Hi, all. I know I always appreciate trip reports, so here you go. I just got back from a long (hot) weekend in Austin.
Lodging: We stayed in the Radisson downtown. In the interest of full disclosure, this trip was a gift, so we did not pay for the hotel. I know that the people who did pay used a groupon, so look for deals. The rooms and hallways could use the renovation that they're starting in a few months, but it had what I want in a hotel -- location, cleanliness and a comfortable bed. The rooms are somewhat outdated, but ours was really clean and the bed was fantastic. If you can get a decent rate, don't let the reviews scare you away unless you're looking for something high-end.
Food: So many options. We had a cocktail and chips with guac and salsa at La Condesa on 2nd. It's a modern, somewhat fancy place that's a little pricey, but what we had was very good. For dinner we went to G'raj Majal and had some really good shrimp vindaloo and naan. I liked that place a lot. There are so many restaurant and truck options on Rainey St. that it's well worth checking out. It gets crowded on the weekend, so be prepared to wait. Had a dinner at Guero's, which was good but not someplace I need to go back. However, I ordered tacos al pastor and I found out later that their thing is enchiladas. Sunday, we waited two hours at La Barbecue in ridiculous heat and I don't regret a second of it. They were out of most things, but we did get shredded brisket, pulled pork, sausage link and sides of chipotle slaw and potato salad. The pork, link and sides were merely freaking incredible. The shredded brisket is one of the best things I've ever eaten. There's something going on there that I can't figure out. It's not a spice and it's not just smoke, but whatever it is fills in all of the spaces in between everything else. Amazing. Live music and free beer (on the weekends) while you wait. Final dinner was at Second which was really, really good. It's not regional, but well done.
Nightlife: (To put this in context, I'm 48 and love live music.) Walked around the first night. Rainey St. has some nice-looking clubs but they lacked soul and there didn't seem to be much music. We walked to 6th and it wasn't my scene. Very Bourbon St., guys trying to get you in the door peddling dollar shots and a couple of mediocre blues bands. I figured out later that the spot I should have hit for music is more around Red River and 7th. Next time. It looks like young 20's, "Let's get bleeped up!" crowd goes to 6th Street. Then, when they get a little older and want to get slightly less drunk on some higher quality stuff, they go to Rainey Street. That's my perception. On our way back to the hotel I stopped because I heard horns. We went to The Brass Tavern and Broad Street Brass Band was playing. That was a lot of fun. I've spent a good bit of time in New Orleans and this band was missing some of the funk I'm used to in a brass band, but it was a good time. One night we went to The Continental Club and that was awesome. We saw Roxy Roca and they were extraordinary. I can not recommend that band or venue enough. Original band playing a funky old soul style of music. The last night we went to The New Movement Theater for some comedy and that is also highly recommended. They're right in downtown Austin and that was a really good time.
We stood on the Congress St. bridge to watch the bats one evening and that wasn't so thrilling for two reasons. First, I was told that because there's been some rain recently that the bats are coming out later when it's darker. Also, when you're looking down at the dark water, it's difficult to see the dark bats. You'd be much better off renting a kayak and watching from the river and looking up with some twilight as a background.
We rented a car on the last day drove through the hill country. It was great to get out of the urban scene and explore. If you have time, do it.
That's it. Thanks to all who post here with great info.