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Southern Hospitality, Tech Stars, BBQ, and More Motivation to Visit Austin Right Now

Austin is spawning more than its fair share of tech lodestars, transforming this quirky city on the banks of the Colorado River into a start-up scene–nicknamed Silicon Hills—that even Bay Area entrepreneurs could envy. The first Bitcoin ATMs in the United States landed downtown in March, and California companies such as Dropbox and Websense are ramping up local operations. In town to scout a start-up at the Capital Factory incubator? Take the weekend to see what all the fuss is about.

Southern hospitality is alive and well at the city’s new lodgings. The W Austin—located in the vibrant Second Street District, mere blocks from Sixth Street’s music venues and next door to the home of Austin City Limits—has the Bliss beauty products and buzzy bar vibe you’d expect, plus an unrivaled pickup scene at its cabana-lined pool. In the quieter West Campus neighborhood, Hotel Ella is a genteel alternative featuring 48 rooms tucked into a column-lined 1890s mansion. For a stay in up-and-coming East Austin, book one of the seven rooms at the Heywood (heywoodhotel.com), a boutique hotel that decorated each of its suites in a different style, from mod to midcentury.

No matter your home base for the merrymaking to come, the city’s hottest watering holes are in the gustatory hipster haven of East Austin. Friends & Neighbors is a new boutique, coffee shop, and wine bar from restaurateurs Jade and Greg Mathews, who’ve stocked a heritage bungalow with a mix of vintage fashion and local artisanal dry goods. Stop by for a pour-over from Stumptown Coffee, but stick around for sangria and live music under the pecan trees. Head over to Qui, the inaugural offering from Top Chef champion and James Beard Award winner Paul Qui, no later than 6 p.m. to get a table. Kick off the meal with salmon butter—a so-good-it’s-bad starter of spreadable, olive oil–poached Ora king salmon—before diving into such eclectic Asian delights as Filipino lamb curry or venison rubbed with sansho peppercorns and coffee. From here, the best nightcaps require a two-block waddle to Whisler’s for craft cocktails under a punched-tin ceiling.

Got hangover? Since barbecue is widely known to soothe the aftereffects of a debaucherous night out, stop by the first brick-and-mortar location of the famous roving meat mecca, Dai Due Butcher Shop and Supper Club on Manor Road in Cherrywood. Owners Jesse Griffiths and Tamara Mayfield dish out a rotating menu of local meats and Gulf seafood grilled over a wood fire. Sit down to tackle a heap of goat ribs, and take home cortido (fermented cabbage) for later. If you’re interested in some schooling, follow up with an onsite charcuterie class. 

This article was published in 7x7's May 2014 issue. Click here to subscribe.