Posted March 11, 2019

Insider Tips for the Coolest SXSW Experience Possible


Every year, the South by Southwest (SXSW) Conference & Festivals convene in Austin to celebrate the intersection between the interactive, film, and music industries in mid-March. We sat down with Kimpton’s Director of Music + Brand Activations (and Austin local) Lauren Bucherie for some insider recommendations for places to hang out, shows to catch, and her favorite restaurants and bars to frequent during SXSW.

The Writer’s Lounge, just beyond the bar at Geraldine’s, is a cozy hangout before and after festival events. Photo Credit: Aubrie Pick.

Off the Beaten Path Bites:

Everyone has their favorite breakfast taco, and Taco Joint on Riverside Drive is mine. It’s just east of South Congress Avenue (SoCo), and only slightly “off the beaten path”. They grill their tortillas which makes all the difference.

Taco Joint’s Open Faced Migas (corn tortillas strips, egg, tomato, onion, fresh jalapeño, queso, and queso fresco on a corn tostada) is a classic, and for good reason. Photo Credit: Anastacia Uriegas.

For an iced coffee drink, go for El Equinox from El Tacorrido—it’s an iced horchata with a shot of espresso and so good!

There Is No Austin Without Live Music:

For one of the best free music events, Bunkhouse Hotels hosts South X San José every year in the parking lot next to the Hotel San José. It always has great music and a local pop-up market for vintage t-shirts and jewelry. Music starts at noon each day from Wednesday, March 13 –  Sunday, March 17.

Another go-to is the Luck Reunion on Thursday, March 14. This all-day music event is held out at local legend Willie Nelson’s ranch town in Luck, TX (just 20 minutes outside of Austin). You feel as though you’ve been transported to the wild west, with saloons and moonshine readily available alongside some of the best Americana, Soul, and Rock bands. It’s hard to get tickets to—but if you ask around, you just might get lucky!

Originally created as a film set, Willie Nelson’s ranch town of Luck, TX is now a hub for creative collaboration. The Luck Reunion has become it’s own sort of cultural collective since 2012. Photo Credit: Luck Reunion.

Last, but not least—we’re hosting the first of our 2019 Off The Record music series featuring pop/rock band Moon Taxi at the Kimpton Hotel Van Zandt. The intimate performance will take place at Geraldine’s on Saturday, March 16. With their latest single “Good as Gold,” Moon Taxi’s music is the definition of a good time.

Bars to See & Be Seen:

Justine’s is the best late-night spot to hang out with musicians and actors in town for the festival. It’s on East 5th Street—far enough away from the hooplah to provide an oasis for celebrities, though it’s a scene all its own. Their menu features French-inspired cuisine and vinyl records play all night. They’re open until 2 am (though infamous for after-parties). The motto at Justine’s might say it all: “When you think you’ve gone too far, keep going.”

Midnight Cowboy is a speakeasy right in the middle of East 6th Street. Reservations are tough to come by, but the cocktails are worth the wait. The cocktails at Midnight Cowboy are meant to push the status quo. If you see the vacancy sign lit outside, that means walk-ins are welcome, otherwise reservations can be made online.

Industry standbys Geraldine’s (with its rooftop lounge, complete with private cabanas and outdoor seating) and Native Hostel are both major watering holes for SXSW attendees and bigwigs.

Lauren Bucherie


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