Austin So, 2nd Street has become something of an upscale adult playground over recent years. We put together a nice, grown-up crawl that starts and ends at the Willie Nelson statue. You'll begin with a nice group shot with Willie, maybe pretend to strum his giant bronze guitar. At the end of the night, you can either say polite goodnights or round up the troops for a more... creative take with Austin's living legend.
Happy Hour: TRACE at the W
200 Lavaca Street
You've got to love the idea of drinking at a swanky hotel bar -- it gives the illusion of having lots of disposable income while sipping on discounted premium liquor. Luckily, TRACE has a very generous happy hour; weekdays from 5-7pm and weekends from 3-5pm, and depending on your crew you can hook up $4 Texas beers, $5 Texas spirits, $6 wine, and $7 TRACE craft cocktails. We like the Brother's Quarrel, made with Buffalo Trace bourbon, St. Germain, ginger, pineapple juice, and scotch. Don't get too crazy though, the night is young.
Dinner: Lamberts BBQ
401 W 2nd Street
What's on the menu for dinner? Barbecue, but this time you won't be sitting at a picnic table with white bread and butcher paper. You will be at Lamberts gentlemanly digs and you will feel the vibration of the upstairs music venue. Start out with the crispy wild boar ribs flavored with honey, sambal, and blue cheese, then get down on some oak-smoked Black Angus brisket rubbed with brown sugar and coffee. Then finish that off with Lamberts Baked Mac & 3 Cheeses and wash that down with a Western Spark -- a refreshing mix of Weller 12yr bourbon, lemon juice, fresh mint, and bubbly wine.
After-Dinner Drinks: La Condesa
400 W 2nd Street
Now the short walk to La Condesa will feel like a long walk because, well BBQ and mac and cheese, but when you arrive, head straight to the bar. Order the El Cúbico (whole leaf tobacco-infused Cazadores reposado, vanilla-infused brandy, lemon, grilled pineapple juice, mezcal essence, volcanic-saffron-infused salt rim). That description will blow your Instagram followers' collective minds posted underneath a Valencia-fied image of the golden, boozy nectar.
Dessert: Second Bar + Kitchen
200 Congress Avenue
It's a complexing phenomenon that, even when you think you couldn't eat another bite, as soon as someone sets down a creme brûlée, your stomach suddenly makes a little room. You'll want to fill that space with Second Bar's strawberry shortcake, served with cornbread ice cream and fresh basil.
Keep the Party Going: Living Room Lounge at the W
200 Lavaca Street
Now for all logical purposes you are going to head back to the W, not only because you parked close by but also because their swanky Living Room Lounge is where your crew is going to round home base. Not in "that way" -- not yet, anyway. They have five plush loungey areas to choose from: The Tequila Bar, The Living Room, The Records Room, The Patio, or the Secret Room which is lit only with glowing red lights. Finish off your evening with a Jade Gimlet -- a $15 concoction of Hendrick’s gin, Green Chartreuse, ZICO coconut water, basil, simple syrup, lime juice, and slice of cucumber. Because coconut water has electrolytes and you'll need them.
Trace, located in downtown Austin, is an American resto serving up farm-to-table fare. Get creative and try out some antelope loin or venison sausage.
Lambert's Downtown Barbecue, located in the Warehouse District, serves its version of finely crafted fancy barbecue ( brown sugar & coffee-rubbed angus steak, anyone?). Hosting nightly live music and serving over a dozen unique cocktails, a dinner can turn into a night to remember at this bar-of-all-trades. Located in a renovated old-style general store, Lambert's friendly, vintage vibes are sure to impress.
La Condesa is the place to go if you're looking for traditional Mexican flavor with modern Austin flair. The menu, offering up handfuls of tortas, taquitos, combos, and a few other staples, is shorter than most, but there's an obvious preference for quality over quantity at this Downtown restaurant. Tacos strewn with red pickled onion, cilantro, and guacamole make the ideal warm-up round before hitting the bar, where tequila and mezcal reign supreme in customizable flights.
Second Bar + Kitchen prides themselves on creating a true farm-to-table experience, offering small plates, pizzas, and various entrees. Our personal favorite is the Congress Burger, which is essentially the Rolls Royce of Austin burgers; ground brisket & chuck, gruyére cheese, shallot confit, and horseradish pickles, with the option to double the meat and cheese, add pork belly, avocado, fried egg, and seared foie gras. There are also a wide variety of wines, beers, and craft cocktails. Stop by Second for lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch.
Just a few blocks from the mansion where another famous W rested his head as governor, the W's Austin branch has helped define the downtown 2nd St District, serving as a magnet for more youthful out-of-towners. Their WET Bar offers poolside sips and its Living Room Bar and TRACE has a menu that is updated frequently with new cocktails.