free events surrounding Interactive, it was cold, rainy, and miserable. Craft Taste and I went to a fun party hosted by Pinterest at La Barbecue. Food and drinks were free and we checked out the Pinnebago and listened to a female punk band. We missed Grumpy Cat, the Game of Thrones exhibit, and countless other things. We walked around, saw some stuff, and went home soaking wet. The day I brought my DSLR to take the really good pictures? A total wash.

Pinnebago

We made it into the first Kimmel taping and saw Seth Rogen and Snoop Dogg. Although we were seated way up high in the balcony, it was a fun experience and I was glad we went. I especially enjoyed Jimmy’s house band Cleto and the Cletones. Even more than the musical guest White Denim.

Jimmy Kimmel in Austin

Later, I won tickets for the opening night of the iTunes Festival. Winning didn’t mean we got to skip the very long line, but once inside the Moody Theater we were afforded a spot close to the stage amongst a crowd equally excited to be there. But no one was as excited to be there as Imagine Dragons, whose energy and and enthusiasm were through the roof.

Imagine Dragons in the Moody Theater for iTunes Festival at SXSW

Imagine Dragons in the Moody Theater for iTunes Festival at SXSW

Imagine Dragons in the Moody Theater for iTunes Festival at SXSW

Coldplay was grown up and polished, putting on a flawless performance under a dazzling light show. No bullshit on stage or in the crowd. It was ideal.

Coldplay in the Moody Theater for iTunes Festival at SXSW

Coldplay in the Moody Theater for iTunes Festival at SXSW

Coldplay in the Moody Theater for iTunes Festival at SXSW

I took advantage of my official SXSW Guest Pass and checked out the marketplace one day. It was clearly the tail end for the vendors, but it’s one of my favorite conference expos and I lingered at the booths with live music and good swag. I’m always amazed at how grand some of the booths are. I especially love checking out the other countries’ offerings.

SXSW Marketplace

Perhaps the coolest event we went to was the Heartbreakers Ball. (It didn’t hurt that we were chauffeured in a stretch limo and given VIP badges.) It was our first time visiting Willie Nelson’s ranch at Luck Texas. The ranch is more of a set for an Old Western with a chapel, a jail, a saloon, and other buildings. I loved that much of the property is used to foster horses. We watched people line up for free tattoos and drinks made with Midnight Moonshine in between the rocking sets. Willie and friends took the stage at the end of the night and despite the late hour and the cold, Willie was fantastic. I don’t know if all that pot-smoking has served as a preservative, but his voice was strong and smooth, unaffected by his many years. It was quite a show.

Willie Nelson's Luck, Texas

Willie Nelson and Friends at SXSW Heartbreakers Banquet

The aftermath of the tragic drunk driving accident that killed three people left a dark cloud over Austin. The city reeled from the news and shed tears for the lives lost and the news gained international attention. There’s no denying that SX is forever changed. We will remember and reflect on this every year. Criticisms arose and people questioned whether the excess of free flowing booze is hurting the intention of the festival. It seemed that the louder criticisms were directed towards the overblown commercialism of the conference and surrounding events. It seems that the sponsors are running the show now and no one is happy about it. In the days following SX, Austin is usually enjoying a tired but happy afterglow. This year we are collectively wincing at all the bad press and trying to figure out how the hell this happened. I predict big changes for next year.

I’m proud to live in Austin. I love that for two weeks every year we become the center of the universe and celebrate artistry and intelligence. South by Southwest celebrates the future and creates history. I hope we are able to strike a better balance in the years to come, retaining the indie spirit on which the festival was built, while letting sponsors be a part of the action in a more authentic way.

What are your thoughts on SXSW 2014?

Friday, March 7th

What to Eat in Austin

Are you visiting Austin and want a little guidance from the locals? This post is for you. These recommendations and round-ups come from food bloggers, skilled writers, tasters, and photographers. Creative, hungry people you can trust!

Without further ado, here’s your list of expert guides to the Austin food scene.

Mexican Breakfast. Not just where to eat, but what to order and how to eat it.

Mexican breakfast

Photo by Mary Makes Dinner

Barbecue East of Austin. Take a trip outside the city limits for the kind of rustic, smokey meats your only dreamed about or seen in the movies. It’s real, y’all.

South Austin Trailers. Ideal for lunch, late night, or just plain ole’ great outdoor eating, South Austin’s got the best trucks in the city!

Vegan Eats for SXSW. You’re hungry, you’re scared, you’re a vegan out of your natural habitat. Vegan Lazy Smurf to the rescue!

Vegetarian. Austin is incredibly vegetarian friendly and out-of-towners are often proclaiming how lucky we are. Even if you aren’t a vegetarian, you’ll still want to hit some places on these lists, separated by region.

South Austin Vegetarian

Downtown Vegetarian

East Austin Vegetarian

In.gredients

Photo by Aneelee

Cajun and Creole. A Louisiana native breaks down the best choices for you, cher.

Indian. Our Indian offerings grow every year. Take a walk down Austin’t spice route and get your curry on. 

Ramen. The Japanese noodle crazy continues, redefining the food landscape of our fair city.

Ramen

Photo by Mad Betty

South Austin Restaurants. Suggestions from the South Austin Foodie herself for Austin’s hottest zip code.

Craft Beer. Undoubtedly Austin’s fast growing market, check out the local brews that make the city proud.

Beergaritas. Mary Makes Dinner drank a lot of beers upended in frozen margaritas to put together this magnificent list. Don’t let her work be in vain.

Pizza. New York style pizza, or Austin’s best approximation. A list curated by a real expert.

Home Slice Pizza

Photo by Craft Taste

Upscale. As well as Austin does casual dining, there is no shortage of fancy, well-executed opulent eats.

Ice Cream. Save room for ice cream! This list features the most interesting varieties.

Desserts. Sweets for you and your sweet. The finest offerings from our finest pastry chefs.

Wednesday, March 5th

The HotList #SXSW Edition

I love a good trend. Especially in Austin during SXSW, when techies show off their newest gear and music lovers prance around like hipster peacocks. The conference is a nod towards what’s new, what’s artistic, and what’s going to happen over the next year.

Podcasts. Everybody cool has got one. The Austin-American Statesman recently started one. The recurring fad of digital media has true loyalists. People who listen to podcasts are passionate and those that create them are confident. Because it’s not easy to listen to your own voice.

Mr. Betty and I joined podcasters When in Austin for their first recording session of 2014 to talk about SXSW. Take a listen here and enjoy our tips, our fumbles, and our South Jersey accents.

podcast

Photo by When in Austin

Style. From sunglasses to sneakers, Keep Austin Stylish guides you to the right gear to wear. Achieve the right balance to looking cool while sprinting around town from event to event. If you pull it off well enough, you might even end up in one of her famous street style posts.

Libations. The parties never stop and the drinks are flowing during SX. Free drinks range from high-end martinis to all the cheap, tasteless beer you can drink. Those traveling from out of town might want to try the new, limited-edition Absolut Texas. They sent me a bottle of the cucumber and serrano flavored vodka and I was surprised at how good it was. The Absolut website provides recipes and my friends and I really enjoyed mixing the vodka with pineapple juice, cilantro, and jalapeño slices.

Absolut Texas

White Teeth. A bright smile is always on trend, actually, so when Influenster sent me the new Colgate Optic White Pen, I was pleased. An easy way to get whiter teeth in just a few days. Have you tried it?

Burgers. Shake Shake will be feeding thousands of hungry SXSWers with a complimentary pop-up. Late night burgers sponsored by Late Night with Seth Meyers? Oh, yes. We want that. Check it out on 6th & Red River (March 8-10) or E. 6th and Brushy (March 11-14.)

Ranch. Willie Nelson’s ranch isn’t normally open to the public, so when there’s an opportunity to get inside the gates, people jump at the chance. For the third year in a row, the Heartbreaker Banquet will take over the ranch with lots of live music and a full day of fun and partying. It’s invite only and therefore exclusive, but there are ways to win tickets.

Tuesday, March 4th

WIN TICKETS to Heartbreaker Banquet

For the third year in a row Willie Nelson is hosting the Heartbreaker Banquet at his private ranch in Luck, Texas. The one-day event will benefit the SIMS Foundation, which provides life-saving mental health services to Austin musicians and their families. 

Heartbreaker Banquet 2014

The exclusive event will take place Thursday, March 13th with two stages and 18 acts including:

  • The Wild Feathers
  • Shakey Graves
  • J. Roddy Walston
  • Elle King
  • Noah Gunderson

There will be pop-up shops. A free bar at the Midnight Moonshine Saloon. People-watching. Dancing. A surprise headliner!

So how can you get in to this invite only event? By winning tickets! I have four pairs of tickets to give away, so go ahead and enter now by doing the following.

1. Make sure you like @MadBettyATX on Twitter or Instagram.

2. Tweet this:

RT to WIN: Hey @MadBettyATX, I want to win @JJMidnightMoon tickets to the @HBbanquet held at Willie Nelson’s ranch #HBbanquet #SXSW

And that’s it. Easy! Contest ends Friday, March 7th and winners will be notified that day. Click here to learn more about the Heartbreaker Banquet.

Monday, March 3rd

Ramen in Austin

This is an updated version of the 2013 AFBA City Guide to Ramen. Leave me a comment and share your favorite dishes with readers. What’s hot (and spicy!) for 2014? 

There’s no stopping the ramen trend in Austin! The city can’t get enough of the hearty steaming bowls of rich broth and bouncy alkaline noodles. Those initiated into the ramen scene (and it is very much a scene, baby) are addicted to the umami, the toppings and the slurping. The uninitiated just need to give it a try.

If you need more convincing, check out local filmmaker Christian Remde’s Culinary Equation fantastic video all about ramen.

Ramen Tatsu-ya

A great option for first-timers,  Ramen Tatsu-ya provides a quirky guide on what to order, how to eat, and definitions for all the unfamiliar terms and ingredients. They offer classic toppings and fun flavors bombs, so you can customize every bowl.

Mi-So-Hot

In addition to the spectacular ramen, they have delicious appetizers and sides including katsu sliders and the world’s greatest Brussel’s sprouts.

Katsu Sliders

Brussels sprouts

Check out their website for the full menu. Hours are Tuesday-Sunday, 5-10. Lunch is served Tuesday-Friday 11-2 and Saturday-Sunday 12-3.

Location: 8557 Research Blvd, Ste. 126, Austin, TX 78758

*Pro-tip: Get there before 5:00 or after 8:45 to avoid the long line. Or just show up whenever and stand in line chatting with fellow ramen-heads, letting the anticipation build. Also, check out the cool bathrooms.

Ramen Tatsu-Ya Restroom Art

The Dojo

9070 Research Blvd.,#305, Austin, TX 78757

Ramen is but one subject in a textbook of food. The ramen is served in different sizes and uses paitan, a light, milky chicken broth.

Whole Foods the The Domain

11920 Domain Drive, Austin, TX 78758

Austin’s newest Whole Foods boasts a number of fabulous amenities, a ramen bar being one of the most popular. The Texas ramen gives shoppers a taste of Japanese ramen with a twist. Barbecue!

Michi Ramen

The ramen groundbreakers of Austin, Michi Ramen started in a truck, took a break, and reopened in brick and mortar. They are the only game in town to offer a choice of broth thickness like old-school traditional places in Japan. The noodles are slightly thicker than other places and the broth tastes like love.

Michi Ramen

Included in the large selection of sides and add-ons is a barbecue-lovers delight, Chashu Don, burnt ends, bonito flakes and green onions over steamed rice.

Chashu Don

Michi is the most comfortable establishment to sit and enjoy ramen, with plentiful tables and a cozy waiting area.

Check out their website for the full menu. Hours are Tuesday-Sunday, 11-2, 5-9.

Location: 6519 N. Lamar, Austin, TX 78752

*Pro-tip: Leave room for dessert! The mochi, 2 for $3 is shipped frozen from Hawaii and just heavenly.

Mochi

Drunk Fish

10000 Research Blvd #139, Austin, TX 78759

Offering a variety of broths and toppings, this Arboretum hole in the wall is popular with lunchers in a hurry.

Komé

Known for their wide array of fresh and delicious sushi, Komé also makes a kickass ramen. Their efforts will only improve when their ramen-only location, Daruma Ramen, opens on East 6th. Being the most southern ramen-ya will surely earn them an instant following.

Kome tonkatsu ramen

Check out their website for the full menu. Hours are Monday-Friday 11-2, 5-10 and Sat-Sun 12-3, 5:30-10

Location: 4917 Airport Blvd, Austin, TX 78751

*Pro-tip: Ramen is only available during lunch hours.

Daruma Ramen

612B E. 6th St, Austin, TX 78701

Sister restaurant to Komé, Daruma is fully dedicated to ramen. The tiny 6th Street shop brings in big crowds for its vegan ramen. The complex broth is steeped with veggies and fruit. Very interesting, and different than what anyone else is doing.

Daruma Ramen vegan bowl

Soto

11066 Pecan Park Blvd, Ste 402, Cedar Park, TX 78613

The reputable sushi spot has an acceptable ramen offering, too, pleasing customers with a decadent seafood ramen as well as traditional tonkatsu and shoyu.

East Side King at Hole in the Wall

2538 Guadalupe St, Austin, TX 78705

Paul Qui’s ramen offerings are inventive and fun. Especially delicious is the Chicken Tortilla Ramen, a perfect fusing of Japan and Austin. Recent experimentation resulted in a bacon beer ramen that the combines everyone’s favorite two loves.

Chicken Tortilla Ramen

Check out their website for the full menu. Hours are Monday-Friday 11am-Midnight, Saturday 4pm-midnight

More

Chi’Lantro offers occasional ramen specials, delighting post-bar snackers with their Korean fusion ramen. Check the website for locations and hours of ramen offerings.

Banzai Sushi and Grill has nontraditional ramen offerings like meatball and tofu. Hours are Mon-Sat, 11am-9:30pm, Sun 12-9.

Location: 3914 N. Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78756

Should you stray from the sushi menu at Musashino Sushi Dokoro you can order from a variety of ramen flavors during lunch hours only.

Hours are Tues-Fri 11:30-2, 5:30-10, Fri-Sat 5:30-10:30

Location: 3407 Greystone Dr., Austin, TX 78731

Friday, February 28th

Where you want to be at SXSW

South By is so close we can almost taste it. We are fully into RSVP season. If you didn’t use RSVPster to do the dirty work for you, you’d better be on the ball by now. Make sure to get your SXSW Guest Pass, for its inaugural year. It’s free, easy, and they let you take two.

Here are my picks:

Startup Crawl. This pre-SXSW (March 6th) event thrives on buzzing anticipation of the days ahead, but is exciting all on its own. Meet and mingle with Austin’s brightest new businesses, with drinks and bites along the way. Stop by BASHH while you’re out and about.

The BASHH

Spotify House. Lots of bands! Stop by anytime in the five days (March 10th-14th) to hear the diverse playlist.

House of Vans. I can only hope to score a new pair of Vans at one of these parties. The Mohawk will be rocking day, night, indoors and outdoors. (March 11th-15th) No RSVP required.

Hype Hotel has two different wristbands for day and evening events. The evening is more exclusive and the day bands are easier to procure. Sponsored by Taco Bell and Tito’s Vodka, among others, you’ll have fun no matter what time you go. (March 11th-16th)

Lagunitas CouchTrippin will be pack Cedar Street Courtyard by craft beer drinkers and fans of Shakey Graves. No badge for this party, so bring a printout or your smartphone for proof of RSVP at this small-ish venue. (March 12th, noon)

Warp x LuckyMe is a little bit of a mystery so far, but I’ve never gone wrong at the Empire Show Room. (March 12th, 6:30)

Fader Fort is the hottest free wristband during SX. Cut-throat RSVPs mean many won’t make it in, but this year seems to be a bit of a lottery system rather than first-come first served. Surprise guests always make The Fader exciting.

Fader Fort

Photo credit: Adam Kissick for NPR

Pandora Discovery Den is back for the third year. 35 music acts will take the stage at The Gatsby (March 12th-15th.)

Red Bull Sound Select will be taking over The Belmont March 12th-15th. I had a blast watching bands at The Belmont last year and got some of my favorite swag there.

Austin Party Weekend will camp out at Empire Show Room and Garage for a few days (March 13th-15th) cramming in tons of music from noon to 2 am.

If you need to get out of the thick of it, take a breather at the classy Hotel Ella. A three-day party (March 8-10) on the front lawn will have live music and free Deep Eddy drinks.

Doritos Bold Stage

I’ll be hitting these parties in between private events, which I always prioritize. I’ll also make an attempt to hit the free shows at Waterloo Records. And the tweet-powered giant Doritos vending machine. And stalking Lady Gaga. Maybe hitting Rachael Ray’s Feedback? (No word on that one as of posting.)

Fun Fact! I received an email stating that SXSW has 76,297 attendees and generated 859, 171 tweets. I think we can hit a million this year, don’t you? Don’t forget to use the #SXSW hashtags!