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The Five-Point Weekend Escape Plan

Chow Down and Drink Up in Austin

3. What to Do

A visit to Austin's Rainey Street isn't complete without downing one of 100 brews in the giant beer garden at Banger's.  

Hit the city’s newest nightlife district, Rainey Street, just south of downtown, formerly a sleepy residential area made up of some of the city’s oldest wooden bungalows—all built before 1934—which, in recent years, have gradually been converted to bars and restaurants. The aptly named Bungalow, is, in fact, housed in a restored low-slung craftsman home replete with white-painted wooden rocking chairs on the front porch. Grab a craft beer like (512) IPA (named for the city’s area code) or local favorite Firemans #4 (pints $4.50 to $8.50) and head to the spacious side yard, where the young crowd gathers for alfresco boozing and lawn games like cornhole and giant Jenga. Earlier this year, Half Step, Sasha Petraske’s first Austin venture, opened down the block and serves craft cocktails like the Floradora (gin, lime, ginger, raspberry syrup; $11) inside a beautifully restored bungalow, low-lit with Deco fixtures and boasting built-in wooden booths and gold flowered wallpaper. When you get peckish, head to Banger's for a choice of over a dozen sausage preparations, including jalapeño-cheddar bratwurst ($9) or a vegetarian beet-and-goat-cheese sausage on a pumpernickel bun ($8). Peruse the 100 beer selections, ranging from Lone Star to Belgian Orval Trappist Ale ($5–$11), and head out to the enormous beer garden with your pint.

Take a cooking class ($135) at Hudson's on the Bend restaurant, situated in an old stone farmhouse 30 minutes outside of Austin. It’s known for refined Hill Country cuisine heavy on local proteins like venison, pheasant, and wild boar, and once a month, chef Jeff Blank teaches aspiring gourmets at his home nearby overlooking Lake Travis. You’ll learn to make dishes like venison osso buco, hot and crunchy avocado, and Hill Country surf and turf, then sit down to enjoy your handiwork, paired with local wines.

Enjoy some of the city’s best grub to-go (literally) with Austin Eats Food Tours. For the most varied look at the local culinary landscape, try the Best of Austin Food Truck Van Tour ($75), which visits the farmer's market for biscuits and gravy from Dai Due Butcher Shop, makes a pit stop at La Barbecue for some brisket, hits Dock and Roll for lobster rolls, and drops by Burro Cheese Kitchen for grilled cheese. Those who like to burn calories as they’re consumed should spring for the East Austin Electric Bicycle Food Tour ($85): Guests are equipped with e-bikes from partner Rocket Bike to pedal (or not) to stops like Blue Ox Barbecue, famed Pan Asian food truck East Side King, and South American food specialist Rio’s Brazilian.

Published on Aug 21, 2014 as a web exclusive.