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If yo only knew how excited I am that NN is coming to Austin.  This year's convention is practically in my backyard.  Ok.  Maybe it's not exactly my back yard, but, being a native Texan and current Austin resident, it couldn't be any closer!  I just finished registering for NN this morning and thought I would  add to some of the already great diariesby some great Austinites and show you my own favorite spots in Austin, with some shout-outs to my fellow GLBT'ers.  (Don't worry, there's something for everyone here!)  

Follow me after the jump.....

Downtown Austin is one of my absolute favorite places in the US.  You have everything from the state capital, to great museums, and of course, Austin's famous nightlife.  I'll try to break this down as well as I can, but there's a lot to cover!

Let's start with the essentials:  Food.

Kath25 has a great diary referenced above (and again here), and all of those places are well worth a visit.  I'm only going to add in a few "honorable mentions" that didn't make her list.

Austin has no shortage of places to eat.  If there's one thing Austin's known for, other than live music, it's the food.  

First up, Vespaio.  Vespaio is a great Italian restaurant about a mile south of the river on Congress.  Be warned, the wait can be ridiculous, but the food is well worth it.  If you're not up for the wait (90 minutes on a random Tuesday last month!), Enoteca Vespaio is right next door and features the same quality food in a slightly more relaxed atmosphere.

Another one of my favorites, Roaring Fork, is located right down the street, on the corner of Congress and 7th.  If I were to open my own restaurant, this would be my style.  Southwestern, rustic food with a most sophisticated twist.  If you decide to visit, don't forget to try out the Green Chile Macaroni & Cheese!  YUM!

If you're looking for something a little more laid back and casual, head on down to Barton Springs Road and check out Shady Grove.  Have dinner out on that patio and unwind with a beer and Hippie Sandwich (Grilled eggplant, oven-roasted bell peppers, zucchini, mushrooms, arugula, tomato & mozzarella cheese).  Talk about true-Austin flavor!

So it's 2am, you've had a few drinks, got a steady buzz, and you are craving a great slice of pizza.  The Onion is your go-to stop. Located right next door to Apple Bar (see below), it's that perfect combination of dough, tomato sauce, cheese, and grease that you really need after a night of partying and drinking.  It's a sinful indulgence, but who cares?  You're in another city and you can treat yourself!

Next up:  Nightlife

Sixth Street is always crawling with people.  It's one of the more eclectic crowds you will ever see.  However, if you're looking for the best gay/lesbian hangouts, you'll need to look elsewhere.  Here's what you're looking for:

Oilcan Harry's & Rain are the two "main" bars in Austin.  Conveniently located almost next door to each other on 4th Street, between Colorado and Lavaca (just west of Congress).  I can almost guarantee both places will be crowded Friday and Saturday nights.  Check their websites for Thursday activities as well.

This is Texas, and no gay scene would complete without a true country/western bar!  Enter Rainbow Cattle Company.  Love to line dance?  Have a thing for boots and cowboy hats? Do Wrangler butts drive you nuts?  Yeah. This is the place for you.

Charlie's is Austin's oldest most mature gay bars.  Located right next door to the capital, it's a great place to unwind Friday evening.  $1.50 well drinks and domestic beers always seem to help!

Another interesting place is Apple Bar.  Stop by early for one of their signature Apple Martinis and enjoy it on their rooftop patio.  It's one of my favorite ways to get the evening started.

Any tennis players out there?  Austin Tennis Club is Austin's gay and lesbian tennis group.  They play every Friday and Sunday night at 6pm.  They do ask for an RSVP to play on Fridays, so email me NOW if you want to come out and hit on Friday night.  I'll see if I can get you on the list.

Between Netroots Nation and Austin's nightlife, you'll be hard pressed to squeeze anything else into your weekend.  But if you decide to take a little time off during the day and get away from the crowds, Austin will not disappoint.  There's something for everyone around here.  Just ask a local.

Can't wait to see you guys in two weeks!

Originally posted to Johntastic on Wed Jul 02, 2008 at 09:25 AM PDT.

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