We've just returned from another fabulous trip to Austin, TX , an eagerly anticipated annual business getaway to check out the city's best spots and do some vintage buying for the stores.
 Straight off the plane, it is tradition for Dana and I to head to Ironworks Barbecue, just 15 miles from the airport.  I can almost smell it as we land. 

Brisket carved in front of you straight out of the smoker, served by the pound. I am not prepared to say how much we ate, suffice to say that it was show stopping.

We stayed right in the heart of the action. Nestled behind dense, perfectly groomed hedges lies the Hotel San Jose.  Located on the eclectic South Congress Street the hotel was rescued from dereliction in the 90's and thoughtfully reinvented by Texas native Liz Lambert.  Simple and modern, the patio evolves every 24 hours from quiet hangover zone through popular lunch spot into buzzing evening venue. 
 
You can order a mimosa and cheese plate poolside and take in the sounds of the city from the privacy of this oasis. 
Or just lie back and stare at the cloudless sky.
We wandered up South Congress and put our names down at our favorite lunch spot: The South Congress Cafe, because the wait can be up to two hours on weekends.  The restaurant texts your phone when your table is ready. WELL.WORTH.IT.  
The wait justifies a bit of pre lunch shopping to whet the appetite.
Allen Boot Co is where boot lovers end up when they die.  It is 100% boot heaven.  Aisle after aisle of cowboy boots each perfect pair outdone by the next. 
 The smell: pure cowhide The soundtrack: Women cooing in excitement.  As I check out with my 'can't live without' pair, my cell buzzes.  Lunch awaits.
I wouldn't think to order crab cakes in the State of the Cow.  Dana did however.  Not disappointing.
The cow was also delicious: served with cilantro, beets and stewed apricots.
Having restored our strength we limbered up and ventured into Uncommon Objects which is my third favorite store on the planet after Stripe and Stripe MEN.  This is a finely curated Aladdin's Cave of curiosities and collections.  Items grouped together by color, association (or lack thereof), a constant tantalizing assault of the senses.  This is a place where two hours your life can pass in sheer visual delight.  It is as if Tim Burton's mind was an antique emporium.
 
This is our second visit and won't be our last.  Austin combines all of the charm of Southern hospitality with the best trappings of city life.  This is a place where creativity is celebrated and entrepreneurs are encouraged to succeed.  It's mood is laid back and confidently optimistic.  It is quite simply a great place to be.