The first Southwest Music Conference and Festival (SXSW) was held in 1987 in Austin, Texas. In the decades since, music groups and their respective fans have been descending upon the Texas state capital in droves. If you’ve been to Austin for SXSW in the last decade, then you know the scene has grown exponentially—from a festival where up and coming, independent acts had a legitimate shot at gaining exposure to the place where multi-platinum acts like 50 Cent, Lil Wayne and Kanye West pop up to showcase their latest.
The eight-member collective, League of Extraordinary Gz have been calling Austin, Texas home long before it became the destination hotspot for music industry moguls and the struggle rappers hoping to catch their attention each spring. As such, the octet of emcees may be Hip Hop’s best tour guides this side of the mysterious woman found on your favorite A Tribe Called Quest album covers. If you’re in need of some good barbeque, a quick haircut or even a spot to either handle a manicure or deliver a hangover-curing juice elixir, LOEGz are here to assist. If you’d like to thank the fellas for their services, feel free to head over to iTunes and buy their debut album, #Leagueshit.
Best Breakfast Spot: Juan In A Million (2300 E. Caesar Chavez)
Just a couple miles east of downtown on Caesar Chavez Street is the locally owned, traditional Mexican restaurant Juan In A Million. Right when you enter the door you’ll be greeted with a friendly handshake from Juan Sr. himself. In the ATX, we love our breakfast tacos, and Juan knows how to make them extraordinary. Be sure to try their famous “Don Juan El Grande Taco,” which is a huge taco filled with eggs, bacon, potatoes, and cheese and will put you to sleep for only $4.50. The migas are on point too!
Other Mentions: Paco’s Tacos, Maudie’s, Kerby Lane Café
Best Lunch Spot: Casa Columbia (1614 E. 7th Street)
Head five blocks east of downtown on 7th Street and grab yourself a nice Columbian lunch at Casa Columbia. The food here is authentic and cooked to perfection. If you’re in the mood for some arroz con pollo, it doesn’t get any better than Casa Columbia. Although the lunch menu might seem light with only eight entrees, they all go hard and are light on the wallet—costing no more than $8. It’s a good change of pace if you get tired of all the Mexican and BBQ food the ATX has to offer.
Other Mentions: Perla’s Seafood & Oyster Bar, Eastside Cafe, Hoover’s Cooking, Frank Bar
Best Food Trailer: Tony’s Jamaican Food (1200 E. 11th Street)
When you think Austin, Jamaican food probably doesn’t come to mind, but Tony will be the first to tell you that this is “the real ‘ting man!” From the oxtail plates, to stew chicken to goat curry, this trailer knows how to cook up some authentic island food. Located a couple blocks east on 11th street by the Historic Victory Grill, Tony’s Jamaican Food is a food trailer in a large open space serving the city with some true Jamaican food along with some Reggae vibes blasting through speakers. While waiting for your food, be sure to walk across the street to the corner store and grab a Red Stripe to wash it all down. You’re going to come across a lot of food trailers while you move around the city, and they all will have something to offer. But you’re not going to find any as ethnic and authentic as Tony’s.
Other Mentions: Austin Daily Press, Eastside King, Johnnye’s
Best BBQ Spot: Franklin’s BBQ (900 E. 11th Street)
In the past couple years, Franklin’s BBQ has taken the crown as the best BBQ the ATX has to offer. They open at 11 am and close until they sell out—which usually happens every day around lunchtime. It’s that good! Here’s a fair warning though, expect to stand in a long line wrapped around the corner, because everyone and their mama tries to get some before it sells out. No matter the weather conditions, there will always be a line at Franklin’s. So get there early. It’s located one block east of I-35 on 11th Street. It’s not hard to find, because you will see the line of people at all times of the day. The brisket alone will make you realize what all that waiting was for.
Other Mentions: Rudy’s, Iron Works BBQ, Salt Lick
Best Late Night Food Spot: 24 Diner (600 N. Lamar)
If it’s after 2 am, your ears have had enough and you’re in need of some late night grub to soak up all that alcohol, then be sure to head to 24 Diner for some of the best late night food the city has to offer. This ain’t your ordinary diner like IHOP, Waffle House or Denny’s. This is the real deal serving some gourmet dishes 24 hours a day. From breakfast food, to burgers to entrees, 24 Diner has got you covered. It’s located a mile west of downtown on 6th street and Lamar. They also are one of the few spots in Austin that serves chicken and waffles. It ain’t no Roscoe’s, but it will get the job done while the sun rises.
Other Mentions: Star Seeds, Whataburger, The Halal Bros.
Best Barber Shop: Marshall’s Barber Shop (1915 E. 12th Street)
If you are in need a of that last-minute edge up, bald fade or taper, then head over to Marshall’s Barber Shop east of downtown on 12th Street in the heart of the Eastside. Not only will they get you fresh, but they’ll keep you entertained. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself looking for some tissue to wipe the tears of laughter. Expect to wait some time if you’re a walk in, but you can also call up the shop ahead of time and schedule an appointment with any of the barbers.
Other Mentions: Zeus, Ted’s, Kervin’s
Best Head Shop: Planet K (Nine locations in Austin)
Got green but nothing to burn it with? Then be sure to stop by any one of the nine Planet K head shops around town. They have every smoking apparatus and utensil you need to get by and are open seven days a week until midnight. From wraps and papers to vaporizers and pipes, they got some of the lowest prices in town and definitely don’t lack in inventory. It’s like the Walmart of smoke shops.
Other Mentions: Pipes Plus, Oat Willie’s, BC Smoke Shop
Best Gear Shop: Collective Status (516 E. 6th Street)
If you want to stay fresh during the week and need to cop some new gear, then make a pit stop at Collective Status, which is in the heart of downtown on 6th Street right in the middle of all the SXSW events. This is our go-to spot to cop all the latest gear from brands like Crooks & Castles, Rocksmith, Mishka, Pink Dolphin, 10 Deep, and more. Be sure to mention that the LOEGz sent you there, and the homies will take care of you. Also, we are sure they’ll have some in-store events going on during the week as well, so you’ll probably be in there one way or another.
Other Mentions: Nice Kicks, LTD, Active Athlete
Best Nail Shop: Sugarcoat Nails (916A W. 12th Street)
Located on the west end of downtown on 12th Street, Sugarcoat Nails not only has a great ambience to it, but they know hook your lady’s nails right up. Waiting isn’t that bad, since they serve adult beverages that will make the time pass. If your girl needs a break with her girlfriends, be sure to send them here. They’ll thank you afterwards. They accept walk-ins, but chances are you’ll be waiting for a while, so be sure call in and make an appointment. Prices are fair here with a basic mani/pedi running about $25 to $35.
Other Mentions: D’Zire Nails, All About You, Diamond Nails
Best Vintage Shop: Charm School Vintage (2109 E. Caesar Chavez)
Located a couple blocks east of downtown on Caeser Chavez, Charm School Vintage carries more than just vintage clothing and accessories. They’ve got a friendly staff that can help you get out your comfort zone and turn a boring or bad day into a fun one. All the merchandise here is picked by the store owner, Shari, and she will make sure she gets to know you and help you find exactly what you want. The prices here are affordable, so if you are looking to upgrade your closet with some vintage clothing, be sure to pay Shari and CSV a visit.
Other Mentions: Thrifty Chicks Vintage, Room Service Vintage, Roadhouse Rags
Best Record Shop: Waterloo Records (600A N. Lamar)
Located a couple blocks on the west end of downtown on 6th and Lamar, Waterloo is Austin’s staple record store and has been thriving here in Austin since 1982. They have a great collection of vinyl as well as CDs and DVDs. In addition to just being a record store, Waterloo hosts a number of events at its location and will have something going on during SXSW. Also be sure to check out the Red Bull Sound Select Artist listening station, so you can listen to our debut album, #LEAGUESHIT. Waterloo is definitely an Austin landmark that you must see.
Other Mentions: Thrifty Chicks, Room Service, Roadhouse Rags
Best Wine Bar: Uncorked Tasting Room (900 E. 7th Street)
Located in downtown right on the corner of E. 7th street and the freeway, Uncorked is a house converted wine bar serving some great wine selections and appetizers. The servers here are super friendly and know how to take care of you. Wine flights are affordable and the ambiance here makes you never want to leave. If you are looking for some alone time or squeezing in a quick date, be sure to impress her by visiting Uncorked.
Other Mentions: Max’s Wine Dive, Winebelly, Cork and Co., Vino Vino
Bonus Pick - Best Juice Bar: Juiceland (1625 Barton Springs Rd)
Located a couple miles south of downtown, Juiceland has been serving the ATX since 2011 with its amazing menu of juice concoctions. Their menu is split up into three juicing categories: “Fresh and Easy,” “Fresh Fruit Agua Frescas,” and “Next Level Juices.” If you are looking for a detox from all the SXSW drinking, then be sure to have one of the servers assist you with a perfect potion to get your liver back on its feet. Not in the mood for juice by the time you get there? Then grab one of their delicious smoothies or small food plates.
Other Mentions: Blenders and Bowls, Gonzo Juice, Daily Juice