AK Lounge tends to aesthetic needs with hair-salon styling, permanent cosmetics, and tattoo design, correction, and removal. Main stylist and blowout specialist, Ashley Johnson, has tamed tresses for the runway elite while working on an A-team of backstage beautifiers during fashion week. In her nine years of styling experience, Ashley has trotted across numerous cities, enriching her skills through classes involving cuttery, coloring, and straightening strategies, including Brazilian Blowouts. Continually training tattoo artist, Kenneth Plaster, lends cosmetic support to the shop through his ink and permanent make-up services.
On Austin Dermagraphix’s bold burgundy walls, bright graffiti murals in primary yellows, blues, and greens leap out at the eye. These vivid works of art overlook Jose Gonzalez as he hunches over arms, legs, and backs, embedding them with any style of tattoo, such as 2-D cartoons or life-like portraits of Nikola Tesla. To do so, Gonzalez draws upon his background as a graffiti artist in Puerto Rico as well as his bachelor’s degree in painting. He joins another resident artist, a piercer, and a laser tattoo-removal technician at the shop, where the top of the wall around the reception desk wears a crown of gold trophies amassed by the staff.
At Amillion Tattoos, visitors can obtain striking permanent body art and body piercings from a talented and experienced staff of artists in the medium of flesh-frescoes. Instead of super-gluing laminated finger paintings to their backs, customers can acquire meaningful tats within a clean and sanitary environment free of compost heaps. Though the price of each tattoo varies according to design, detail, and syllable count, visitors can opt for a 2”, three-color butterfly ($70–$80), a black and gray palm-sized tattoo ($150–$200), or go for the gusto with an elaborate 9”x4” full-color elbow-to-shoulder tat ($400–$800). Additionally, there’s no need to fool around with a staple gun at home, since the Amillion crew can precisely puncture you with high-quality piercings, including a gem nostril piercing ($55), a 10-gauge lip piercing ($66), or a 14- to 16-gauge eyebrow ring ($50). A surgical steel post is included with each piercing, and can be bumped up to bling for an additional fee.
At Southside Tattoo, located in Austin’s South Congress neighborhood, the focus is always on the art. Owner Bart Willis and his team of artists and apprentices have become well-known locally for their craft, which extends well beyond the late night bad-idea tattoo crowd. Inside the vibrant blue space, lit partially by a neon sign, art and possibilities adorn the walls in organized frames. With designs that have graced the covers of rock albums and tattoo magazines, Willis and the rest of the crew at Southside Tattoo showcase a love for the talent of tattooing, and often work with individuals to put together unique pieces that fit the customer’s personality. From full sleeves to delicate reminders hidden under clothing, Southside doesn’t shy away from the work, or the artistry.
When Food Network celebrity chef Guy Fieri roams the country in search of down-home eats on his show Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, he follows his gut. Rarely, though, does he stumble upon a “culinary compound.” But such was the case when he and his film crew visited Texas Pride Barbecue, where “It’s all about Texas,” as owner Tony Talanco told the San Antonio Express-News.
The haven of Texas-style barbecue juts out from the tall grasses, mesquite trees, and barbecue-sauce waterfalls that fill the surrounding fields. As an old filling station, Tony’s restaurant not only greets guests with the smoky scents of slow-cooked brisket, ribs, and sausage, but also with waves of nostalgia surging from antique gas pumps, jukeboxes, farm equipment, and artifacts from the 1920s through ‘60s that Tony has salvaged. In the kitchen, Tony and his cooks lavish time on their two most popular items: the brisket and the homemade barbecue sauces. After dry rubbing the brisket with seasoning, they cook it for 12 hours in a pit fueled by mesquite wood. This smoky flavor comes to life when dipped in hot or regular sauce, both of which begin with onions caramelizing in bacon fat.
Texas Pride Barbecue continues celebrating its state heritage with live music and special events that include a Bike Night and a fish fry. Such activities may have been part of the reason the San Antonio Express-News declared Texas Pride Barbecue its “Best Place to Take Out-of-Town Guests”—one of many awards the eatery has racked up.