Try it, you’ll like it.

Love the sights, sounds and people watching that go with SXSW but can’t bare the hour-long lines, over priced beer and crowds that could fill a pre-strike football stadium?  Head down Congress Avenue (about a mile from downtown) for a scene that is big on local charm and local music but scrimps on those other not-so-desirable parts of Austin’s biggest tourist attraction.

When my friend Jordan came into town for the last bit of Southby fun, fellow Austin local Leah and I took her SoCo way for some street-side shopping and free music shows. Not a shabby substitute.

Holiday Adventures [part 2-

And so it begins, the second installment of our HOLIDAY ADVENTURES! series.

Part 2: The local tourists

There is quite a bit of Austin we have yet to see and do. I’m even embarrassed to admit some of it, but we thought the holidays would be a perfect time to scratch some of those “haven’t done ‘ems” off the list and move them to the “been there, done that” column.

Tuesday we begin our adventure with brunch at the South Congress Cafe.

I’m a big fan of brunch and it’s a down right shame that I don’t take part in the delightful hybridity of eggs and french fries more often. The chic cafe has retro touches from its light fixtures to its orange and turquoise color pallet. But, unlike other South Congress staples, it’s anything but gaudy. We were greeted by a hostess but opted to eat at the bar where guests can shave 20 percent off the total cost of their meal with no cuts to service. Plus, I always enjoy the people watching, which is a bit more ample at the bar area.

After staring at the menu for some of the 10 most difficult minutes of my life, Heath and I finally decided which food would be lucky enough to wind-up in our bellies. For Heath it was the Carrot Cake French Toast and for me it was the Crab Cake Eggs Benedict. The french toast dish was scrumptious but also rich and proved too much for Heath to finish in one sitting. My fun twist on Eggs Benedict (sub english muffin for crab cakes and eggs for spinach quiche) was equal parts crunchy, moist and creamy. Don’t ask me how they do it, ask only for seconds.

After finishing our meal we took off for another never-traveled-to destination: the zoo. Austin’s zoo can’t really hold a candle to the Fort Worth zoo or other animal theme parks of larger cities, but it’s not suppose to. The Austin zoo is a quaint non profit that was established to be a rehabilitation center and animal refuge. You know how you hear about people who get tigers as pets and then realize, “Oh crap, this thing is a tiger!”? Those are the animals that end up in the austin zoo. Each animal habitat has information about where the animal was rescued from and how it ended up in the zoo. Some had been seriously injured or abused before winding up in the zoo, but all seemed happy to be there when we visited.

Stay tuned for more holiday adventures to come.