Jan 28, 2014

Lunchtime at the Nutty Brown Café, Dripping Springs, Texas

I figured it was about time to put out one last little blog post related to my work trip to Austin last fall. 

The Nutty Brown Café is the type of place that is busy even when it’s quiet.  By that, I mean even when people aren't going there for a kick-ass concert at their outdoor amphitheater (and we’re not necessarily talking small-time shows here … check out their website), they’re flocking there for the food.  And that’s what brought me and some work friends there while travelling between offices in the Texas hill country.

It’s located just southwest of Austin – Dripping Springs, Texas, to be exact – on U.S. Highway 290.  Keep heading west, and you’ll be driving through the heart of Texas hill country, Johnson City and LBJ’s homestead.  And if you want to take Waylon Jennings’ advice, keep going and look for the turnoff for Luckenbach just before you get to Fredericksburg.  Yes, there are a lot of great and famous venues for live music in this part of the state, and the Nutty Brown Café is one of them.

Jan 21, 2014

A commoner’s New Orleans primer for a first-time visitor

I ran into a friend last weekend who once asked me for tips on things to see and do in New Orleans as a first-time visitor.  I happily obliged and remember sending her a way-too-long Facebook message outlining everything I’d do over a three-to-four day itinerary.  I remember her telling me it served her well on her trip, and she began sharing it with others.  And, as it turns out, she still shares my laundry list of New Orleans activities, and it seems to still be serving a useful purpose.

In hindsight, when I wrote this message, I was effectively blogging before I was a blogger.  So, I figure if the information is still worth sharing, I might as well make an actual blog out of it.  So, here it is, slightly updated and abbreviated with the blog reader in mind – a commoner’s essential New Orleans primer.

A typical morning crowd at the Cafe du Monde
Start your first day at the Cafe du Monde.  It’s in the heart of the French Quarter and a great spot for people watching.  Walk around Jackson Square (across the street) and check out all of the local artists, musicians and characters. 

Jan 14, 2014

A Sixth Street pub crawl, Austin, Texas

If you ever spend any amount of time in Austin, Texas – and you happen to like a few libations and live music (guilty as charged on both counts) – it won’t be long before you find yourself downtown on Sixth Street. 

New Orleans has Bourbon Street, Key West has Duval Street, and Austin has Sixth Street.  Even locals who have their favorite haunts elsewhere in town will eventually wind up here if they’re in the mood for bar hopping – and especially if they’re entertaining out-of-town guests.  Such was the case when my new friend Aaron showed me around Sixth Street one evening while I was in Austin for work. 

And if you've ever been on a good pub crawl, you’ll understand why this blog may ramble a bit.  It’s symbolic of how the night can get away from you.   

We began, with the sun still out, at Shakespeare’s Pub, a good place to just sit, have a good drink and watch the world go by. 

Jan 12, 2014

A commoner reviews Louie Mueller Barbecue, Taylor, Texas

If you want an authentic Texas barbecue experience, it probably doesn't get much more “old school” than Louie Mueller Barbecue.   

Serving beef brisket, beef ribs, hot links and other smoked meats pit-cooked to perfection since 1949, Louie Mueller Barbecue is clearly the main attraction in downtown Taylor, Texas, which is approximately 30-45 minutes northeast of Austin.  You can’t miss the place.  

A commoner dines at Baumgartner’s Cheese Store and Tavern, Monroe, Wis.

I wasn’t sure a place existed that could be the perfect representation of Wisconsin life, but then I traveled through Monroe, Wis., one week...