Explore Austin – Austin FC Game Day Eats

We’re celebrating getting back to what we love this summer and we want you to join in on the fun! Not only are we offering FREE weekend rides from June 5 – July 4, but we’re helping you kick off the fun with some delicious recommendations. Our foodie friend Ali Khan is helping us highlight restaurants across Austin, new and old, that you need to know about and that you can easily visit using CapMetro.

Welcome to the first installment of Explore your Austin, where we take you around town to sample old school and new school restaurants, all accessible by CapMetro. My name is Ali Khan and if you watch Food Network and Cooking Channel, you’ve probably seen me on shows like Cheap Eats, The Best Thing I Ever Ate, and recently, Spring Baking Championship.

For the last five years, I’ve also been an Austinite. And I’m here to celebrate the Austin food scene and its unique character. Austin was cool way before it became hipster chic, so there are restaurants representing days gone by that are well worth your time and attention. The city is also a draw for culinary talent and new ideas and I intend to put the spotlight there, too. 

Everything we feature here will be accessible by CapMetro. Why? Because as any city grows, so come growing pains like traffic, parking, gas prices, etc. I’m a believer in public transit and believe it’s a great way to explore and connect with your city.

And with that, let’s talk about what’s happening in Austin right now: Austin FC and where you should eat before and after the games. The two restaurants we’re featuring this week are Huckleberry, a seafood truck near Q2 Stadium, and Mi Madre’s, an iconic Austin Tex-Mex restaurant near MLK Station.

How to Get There

CapMetro stops near Huckleberry: Kramer Station, 2415 Kramer/Brockton and 2236 Braker/Kramer

CapMetro stops near Mi Madre’s: MLK Station, Dean Keaton/French and 2314 Manor/Maple

photo via MLSsoccer.com

Where to Eat Near Q2 Stadium

As much as I get fired up at the games, I’m just as hyped for the food options before and after. While the stadium has plenty to offer, here are two of my picks for before and after an Austin FC match. Because if you’re like me, the pregame and postgame is just as important as the game-game. 

Huckleberry is a relatively new offering to the Austin dining scene. Parked on Braker Lane by Circle Brewing Co., the Huckleberry food trailer is about a 15-minute walk to the stadium. It’s worth schlepping a few extra steps to nosh on quality seafood, which just happens to pair so well with the beers next door at Circle Brewing.

Partners Reese Melinda and Chef Davis Turner grew up with a tradition of backyard Gulf seafood parties and wanted to bring that here to Austin. Despite opening during the pandemic, the two stayed the course and are now just starting to blow up, as Austin FC fans discover their tasty fare.

When you try the Shrimp Roll, you might be raving, too. Texas Gulf shrimp are perfectly poached for a quick three minutes before leaving the flame but not the pot. The carryover heat brings the shrimp to temp before they get sauced in a bath of scratch-made lemon aioli, vibrant fresh dill and fried capers.

What separates a great recipe from a great meal, besides execution, is top-notch ingredients. A cornerstone of the Huckleberry concept was sourcing great seafood from the Gulf. When you read a farm’s name on a menu, you sometimes cotton to the time and energy that went into creating the supply chain that brings the purple carrot to the hip restaurant on East 6th street. Even more challenging is creating a sustainable Gulf seafood supply chain. At Huckleberry, you get just that.

You’ll taste it in the Black Drum Fish Sandwich, which goes beyond simply a Filet-O-Fish on steroids. There’s something a bit more meaty and satisfying to the flavor profile of Black Drum when compared to more mild-mannered fish like cod. When fish is fresh, it’s just far more interesting.

I’ll play the part of a proper food critic for a sec and say that the fries don’t match up to the previous dishes. But hey, you’re eating at a food truck, and expecting Kennebec potatoes hand-cut and fried to order is simply asking a bit too much.

The fries are very forgivable when one tastes the watermelon salad or the charbroiled oyster flight featuring five different toppings. The former is the ultimate edible summer heat wave reprieve, and the latter, in particular the Oyster Rockefeller topped with caviar, was one of the more decadent bites I have ever had, either at a food truck or on a white tablecloth. 

Not surprisingly, all of this comes with a price. The sandwiches run $13-14, with sides around $6, and there are platters that sail past the $30 mark. But… it’s quality seafood with the promise of sustainability. And that means something, whether you’re sitting in a hip dining room or at a picnic table in your Austin FC jersey. 

I should add that the smashed burgers are pretty reasonable and there is a kid’s menu too. But trust me on this, if that shrimp roll sounds remotely appetizing, you’re gonna be a Huckleberry regular. 

Legendary East Austin Tex-Mex

Switching gears for a taste of old school Austin brings us to the east side and Mi Madre’s. A local Tex-Mex staple, Mi Madre’s has garnered a loyal following spanning 30 years of business. Aurelio Torres and his wife Rosa, opened Mi Madre’s in 1990 with a lot of heart but not a lot of money. The restaurant business is fraught with stories of frustration and failure. To hear Aurelio reminisce over his three decades in the biz, it sounds like none of that ever entered his mind or deterred his spirit to succeed.

I’ve spent a few years meeting memorable characters in the restaurant industry, and let me tell you, Aurelio is up there with the very best. His success and Mi Madre’s loyalty are tied into his spirit as much as, if not more than, the food. Ask any Austinite about the breakfast tacos at Mi Madre’s and you will know that their food is pretty darn good.

You could start with the UT Longhorn’s football team who get Mi Madre’s catered during their spring training. Or ask any “hurting” east sider on a Sunday morning who needs a hangover cure in the form of miguitas. College football players and hungover hipsters may not have a lot in common, but clearly there is common ground when it comes to refried beans.

Me? I’m a barbacoa man. Barbacoa is from the Mex end of the Tex-Mex spectrum (Tex-Mextrum? SpecTextrum? Best Western?). It was Mexican food before Mexico existed, and barbecue before the word barbecue existed; and you know that was long ago, because without barbecue, Texas couldn’t exist yet. Even now, barbacoa refers to almost as many kinds of slow-cooked meat as its Anglo counterpart, from cochinita pibil in the Yucatan to cow’s head in South Texas, with lots of braised goat and lamb in between. Around here, we’re usually talking about the sort of braised beef that I have fallen for, head over heels, since moving to Austin. Mi Madre’s version calls for beef cheeks to be braised for 10 hours. They double wrap the cheeks in foil so the meat is immersed in rendered fat. That plus some fresh pico de gallo and their house green salsa and I’m set.

While the menu is rooted in Tex-Mex classics, Mi Madre’s is more than just a genre of Mexican-American cooking. Aurelio and Rosa opened this restaurant when the east side came with its share of issues. There was a higher crime rate. And there certainly wasn’t the same kind of foot traffic that businesses would typically want.

That didn’t matter too much to Aurelio and Rosa. They needed to make a run of what they had, namely the restaurant and who they could serve. They would serve anyone who came through the door. If they couldn’t pay their tab, Rosa would say to them, “pay me tomorrow”. Back then and even now, some buildings would get hit with graffiti. Except Mi Madre’s. Then, as now, Mi Madre’s earned the respect of the neighborhood.

If you’re coming after an Austin FC game, fair warning that you might miss the breakfast tacos which get cut off at 3pm. All will be right, though, because the barbacoa tacos are still available along with some hearty plates like the chicken mole enchiladas or the crispy fish tacos. 

The fish tacos, which feature tilapia, aren’t at the level of seafood found at Huckleberry, namely sustainable. But there is sustainability happening at Mi Madre’s, and it’s in the form of community. 

Mi Madre’s is the Austin many locals and old-timers do in fact long for. Before the national press and real estate developers zeroed in, Austin was a funky little city that welcomed an eclectic mix of folks. Some may lambast the change and lament for days gone by. Being a transplant, I can’t share the sentiment, per se, but I can understand where it comes from. 

But here’s the thing: folks like Aurelio are still here. And you can support this part of Austin and take a big bite of the new, namely that shrimp roll at Huckleberry. I pressed Aurelio a bit about his thoughts about the neighborhood changing and moving on. His response? “Why swim against the current?” While I love his outlook, I hate imagining an east side without Mi Madre’s. 

That’s why I’ll be at knocking back some tacos and a pitcher of margs at Mi Madre’s. It’s that part of Austin that I don’t want to see fade away. So while you get ready for an exciting chapter of Austin to begin, with MLS teams and Gulf shrimp rolls, take a bite and a sip of what made it special way back when.

Austin’s Best Coffee Shops Bus Tour

Austin is heralded as having the best of a number of things: food, music, beautiful buses (you’ve heard that, right?). But did you know that Austin is home to some of the state’s most notable coffee shops? Austin’s specialty coffee scene is growing almost as fast as our city’s population, which is why we’ve rounded up a list of Austin’s best coffee shops along with the bus route information you need to get there.

Whether you’re a local interested in a new place to grab your coffee or looking for must-stop places while visiting Austin, consider this your official tour of Austin’s best coffee shops. You don’t even need to call a car to get around thanks to our handy CapMetro App, making it easier (and more environmentally-friendly!) than ever to get where you want to go.

Best Downtown Austin Coffee Shops

Whether you’re looking for a new spot to grab coffee on the way to work or you’ve just found yourself in the area and craving a cappuccino, these downtown coffee shops are ready to take your order. Pro tip: Venturing downtown for an interview? Bringing coffee for the hiring manager from one of these cafes is worth major bonus points!

Creature Coffee Co (Inside Native Hostel)

807 E 4th St, Austin, TX 78702 | Website | Instagram

Closest MetroBus Stop ID: 929 (Also walking distance from the Downtown Station by MetroRail)

Served by routes: 4

Houndstooth Coffee – Frost Tower

401 Congress Ave #100c, Austin, TX 78701 | Website | Instagram

Closest MetroBus Stop ID: 2112 (Also walking distance from the Downtown Station by MetroRail)

Served by routes: 2, 4, 5, 6, 19

Juan Pelota Café (Inside Mellow Johnny’s Bike Shop)

400 Nueces St, Austin, TX 78701 | Website | Instagram

Closest MetroBus Stop ID: 2110 and 2112

Served by routes: 2, 4, 5 6, 19, 663

Epoch Coffee – Seaholm

111 Sandra Muraida Way suite #101, Austin, TX 78703 | Website | Instagram

Closest MetroBus Stop ID: 2107 and 6275

Served by routes: 4, 5, 17, 985

Better Half Coffee & Cocktails

406 Walsh St, Austin, TX 78703 | Website | Instagram

Closest MetroBus Stop ID: 2104

Served by routes: 4, 663

Best East Austin Coffee Shops

East Austin is a hot spot for coffee lovers thanks to the wide selection of specialty coffee shops. If you’re looking to sip a well-balanced espresso, Austin’s east side cafes are the best of the best.

Fleet Coffee Co

2427 Webberville Rd, Austin, TX 78702 | Website | Instagram

Closest MetroBus Stop ID: 935

Served by routes: 4

Flitch

641 Tillery St, Austin, TX 78702 | Website | Instagram

Closest MetroBus Stop ID: 939

Served by routes: 4

View this post on Instagram

Patio lights for early birds ☕️🌚🌝

A post shared by Flitch Coffee (@flitchcoffee) on

Flat Track Coffee Roasters

1619 E Cesar Chavez St, Austin, TX 78702 | Website | Instagram

Closest MetroBus Stop ID: 1605 and 1847

Served by routes: 17

Greater Goods Roasting

2501 E 5th St, Austin, TX 78702 | Website | Instagram

Closest MetroBus Stop ID: 963 and 2803

Served by routes: 4, 300

Dear Diary Coffeehouse

1212 Chicon St #103, Austin, TX 78702 | Instagram

Closest MetroBus Stop ID: 1105 and 2023

Served by routes: 6, 322

Try Hard Coffee Roasters

1115 E 11th St, Austin, TX 78702 | Website | Instagram

Closest MetroBus Stop ID: 658

Served by routes: 2

View this post on Instagram

New mug y’all 🤘

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Best South Austin Coffee Shops

With so much to explore in south Austin, you’re going to want a cuppa joe in hand for your next adventure. Before heading down to South Congress, stop by one of these specialty cafes for a seasonal beverage.

Medici Café – Lamar Union

1100 S Lamar Blvd #2125, Austin, TX 78704 | Website | Instagram

Closest MetroBus Stop ID: 2324

Served by routes: 3, 803

Mañana (Inside the South Congress Hotel)

1603 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704 | Website | Instagram

Closest MetroBus Stop ID: 4026 and 4029

Served by routes: 1, 801

The Meteor

2110 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704 | Website | Instagram

Closest MetroBus Stop ID: 522

Served by routes: 1

Patika

2159 S Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78704 | Website | Instagram

Closest MetroBus Stop ID: 2328

Served by routes: 3, 300, 803

Radio Coffee & Beer

4204 Manchaca Rd, Austin, TX 78704 | Website | Instagram

Closest MetroBus Stop ID: 764

Served by routes: 3

Best Central Austin Coffee Shops

Austin’s centrally-located coffee shops are true neighborhood cafes where you feel like a regular even on your first visit. If the cozy vibes aren’t enough to bring you back for a second trip, the baked goods sure will! Seriously, these coffee shops know a thing or two about muffins and mochas.

Epoch Coffee – North Loop

221 W N Loop Blvd, Austin, TX 78751 | Website | Instagram

Closest MetroBus Stop ID: 611 and 1168

Served by routes: 1, 7

Barrett’s Coffee

713 W St Johns Ave, Austin, TX 78752 | Website | Instagram

Closest MetroBus Stop ID: 5605

Served by routes: 300

Flightpath Coffeehouse

5011 Duval St, Austin, TX 78751 | Website | Instagram

Closest MetroBus Stop ID: 1168

Served by routes: 7

Monkey Nest Coffee

5353 Burnet Rd, Austin, TX 78756 | Website | Instagram

Closest MetroBus Stop ID: 819 and 5964

Served by routes: 3, 491

Spokesman Coffee – Highland

6015 Dillard Circle, Austin, TX 78752 | Website | Instagram

Closest MetroBus Stop ID: 5603

Served by routes: 7, 337, 350

What do you consider to be Austin’s best coffee shops? Sound off in the comments and we may add your pick to the list!

Haunted Austin Bus Tour

Halloween looks pretty different this year, but that doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate with a little socially-distant spooky sightseeing! To help you get in the hallow-day spirit, we’ve created a haunted Austin bus tour that includes some of our city’s most ghostly locations.

We designed this list to help you visit haunted spots around Austin that may be along your usual route, but you can also use our Trip Planner to outline a haunted Austin bus tour of your own. Simply enter your starting point and add any stops from our list that pique your interest!

Beware: some of these locations may be too spooky to enter! To keep you safe from supernatural and COVID-19 related terrors that may be hiding out, this tour is intended to take place outside the haunts.

Grab your mask, your CapMetro App and your bravest friend and prepare for a scare (or eight)!

West Campus

Littlefield Home

302 W 24th St, Austin, TX 78712

Closest CapMetro Stop ID: 599 and 5864

Served by routes: 1, 3, 19, 20, 801, 803

About this spooky spot: Located on the UT Campus, the Littlefield House is one of the most haunted spots in Austin and in academia! Civil War veteran George Littlefield and his wife Alice, for whom the home was built in 1893, were generous donors of the university. Reports claim that Alice can be heard rattling about the home and even playing piano. While some may find the hauntings spooky, some members of the university revere Alice as “guardian angel.”

Austin’s Inn at Pearl Street

1809 Pearl St, Austin, TX 78701

Closest CapMetro Stop ID: 498

Served by routes: 1, 3, 19, 20, 642

About this spooky spot: This vintage boutique hotel has it all: charming ambiance, ghost hauntings, and…bees? Well, not anymore, but the 1914-built Austin’s Inn at Pearl Street was renovated in 1993 when, according to the website, one of the “largest bee colonies ever found in a private residence” was discovered in the walls of the home. Whether or not you find bee removal spooky, guests of the inn have reported hauntings including apparitions, music and other noises from vacant rooms, flickering lights and a lingering feeling of being watched.

Downtown

The Paramount

713 Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78701

Closest CapMetro Stop ID: 6315

Served by routes: 2, 6, 7, 10

About this spooky spot: Old theatres have a tendency to be haunted (this isn’t even the only one on our list!), and The Paramount hosts its own spooky cast of spirits. The 105-year-old theatre is the home to at least three ghosts, including a woman in a white dress searching for her soldier husband, an elderly gentleman smoking a cigar in the left opera box and a candy-loving former projectionist of the theatre who died during a 2000 showing of “Casablanca.”

The Driskill

604 Brazos St, Austin, TX 78701

Closest CapMetro Stop ID: 5937

Served by routes: 2, 4, 6, 7, 10

About this spooky spot: Elegant downtown Austin hotel The Driskill is said to be one of the most haunted hotels in Texas. The supernatural rumors range from ghost brides walking the halls, a painting of a child that bears a sinister presence and even the spirit of the hotel’s own Jesse Driskill. The glamorous hotel is also said to have been President Lyndon B. Johnson’s favorite place in Austin and guests have claimed to see he and Lady Bird’s ghosts dancing in the ballroom.

Moonshine Patio Bar & Grill

303 Red River St, Austin, TX 78701

Closest CapMetro Stop ID: 4175 (Westbound) and 995 (Eastbound)

Served by route: 17

About this spooky spot: If you’d prefer to merge happy hour with the haunting hour, Moonshine Patio Bar & Grill is the spooky spot for you. The current restaurant resides in one of the oldest buildings in Austin and is said to be haunted by the spirits of flood victims from early 1900s. These old school ghouls have a sense of humor and have been reported to tap guests on the shoulder and cause other mayhem around the restaurant.

East Austin

Oakwood Cemetery Annex

1601 Navasota St, Austin, TX 78702

Closest CapMetro Stop ID: 4183

Served by route: 18

About this spooky spot: No ghost tour is complete without a cemetery! Oakwood Cemetery, Austin’s oldest city-owned cemetery, holds a number of famous graves including one of the few survivors of the Alamo, 1880s Austin city marshal Ben Thompson and victims of the Servant Girl Annihilator, one of America’s first serial killers. Aside from its notable residents, many believe that some who are buried at Oakwood Cemetery haven’t quite moved on from this world and haunt the burial grounds.

CapMetro Office

2910 E 5th St, Austin, TX 78702

Closest CapMetro Stop ID: 1368

Served by routes: 4, 300

About this spooky spot: If you’re friends with an old Austin native, you may have heard the story behind our own Capital Metro office building on the east side. In 1931, Austin’s municipal abattoir – AKA slaughterhouse – opened in the very spot where our office now sits at the corner of East 5th and Pleasant Valley. The building served as a modern and hygienic place for Austinites to bring livestock to be killed, inspected and prepared for sale. At the time, Austin’s abattoir was the largest in the United States!

South Austin

St. Edward’s University

3001 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704

Closest CapMetro Stop ID: 5870

Served by route: 1, 801

About this spooky spot: St. Edward’s University is notorious for being one of the most haunted spots in Austin and St. Edward’s students and staff are notorious for sharing their close encounters with spirits from the other side! From a child spirit playing in the dorm rooms of Teresa Hall to the ghost of a hanged drama student haunting actors in the Mary Moody Northern Theatre, St. Edward’s lost souls are engaged members of the community, to say the least!

Which stop on our haunted Austin bus tour do you find most intriguing?