The annual South by Southwest Conferences & Festivals begin this Friday, March 11, in one of our favorite cities – Austin, Texas. While we’re sure you’ve got a packed schedule lined up for the week, here are some of our favorite Austin hotspots to check out if you get a break from the conference.

1. Olamaie

When chefs Michael Fojtasek and Grae Nonas opened this restaurant last year, they introduced their fresh, farm-focused take on Southern cuisine. More than 90% of the produce is locally sourced, so the menu changes frequently, though you can always count on the cornbread (a recipe from the general manager Ben Hickerson’s great aunt), hot biscuits, and thinly sliced white button mushrooms, served with tarragon in a country-ham vinaigrette. Small plates $6-$14; Entrees $25-$30.

2. The Bar at Qui

For a budget-friendly alternative to Qui’s tasting menu, head to the patio or six-seat bar for cocktails and Filipino-inspired small plates. The Mount Gay Rum-based Shore Leave is made with his pumpkin seed horchata; the American Slang, with bourbon and apricot raki (a kind of brandy), comes with honey, chia, and juniper seeds.

3. Clark’s Oyster Bar

The nautical-inspired decor will make you feel like you’re at the coast—perfect for a starter of oysters. Move on to the red fish, served with a smoked caper and paprika vinaigrette. End the night with the warm Basque Cake, topped with cherry preserves and cream cheese ice cream. Entrees $16-$32.

4. Whip In

“Only in Austin,” Whip In regulars will say when describing this neighborhood hangout. It’s part beer hall, wine bar, and restaurant, as well as part specialty grocery store, housed in a former Singer Sewing machine factory. Choose a beer from the 50 taps, including their own line. The eclectic food menu—think Indian meets Tex-Mex—includes the South Asian Frito Pie, goat sliders, and queso with chutney. There’s also live music every night at 9 p.m.

5. Sunroom

Sunroom elevates Austin’s youthful, boho-chic style. Some shoppers might be drawn to the long silk dresses or cotton jumpers, while others make a beeline to the jewelry case for beaded glass bracelets under $50.

6. Work 

This new South Lamar shop collective has two boutiques in one. On the one side, Austin-born Noah Marion makes hand-tooled leather goods, like his Dopp Kit, Slim Line Card Case, and Jetsetter Tote, all designed to show off the raw materials (mostly vegetable-tanned cowhide). The other half of the space is managed by Hoiden Supply Company, a women’s mercantile that sells tailored leather jackets and comfy sundresses.;

7. Mockingbird Domestics

Husband and wife team Laura and Jeff Daly have their own furnishings line—walnut dining tables and quartz-topped accent pieces— but also carry works by local iron and woodworkers like Farm2Market, as well as love seats and chairs reupholstered by Austin-based Spruce.

 8. Midnight Cowboy

This hideaway adds a touch of class to Austin’s famously rowdy 6th Street. Table-side creations include complicated cocktails like the Nom de Guere: The glass is rinsed with 10-year-old Laphroaig scotch before rye, Velvet Falernum, Nux Alpina Walnut Liqueur, and Jerry Thomas’ Own Decanter Bitters are expertly shaken and poured. Reservations are recommended, but if the neon “vacant” sign is on—a throwback to Midnight Cowboy’s former life as a brothel—they’re accepting walk-ins.

9. Allens Boots

The 8,000-square-foot store (open since 1977) has the largest selection of cowboy boots in the country—more than 10,000 pairs line the shelves—from ostrich or oiled calfskin Luccheses (made in Texas since 1883) to Old Gringo Boots, known for their colorful embroidery and bright studding.

10. The Broken Spoke

Throughout its 50-plus years in business, the dance hall has hosted the likes of Willie Nelson and Bob Wills. It still attracts truck-driving patrons in cowboy hats and starched white shirts who come to listen to live country and brush up on their two-step. Dance lessons held four nights a week.

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