There are certain topics that Austinites, specifically, are irrationally passionate about. Some are wholly relatable, while a few are slightly more esoteric. Either way, they are guaranteed discussion-starters for locals, who can certainly get worked up about them. So whether you're looking to break the ice with a new chum (no need to #BumbleBFF), or just feel like starting a good bar argument, these are some pressure points for the city.
Sure, it’s an ice chest… but the way Austinites talk, it’s the modern re-invention of Indiana Jones’ Ark of the Covenant. Not only would the 10 commandments be safe and sound in one, but they’d keep their appropriate stone-tablet temperature, too. From ramblers to roadies, odds are you’re going to see someone wearing the gear, or thrusting the signature silver cup at the bartender for a continuously cold cocktail.
Never mind the hundreds of authentic taco trucks; these are the two generally accepted camps, and you can go 10 rock-‘em-sock-‘em rounds over your allegiance. You like the mashed potatoes; your opponent doesn’t like the pre-fab tortillas. You like the creative naming convention; your opponent prefers the smiling service. Barack stopped at Torchy’s, but Tacodeli still feels local. There’s no way to end this but to have a taco tasting.
Cutting out cable is Austin’s equivalent of going off the grid. People nod enthusiastically as you wax poetic about all the extra time you have, the money you’re saving, how the cable company is a dinosaur that’s cratering anyway. In the next breath, mention how fast your Google Fiber is so that you can watch all your favorite shows on a friend’s borrowed Netflix account. Bully for you. Buy the group a beverage with the hundy you’re saving a month, and you’ll be fast friends.
Despite the fact that Austin is one of the friendliest cities to dogs, there can never be enough places that are dog-friendly... as though your dog is actually a child, and doesn’t just pee on the floor like one. “Can you BELIEVE I can’t bring Puddles into the mall? I’ll never go there again. I prefer to shop local anyway,” she sniffs, taking an imperious gulp of gin. Just discreetly order two more and nod. You’ll be hand in hand at Home Depot in no time.
Adopting, not shopping
In a similar vein, don’t you dare mention you’re looking for a pup from a breeder. This may be the one thing that Austinites get truly downright mad about. You can practically hear Sarah McLachlan’s commercial queue up before you get the “breeds aren’t real” lecture. And rightfully so, you monster. On second thought, don’t start a conversation with that.
Movies can be divisive. She likes rom-coms. You’re more into thrillers. The recent spate of Marvel movies is either right on or ridiculous. Brad or George. You get it. Films are an excellent start to the road down friendship lane, but be advised that you’re seeing them at Alamo or not at all. There’s enough film kitsch here to make you feel like a real buff, but also enough booze to help you make it through Nicholas Sparks’ latest tearjerker.
Mentioning you're from California
Music stops. Record scratches. A glass breaks. You’ve done it now, buddy. The Austin-California tension ‘round these parts is so thick, you could cut it with a steak knife. The bad news is that you may have just lost your audience. The good news is, with the number of Austifornians rising daily, you’ll probably find a tech bro that’s got your back and shares your love of the left coast.
Uber & Lyft
Uber and Lyft leaving = conversational gold mine. Bemoan their fate, argue the politics, discuss that one time you used one or the other in Morocco/Albania/Paris, talk about your abysmal experience with the new apps, judge pictures of posters in Arcade City, or call a taxi and take bets on how long it will be before they show up. Then get on your scooter and ride into the sunset together.
Locally grown Whole Foods is more community center than grocery store. You can bond over the chocolate mountain, that Indian buffet, that one time you found truffled Gouda in the cheese bits bin, the oyster bar in the Domain location, yoga on the rooftop... Bring up the price point and make the old “whole paycheck” joke, and next thing you know, you guys are putting together a lambrusco meet-up at Bar Lamar.
While the love of craft beer isn’t unique to Austin, the spate of new breweries is certainly something remarkable. Sultans of the suds are always down to debate which of the breweries are worth the trip. Whether you’re a fan of the OGs like Austin Beerworks, Independence Brewing Co., Real Ale, or Jester King, or more interested in upstarts like Blue Owl Brewing, Texas Beer Co, and Zilker Brewing Co., there's plenty of common ground to toast a few together.
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