SXSW 2013: Austin hangouts for off-duty journalists


AustinEqually important as the panels you attend at SXSWi is where you choose to spend your downtime. Schmoozing and boozing is  a big part of any conference but especially one like SXSW where you have some of the world’s most creative people in film, music and interactive converging in one of the world’s coolest cities. Ebyline will be among the tech and media exhibitors, so be sure to stop by Booth 324 to enjoy free beer and talk journalism with our fearless founders. We’re also hosting a Beer Pong Party on Tuesday, March 12 at 3-6pm.

For those who want to explore further afield (which we recommend, as that is one of the perks of attending conferences), we’ve asked local journalists where Austin hacks (and perhaps flacks) spend their time off. Here’s a look at some bars, bookstores, coffeeshops and other places to explore while you’re covering the scene in Austin.

Bouldin Creek CoffeehouseRobert Schrader (@leaveyrdailyhell), an Ebyline freelance writer and photographer, raves about this South Austin coffeeshop. “Although Bouldin Creek Coffeehouse bears only faint physical resemblance to its original incarnation, it’s still replete with the magic that’s had Ausitintites literally lining up outside its door since it set up shop here more than a decade ago,” he says. “While lined up for your own table, enjoy some of Bouldin’s famous coffee—the cold-brew toddy is perfect for hot, Austin afternoons—or even a mimosa at the bar. Once you’re seated, select from the dozens of delectable menu items, from hearty breakfast scrambles and omelets, to healthy lunch and dinner items like salads, sandwiches.” Schrader’s fave on the all-vegetarian menu is the “Slacker’s Banquet,” a heaping helping of red beans and rice.

Café Pacha: Melissa Gaskill (@MelissaGaskill), an Ebyline freelancer focusing on science and travel, recommends the organic coffee, tea and food at Pacha. “Opened by two sisters more than a decade ago in a comfy old house, serving the best (in my opinion) coffee in Austin as well as a great selection of teas, yerba mate and more—and great food, too (try the pie!),” she says. “It’s out away from the maelstrom that is SX, if you need some quiet to think.”

Patika Coffee: Need a quick coffee fix between panels? Ebyline freelancer Kim Loop (@KimLoop) suggests walking to Patika Coffee. “It’s just a few blocks from the convention center,” says Loop. “Don’t let the fact that it’s in a trailer fool you, Patika has some of the best coffee in town.” Patika’s Twitter feed also says they’ll offer extended hours this weekend for SXSWi attendees.

The Steeping Room: Of course, non-coffee drinkers (yes, we know a few writers without a coffee habit) like freelancer Natalia Sylvester might prefer The Steeping Room. “Their tea menu is larger than most restaurants’ food menus,” says Sylvester. “It’s a great place to just order a pot for yourself with some scones and clotted cream and talk books and writing for a few hours with a group of friends.”

Summermoon Coffee: When writer and photographer Janet Jay (@janetkjay) wants to escape downtown Austin, this quirky coffeeshop is her go-to spot thanks to its plentiful outlets and wifi, comfy chairs and delicious coffee. “The coolest thing about Summermoon is that they wood-roast their coffee using a hand-built roaster powered by a bicycle,” she says. “The second coolest thing about Summermoon is their Moon Milk, a secret 7-ingredient creamer.” Jay recommends pairing the coffee with a large, icing-slathered cinnamon roll.

Book People: Writer and editor Allison Anderson calls this indie book seller “a bedrock of the ‘Keep Austin Weird’ effort to support local businesses.” According to Anderson, “it’s a relaxing, peaceful place to browse an excellent sale table, cool greeting cards and small gifts. Arm chairs are scattered about two floors and a cafe offers a meal-worthy menu. The store often hosts authors who discuss their work in the second floor in gathering space. Nearby stores include REI, Anthropologie and Whole Foods.

Dolce VitaFood and health writer Marygrace Taylor says this Hyde Park haunt is one of her favorite places to hang out with coffee during the day or cocktails at night. “It’s a really chill spot that’s pretty far away from all the madness going on downtown, which I’d say is a good thing,” says Taylor. “Prices are reasonable, the people are nice, and there’s plenty of outdoor seating (dogs are allowed outside, too).”

Firehouse LoungeFor a relaxing night out,  freelancer Joey Held (@josephcurrency) heads to the lounge at Firehouse Hostel. “The bartenders are super friendly, there’s a wide variety of delicious cocktails and you can find some form of entertainment every night, whether it’s a live band or the classic (and sometimes obscure) movies they have playing on the walls,” he says.

Esther’s Follies: For a taste of Austin’s wacky humor at it’s best, freelance writer and blogger Beverly Burmeier‘s pick is Esther’s Follies. “It’s a fun evening of Saturday Night Live-type skits featuring current events and local personalities,” she says. “Even though some people might miss the joke if they’re not up to speed on Texas politics, for example, there are plenty of laughs in this fast-moving show. Illusions from a capable magician and escapades on the street outside the building’s window add to the fun.” Check the website, as Esther’s is running limited shows this week due to SXSW.