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SXSW Austin Local Picks: Tacos, Record Stores, Margaritas & More

When you get to SXSW, it’s pretty much a guarantee that you’ll be overstimulated and inundated with suggestions for all the awesome stuff to enjoy while in Austin. And why shouldn’t you be? Austin is an amazing town bursting with great food, cool music, and of course, places to wet your whistle.

Austin local and our own Manager of Entertainment Relations Amy Lombardi linked up with some TuneCore Artists who also call Austin home and asked them about their favorite spots around town. Because trust us, you always get the best digs from folks who know the area inside and out.

If you’re heading to SXSW 2016 this week, here are some superb ‘Local Picks’ for everything from BBQ and tacos to venues and record stores!

[Editors Note: if you see it listed more than once, you better check it out!]

Holiday Mountain

Music Venues: The Scoot Inn is definitely one of our favorites. It feels like an outdoor adult playground and everybody working there is super colorful, creative, and friendly. The vibe is generally pretty mellow and down to earth and there are often some really expressive dancers/music fans. It’s an uplifting environment and drinks aren’t too pricey.
Tacos: Veracruz All Natural taco truck will treat you so right. They are parked outside of Radio Coffee & Beer which is a legit & welcoming spot to grab a latte afterwards & hang with some friends.
Margaritas or Micheladas: For sure the veggie juice-infused margaritas at our favorite queer-friendly vegan bar Cheer Up Charlies!
BBQ: To be honest my BBQ game is low because I already have enough trouble not sleeping like 12 hours a day and heavy food generally makes me feel like my only life choice is staying in bed with my dog, but some of my good friends who I trust a lot woke up at 6am the other day and stood in line at Franklin’s the entire morning – they all said it was completely worth the wait without any doubt.
Queso: Queso is another category where our education is low, but the most similar dish I can strongly advise is the Artichoke Enchiladas at Mother’s.
Record Stores: The record store inside of Juiceland on 45th & Duval is the illest, not only because you can get your juice on while you are browsing the selection, but they also are generally playing something super fresh in the vein of dank electronic neo soul like Flying Lotus.
Music Store: Switched On doesn’t carry guitars, but they are definitely the best synthesizer shop I have ever been to. They offer a platform for a lot of really advanced masterpiece instruments that in most cities, you would never have an opportunity to feel or play, if even for a few minutes. They’ve also saved my ass on several occasions, hours before a gig, helping me not freak out when one of my Dave Smith synths is acting crazy. The people who work there are really knowledgeable and passionate- we love ’em a lot!

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Empire Control Room (Venue)

Alexander Beggins of Wild Child

Music Venues: Cheer Up Charlies is my hometown hangout. Always put on great shows and it has a great atmosphere.
Tacos: Simply cannot beat Tacodeli breakfast tacos in my opinion. Pro tip: Get the green sauce.
Margaritas or Micheladas: Polvos for margs and Hotel San Jose for micheladas. I crave the michelada from Hotel San Jose all the time. It’s a first stop when I get home from the road.
BBQ: Freedman’s BBQ in West Campus. It’s all the rage in my book.
Queso: It’s not queso but it’s an app so I’m going to say it: the spicy chili edamame from Madam Mam’s is mind-blowing.
Record Stores: Waterloo always and forever.
Music Store: Fidler’s Green.

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View from Povlos

Brandon Kinder of The Wealthy West

Music Venues: Cactus Cafe, Tellers, The Parish, and Stubbs.
Tacos: Vera Cruz for regular tacos, Torchy’s for Breakfast Tacos.
Margaritas: Vivo (cucumber margarita!).
BBQ: Terry Black’s BBQ.
Queso: Torchy’s & Kerbey Lane.
Record Store: Waterloo & Breakaway Records.
Music Store: Austin Vintage.

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Waterloo Records

Chaka Mpeanaji of Riders Against the Storm

Music Venues: Empire Control Room and Garage.
Tacos: Veracruz All Natural or Tyson’s Tacos.
Record Stores: Breakaway Records, Waterloo.

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Stubbs BBQ

Colin Campbell of Strange Fiction

Music Venue: Empire Garage has recently taken the cake for amazing FOH, on-stage sound and great lights.
Tacos: Not super close to downtown, but Tyson’s Tacos on Airport Blvd is always a winner. They make lots of crazy taco combinations, if you’re into that sort of thing (one personal favorite is The Pharr East). On top of that they have free beer on Fridays and give one free taco for every song you sing with the ukulele.
Queso and Margaritas: El Chile on Manor Road. Get the Queso Flameado. It’s different from your typical liquid queso, but after having this style I will never go back to the cheese soup…which I know is blasphemy to say in a town like Austin. While you’re there, you might as well have a few margaritas, too.
BBQ: John Mueller’s truck on East 6th. The lines aren’t usually as bad as other local landmarks, and the brisket is amazing. Also for a bit classier BBQ experience, Lambert’s downtown is solid. They also have a pretty incredible, though pricey, brunch.
Music Store: Austin Vintage is hard to beat with a drool-worthy selection of vintage guitars and amps, and plenty of effects to play around with.

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Torchy’s Tacos

Kady and Ben of Kady Rain

Music Venue: Stubb’s Indoors.
Tacos and Queso: Torchy’s on South First and El Paso.
Margaritas or Micheladas: Polvos.
BBQ: Rudy’s Country Store.
Record Store: End of an Ear.
Music Store: South Austin Music.

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South Austin Music

Charlie of Charlie Faye & the Fayettes

Music Venues: There are two new venues downtown that all the Austin musicians are falling in love with: The Townsend and Geraldine’s. The Townsend is on Congress, right across the street from the Paramount. The front of the venue is a classy bar with the best cocktails in town (yes, they’ve been voted as such), and in the back is a fantastic-sounding room for intimate performances. Geraldine’s is the music venue inside the new Hotel Van Zandt on Rainey Street. It’s a gorgeous room with great food to boot – and Lauren Bucherie, who books it, has created the new-hotel-meets-old-Austin music vibe of our dreams.
Tacos: I’m gonna go off the beaten path here, and tell you about the quickest place to get a taco since this information could come in handy during SXSW. It’s a drive-through called El Tacorrido on S. 1st and Oltorf. I won’t claim it competes with any of the gourmet taco places in town – but when you have only a half hour to spare between shows and you want a totally yummy taco that doesn’t even require getting out of your car, it sure is convenient. I like their breakfast tacos all day long.
Record Stores: Antone’s Record Shop. Owned by two of Austin’s best musicians, Mike Buck and Eve Monsees. These two have impeccable taste in music, and their shop is a feel-good haven for vinyl lovers, blues fans, and generally everyone who believes that the old stuff is the good stuff.
Music Store: South Austin Music. Centrally located and not overpriced, with the friendliest staff of any guitar shop I’ve ever known, this is my favorite guitar shop in town. They’re honest, they do great work, and they sell awesome stuff – new and vintage.


And there you have it: all the goods from those who know Austin best. Got a great suggestion that you don’t see on the list? Caring is sharing! Let us know about ’em in the comment section.