Take a tour of Austin, Texas in about 2,000 calories and 10,000 steps, while you hike, swim, and paddleboard to south-of-the-border plates and after-dinner drinks. By: Stirling Kelso
October 14, 2014
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A Unique Guide to Austin, Texas
We toured Austin to find the best, most nutritious restaurants the city has to offer. Here's a unique guide to good eating and great exercise for hungry travelers.
How we did the math:
This series is meant as a fun guide to experiencing a city through the Cooking Light lens. All calculations are rough estimates and should be seen as a starting point for your own adventure.
Calorie burns were estimated using this calculator. The approximations are based on how vigorous the activity level is for a 150-pound woman—for example, a stroll around a farmers’ market was calculated at a lower burn than when we tell you to pick up the pace.
We estimated steps at an average of 2,000 steps per mile walked.
All calorie calculations for the meal selections we recommend were rough estimates based on inputting similar dishes and ingredients into this calculator.
2 of 8Photo: Courtesy of Tacodeli/Jody Horton
Morning: The Greenbelt
If Austin has a culinary mascot, it's the breakfast taco. Sample some of the city's best at Tacodeli. Austin is home to a few locations, but we love the original on Spyglass Road, where the scrappy bungalow and dedicated a.m. crowd bring honor to the city's "Keep Austin Weird" slogan. Order the Jess Special (migas topped with avocado), and wash it down with a watermelon agua fresca before hiking 1.5 miles north through the Barton Creek Greenbelt, a nature preserve with creekside trails flanked by pecan trees and boulders.
Burn: 102 calories Eat: 752 calories
3 of 8Photo: Courtesy of Skinny Limits
Snack Break: South Austin
You'll end up at Barton Springs Pool, a natural swimming hole with spring-fed, 68-degree waters that have long attracted everyone from tattooed musicians to UT sorority sisters. Post-plunge, towel off and walk to Austin's latest culinary trailer park (there are more than 1,500 food trucks in this mobile food–addicted city): Barton Springs Picnic. Stop by the Skinny Limits station to meet raw-food aficionados Cary and Joanie Frieden. Pair the Southwestern lentil salad—a kaleidoscope of colors with jicama, sprouted red lentils, corn, and 17 other ingredients—with a Warrior smoothie, full of protein from kale and spinach.
Burn: 68 calories Eat: 534 calories
4 of 8Photo: Chris Fluke
Surf and Turf: Lady Bird Lake
Walk along Lady Bird Lake—ringed by Austin's central hike and bike trail—for 1.6 miles to get to Sup ATX, where you can rent stand-up paddleboards by the hour. On oak and pecan tree–framed waters, you'll glide past kayakers and crew teams, not to mention the occasional family of turtles or swans. Unfamiliar with the sport? Ask for a free lesson.
Burn: 334 calories
5 of 8Photo: Courtesy of Chavez/Nick Simonite
Walk 1.7 miles to Congress Avenue Bridge, where the Radisson Hotel traded out its TGI Fridays for local star chef Shawn Cirkiel's Chavez. Order south of the border–inspired plates such as a mango and jicama salad and Veracruz-style salmon cooked with tomato, capers, and olives. Request a waterfront table for views of the Colorado River and the city's south side.
Burn: 116 calories Eat: 431 calories
6 of 8Photo: Courtesy of Wanderlust/Wendy Corn
Tune Up and Tune In: Downtown
Even if you're not in town for famous music festivals like South by Southwest (it's in mid-March), you can catch live tunes while practicing your downward-facing dog during the Sunday vinyasa flow class at Wanderlust Yoga. The studio also occasionally offers classes such as yoga in the dark—glow sticks included—and candlelight vinyasa.
Burn: 184 calories
7 of 8Photo: Courtesy of Arro/Vanessa Escobedo Barba
Dinner: Sixth Street
It's just seven blocks through the heart of the city to Arro, a fresh take on a French bistro thanks to the restaurant's retro interiors and chef Andrew Curren's wood-fired grill. He puts his favorite toy to work in dishes like the niçoise salad, topped with a generous portion of grilled tuna, or the quail, a plate that speaks to French food's Middle Eastern influences with sides such as green lentils and gingered yogurt. Sip on the restaurant's ode to French-accented New Orleans in the Vieux Carré, made with rye, cognac, sweet vermouth, and Bénédictine.
8 of 8Photo: MIXA Co. Ltd./Getty Images
Nightcap: Rainey Street
End your evening with a 20-minute stroll to Rainey Street and the newly opened Lucille. Ask for a Moscow Mule, shaken up with lime, ginger beer, and Texas-based Tito's vodka. Then head to the back patio to sip under strings of twinkling lights.