Laugh through your date night at Austin Java

Austin Java Coffee House

No, I am not suggesting that you laugh at your date. But laughing together during your date? Now that would be a good idea.

That’s what we decided when we headed to Austin Java on 12th and Lamar for a late supper and their free comedy show.  And it turned out to be a good choice on both accounts.

First, there was the menu. Not your ordinary selection of tired sandwiches and boring soups. Not with things like a spicy African peanut soup, Avocadeaux Salad featuring Crawfish tails & greens or a Chicken Satay sandwich (yes, you read that right! Sandwich!) on the menu.  And everything was delicious!  I ordered the veggie plate, and was thrilled with my huge servings of red pepper humus, peanut soup, steamed veggies, tangy black bean and corn pico, fresh smashed potatoes, salad and crunchy french bread.  The Avocadeaux salad was pronounced “perfect!”, and well dotted with flavorful pieces of crawfish.

The show (no cover charge, by the way, so do be kind and order at least something to drink) featured about a half-dozen comics, ranging from polished to working on their act, but all of them kept us laughing.  A word of caution, though. Before we went, we called and asked about the show’s content, and were told it was PG-13.  Most of it was, but some parts were downright raunchy and clearly well into the adults-only realm, so I wouldn’t suggest it for families with teens (and certainly not for younger kids!)

The area for the comedy show is small, so do get there early especially if you want to have a table so you can eat while you watch. There’s table service in that section, too, so no need to order at the counter before you find your spot.

After the show, we checked out the rest of the place. The cozy setting was full of people eating, talking, working on computers or just enjoying a coffee or beer for a low-key Austin Saturday night.  We will definitely return, and also plan to check out their location on Barton Springs Road.

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Walk into Post-Apocolyptic Austin at Ecopocalypse

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Photo courtesy of Ecopocalypse

There are only a couple of day until Halloween, so pay attention Austin!  You need to make some time tomorrow night or Wednesday night to bravely walk into the Austin of the future. But be prepared!  Ecopocalypse is not about shiny flying cars or date nights in space.

It’s about survival.  And it’s scary!

Food? It’s scarce — the shelves of HEB and Whole Foods empty. Clean water? No Texas Rainwater or Evian to be found. Medicine? Good luck finding that…Seton and St David’s are distant memories. Family pets?  Hide them!

This terrifying glimpse into the “Austin that could be” is the newest addition to how-to-get-scared on-Halloween here in town — if you’re brave enough, it’s the one you won’t want to miss.

Unlike the typical “walk through and watch” haunted house, the creators of Ecopocalypse pull you into the action. You enter in small groups of 5 or 6, and wander through the entire experience at your own pace, choosing where to turn (or when to turn back, if it gets too scary!)  You aren’t just a visitor…you become a part of the story, whether you want to or not!

Who should go:

This is a great choice for adults and teens, but the full immersion experience might be too terrifying for kids. I wouldn’t bring anyone under 10 or so, and even then it depends on how they handle near-complete darkness, scary realistic people interacting directly with them, and some pretty realistic scenes of gore.

Irish pub food and a punk band? Why not? It’s Austin!

Fado Irish Pub Austin TexasWe’re starting to explore some of the downtown restaurants (getting out of our North Austin world!), and the other night that meant a light dinner at Fado Irish Pub on 4th Street.

As we walked nearby, we heard the band…The Video Stars, a punk rock-clad group performing an excellent rendition of “Sweet Child of Mine”. Then we looked at the menu which promised traditional pub fare in their courtyard.

For me, the fact that they offered “boxty“, a tasty potato concoction I seldom see on menus, and the song the band was playing were enough. For Lance, the promise of a corned beef sandwich was enough to draw him in.

And we were not disappointed by any of it. The boxty I chose were crisp and hot, and were accompanied by a red pepper humus dip. Lance’s sandwich came stuffed high with corned beef, with a big pile of chips on the side (that’s fries, not potato chips.) We’ll have to return again to try a full dinner sometime soon…our light meal was a good introduction to their offerings!

The band played a variety of music, although the punk/KISS look was kind of funny when they launched into a Lady Gaga set! The courtyard was breezy, the crowd was a perfect mix of ages, and the service was excellent.

Although we don’t drink, we did see that Fado has an extensive selection of beers, ales, wines, whiskeys and single-malt Scotches, which makes it a good place to head for a few drinks, too.

Fado also has inside dining, although the music is outdoors only. The courtyard/patio is pet friendly, so our pup will probably join us the next time around.

Date Night Idea: The Texas religion called High School Football

High school football pictures Austin Texas on A is 4 AustinAs newcomers to Texas, one of the stories we had heard was that high school football was the true religion of the Lone Star State.

Now, we’re from Florida where high school football is pretty major stuff. And during my own high school days, I never missed a game. I thought I had a pretty good feel for the experience.

We had heard from neighbors that even adults who don’t have kids at the schools go to the games, (but we do have a Freshman, so we were okay), so we decided to make it a date night and try it out and see for ourselves. So tickets in hand, and jackets ready, we dressed in school colors and headed out to a local high school football game.

The bleachers were full. And not just with kids and the huge-ginormous band. There were hundreds and hundreds of parents. And almost all of them were decked out from head to toe in school colors AND school emblems. Even their seat cushions featured the team logo!

We had a great time on our date. We cheered, we stood, we sat. We asked nearby parents what the picture buttons some of them wore meant. (The answer? Parents of team members, band members and the cheer squad wear them to honor their kids. Kinda cool!) We were delighted that no one seemed to boo when the opposing team scored or a penalty was called on our side…loved that!

We were lost during the songs everyone seemed to know, and baffled by hand symbols the parents and kids alike did during certain refrains.

But the fact is, we had a great time. And for just under $10 a ticket at the gate and snacks averaging $2, it was a wonderfully inexpensive date night, too. And something we plan to do again (with seat cushions this time…those benches are cold!)

A high school game would also be a great night out with younger kids. Best of all, the tickets and snacks are cheap enough to make it a guilt-free option to leave if they get tired or bored.

If you’re from Texas, going to a high school game might not seem like much of a date night or a family night out. But for those of us who are new to the state, it was a fun evening under the lights.

Check the schedules in your area (they’re online if you don’t have a student in the school) and head out for date night under the lights. And who knows…you could become a real fan of a whole new team.

A walk can turn into art in Austin

signs near university of texas on Guadalupe

One of the things I’m enjoying here in Austin is the walk-ability.  And all the great shapes, colors, designs and fonts I find to look at and photograph along the way.

The images in this post came from a walk along Guadalupe across from the University of Texas campus.  Typical snapshots are of buildings or statues…but finding and photographing the small details of signs, fences, walls and sidewalks can turn an ordinary walk into an art experience.  Best of all, kids of all ages can get in on the experience.  Big kids like us have as much fun as little ones, and the little ones will love taking their own pictures.

And if you’re looking for a unique date night activity….two cameras, a connector and a tablet or laptop to look at your finds together over dinner or dessert.  Perfect!  Or head out by yourself for some quiet time really seeing your city, maybe for the first time.  It’s amazing how different things look when you’re looking for the details!

I know this isn’t the typical “A is For Austin” post, but once in awhile it’s nice to talk about something that’s free and fun and simple and easy to do no matter where in Austin you might be.