Experiencing SXSW Like a Local – A Guide for the Perplexed

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It’s halftime for South by Southwest (SXSW) 2012 in Austin, Texas. By now, you have played with the latest technology and software on the market. You have wined and dined at the swankiest parties and after parties. The film segment of SXSW is rolling along and the music segment just began. So much to do. So many choices.

Three things remain constant no matter where the festival takes you:

You gotta eat, you gotta drink, and you gotta get around town. So do as the locals do – live like an Austinite.

You can’t expect to party hard on an empty stomach. Luckily for you, Austin is famous for it’s local food stands.

People sell gourmet-style cuisine from their trailers, trucks and even smart cars. And we’re not talking about grimy peddlers trying to make a buck. Vendors work hard to provide the best food possible. Food stands all over Austin will be open from early morning to past midnight as you enjoy Austin nightlife during SXSW.

Be sure to drink water. Lots of water. After you have hydrated, take the time to enjoy some of Austin’s famous craft beers. Many locally-owned brewing companies like Jester King, Live Oak and Real Ale sponsor shows throughout the week. A local blog named Beertown Austin has compiled a list of “Better Beer Shows” worth attending. Most of them are free. Click HERE for the list.

Austin brewers take their craft extremely seriously; SXSW is as an opportunity to show off their delectable recipes.

Have you noticed that driving a car through Downtown during SXSW is like paddling a canoe through molasses? If you want to experience South by Southwest like a true Austin festivalphile, consider renting a bike. Austin has won multiple awards for its bike friendliness, and many local companies rent bicycles to tourists. Prices range, so shop around.

When you finally pedal down to SXSW, companies like South By-Cycle on Sixth Street will provide you with Austin bicycle parking for as little as five bucks a day.

Don't leave your bike unprotected at SXSW. Austin is one of the top ten worst cities for bike theft.

 

 

Now you have Austinot Dusty’s three tips for enjoying South-by like a local. Listen to Austinots Eric and Brittany’s podcast HERE for a fun and quirky SXSW survival guide.

 

Austinot Dusty asks:
What food and drink should everyone experience before the end of the festival?

 

(Photos are property of Ed Castillo, Scott Kveton, and Chelsea Oakes, respectively.)

  • Csledge89

    Frank. Hot Dog, Cold Beer. But be prepared to wait in line for a while. But the amazing hot dogs made in house are so worth the wait, and local beer is always on the tap. Also, Mellow Johnny’s iced mochas and hot lattes are to die for. But because MJ and the attached Juan Pelota Cafe are so popular, it’s basically standing room only. But if you’re looking for a bike, MJ’s also does bike rentals.

    http://hotdogscoldbeer.com/
    http://www.mellowjohnnys.com/

    • Austinot Dusty

      Thanks for the advice! I have never been to Frank. Hot Dog, Cold Beer before. It must be one of those hidden Austin originals. When do you think is the best time to go?

      Also, don’t forget to mention that Mellow Johnny’s connection to Lance Armstrong when telling people about bike rentals. I’d rent a bike from Armstrong, just saying. I think he knows what he is talking about.

      • Csledge89

         Frank is on 4th and Colorado in downtown. Food is delicious! All the hot dogs are made in house from various meats, and there are some… unique hot dogs to be had. I went at 2:00-ish when I went and it was standing-room only. Of course, it was also SXSW last year. Packed, and was probably a 20 minute wait (for a hot dog!). But it was worth it. It’s open early and open until midnight. Wish I drank so I could try some of the local beers that are on tap!

        And MJ’s is best known as Lance Armstrong’s bike shop; that’s why it has such a loyal, almost cult following. The employees are super friendly. A lot of them have no problem with just talking to customers, just ’cause. And the rental bikes are clearly hand-picked from the huge selection that MJ’s offers for purchase, and they’re really good. No crappy bikes to be seen. Everything from Trek road bikes to Trek mountain bikes and Trek commuter bikes–see a trend here? I suggest it if someone doesn’t have a car or something for SXSW as Austin is a pretty bike-friendly city. Just don’t leave it unguarded!

        And if you feel like going on a ‘Livestrong tour’ Of Austin, I suggest Mellow Johnny’s (LA’s bike shop), Z’Tejas on 6th street (where the idea of Livestrong was dreamed up over a plate of tacos), and Livestrong Headquarters further down on 6th. Headquarters always has tours of their place, so just check their twitter feed at @livestronghq for times. Tours are always free, so great places to go. Great places, great work, and great connections to Austin.

        • Austinot Dusty

          Oh man. So I suppose the only time to get a dog is early in the morning before the crowds pick up? Also, I had no clue that Livestrong was conceived in Z’Tejas. It’s amazing what a good taco can do. 

          • Csledge89

             http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tsqeBl4NlrQ This is a video from Livestrong Headquarters with Kate talking about the origins of the Lance Armstrong Foundation (The original table and chairs from Z’s are on display at LSHQ). Basically, five guys got together at Z’s on 6th and started to discuss all the things that Lance *didn’t* have during his fight with cancer. Cancer support, at that time, was unorganized and didn’t focus on survivorship. So these guys came up with the LAF over a plate of tacos, talking about, ‘how can we make this better for other people?’ It’s amazing what good TexMex can do to change the world!

  • http://twitter.com/davidlackey David Lackey

    Check out the Way South Philly cheesesteak trailer on E 6th. Amazing cheesesteaks. 
    Owner Willy is a great guy and a native Philadelphian–even has the rolls flown in from Philly.
    Longhorn Bikes on E. Cesar Chavez also rents bikes I believe and the owner seems to be a really decent guy there too.

    • Austinot Dusty

      David, I totally agree. Longhorn Bikes is perfect for any bicyclists who want to explore SXSW. It’s right there next to the river, far enough away from the action to be peaceful, yet still pretty close. Great suggestion.

      So many people have told me about the Way South Trailer. I haven’t heard a single bad thing yet. I think I will check it out today for lunch during SXSW. What cheesesteak would you recommend?

      • http://twitter.com/davidlackey David Lackey

        I rarely vary from the Clubber Lang (adding Tabasco, but that’s just me), but even the bite of the vegetable cheese”steak” I tried was good.

        • Austinot Dusty

          Great. I will try that Clubber Lang today. Thanks for the heads up!

  • Haleighbrianneburger

    Mmmpanadas!  Or Le Cafe Crepe!  Both are delicious for breakfast and lunch!

    • Austinot Dusty

      Le Cafe Crepe! Le Cafe Crepe! Which dish from LCC is your favorite?

      • Haleighbrianneburger

        Crepe au Chocolat, of course! Sweet and simple.

        • Austinot Dusty

          Delicious.