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With the overwhelming number of acclaimed Austin restaurants and food trucks, the city’s a paradise for gourmands. But that diversity can actually pose a challenge when trying to whittle down the options and find the best gifts for foodies. So we scoured the Lone Star State’s hottest culinary destination for its most delicious gems, from slow-smoked Texas barbecue to sashimi sliced by a local sushi master. Whatever your loved one’s favorite cuisine, you’re sure to discover unique gift ideas. 1. Brisket at Franklin Barbecue Franklin Barbecue is renowned throughout the country for serving some of the best barbecue in Austin, and its brisket is the star of the show. Chef Aaron Franklin smokes his beef for hours over oak wood, creating jaw-droppingly tender meat encapsulated by a charred, slightly crunchy bark. For an inspired gift idea, treat your loved one to a meal at this lunch-only hotspot. But you’ll need to show up early—lines start forming hours before the doors open at 11 a.m. 2. Cooking Classes at Silver Whisk Cooking School Executive Chef Myrna Kallergis has years of experience under her belt, cooking alongside celebrity chefs Ted Allen and Sara Moulton, as well as participating in prestigious events such as the Austin Wine and Music Festival. But today she leads a team of equally seasoned culinary instructors at Silver Whisk Cooking School. Surprise your favorite foodie with an in-home cooking class from one of these experts, who will show up at their home and teach them how to make a gourmet multi-course meal. Each session includes two hours of hands-on instruction, ingredients, and all necessary equipment. 3. Sushi at Uchi If the food-lover in your life is a fan of sashimi and maki, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better restaurant to take them to than Uchi, which serves up some of the best sushi in Austin. Chef Tyson Cole studied in Tokyo and New York for more than a decade to perfect his craft, and he enhances that impressive technique with local, seasonal ingredients and fresh seafood flown in from Japanese fish markets. 4. Cheese of the Month Club from Antonelli’s Cheese Shop There are thousands of good gifts for foodies, but nothing beats the gift that keeps on giving: a food subscription. Check out Antonelli’s Cheese Shop’s Cheese of the Month Club. Every time the shop gets a new shipment of artisanal, limited-batch cheese in its shop, it packages it up and sets it aside for subscribers, who can pick it up or have it shipped for an extra fee. In addition to three to five cheeses, baskets also frequently include thoughtful pairings such as fruit preserves or gourmet chocolates. 5. Mexican Food at La Condesa In Austin, you're always a stone's throw from great Tex-Mex, but authentic Mexican food can be a bit harder to find. That's why La Condesa is great if your friend or loved one is a fan of traditional south-of-the-border cuisine. Chef Rick Lopez showcases fresh ingredients and modern flourishes in comfort dishes such as chicken breast with three-day mole, Veracruz–style octopus braised in red wine, and margaritas rimmed with cactus-lemongrass salt.Read More
When it comes to finding gifts for the adventurous, traditional trinkets fall short. That’s why we compiled gift ideas that’ll help you find the perfect experience for anyone—even the loved one for whom opening presents is just a delay to the rest of the day’s activities. Adventure doesn’t always come cheap, though, considering it takes a sherpa and $10,000 to climb Mount Everest. Not all of us have K2 money lying around, so you can pull off most of the items on our budget gift guide for under $100. Gift Ideas for Couples Sometimes going out for another dinner can be a real drag. Nobody wants to admit it, but the whole time you’re both just kind of thinking, “Why aren’t we making glass doodads or learning to create a culinary masterpiece together?” We’ve got you covered. Glassblowing classes at Green Devil Glass Studio or cooking classes at the world-renowned Le Cordon Bleu help couples bust out of the restaurant rut and rekindle that old flame—in this case over an actual open flame. Gift Ideas for Thrill-Seekers There’s nothing more mind-numbingly boring to your average thrill-seeker than having to unwrap a gift. Untying a bow is no way to get their adrenaline pumping. Instead, give them the gift of flight with hang-gliding lessons from Fly Texas or let them channel their inner Kit Cloudkicker with lessons from Third Coast Kite Surfing. And if you just can’t decide, blend the best of both worlds with Flyboarding, which basically entails strapping into a water-powered jetpack and careening all over the place. Austin Lake Fun is just one vendor of the ultra-modern water sport. (Be sure to have your giftee read through our beginner’s guide to the sport first!) Gift Ideas for Kids What tiny person wouldn’t jump at the chance to sleep with sharks? The Austin Aquarium lets folks pack up their sleeping bags and spend the night, getting a behind-the-scenes look at feeding routines and the nighttime habits of octopi and sharks. In the morning, kids get to feed the birds and enjoy a tank-side breakfast. Older kids might enjoy learning how to mix and sample beats during one of Dub Academy’s DJ classes. For more cerebral tweens, outsmarting the adult escape-room designers at Maze Rooms can be a real confidence-boosting challenge. Gift Ideas for Parents If there’s one thing parents love, it’s a three-way tie between spending time with their kids, unabashedly begging for grandkids, and tearing up the asphalt in a Lamborghini LP560. At Xtreme Xperience, the folks will lose their bongos as they either white-knuckle it from the passenger seat of a high-octane speedster or take the wheel themselves. If your parents are the type to enjoy a more relaxing adventure, they might like taking in the natural beauty of the San Marcos Springs aboard an adorably quaint glass-bottom boat launched from The Meadows Center. And folks who would just as soon forget the Alamo as mess with Texas will love the Frontier Times Museum, a celebration of frontier and cowboy culture. Gift Ideas for Foodies The foodie in your life may turn up their cultured nose at your garden-variety wine tasting. But how about a small-batch, handmade moonshine tasting? Crystal Creek Moonshine infuses their spirits with everything from poblano peppers to serrano cucumber. And best of all, a portion of the profits go toward helping underserved communities get access to clean drinking water.Read More
Coming up with gift ideas for guys can feel like wandering around a maze where all the paths end in shaving kits or grill-tool sets. But if commercials for low-calorie soda or men’s only salons have taught us anything, it’s that guys are rugged wildmen who crave adventure. Happily, Austin has plenty to offer in that arena. Whether your guy’s idea of excitement is soaring above the mountains in a light aircraft or struggling through what could arguably be Texas’s spiciest meal, our gift guide has you covered with our list of brag-worthy experiences. Things To Brag About Eating When it comes to finding unusual gifts for men, most people overlook the gourmet angle. The key is to think more about the experience than the dining. Consider a restaurant that specializes in curious meats—such as Evangeline Cafe and its chicken-fried alligator—or whole animals like La Condesa, which will roast up an entire suckling pig for special occasions given 72 hours notice. If you’re buying for a no-holds-barred thrill seeker, you can’t go wrong with dishes that require him to sign a waver—the Ghostland Burgatory burger from Hopdoddy Burger Bar, for example. This taste-bud sadist piles on the heat with habanero, serranos, pepper jack cheese, and the Scoville-chart-topping ghost pepper. For an idea of how hot that is, here’s a quick breakdown. Things to Brag About Drinking Austin is home to at least 18 craft breweries, but thanks to strict state licensing and distribution laws, most of those beers never leave Texas. So your best chance for sampling Austin craft beers is within the city limits—and that’s where Texas Winos comes in. The group hosts marathon eight-hour tours, during which guests sample some of the most exclusive brews the city has to offer. Better yet, folks can pick up their favorite bottles to build little beer gift baskets for later. For a distilled list of our favorite Austin craft-beer hot spots, check out our local brewery guide. Things to Brag About Driving Outside of a stolen zeppelin, there isn’t a much more braggable vehicle to drive than a stock car—especially in the home of the Sprint Cup. Thanks to racing experiences at the Central Texas Speedway, guys don’t have to spend years hitting the local karting circuit to get behind the wheel of a real-world stock car. Without any formal training, your gift getter can marshal nearly 500 horsepower to push the Cup-style racecar to somewhere around 150 miles per hour. If luxury is more his speed, exotic sportscar experiences let guys trade in the stock car for a top-of-the-line speedster, including Lamborghinis, Audis, and Porsches. Things to Brag About Flying Right off the bat you’re thinking airplane. But if you’re buying gifts for adventurous guys, you want to go full bore. Hang-gliding lessons from Fly Texas let folks channel their inner James Bond—Roger Moore actually took lessons to pull off convincing landings in Live or Let Die—and tandem flights give them sweeping views of the mountains outside Austin. If futuristic flight is more their speed, flyboarding sessions at Austin Lake Fun give people a chance to pull off daring stunts. Thrill-seekers strap into a water-powered jetpack and navigate the serpentine bends of Lake Travis. Best of all, flying in the contraption only takes about five minutes to learn. Of course, if the guy you’re buying for watches Flight on repeat and loves epaulettes, then flying lessons are the way to go. (Here’s a run-down of what you can expect out of a flying lesson.) Things to Brag About Climbing Texas isn’t exactly known for its rock climbing, but it’s not entirely the plains, either. The state’s awash in rock formations of easy to moderate difficulty, including the supremely weird Enchanted Rock. The dome rock formation, located about two hours outside of Austin, dazzles newcomers with its natural pink granite and otherworldly outcroppings. Rock About—a climbing outfit based in Austin—takes folks on excursions to Enchanted Rock where they lead classes for all levels. These destination classes make for a great rock-climbing gift, and beat learning on an artificial, indoor rock wall any day.Read More