Photo courtesy of Visit Mesquite

Not to be overshadowed by its big sister, Dallas, Mesquite is a vibrant city with its own unique flavor. Within this Lone Star city you’ll find a wide array of hidden culinary gems just waiting to be discovered.

Step off the well-trodden path of chain restaurants to discover Mesquite’s best-kept secret: its mom-and-pop restaurants.These “hole-in-the-wall” establishments are locally owned and deliver in flavor, authenticity, and heart.

Enjoy this sampling of Mesquite’s hidden culinary treasures that are well worth the trip.

Mesquite BBQ
145 E. Davis St.

Mesquite BBQ has been a fixture in downtown Mesquite since 1959. The rich, smoky aroma and friendly customer service keep both locals and visitors coming back for more. Their meats are prepared daily in a unique smoker manufactured only a few blocks away.
Must-try dishes: brisket, meat-stuffed baked potato, Chop Chop sandwich

Yia Yia’s House of Gyros
904 E. Davis St., suite 400

At Yia Yia’s, you’ll experience the true essence of Greek cuisine. This family-owned restaurant takes pride in serving traditional Greek dishes passed down through generations. With each bite, you’ll feel the presence of the chef’s grandmother, whose photo overlooks the preparation of every dish.
Must-try dishes: gyro wrap and traditional Greek salad

Jamaica Cook Shop
2033 Military Pkwy., suite104a

Jamaica Cook Shop is a hidden gem offering fresh, made-to-order, authentic Jamaican food. Vibrantly decorated in the colors of the Jamaican flag and tucked away next to a gas station, this unpretentious kitchen serves up traditional island dishes and imported drinks.
Must-try dishes: jerk chicken, fried plantains, and stew chicken

Tasty Chicken & Wings
302 S. Galloway Ave.
Just as the name suggests, Tasty Chicken & Wings lives up to its reputation. Their birria tacos are hailed by some as the best in DFW, while their perfectly fried chicken wings are generously coated in homemade sauces. Made from scratch with care, every meal at Tasty Chicken & Wings is a flavor explosion.
Must-try dishes: birria tacos, pupusas, fried chicken wings, chicharron y yucca

Dia de Los Tacos
1927 Faithon P. Lucas Sr. Blvd., suite 115

In a city rich with Latino culture, Dia de Los Tacos stands out for its exceptional Mexican cuisine. Combining traditional flavors with innovative twists, this local favorite is known for its unbeatable breakfast tacos.
Must-try dishes: fajita burger, taco pies

Porky’s Burgers & Wings
4612 Gus Thomasson Rd.

Porky’s has become a legend in Mesquite and DFW for its half-pound burgers crafted with fresh, non-traditional ingredients to create unique flavor combinations. From the tantalizing salmon burger to the tropical Hawaiian burger, there’s something to satisfy every craving.
Must-try dishes: Double Porky Burger (a whole pound of beef!), mango-habanero wings

Vamos Pizza
2411 N. Galloway Ave., suite 110

When it comes to pizza, everyone knows that the best slices are local. Vamos Pizza offers authentic New York-style pizza by the slice or whole pies, alongside calzones, salads, and pasta dishes. With generous portion sizes and affordable prices, you’ll leave Vamos fully satisfied.
Must-try dishes: The Works pizza, chicken and shrimp carbonara, Caesar salad

Oh My Curry
909 E. Davis St., suite A

Located just outside of downtown Mesquite, Oh My Curry is about to become your new favorite spot. This cozy restaurant offers flavorful and contemporary Indian dishes at affordable prices. Don’t forget to leave room for dessert and indulge in a refreshing lassi, an Indian yogurt-based beverage with a smoothie-like consistency.
Must-try dishes: chicken tikka masala, mutton biriyani bowl

Taqueria Mi Morelia
1821 Crestridge Dr.

Taqueria Mi Morelia may not catch your eye at first, but you don’t want to miss out on this Mexican culinary gem. Whether you’re craving tacos, tortas, Mexican-style hamburgers, or the famous huarache, there’s something on the menu to satisfy all taste buds.
Must-try dishes: huarrache, camarones a la diabla

Slab's BBQ
4401 N. Galloway Ave.

Tucked off Galloway Avenue, this no-frills barbecue joint serves up classic favorites with a side of Texas hospitality. The meats are cooked fresh daily, ensuring each bite is packed with smoky goodness. Prepare to leave Slab’s with a full belly and a smile.
Must-try dishes: chopped beef sandwich, sliced beef dinner

Mesquite has a flavor all its own. Next time you’re craving a culinary adventure, visit Mesquite and treat yourself to one of these locally owned and loved restaurants.

Yia Yia's House of Gyros

Photo courtesy of Visit Mesquite

Get Greek at Yia Yia's House of Gyros.

Find more to do, see, and eat in Mesquite here.

Winstar World Casino/Facebook

5 late-summer girlfriend getaways within 6 hours of San Antonio

Girls' trip

And just like that…summer vacation is almost over. Which means the time is right to schedule that girls’ trip you and your gal pals are always talking about. There are many fun places to squeeze in a quick getaway within a few hours of San Antonio, even if it's just an "escape from reality" at a nearby Hill Country resort.

The following five spots feature great pool scenes (or a river float for the more adventurous), expansive spas, delicious dining, and most importantly, sanctuaries to simply unwind. It's a mix of laid-back locales and luxurious lodgings (but hey, you're splitting the bill). Some are brand new, some are tried-and-true favorites with new reasons to visit, and all are within about a six-hour drive.

So text your besties, pack a swimsuit, and get ready to hit the road.

Winstar World Casino

Winstar World Casino/Facebook

Have a hot girl summer at Cascades, the new resort pool at Winstar World Casino.

Winstar World Casino and Resort, Thackerville, Oklahoma
After a recent multimillion-dollar renovation and expansion, WinStar World Casino has debuted a heap of new amenities worth the short road trip north to the Oklahoma-Texas border – even if gambling is of zero interest.

What's new: Located in a completely new 26,000 square-foot building is the WinStar Spa, a two-story relaxation oasis that just opened in May. European-manufactured amenities include saunas from Germany, heated ceramic loungers from Austria, and a massive hydrotherapy tub from Lithuania. Most services come with access to relaxation lounges, saunas, steam rooms, two kinds of showers (one called a “rinse” and the other called “experience”), heated benches, and an “ice room” that sounds perfect for beating the heat.

Another new feature is Cascades, WinStar’s new five-acre pool complex featuring bungalows, cabanas, daybeds, and multiple pools. A 360-degree bar anchors the expansion, and there’s food and beverage service right to your lounge chair. Unlike WinStar’s Terrace Pool, Cascades is open to the public – however, all guests (including hotel guests) must make a paid reservation in advance. Time slots are available for half-day morning, half-day afternoon, or all-day.

If your girl group loves live music: After a three-year hiatus from hosting concerts, WinStar will welcome back live music in October with the opening of Lucas Oil Live, a new 6,500-seat entertainment venue. The first concert on the calendar is Randy Rogers Band featuring Casey Donahew on Saturday, October 7. Other upcoming shows include Miranda Lambert, Rod Stewart, Leon Bridges, and many more.

Where to eat dinner: If visiting on a Saturday night this summer, make plans to attend Cascades After Hours party. Happening every Saturday from 8:30-11 pm, the adults-only (21-and-up) features live music and a buffet dinner. Tickets are $50 per person, and there’s a cash bar. Or visit one of several restaurants in the casino, like the brand new Union Mesa Restaurant & Cantina, or Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill.

Rates: Through Labor Day weekend, rates start at $199 per night.

Omni PGA Resort, Frisco
Don’t let the “PGA” in the name fool you. Guests of the sprawling resort north of Dallas, which just opened in May, don’t have to be golf fans to enjoy the many luxe amenities offered: multiple pools with bar service, a full-service spa, shopping, live music, and 13 dine-and-drink destinations.

If your gal group likes to golf: There are two 18-hole courses and a two-acre putting green. But don’t miss The Swing, a 10-hole par three course that’s lit after dark – perfect for avoiding summer’s scorching rays. Texas country music plays on speakers overhead, and there’s a Casamigos tequila truck that serves refreshing ranch waters at the half-way mark, making this short course perhaps the most lively in town.

For the non-golfers: Book a relaxing treatment at Mokara Spa, where there are more than 20 treatment rooms, a sauna, stream room, jacuzzi, private pool, and spa café. Shop The Monument Realty PGA District then have happy hour at The Lounge by TopGolf. Or simply kick back all day at the adults-only rooftop infinity pool with a Coco Berry Mojito in-hand from the Bluestem Bar.

Where to eat dinner: Make reservations for Trick Rider, the resort’s signature fine-dining restaurant for steak and seafood dishes. Grab a pre-dinner martini at the horseshoe-shaped bar and say “hello” to Cinnamon, the restaurant’s spectacular 1,500-pound, quarter horse-shaped chandelier.

Rates: Rates start at $359 per night.

The Adolphus, Dallas
There are many sleek new hotels in Dallas, but nothing quite like this historic luxury hotel that feels as though you're steeping back in time. Opened in 1912 by Anheuser-Busch co-founder Adolphus Busch, the high-rise draws a new generation of guests seeking an extravagant escape.

If your friends are fancy: Make reservations for afternoon tea in The French Room, an iconic experience in a sophisticated, storied space that's fit for royalty (fun fact: Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip stayed at the Adolphus in 1991). The marble floor, the gilded chairs, the glass chandeliers – all exude elegance. Tea service includes three courses with the option of adding champagne and caviar. Reservations are available Wednesday through Sunday from 11 am-2:45 pm. (Note that The French Room has still not fully reopened post-pandemic, but they do have a new executive chef in the kitchen.)

If you’re having a hot girl summer: Show off that smoking swimsuit at The Adolphus’ rooftop pool, where a live DJ plays music every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday afternoon. Rent a cabana and get a bottle of Minuty sparkling rose on ice to share. If finding zen is the goal for the getaway, make plans for Black Swan Yoga on the pool deck Saturday, August 19 at 9:30 am.

Where to eat dinner: Feeling high-end? Head to The French Room Bar, where foie gras torchon, escargot en croute, East Coast oysters on the half shell, and rack of lamb round out a very upscale French menu of culinary delights. (The absolute best savory, slightly spicy popcorn comes with cocktail service at the bar.) For something much more casual, go downstairs to the Rodeo Bar, where burgers, nachos, barbecue, and even a fully loaded foot-long chili dog combine for a completely different dining experience. Wash it all down with a frozen whiskey sour.

Rates: Rates start about $298 per night.

Omni Barton Creek Resort & Spa, Austin
The popular Austin-area resort is worth a another look this summer, as it has launched a new signature wine, beer, and spirits tasting event. An adults-only infinity pool, 13,000-square-foot spa and sanctuary, and enchanting views of more than 4,000 countryside acres add to the allure.

If your girl group likes adult beverages: Don’t miss Hill Country Sip & Savor, the resort's new festival-style tasting event that features beverages from local breweries, distilleries, and wineries native to the Texas country along with food and live music. The festival launched on Memorial Day weekend and there are two dates left: Saturday, August 5 and Saturday, September 2. Rates start at $459 per night and include overnight accommodations, three drink sampling tickets and one food ticket per adult, two beach towels and one tote bag per room, and one bottle of sunscreen.

Other gal pal activities: Lounge at the adults-only infinity pool and order an Elderflower Spritz from the bar, or go to the spa. The latter has its own private rooftop pool with plenty of tranquil lounge chairs and plush outdoor seating away from the crowd. There are also four golf courses on-site for ladies who love a good tee time.

Where to eat dinner: Make reservations for Blind Salamander, the resort’s upscale seafood restaurant led by chef Francisco Baca. Indulge in steamed mussels with miso butter, glazed redfish with clams and cornbread, or jumbo shrimp with blood orange cocktail sauce.

Rates: Rates start at $399 per night.

Finally, don't forget about ...

The Guadalupe River, Gruene
It’s a bucket-list activity for Texan, but a whole different experience when it's just the girls. Away from rowdy guys on the river, gal-groups can bond (and solve the problems of the world) during a leisurely inner-tube float down the crisp and cool Guadalupe - insulated tumblers in hand. Then end the day in the tiny town of Gruene, where groups can gather to listen to live music at Texas’ oldest dance hall, sip margaritas at a riverfront restaurant, shop boutiques, or relax in a boutique day spa. There are countless hotels, camp grounds, and short-term rentals for an overnight stay.

How to float the river: Rockin’ R doesn't get much closer, located on the banks of the Guadalupe in the heart of Gruene. For decades, they've outfitted tubers for river floats and provided shuttle service back from the end point. New is Rockin’ R’s expansive Gruene Light Bar, where live music and cocktails are available all summer long. El Arroyo (the Austin-based Tex-Mex restaurant known for its hilarious marquee signs) also has a food truck on-site for pre- or post-float grub. Don’t forget to wear water shoes, and note that cans, glass, or anything disposable is not allowed on the water.

Other Gruene must-do’s: Have sangria or a longneck bottle at the iconic Gruene Hall while listening to live music. Stroll through locally owned shops for cute clothes, décor, and souvenirs. Or schedule a spa treatment at Gruene Day Spa, but note treatments should be booked at least two to three weeks out.

Where to eat dinner: No visit to Gruene is complete without dinner at Gristmill River Restaurant & Bar. There’s typically a wait for a table, especially on the weekends. But that means you get to listen to live acoustic music on the lawn with a salt-rimmed margarita until your name is written on the chalk board, indicating your table is ready. Pro tip: chips and fresh salsa (which is also sold to-go by the mason jar) are available at the indoor-outdoor bar while you wait.

Rates: Tube rental with shuttle service at Rockin’ R starts at $25.

Photo courtesy of Fredericksburg CVB

Grape stomping, drinking, and savoring are on tap during a Fredericksburg getaway


Wine lovers, listen up: You don't have to travel to Napa or France to fill your cup with a wonderful wine-themed vacation.

Fredericksburg is the epicenter of Texas Wine Country, producing award-winning reds, whites, and rosés from more than 60 wineries and tasting rooms. Whether you choose to join a tour or explore at your own pace, the opportunities for a toast-worthy time in the Hill Country are practically endless.

Plus, if you time your visit for midweek or during the grape harvest, you're in for an even bigger treat.

Wine time
Fredericksburg's Gillespie County is home to a staggering amount of wineries, vineyards, and tasting rooms, and there are dozens more only an hour or two away.

Instead of feeling overwhelmed at the array of choices, book with a wine tour company and let them plan out the itinerary.

Choose from more than 30 companies and full-day, half-day, and private tours to get exactly the experience you want.

Or hop on the 290 Wine Shuttle, which departs from downtown Fredericksburg every 10 minutes on Fridays and Saturdays, and hit a couple set wineries along the way.

Urban sips
You don't even need to leave downtown to sip and stroll. The Urban Wine Trail includes 10-plus wineries and tasting rooms owned by Fredericksburg wineries, all within walking distance of historic hot spots and maybe even your B&B or hotel.

Midweek mood
Consider visiting Fredericksburg Sunday through Thursday, when crowds are fewer, lodging has more availability, and you're likely to receive a more personalized experience at the wineries and tasting rooms.

As a bonus, the wait times at restaurants will be much less and you can browse the charming shops and boutiques downtown without bumping elbows.

Let's stomp
Grape harvest time arrives as summer draws to a close, and with comes wine-related festivals, picking parties, special release events, and — of course — grape stomping.

Yes! You can participate in this time-honored tradition by kicking off your shoes, rolling up your pant legs, and mashing the freshly picked grapes to your heart's content.

Check with individual wineries for event details, but in the meantime here are some tips to make sure you're ready.

Start planning your Fredericksburg getaway now.

Augusta Vin in Fredericksburg

Photo courtesy of Fredericksburg CVB

Grape harvest season means plenty of food and wine events.

Photo courtesy of Visit Shenandoah

How to get the most out of small-but-spectacular Shenandoah

On the Road

Looking for a destination for an overnight trip, weekend getaway, or family vacation? You might want to consider Shenandoah.

Situated in the booming North Houston area and adjacent to Conroe, Spring, and The Woodlands, Shenandoah packs a punch with nearly 60 restaurants, 12 well-reviewed and affordable hotels, five shopping centers, several family-friendly entertainment venues, and a variety of outdoor amenities such as two city parks, all in an easy-to-navigate, compact footprint of 2.2 square miles.

Here’s your short list for how to best enjoy Shenandoah:

Browse and shop
If you like to shop, Shenandoah is your mini mecca, with a multitude of options. You’ll love the Portofino Shopping Center, with its distinct Venetian-style architecture and mix of nationally recognized stores, specialty boutiques, and salons.

The Sam Moon Center is home to the eponymous Sam Moon Trading Company that has endless accessories, apparel, cosmetics, and more.

Adjacent to the Sam Moon Center is the city’s Metropark Square, known for its entertainment options, hotels, restaurants, and salons, and be sure to check out the Daiso Japanese dollar store while you're there.

Shenandoah also has a variety of locally owned specialty shops worth exploring, including Bikeland and Bike Lane, each with a vast selection of road, mountain, and ebikes.

There's also Precision Camera & Video, one of the largest camera stores in Texas, which offers a variety of classes for the public.

Pop into Picket Fences, renowned for its stylish selection of furniture, home decor, unique gifts, and accessories.

Dish and dine
Foodies, take note: There are actually two, twice-nominated James Beard semifinalists in town, each with two restaurant concepts here.

The first is chef/owner Ronnie Killen of Killen’s Steakhouse, which serves the highest-quality steak — from USDA Prime beef to Japanese wagyu — and Gulf Coast seafood. There’s also a Killen’s Barbecue across the street for smoked faves in a more casual atmosphere.

The second is Levi Goode, chef/owner of both Kitchen & Cantina and Goode Co. Fish Camp. Fish Camp is the newest concept from the Goode Co. collection of restaurants, and features an oyster bar and the freshest fish around, along with seasonal dishes in a vibrant setting — and it can currently only be found in Shenandoah.

The Shenandoah location served as an incubator for both concepts, and Kitchen & Cantina, started in Shenandoah, now boasts two other locations in Houston (one in Memorial and one in The Heights).

On the fast, casual front, be sure to check out Califa’s Tacos and Beer. This family-owned restaurant features Cali-style tacos and burritos made with the freshest ingredients.

Be sure to leave some room for dessert! Ice cream lovers are sure to find a treat at The Dolly Llama Waffle Master or Surreal Creamery, two new ice cream stores that recently opened — each are the first of their shops to open in the greater Houston area.

Finally, Shenandoah just opened an Instagram-worthy mochi donut and creme puff shop called Munch Munch Mochi Donut, Tea & Dessert that foodies won’t want to miss.

See and do
There’s no shortage of places to go to be entertained while in town. Post up with some popcorn and a movie at the state-of-the-art AMC Metropark 10 with IMAX cineplex.

It’s game on at Dave & Buster’s and Main Event, or get your adrenaline fix at Urban Air Trampoline and Adventure Park.

Looking for some pampering for yourself? You might want to consider booking an appointment at the Aveda Institute, one of Aveda’s largest training centers in the country. You can get a variety of hair and body treatments for less as you help support students with their education (just be sure to allow a little extra time). Master trainers work alongside students as part of their training.

Outdoor enthusiasts will want to connect with nature at the W.G. Jones State Forest, which is one of the nation’s largest working urban forests, or the George Mitchell Nature Preserve, with its miles of hike and bike trails across 1,800 acres — both are just minutes away.

For a full list of places to see, shop, stay, and savor, head over to Visit Shenandoah.

Shenandoah City Park is a lovely green space in town.

shenandoah park
Photo courtesy of Visit Shenandoah
Shenandoah City Park is a lovely green space in town.
Photo by Renee Dominguez

Your guide to grooving in Austin, the Live Music Capital of the World

Let's Rock

As the Live Music Capital of the World, Austin's music scene and live music experiences are essential to the heart of the city.

First-time visitors might be surprised to find live music everywhere, from the terminal at Austin's airport to outdoor patios at some of the city’s most reputable restaurants.

Summer is full of live music experiences, from seasonal music series to festivals. Nightly, you'll find Austin musicians at clubs, coffeehouses, bars, taquerias, sporting events, and concert halls. And with hundreds of live music venues, it can be intimidating knowing where to start.

Don't worry, we've got you:

A glimpse of history
The Live Music Capital of the World has a long and storied history, interwoven with the many diverse cultures that have resided in Central Texas for generations.

Austin’s blues and soul music history can be traced back to the early 1900s through to Janis Joplin and Stevie Ray Vaughan, and many big names can still be found on stages around the city nightly.

The Latin music community is expansive and the list of important names in its history seems endless, stretching back to the turn of the 20th century.

The city has also been home to legendary country music artists — like Willie Nelson — and monumental music venues —like the Broken Spoke — for decades, and today Austin's country music scene continues to forge a unique path.

Out of the Austin 1970s punk scene came new electronic post-punk genres, beginning an unstoppable era of synth-infused new wave.

Hip hop culture hit Austin like a tidal wave beginning in the late 1970s and early '80s, with rappers and hip hop crews forging a path that continues to push boundaries today.

Austin’s famous indie rock scene stretches back to the heyday of psychedelic rock. Today, the city abounds in rock clubs catering to indie artists and the DIY-spirited punk scene.

Even today's local pop music scene reflects the city’s love of crossing boundaries and creating a wonderful and playful fusion of sounds. Find more information on the city’s legendary music scene here.

Where to groove
You don't have to show up only during world-renowned festivals like SXSW and Austin City Limits Music Festival. Scope out these iconic Austin music venues all year long:

Broken Spoke: Do some Texas two-stepping at Broken Spoke, an old-fashioned honky-tonk that’s been around since 1964 and has hosted country legends like George Strait and Dolly Parton. Dance lessons are offered Wednesday through Saturday nights.

ACL Live at The Moody Theater:Artists of all stripes love playing ACL Live at The Moody Theater, home to live tapings of Austin City Limits, America’s longest-running television music series. Be sure to snap a selfie with the statue of hometown music hero Willie Nelson out front.

Antone's Nightclub: Legendary Antone’s Nightclub has been Austin’s home of the blues since 1975, hosting luminaries like Buddy Guy and Eric Clapton. Visit the club in downtown Austin.

Historic Scoot Inn: Opened in 1871, the Historic Scoot Inn is the oldest bar in Central Texas, with shows both indoors and out.

The White Horse:The White Horse is the place to catch live bluegrass, country-western, and Americana bands. Grab a two-step (shot of whiskey and a Lone Star beer) and get to dancing.

Mohawk: Get your rock fix at Mohawk in the Red River Cultural District. This unique indoor-outdoor multilevel space showcases emerging talent from Austin and beyond.

Stubb’s Bar-B-Q: Stubb's is a music institution that serves up lip-smacking barbecue along with some of the best live bands around. Sit down for the Sunday Gospel Brunch and enjoy live music with a buffet of Southern comfort food.

Fresh air and fresh tunes
Classical music lovers won’t want to miss Austin Symphony Concerts in the Park, held on the lawn of Hartman Concert Park at the Long Center. On Sunday evenings from June through August, bring a lawn chair or blanket and kick back under the stars, listening to classical music while soaking in city skyline views. Bring your whole crew — admission is free to all.

Pack a blanket and the family and make your way to Zilker Park for the summertime tradition of Blues on the Green. Held over two days in July, Austin’s largest free concert series welcomes performances by top local bands in Austin’s most beloved park.

Inspired by Austin's love of outdoor jams, the Drop-In Summer Concert Series brings the tunes to the Hartman Concert Lawn at the Long Center every Thursday through mid-August. Pack a picnic and bring your friends to this free outdoor concert series with a spectacular sunset view of the Austin city skyline.

Every summer, the Red River Cultural District hosts Hot Summer Nights: four days in July of free live music held at multiple venues throughout the neighborhood. Besides catching popular local acts, you’ll have the chance to sample scrumptious foods from local eateries.

Stop in the Oak Garden at Güero’s Taco Bar every Wednesday (rain or shine) for the Texas Radio Live series presented by Sun Radio. Listen to Texas singers, songwriters, and musicians while you chow down on homestyle Mexican dishes and tip a margarita or two.

More outdoor venues
Visitors will find an array of unique outdoor music experiences, from parks with amphitheaters to hidden hot spots like a car garage that doubles as a concert venue. Here are a few of the best places to catch music outdoors in Austin:

Moody Amphitheater: Catch concerts year-round at the Moody Amphitheater on the grounds of Waterloo Park, a gorgeous, green oasis in downtown Austin. Bring a chair or blanket, stretch out on the Great Lawn, and enjoy everything from local artists to internationally touring acts.

The Far Out Lounge & Stage:From tribute bands to classic rock, country, and punk, live music of all stripes is played nightly on The Far Out stage. Order anything from birria tacos to plant-based options from the food trucks parked on-site.

Empire Control Room & Garage: Touring bands and local opening acts bring their best to this former auto shop’s stage. Take a break from the concert crowd at Empire's more intimate creekside patio bar.

Cheer Up Charlies:Explore the outdoor patio hidden under a parachute at this LGBTQ+-friendly home to live music, colorful drag shows, and delicious vegan eats from Arlo’s food truck. Cheer Up Charlies will have you ready to dance the night away with upbeat tunes, kombucha on tap, and organic juice blend cocktails.

Hotel Vegas: Catch an outstanding lineup of cutting-edge bands or watch a live DJ in the backyard of this venue in Austin’s East Sixth Street neighborhood. Hotel Vegas shares its outdoor patio space with neighboring club, The Volstead.

Eats and beats
The Live Music Capital of the World has also become a robust foodie city with some of the most iconic barbecue pitmasters in the state, a surplus of fine dining establishments, and various walk-in, sit-down, no-frills watering holes. Here are some of Austin’s best restaurants with live music.

Lamberts: Located in the historic Schneider Brothers Building in the 2nd Street District, Lamberts serves up its live music with slow-smoked barbecue and modern Texas cooking. The bar is stocked with local beers, classic cocktails, and new-world wines, and the restaurant regularly features live music in its upstairs bar and lounge.

Geraldine’s:Located on Austin’s infamously lively Rainey Street within the Hotel Van Zandt, and named humbly after a wild guinea fowl adopted and later memorialized by the neighborhood, Geraldine’s hosts local songwriters in its dining room almost every night of the week. The restaurant is the true definition of hyperlocal, from the Austin-inspired cocktail program to the menu of contemporary Austin fare. You don’t want to visit Austin without experiencing one of Geraldine’s famous Saturday jazz brunches.

Meanwhile Brewing Co.:On any given day, listen to Latin, soul, dance, bluegrass, and more played live at Meanwhile Brewing Co. This South Austin destination serves a huge selection of beer and is also home to some of the city’s hottest food trucks dishing out pizza, Mexican food, and barbecue.

Radio Coffee & Beer: If you find yourself deeper in South Austin, Radio Coffee & Beer will serve you the perfect cup of coffee while you enjoy their frequent live music events and a well-curated selection of some of Austin’s best food trucks: Veracruz Tacos, Dee Dee Thai, and others. A local favorite since 2014, Radio is known for its specialty espresso, craft beer selection, cocktails, and shady live oak trees. Don’t miss the weekly bluegrass night on Mondays, regularly voted the city’s best ongoing music residency.

Banger’s Sausage House & Beer Garden:With live music in its sprawling beer garden, 100-plus craft beers, and more sausage varieties than you can imagine cooked in its own smokehouse, Banger’s is a must-do on Rainey Street. Don’t miss the eatery's popular big band brunch on the weekends.

Band onstage

Photo by Renee Dominguez

It's the Live Music Capital of the World for a reason.


Learn more about Austin's music scene here.

Courtesy Lift Foils

Texans are flying across lakes and beaches in summer's coolest new watersport – eFoiling

Summer trends

The trendiest watersport of summer 2023 is taking people to new heights – about two feet above water, to be exact.

EFoiling (also referred to as electric or motorized surfing) lets riders glide or “fly” above the water using a battery-operated surfboard. A real-life magic carpet ride of sorts, the electronic eFoil board (which gives the sport its name) is propelled by a vertical, airplane-like wing underneath that lifts it and its rider above water at varying speeds – as if they're levitating – no waves required.

While the watersport is still fairly new, eFoil operators recently have popped up on lakes across Texas and on beaches all along the Gulf Coast, from Texas to Florida. San Antonians will have to travel, but a drive to Lake McQueeney just outside Seguin will bring locals a chance to try the sport without buying the gear.

Allen native Gavin Rudolph, in fact, launched a second career as an eFoil instructor and owner of Foil Gulf Coast in Orange Beach, Alabama. His business, which opened last September, offers eFoil lessons geared toward tourists looking for unique recreational activity while on vacation.

“It’s great for those that want something more exciting than renting a jet ski, going parasailing, or renting a canoe or kayak,” he says. “I don’t think you can have more fun at the beach in two hours.”

Rudolph, 33, grew up sailing at White Rock Lake, Lake Ray Hubbard, and Lake Texoma, and raced sailboats in college. He discovered eFoiling last summer while running a sailing camp for kids in Atlanta, he says, and he was hooked within 10 minutes (and saw business potential).

One of the watersport's big appeals? Riders can choose their level of adventure.

They can lie on their bellies, kneel, or stand up on the board. Riders control the board speed using a handheld remote. It typically hovers between 8 and 12 miles per hour at a cruising pace, but adventurous riders "fly" at up to 30 miles per hour.

The faster the speed, the more the board will lift above water – if the rider can maintain balance. The challenge is addicting for many who try the sport.

“It was so much fun,” says Rudolph of his inaugural runs. “My competitive side and my watersports side was like, ‘I’m going to figure this out.’”

Not only did Rudolph figure it out, but so did his parents, one generation older.

Barb, 58, and Glenn Rudolph, 60, both longtime residents of Allen, retired from careers as educators and relocated to Orange Beach in 2021. Together they and their son take turns giving eFoiling lessons to those who book sessions online.

Barb and Glenn typically meet students at their house on nearby Arnica Bay, while Gavin - who’s also a middle-school math teacher in New Orleans - will meet new riders all along the Gulf Coast from Louisiana to Alabama. They offer lessons in the Houston and Beaumont areas too, depending on party size.

Barb says many participants are surprised at how much progress they can make in just one lesson.

“Although eFoiling still requires a level of fitness, flexibility, balance, and athleticism, it is easier on your body than water skiing, knee-boarding, or wakeboarding," she says. "You can go fast and push your limits, take a ride in the Gulf, or stay in the bay cruising around looking for dolphins.”

Most eFoil boards are produced by a Puerto Rico-based company called Lift, which launched the eFoiling concept in 2015. Lift currently has nearly two dozen demo partners in Texas, most of which operate near lakes. The sole location near San Antonio, at Lake McQueeney, offers both demos and resale.

The boards themselves aren’t cheap, ranging from about $9,000 to $12,000. The steep price to own one makes a $275, two-hour lesson from the Rudolphs (or their $650 “Beach Party Package” for six) seem pretty reasonable.

Gavin Rudolph’s tips for first-timers?

“Take your time and don’t try to rush anything. The board will move at your pace,” he says. “You don’t have to stand up right away. When you’re out there just relax, breathe, enjoy it, take in the scenery. It makes the whole experience a little more calming and a little less work.”

Barb’s suggestions are similar.

“Bring your sense of adventure, positive attitude, desire to learn, and have fun,” she says. “We will teach you the rest.”


Courtesy Lift Foils

It's like a magic carpet ride on the water.

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H-E-B soars to No. 2 in Forbes' prestigious list of best employers in Texas, plus more top stories

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Editor's note: It’s that time again — time to check in with our top stories. From animal crossings to page turning, here are five articles that captured our collective attention over the past seven days.

1. H-E-B soars to No. 2 in Forbes' prestigious list of best employers in Texas. In addition to being based in San Antonio, H-E-B operates more than 300 stores in Texas and employs 154,000 people.

2. Wildlife advocacy tour treks to San Antonio's spectacular land bridge. The land bridge is getting national attention through a promotional road trip meant to highlight the structure's role in protecting local ecosystems.

3. Texas Book Festival releases full lineup of 300 authors, including Roxane Gay and Ali Hazelwood. The weekend will be full of panel discussions, author readings, book signings, and much more.

4. San Antonio foundation pounces on bold program to return ocelots to the wild. Following the proposal, the East Foundation will release ocelots onto a section of its San Antonio Viejo Ranch.

5. Famous furniture store Louis Shanks shutters last remaining San Antonio location. The furniture retailer first opened in 1945, with the San Antonio store opening in 1983.

San Antonio International Airport clears runway for 1st nonstop flight to Europe

booking tix now

Big news for Texas travelers: San Antonio International Airport's first-ever nonstop flights to Europe will begin in 2024.

Passengers can now book tickets via Condor Airlines for flights from San Antonio International Airport (SAT) to Germany's Frankfurt Airport (FRA) between May 17 and September 6, 2024. Flights will initially operate three days a week – Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays – and flights to Frankfurt are expected to take a little more than 10 hours, while flights coming in from overseas will last about 11.5 hours.

The seasonal service is a "spectacular win" for the city, according to Mayor Ron Nirenberg, and could bring in an estimated $34 million annually. The airport has been seeing wins left and right, having just been named one of the nation's least stressful airports, and consistently handling busier and busier days.

"Germany is where San Antonio has the most demand for travel in Europe because of the cultural, historic, tourism, military, and business ties," Mayor Nirenberg said in a news conference on September 21.

San Antonio Airport System Director of Airports Jesus Saenz foreshadows that the SAT-FRA flight is "just the beginning" of possible flight expansions for the airport in the future.

"We fully believe San Antonio will utilize this service to Europe and take advantage of Condor’s extremely competitive airfares," he said. "Once that happens, we anticipate Condor will expand their services even further."

The airline will be using a brand new Airbus A330-900neo aircraft for the nonstop flights, which features 30 business class seats, 64 premium economy seats, and 216 economy seats.

"With our growing fleet of A330neos, we can provide better travel options to more Americans every year," said Condor CEO Ralf Teckentrup said in a release. "I am particularly proud to offer the only nonstop connection from San Antonio, Texas to Frankfurt, Germany – the heart of Europe, where travelers can enjoy the popular touristic sights of Germany or travel beyond conveniently by air, road, or rail. I invite everyone to try out our newest and most luxurious in-flight experience ever."

Monday flights will depart from SAT at 10:05 pm and arrive in Frankfurt at 3:20 pm the following day. Returning flights from FRA on Mondays will depart at 3:40 pm and arrive at SAT at 8:05 pm.

For Wednesday and Friday flights, departures from SAT will take place at 8:25 pm and arrive at FRA at 1:40 pm the next day. Returning flights from FRA will depart at 2:00 pm and arrive at SAT at 6:25 pm.

New honky-tonk surprisingly two-steps into St. Paul's Square


When Steve Mahoney first relaunched Francis Bogside and sibling wine bar, Anne’s, in the former home of Smoke BBQ, rumors circulated on how he would use the expansive upstairs space. Now, San Antonio has its answer. In a surprise move, the veteran bar owner debuted his latest venture — honky-tonk concept Blayne’s — on September 22.

The name pays homage to the late Blayne Tucker, the former co-owner of the Mix and managing partner of Floore’s Country Store. A tireless advocate for the city’s musical scene, he helped usher in the Save Our Stages Act, assisting hundreds of venues to stay afloat nationwide during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“[Blayne’s] impact in San Antonio is nothing short of extraordinary,” said Mahoney via a release. “We hope to continue his efforts and support live music in the city.”

Fittingly, music will be in the air at Blayne’s, starting with The Babylonz and DJ Guero Vaquero from 5 pm to 2 am on the soft opening night. A large dance floor, pool tables, and bar games complete the honky-tonk vibe.

Like many of Mahoney’s bars, Blayne’s has a solid food program. The Tex-Mex fusion menu features eclectic pub grub like red curry short rib mini tacos, southwest eggrolls, street corn bites, smoked barbacoa pizza, and customizable nachos. The initial press announcement didn’t deeply discuss the drink options but promised margaritas, house cocktails, and beer.

Though no official announcement has been made, Mahoney has another bar up his sleeve. The Francis Bogside website teases the January 2024 opening of Robert’s, named after Mahoney’s late business partner, Robert Darilek. Details, including the location, are slim, but the landing page touts “feature club-style seating, an extensive whiskey list, and a cigar menu.”

Following the September 22 sneak peek, Blayne’s will be open Wednesday through Saturday, 5 pm to 2 am.

Blayne's San Antonio

Photo by TXTroublemaker

Blayne's food menu includes red curry short rib mini tacos.