Lunch With Hobbits

Austin was a cool city. We didn’t get to see much but what I saw looked cool and it reminded me a lot of Portland. It seemed like a big, sprawling city with so much cultural things to see and do you’d never run out. I know the music scene is pretty amazing there. I wish we’d had more time to check it out.


The first stop was the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library near the Austin stadium. It was a sprawling, impressive building and I enjoyed the library.


It was cool to see what LBJ did during his career. I admit that I’m a little rusty in my US History because it’s been ages since I was in school. I loved seeing the old handwritten journals, letters and love notes between LBJ and Lady Bird.


It was a cool collection and worth the visit. The place was packed with history and fun videos. There was a lot of counter culture stuff too. I loved seeing the clothes and the women’s lib posters.


The archives looked impressive but we weren’t allowed to go on those floors (boo!). I REALLY wanted to go onto those floors. But I’m kinda of a nerd.


I guess all of the museums in Texas are free–which is a great thing. I think everyone should be able to enjoy museums and the history. After the LBJ museum we checked out the Austin stadium (huge!) and walked around a bit.


Next stop: Franklin BBQ for lunch. It came highly recommended by a friend of Michael’s who lives in Austin. It was close to the college and clearly the most popular joint in town.


The line to get in snaked through the restaurant, out the door, down the porch, down the stairs and around the building. It was obviously a hot spot.


We stood in line for an hour but it was totally worth it. I chatted with a girl I met in line and she gave tips on Austin sights.

Then we saw some celebrities! Sitting inside the restaurant was Elijah Wood and Dominic Monaghan from Lord of the Rings (and Lost)! There was NO mistake– I saw Elijah’s bright blue eyes and it was totally him! I have to say it was pretty exciting!


They ate lunch with a Hollywood producer, chatted with some locals and headed out. It was pretty exciting! I wish I had gotten a better photo but the others were too blurry and I didn’t want to be obnoxious to get a better picture.


We were FINALLY at the front counter. The fatty brisket and ribs were sold out. Apparently that’s why people were in line so early.


My family got the lean brisket and I got the sausage. I got beans and coleslaw–and of course it came with white Wonder Bread.

Holy crap was the food worth the wait!!!


My sausage was delicious. Smokey and spicy. Every bite was better than the previous bite. I shared the sausage Β with my family because they gave me three links (so much food!). I also tried a local beer. Meh. Michael said it was Texas’ version of Miller. I am such a beer snob from living in Portland…


I had some bites of brisket and it was good. I had one bite of a fatty brisket and I could tell why it was popular. It was savory and melted in my mouth.


We finished eating around 2pm and the place was sold out of food. Crazy. We drove around downtown Austin for a little bit. We didn’t have time to really stop and see much, which I was bummed about. Since lunch had taken so long we were short on time–which is okay, it was worth it.


My brother Andy and his wife (Lisa) rode in our car and we headed toward Waco to the ranch.


My sister-in-law (also named Lisa) was wearing almost the same shirt as I was. Ooops. We drove out to the ranch where we’d be spending the rest of the weekend. It wasn’t what I’d call a scenic drive…there was a whole lot of nothin’ out there once we left Austin.


I can’t wait to show you guys the ranch!

QUESTION: Have you been to Austin? What are the must-see sights?

22 Responses

  1. I live about an hour north and I long to live closer. Salt Lick also has great bbq. The Texas state history museum is pretty cool, but it does cost money. And Mount Bonnell is the place to see the skyline from.

    You’re probably already gone but in Waco there’s the Dr. Pepper museum, the Texas Ranger musem and a pretty good Zoo [Cameron Park Zoo].

    oh and for more on Johnson, there’s Johnson City, which is near Austin and has the Johnson family homestead and farm.

    And I’m jealous of the hobbit siting. I’ve never seen any celebrities.

    1. The plan was to see the Dr. Pepper Museum on our way to the ranch but we ran out of time. Next time!

      My aunt and uncle also ate at Salt Lick and recommended it. They said it was fantastic!

  2. It seems as if we traded places- you gave me some great tips for my visit to Portland a few months ago! I hope you got here after it started to cool off a bit!

    I agree with Merind- Mount Bonnell is a must-see and a pretty good workout too! Not much of a mountain if you’re used to real mountains but whatever. Barton Springs Pool, the hike and bike trail at Lady Bird Lake, Blanton museum at UT, the Greenbelt- so many good things to see! Also you can take a tour of the UT tower for something like $7- great view of campus and downtown. The Alamo Drafthouse is a fun movie/dining experience that has a fairly extensive beer menu and good food. We have great restaurants but the place to go for BBQ is our neighbor to the the southeast- Lockhart. Don’t let the Shiner get you down- Real Ale, Independence and 512 are just a few Texas breweries with some excellent beers!

    OK end commercial for “come to Austin”!

    1. The weather was nice–hot but not humid. Thanks for the Austin tips. Michael and I are going to Texas next year for his sister’s wedding. I think we’ll extend our trip so we can check out Austin on our own time.

  3. I’m so glad you liked Franklin, in spite of the ordeal of eating there, and the lack of fatty brisket & ribs. Bon Appetit recently named it the best barbecue in the world, and there was already a pretty good wait to eat there before that, so you can imagine. It doesn’t help that Aaron Franklin (serving up meat in the red shirt in your photo) cuts and serves while making small-talk with his patrons. He’s super nice, but the line moves so slowly and I kind of wish he’d just let other people do it instead. We actually haven’t been there in several months since the hour-plus-long wait in an uncovered parking lot just seemed too unbearable in the heat we’ve had this summer. But I can’t wait to go back soon!

    Tourists usually love Salt Lick, but I would recommend a trip to Lockhart, about 45 minutes from Austin, should you return to the area. There are three famous barbecue joints there (Smitty’s, Black’s, & Kreuz), all close together, so you can do one or two or all three of them in an afternoon. Better food and a more authentic Texas barbecue experience than Salt Lick, in my opinion. (Now that we have Franklin drives to Lockhart seem to happen much less frequently, but you could build a whole road trip around eating great barbecue in Central Texas if you wanted to.)

    I hope you can come back sometime when the weather’s a bit nicer and it’s not so dry and dead outside. We love living here and would love to hang out and show you around. You’ll probably see Elijah Wood again, too.

      1. I am SUCH a beer snob. I want the fancy IPA’s like I usually get in Portland. So yeah…..Texas’s version of Bud Light was not quite what I wanted. I definitely want to try the better local beers next time!

          1. I know that I am way spoiled here in Portland. I’ve traveled other places and the beer selection is pitiful. I wish I wasn’t a snob and could drink the non-IPA types…. πŸ™‚

    1. Heather- it was not an ordeal at all (for me at least). I wasn’t famished when we got in the line so it was pleasant. I chatted with a local girl in line with us and it was a fun experience! Plus Elijah and Dominic were there. πŸ™‚ That made the wait worth it. We did think the line was ridiculously slow but I guess that’s how they keep the hype up?

      My parents and my aunt and uncle went to Salt Lick in Lockhart and said it was really good. I wish we’d had more time to see Austin. There was so much I wanted to do but we just didn’t have time.

      Michael and I definitely want to come back. I would love to take you up on your offer for a tour of the hot spots! I would love to eat my way through Texas. πŸ˜€

          1. Yeah, it’s a more limited menu of stuff like chopped beef sandwiches. But honestly, I think the main draw of the restaurant in Driftwood is the atmosphere anyway. It’s big, rustic, outdoors in the country, and there’s frequently a band playing. The meat pit is impressive looking. Their sauce is also distinctive, but you can buy that just about anywhere around here. I feel the barbecue itself (and the espresso sauce!) at Franklin is much better.

            Elijah visits a lot. They were both in town this time for a super fun genre film festival called Fantastic Fest, which we were also attending. I think I saw them there every day, or nearly every day. Including a public debate between them about World of Warcraft, followed by a boxing match. Dominic kind of pummeled Elijah. It was cute.

            I just realized I could uncheck the option to show that story I shared from Google Reader in August somehow.

          2. I heard that the other place had a cool vibe. I’d definitely check it out. Michael and I are going to Dallas next year for his step-sister’s wedding. We were talking about extending our trip, renting a car in Dallas and driving to Austin. At least for a few days to check it out on our own.

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