- May 1, 2015

10 Surprising Things You’ll Miss After Moving Away From Austin

The weird capital of Texas has more charm than even some of the locals realize.

We all know Austin is one of the most fun, trendy, tasty and innovative cities in the world, but for some who’ve lived here long enough, it can be easy to take the city’s unique traits for granted. For these folks, the most amazing food, music, and special events is just everyday life, a daily occurrence.

But once you leave Austin, there are some Things that you will immediately notice missing from your life — things you might not expect, as I personally found out after accepting a job that took me across the country for six months. This is a list that I didn’t expect to write, and I was frankly surprised by some of the entries.

Still, if you’re anything like me, this is what you’re going to miss after moving away…


10.) The Best Damn Tacos in the World

Torchy's Tacos

Photo: Flickr user Andrew Hyde.

If you’re unfortunate enough to be move somewhere in America’s midwest — even a place as modern and booming as Chicago — you will never lay your eyes on a taco meal as amazing as a Torchy’s Taco, or any of the other hyper-creative food art Austin’s taco scene whips up on a daily basis.

Austin is a kind of Taco Nirvana the likes of which had never been imagined until it just sort of Happened, and thank God for that. There isn’t an American city that compares.

9.) The Hipsters, For Some Reason

Austin hipsters.

Photo: Flickr user Joey Parsons.

Austin, like New York City, is one of America’s hipster centrals. The hipster community here is so hip, it has actually fragmented and spawning whole new subgenres of hipsters — indeed, a whole hipster economy (pictured above, a trust fund hipster pays a bicycle hipster to ferry him to the next bar).

And while we all like to complain about how lame hipsters are, once you leave Austin it becomes apparent that the ubiquitous nature of the hipster in this town has an aggregate effect on nearly every business that swings its doors open to the general public. Only in Austin can a guy with a beard, 6-inch earlobe spools and a half-dozen facial tattoos land a job as a reputable company’s representative to the public, and that’s a very good thing. Because they’re literally everywhere, it’s almost impossible to not hire one at some point or another. That means that Anybody can work in Austin, and not many cities can say the same.

8.) Amazingly, the Cops

Austin cops are nice, for the most part.

Photo: Flickr user alamosbasement.

Austin’s cops have some tarnishes on their reputation, like any cop shop, but on the whole police in Travis County are a heck of a lot nicer than most Texas officers — particularly the cops in neighboring Williamson County, who don’t exactly have a good reputation.

It’s not just that contrast between Austin police and everywhere else in the state that sets this department apart. After all, is the city that lets up to 20,000 people gather a couple times a year in a big field to smoke marijuana. The chief, Art Acevedo, even posed with an “Occupy” hipster holding a sign criticizing the NYPD for beating up and pepper-spraying protesters. While these things are little more than optics, they are the optics of a police force that’s nicer, more professional, and more connected to their communities than almost any other in the state.

7.) The Alamo Drafthouse

Photo: Flickr user alamosbasement.

To the uninitiated, the Alamo Drafthouse might be just another theater chain, but to anyone who has spent more than a year in Austin, it’s a movie sanctuary. From new releases to amazing food, adult beverages produced by local vendors and amazing special events like 80’s sing-a-longs, $1 midnight movies and celebrations of camp classics, the Drafthouse is unlike any theater business in the country.

The Drafthouse is so incredible that none other than Quentin Tarantino began hosting his own screenings of classic exploitation films there within the company’s first year in business. It wasn’t long before the Drafthouse started drawing Hollywood clout, attracting all-star talent for red carpet premieres and playing an integral role in establishing Austin as one of the country’s most influential towns for silver screen entertainment.

6.) The Food Trailer Scene

Austin's trailer food park on South Contress.

Photo: Flickr user Heather Cowper.

The food served up by Austin’s trailer chefs is nothing short of amazing. Rarely if ever will you stop by a food trailer in Austin and come away disappointed. The bar for entry in the trailer food market is so low that experimentation is practically guaranteed no matter where you stop.

Unlike other cities (*cough* Los Angeles *cough*), Austin actively encourages up and coming trailer food extraordinaires, and lots of local property owners are happy to work with them. This has led to trailer food parks springing up all around the city — even on the north side, a decidedly less-weird area of Austin — creating a culture that fuses tastes from around the world into life-changing creations that you’ll never forget.

Hit ‘next’ to see the rest.