Wanderlust: Austin, Texas

On 1 Feb 2010, I flew across the world, from Singapore to Austin, Texas and suffered through 28 hours on coach, transiting in Tokyo and Minneapolis [and got interrogated by customs for half an hour] to visit my good friend, Andrea who moved to Austin. Who knew I would be in Texas, sinking my teeth into too-good-to-be-true Tex Mex, sifting through racks of arguably the best selection of vintage in the world, and of course, rocking out at SXSW. What a trip! FOOD

Whether you're in Austin to party it up like a rock god, to hunt down good vintage, or for whatever reason you have up your sleeve, make sure you steer away from the usual fast food chains and make time to indulge in the amazing array of food Austin has to offer. From infamous Tex Mex, to tummy-rubbing desserts and droolworthy barbeque, this city pretty much has it all.

Polkadots Cupcake Factory 2826 Rio Grande Street Austin, TX 78705, United States (512) 476-3687

If you've been following me on Twitter, you've read my raving reviews about Polkadots Cupcake Factory's amazing red velvet cupcakes during the time I was in Austin. Like a little slice of heaven in the palm of your hand, the red velvet cupcake with cream cheese icing is worth busting your diet on. I unfortunately, have the habit of eating the same thing over and over again, so I can't tell you about the rest of the cupcakes, but considering how much dedication and love Olga, the owner, puts into her works of art, I've not a doubt they're all to die for. Plus, their bakery is in a cosy little cottage that's perfect for gossiping with friends and nibbling on them cupcakes. They also made Andrea's awesome birthday cake:

Maudie's Milagros

Tex Mex is the best thing that has ever happened to America, and Texan chain, Maudie's, is exactly where you need to sink your teeth into lotsa queso and guac! I mean, seriously, you cannot go wrong with a cuisine that revolves around cheese, jalapenos, rice, beans and more cheese. My favourites off the menu are Rockin' Ruthann's, two tender pulled chicken burritos covered in chile con carne and topped with onions, queso blanco and queso amarillo; and the Maida Salad, a blend of mixed greens, fresh avocado, cheese and pico de gallo with a splash of lime juice and chipotle shrimp. Andrea and I would order both and split half and half. Of course, I don't have photos of these because I was always too excited to devour the dishes. Heh.

The Belmont 305 W. 6th. Austin, TX 78701 (512) 457-0300

Cinnamon buns loaded with cream cheese. Beef tenderloin eggs benedict. $1 mimosas. Best brunch in the world - 'nuff said.

La Condesa 400 W 2nd St Guadalupe Austin, TX 78701

Inspired by the hip, bohemian Condesa neighborhood of Mexico City, La Condesa serves contemporary Mexican cuisine with traditional regional influences. Dishes range from street food favorites to sophisticated specialties. La Condesa also features Austin’s largest premium tequila selection with over 80 varieties of 100% blue agave tequila as well as a host of innovative specialty cocktails. Drawing on the bold flavors and vibrant colors of Mexico City, La Condesa provides an energetic atmosphere with creative, accessible cuisine in the heart of downtown Austin. I had the most awesome barbacoa de cordero [lambchop & roasted lamb shoulder baked in maguey leaf, esquites, cactus salad, jalapeno mint recado] and Andrea had incredible pato con mole negro. Pato freakin' rocks.

SHOPPING

Whether you're shopping for vintage, looking for local designers, or on the hunt for cheap designer goods, Austin has an amazing amount of everything. I'm featuring my favourite haunts, so what I may love may not necessarily be something up your alley.

Toy Joy 2900 Guadalupe St Austin, TX 78705

The coolest toy store in the world, Toy Joy! It has the most eccentric selection of toys, from Ugly Dolls to random little knick knacks. I even bought Andrea a $1 Cambodian baby and the most awesome pop-up book ever:

Parts & Labour 1117 South Congress Avenue Austin, TX 78704-1727, United States (512) 326-1648

I love Parts & Labour. They stock all sorts of knick knacks from Texan designers, and boy, are they good! I bought a bunch of t-shirts for my brother including this one, and a dress for myself from Texan designer, Currybeth.

Feathers Boutique 1700 South Congress Avenue Austin, TX 78704-3524, United States (512) 912-9779

If there is a place on earth where vintage lovers can have orgasmic shopping trips, it's Austin. And one of the best vintage boutiques I found myself in is Feathers Boutique. They had an extensive array of top quality vintage that puts any vintage store in Singapore to shame. With affordable price points and lovely staff that can take on your vintage queries, you need to make a stop at Feathers whilst you're in Austin. If you're not going to Texas anytime soon, though, they post up photos of their stock on their blog and they're more than happy to ship it to you anywhere in the world! I'm going to have dreams of this too-cool-for-school maxi dress.