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!

Thursday, February 27th

Cirque du Soleil’s Varekai

Guest blogger Aneelee is an Austin vegetarian, a level-headed creative, and a lover of the arts. Her widely popular meal plans and both traditional and modern recipes are favorites among foodies and press alike. She regularly inspires me to get my act together and make the most of my produce, rather than let them go limp in the crisper. A true example of green living, my friend Aneelee walks the walk! Fall in love with her blog like so many others have. But first, read her glimpse into a magical night with Cirque du Soleil.

We are routine-mongers. So much so that there aren’t really even any clocks in our house. Sure, there’s the one on the microwave and that pretty analog one without any numbers in the corner in the bathroom, but nobody ever looks. Time is hardwired into our beings. We are up with sun, eat when our tummies say so (7:30am, 11am, 1pm, 3pm, 6pm) and then fall into our evening routine that slowly walks us and our 10-year-old to bed and books by 7:30pm. And then, MadBetty said Cirque du Soleil. Routines be damned!

Last night we ventured to a faraway land called Cedar Park, well past pajama o’clock to see Cirque Du Soleil’s opening night of Varekai. The music, the costumes and the sets, which drew inspiration from Hawaiian rituals and Armenian melodies were absolutely beautiful. And then there were the acrobatics! At this morning’s breakfast, my ten-year-old gave a full recap of all the things that we never imagined people could to do with their bodies.

There was the bird that tangled itself up in the net up high:

Flight of Icarus

And the men that were balancing people on their feet from special chairs:

Icarian Games

There was the woman on the trapeze that could hang from a single foot and her neck:

Aerial Hoops

There was the breakdancing guy on crutches:
Soloon Crutches
The singing clown that could not catch his light:
Ne Me Quitte Pas

 

And the dancing fireflies, the bird on wheels, the juggling, the flying and the E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G!!

So, given the twinkle in my daughter’s eyes this morning I would highly recommend breaking your routine as well. Cirque du Soleil’s Varekai will be at the Cedar Park Center through Sunday, March 2nd. There are still tickets available for most of the shows. Not a bad seat in the entire house!

P.S. My favorite part of the show (acrobatics, aside) was the clowning. Proper theater clowning (without the red noses) at its best.

Tuesday, February 25th

Indian Food in Austin

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

We’re known for our Tex-Mex, our barbecue, food trucks and vegetarian eats. Indian might be the food genre experiencing the most growth in Austin and I say Bring it on! The versatility and regional variations mean a limitless world of flavors and textures to explore. Ideal for carnivores, vegans, and everyone in-between, Indian food is simply divine.

Bollywood

Asiana

801 E. William Cannon Dr, Ste 205, Austin, TX 78745

Don’t let the rundown strip mall or sparse decor fool you, Asiana makes some great food. Delicious dosas, fluffy naan and some of the spiciest vindaloo in the city. Ask for it spicy and you shall receive.

Naan

 

Biryani Pot

12407 N. Mopac Expy, Ste 200B, Austin, TX 78758

This chain has high quality food, friendly service, and is a very popular lunch destination. Formerly Taj Mahal Indian Cuisine.

Bombay Bistro

10710 Research Blvd. #126, Austin, TX 78759

4200 South Lamar #300, Austin, TX 78704

The elegant, romantic decor of the south location makes for a great date spot.

Bombay Express

13000 North I35, Bldg 12, Unit 216, Austin, TX 78753

Vegetarian.

Bombay Grill Indian Restaurant

3201 Bee Caves Rd. #148, Austin, TX 78746

Cheery service and wide range of options on the buffet.

Chaat Shop

Mobile

Check the website to see when the food truck will be in your area. Try the Chaat Box, a combo meal with vegan choices and a samosa for $7.50.

Chicken Lollypop

1005 E. Braker Lane, Austin, TX 78753

The Mumbai-style Indian Chinese menu satisfies vegetarians and meat eaters alike.

Chola

2601 S. I35, Ste. B-400, Round Rock, TX 78664

Leans on Southern cuisine although has some Northern offerings. Known for their weekend buffet.

Clay Pit

1601 Guadalupe St, Austin, TX 78701

downtown favorite, Clay Pit offers a modern setting and delicious Bombay-inspired cocktails. The curried mussels alone are worth the trip.

Curried Mussels

Curry in a Hurry

2121 W. Parmer Lane #114, Austin, TX 78727

This vegetarian spot features a daily curry. Bonus: free wi-fi!

Daawat

500 Canyon Ridge Drive, Austin, TX, 78753

Formerly Indian Spicy Kitchen, the extensive menu and online ordering system makes takeout a breeze.

Gandhi Bazar

3421 W. William Cannon Dr, #133, Austin, TX 78745

12809 N FM 620, #3, Austin, TX 78750

2121 W. Parmer Lane, #113, Austin, TX 78727

Prefer to cook your own Indian food? Stock up on spices and other essentials at one of Gandhi Bazar’s locations.

G’Raj Mahal

91 Red River, Austin, TX 78701

This popular food truck is distinctly Austin. The BYOB has lots of outdoor seating and makes for a great start when bar-hopping on Rainey Street. Update: Brick and mortar in the works!

G'Raj Mahal

Hot Breads Bakery and Cafe

7318 McNeil Drive, Ste 102, Austin, TX 78729

So much more than a bakery, choices run from traditional Indian dishes to savory spiced puffed pastries. A unique concept in Austin.

Indian Palace

3616 Far WEst Blvd, Ste 113, Austin, TX 78731

North Indian cuisine; delivers to surround area.

Lamba’s Royal Indian

41 Waller Street, Austin, TX 78702

Spicing up farmer’s markets, Lamba’s sells a wide range of frozen Indian dishes. They can be found at HOPE and other farmer’s markets in and around Austin.

Madras Pavillion

9025 Research Blvd, Ste 100, Austin, TX 78758

The vegetarian favorite has cuisine from both North and South India.

Man Pasand Grocery

3601 W. William Cannon #750, Austin, TX 78749

A great place to stock up on spices, snacks, frozen meals, grains and more. The freshly made hot samosas for $1.00 at the counter are some of the best I’ve ever tasted.

Masala Dhaba

75 Rainey Street, Austin, TX 78701

This food truck is a recent addition to Rainey Street and early reviews are extremely positive. Perfect for late night eats while bar-hopping.

Masala Wok

1100 Center Ridge Dr, Ste 300, Austin, TX 78753

10515 N. Mopac, Ste. A-155, Austin, TX 78759

This small chain has classic Indian and Chinese options.

Naanful Indian Grill

11101 Burnet Rd, Ste A130, Austin, TX 78758

2000 S. I35, Round Rock, TX 78681

1335 E. Whitestone Blvd, Ste T130, Cedar Park, TX 78613

Quick, build-to-order dishes. Will deliver, but order early, as their site estimates 60-75 delivery time.

New India Cuisine

2304 S. Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704

The South Austin Marathi-style restaurant offers lots of fish and yeast-free naan.

New India

Paradise Biryani Pointe

1779 Wells Branch Pkwy, Ste 102, Austin, TX 78728

They specialize in biryani, but if that’s not your thing, there’s a large menu with lots of diverse options.

Royal India

4894 Hwy 290 West, Austin, TX 78735

Located in the old Estancia Churrascaria building, favorites include a dosa bar and the Royal Feast, a $44 multi-course dinner for two people.

Sarovar

8440 Burnet Rd, Ste 100, Austin, TX 78757

This old Austin favorite specializes in thali and surly waitstaff.

Ganesh

Shalimar

9310 N. Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78753

The biryani is a favorite.

Spice Mystery

13717 Burnet Rd, Ste 300, Austin, TX 78727

Craving Indian food but your companion doesn’t like it? Spicy Mystery also has an American menu with burgers, fried pickles, and chicken fried steak.

Star of India

2900 W. Anderson Lane, Ste 12D, Austin, TX 78757

Standard buffet of classic dishes in a comfortable setting.

Swad

9515 N. Lamar Blvd #156, Austin, TX 78753

Vegetarian favorites and fun street food. The big-as-your-head dosas are a must try. You won’t even mind the lack of atmosphere.

Mysore Masala Dosa

Taj Palace Indian Restaurant and Bar

6700 Middle Fiskville Road, Austin, TX 78752

For more than 20 years the extensive buffet has been delighting loyal customers. This was one of Austin’s first Indian restaurants.

Tarka Indian Kitchen

201 University Blvd, Round Rock, TX 78665

2525 W. Anderson Lane, Austin, TX 78757

5207 Brodie Ln, Austin, TX 78745

The little sister of Clay Pit offers many of the same classic curries and fantastic pakoras. The fast, casual counter service has proven to be so popular that they keep expanding, with three locations now.

Mirch Masala

Pakora

 

Taste From India

519 E. 7th Street, Austin, TX 78758

Indian kabobs for the late-night bar crowd.

Teji’s Foods

1205 Round Rock Ave #115, Round Rock, TX 78681

Part grocery, part restaurant, the widely-respected Teji’s has the fluffiest naan.

Whip In

1950 I35 South, Austin, TX 78704

A funky South Austin staple, Whip In is a convenience store with indoor and outdoor live music, a massive selection of craft on draft, and a large menu of fusion Indian eats.

Wednesday, February 19th

Binging on Grapefruit

Recently TexaSweet invited me to attend a grapefruit workshop at the Central Market cooking school. We sliced, peeled, squeezed, ate and drank tons of gorgeous Rio Stars. After sampling several recipes, they set me loose in Central Market with a gift card and I put my new skills (and some fun ingredients!) to work my kitchen.

To get my creativity flowing, I started with a little grapefruit juice and Cava for a fizzy, sophisticated take on a mimosa, the Riomosa. I could drink these forever.

Grapefruit Glazed Shrimp and Quinoa Salad

I loved all the recipes I made, but my very favorite was the Grilled Shrimp with Grapefruit Glaze. The zesty marinade turned into a beautiful glaze that caramelized the quick-cooking shrimp. It was remarkably easy and will be my go-to shrimp recipe from now on.

Pictured with the shrimp is the Quinoa Salad that offered heat, sweetness, and colorful crunch. The fresh and light vegetables were bolstered by the ancient grain, making this hearty salad a meal all on its own.

Giada's Citrus Salad

I wanted to share another grapefruit salad that I’ve been making for a few years. Giada De Laurentiis’ recipe comes together quickly and tastes incredibly fresh. The crunch of the fennel and toasted walnuts play nicely with the grapefruit and orange segments. A light basil dressing is the perfect finish.

Grapefruit Ice Cream and Citrus Bake

For dessert, fresh grapefruit, oranges and pineapple are broiled with butter and brown sugar to create a decadently sweet base for a scoop of light grapefruit frozen yogurt. To make the yogurt, freeze the segments of four Rio Stars for 30 minutes on a sheet pan. Then combine with two lemon yogurts and process in blender until smooth and creamy. Sweeten as desired with honey, sugar, or 0-calorie sweetener. (I used two packets of stevia.) Freeze for several hours or overnight.

Candied Grapefruit Peel

One last grapefruit experiment used some of the grapefruit peel, of which I had a lot! Even the slightest bit of white pith can overwhelm the candy with bitterness, so the most important thing is to make sure to use clean pieces of just the zest. Shaving the zest off with a sharp vegetable peeler made this pretty easy.

Drop the zest in boiling water for 30 seconds to thoroughly clean it and prepare it to cook in the syrup. Drain the water and cover zest with two parts water to one part sugar, depending on how much candy you want to make. Simmer on low until mixture cooks down to a thick, sticky syrup. Then roll individual strips in sugar and let dry for an hour. These grown up candies pair well with a shot of espresso after dinner.

What are some of your favorite ways to use grapefruit?

Monday, February 17th

How to Get Through SXSW

It’s never too early to start getting ready for South by Southwest. In Austin, it’s our next big season after the holidays. We mark time by it, fretting about what we need to accomplish before South By and what we don’t want to think about until after South By.

Macklemore and Ryan Lewis at SXSW

For those that haven’t attempted it yet, I want to reassure you that you can fully partake in the excitement of the conference without paying for a badge. Badges top out at about $1700 for the walk-up rate of Platinum badge, and are cheaper the earlier you buy. The cheapest it gets is for a Film badge at $500, but you have to buy it in September of the previous year. So…yeah. It’s expensive.

Fear not! There are tons of free events. Waaay too many to list here and far too many to predict in advance. The key to South By is to be available, be prepared, and roll with the punches. Be content to miss certain things and just enjoy the moment you’re in. For each amazing show you see, you are missing 50 more. It’s hard not to get wrapped up in the hype of secret shows, which is big part of South By. But you can’t do everything, so make peace with it or you’ll drive yourself crazy. The worst thing you can do is run from place to place, trying to get in and spending more time standing in line than doing anything else. So, without further ado, here are my tips:

Be Available

1. First of all, you have to get yourself where you need to be. This is the time to acquaint yourself with public transportation, ride your bike, or hitch a ride with friends because parking SUCKS.

2. For Interactive (March 7-11) you want to be downtown. This is the week of the best freebies. All the tech companies are giving out fun swag, free drinks, and throwing parties. Bars and restaurants will turn into branded lounges. Go in, get a drink, pick up a free JamBox and learn about SoundCloud or Bing or Samsung or Foursquare.

Doppelgangez at SXSW

3. Have your C-list email address handy for when you need to sign up for random shit. Be prepared for everyone you walk by to offer you a free app. Or branded chotchkies. Take what you want, leave the crap.

4. If celebrity sightings are your thing, scope out the theaters for premieres and bring your best camera. Film takes place March 7-15.

5. Music (March 11-15) is when the city gets a little dirty. If partying is your bag, head over to 6th Street or Red River for the thickest crowds and best people watching.

Be Prepared

6. Make sure you’ve got comfortable shoes! You’ll also want a shoulder bag (to fill with swag during Interactive) and all the crap you need to carry.

7. Obvious essentials: cash, cell phone charger, sunblock or sweatshirt (depending on the weather,) mints and chapstick. If you’re in it for the long haul, maybe stash a KIND bar or two.

Eco Light Garden at SXSW

8. Keep your eye out for free shows. Waterloo Records always has a full line-up. There’s a wealth of bands and parties available all over East Austin (and everywhere, really.) The key is to be aware of the most current information. How? Twitter! Here’s who I recommend following:

9. Lots of events will require an RSVP. The decision on whether to RSVP is yours, but I recommend it. (Use that C-list email address!) Many places won’t have an actual guest list, but are just looking to collect your information for their databases. RSVPing does NOT guarantee you entry into parties. You will wait in line with everyone else.

10. There are massive free events like Fader Fort which DO require an RSVP to get a wristband. Spots for these events are limited and draw some of the bigger bands, so it’s best to confirm your spot as early as possible. Other huge stages sponsored by companies like Doritos and Red Bull will ask for RSVPs, and you should go ahead and get those in as soon as possible, too.

11. Confused about the RSVPs? My tactic is to just sign up for everything I hear about. You can also use an RSVP service to do the dirty work for you. ATXShhh charges $5 and RSVPster has various levels of RSVPing in a pass format starting at $30.

SXSW

12. Keep up with the gossip. Sometimes it’s true and you run into Jimmy Kimmel at a barbecue truck. Sometimes you get burned by wasting an entire night at the supremely boring Austin Music Awards waiting for Johnny Depp to show up…and he doesn’t.

Roll with the Punches

13. Always have a backup plan. If you don’t make it into a show, have another one lined up. Plan 2-3 activities that you could be doing at once and try to minimize running from place to place. DO take petty cabs and promotional rides everywhere. Little electric golf carts sponsored by Netflix? Yes. Piggyback ride for guy dressed as Darth Vader? YES. Cram as much fun as you can into this epic ten day span, because it’ll be over before you know it and your fun memories will fade into a blur of South By’s past.

14. Don’t shy away from the big events. While it’s virtually impossible to get into the secret shows like Prince or Justin Timberlake, it does happen. Pull every string, use whatever connections you have, shamelessly promise anything to anyone. All you can do is try.

Austin Music Awards

Again, you want to live in the moment and enjoy where you are. You will see lots of crazy shit. You will hear a mind-boggling amount of great music. Don’t worry about what you’re missing. Just have fun!

Do you have any tips to share? Leave a comment!

Thursday, February 13th

Five Places in Austin to Get Stuff Done

This guest post is written by Laura Arnold, blogger at Austinite Tips. Go check out her site for her take on Austin’s best, worst, and weirdest things to see and do! 

Everyone needs to sit down at a computer and get things done occasionally. Yes, you could stay in your house, but you run the risk of being distracted by children, pets, or half-finished home improvement projects. (Building shelves is way harder than it looks on Pinterest, people.)

I’m here to help! These are five of my favorite Austin spots to be productive.

Cenote 

Full disclosure: I don’t drink coffee because I react to caffeine the way most people react to cocaine. Two sips and I’m bouncing around the room yelling ideas for television shows. Not good. (Mad Betty note: I’m devastated for her. Coffee is my life.)

But Cenote is awesome, even without taking the coffee into account. Nice atmosphere, plenty of indoor and outdoor seating, reliable WiFi, and delicious food– including cheese plates from Antonelli’s. They also have happy hour from 3-7 on weekdays, so you can reward yourself for your hard work with a local beer. Yes, please!

Cenote, East Austin, Texas

Allen Park

Have you ever sat down to work, then realized an hour later that you’ve spent the whole time looking at Corgi puppies on BuzzFeed? I feel your pain. Sometimes you have to work somewhere without Internet access.

Luckily, Austin’s got a wealth of parks to choose from. If the weather’s nice, I love working outside in Allen Park. It’s got 12 picnic tables to choose from and no admission fee, so you can bring a picnic and stay all afternoon. You might get menaced by grackles, but that’s pretty much the only distraction.

Allen Park, Austin, Texas

Epoch Coffee – Circa 13

Circa 13 opened in mid-December, and there was a glorious period when it was empty because no one knew about it. Unfortunately, jerks like me keep talking about it, so it gets more crowded every week. My bad, y’all.

It’s technically Epoch Coffee‘s sister store, and shares the name, but they’re completely different. Circa 13 is like Epoch’s put-together older sibling. It’s less cluttered, has less graffiti, has gender-segregated bathrooms, has less aggressive music, and isn’t open 24 hours. While it lacks the grubby charm of the original, it’s a great place to sit for hours without anyone bothering you.

Circa 13, Austin, Texas

Faulk Central Library

Need complete silence to work? Would the constant chatter of a coffee shop drive you slowly insane? You should check out the Austin Public Library nearest you– they’re a great option for people who need quiet.

Faulk is the main branch of our library system, and as such it’s the biggest and is open every day of the week. After you’re done working you can treat yourself by checking out something from their surprisingly decent movie collection. (If you haven’t sensed a theme here, I need rewards to get myself to do basic adult tasks. Like paying bills.)

Faulk Central Library, Austin, Texas

Strange Brew

As Austin gets increasingly richer, flashier, and more homogenized, it’s nice to have places that keep the old vibe alive. Strange Brew does exactly that. It’s unpretentious, relaxed, and a favorite of aging hippies. Proof: Strange Brew is one of the few places in Austin that serves hemp milk. I didn’t even know hemp milk was a thing.

But even if you’re not a white dude with dreadlocks and a Legalize It tee-shirt, you should give Strange Brew a try. The baristas are friendly and I’ve really liked everything I’ve ever eaten there. If you’re there in the morning, spend $3.50 on one of their giant breakfast tacos. You won’t regret it.

Strange Brew, Austin, Texas

Laura Arnold lives in Central Austin and works for a local tech company. She spends her free time eating an unhealthy amount of queso, buying Groupons and instantly regretting them, and reviewing Austin activities for her blog Austinite Tips.

Mad Betty note: Go check out these places in Austin to get stuff done. Go get some stuff done, you lazy bums! But first, make sure to visit her blog for other tips and to read more of her insightful and fun writing. Thanks to Laura for the fantastic guest post. Isn’t she so cute, you guys?

Laura Arnorld, Austinite Tips