I found time to do some of what I always do when I’m in a new place. First walk around as much as possible. Second, while I’m doing that eat at the local vegetarian restaurants. Third, visit the largest local library.
I think I crisscrossed most of the neighborhoods adjacent to or nearby downtown, about 30 miles total. I enjoyed Travis Heights the most, though admittedly many of my other walks were during the wee morning hours when I couldn’t take in as much visually. Mansions to the west. To the east the Tenth Ward, apparently a predominantly Mexican district, very different feel from San Franicsco’s Mission. Not at all urban. Are drug stores few in Austin, or is it odd to have them every other block, only a slight exaggeration for some areas of San Franicsco? Pleasant surprise: almost no barking dogs.
Mr. Natural (east) is all vegetarian with many vegan options and served some of the best Mexican food I’ve had (however, I’m not a huge fan). I had Tofu Pipian, “Tofu cooked with a rich sauce made of pumpkin and sesame seeds, peanuts, and peppers.” The tofu was very tasty.
Magnolia Caf� (south) does have many vegetarian options, but almost none vegan. I had Magnolia Stir Fry, “Ginger, garlic, carrots, broccoli, onion, mushroom, red bells and yellow squash sauteed in honey-lime teriyaki. Served over brown rice. With Tofu.” Surprisingly tasty (I’m really not a fan of American diner fare). The place was packed with a short wait for a seat at 3PM.
The Austin Central Library isn’t shiny, but it was quiet, aroma-free, and seemed to have a good collection. Too bad the San Francisco main library mostly has the opposite traits.
I look forward to visiting Austin again. The place started to grow on me.