10 Celebrity-Approved Restaurants in Austin

The food in Austin is so good that even celebs are waiting in line. Wine and dine like a star at these 10 celebrity-approved restaurants.

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A classic car and a Sonoran hotdog food truck called Chuyitos
Chevy 1955 Bel Air and Sonoran Hot Dogs

Chevy 1955 Bel Air and Sonoran Hot Dogs

Michael (Voltaggio) is obsessed with classic American cars. In fact, he owns this exact same model — a Chevy 1955 Bel Air. He wanted to drive it down to Arizona, but since we had to make sure he actually arrived in time for the shoot, we decided to rent one instead. Our first stop was a truck that sells the famous Sonoran hot dogs, which Michael insisted we eat several feet away from the car so as not to get it dirty.  That whole morning, I felt like we'd been transported 60 years back in time! 960 1280

Mariana van Zeller  

US-Mexico $2 Billion Border Fence

US-Mexico $2 Billion Border Fence

I've been reporting on border and immigration issues for years, but this was the first time I got to see the $2 billion border fence from above. Border Patrol says it's been effective in preventing the movement of illegal goods and people from Mexico into the US, but opponents call it a boondoggle. They say that all it does is drive immigrants to more dangerous (fenceless) terrain, which means more deaths along the border for those pursuing a better life for themselves and their families. 960 1280

Mariana van Zeller  

649-Mile Fence

649-Mile Fence

The brown line you see is part of the 649-mile fence. Since it's not a continuous fence, it covers less than a third of the 1,954-mile US-Mexican border.   960 1280

Mariana van Zeller  

The Border From Above

The Border From Above

Flying over the US-Mexican border on a 4-seat Cessna. I look calm and collected, but this is where I learned that having a chef as the co-pilot is never a good idea. You can't be good at everything, Voltaggio! 960 1280

Mariana van Zeller  

View From the Other Side

View From the Other Side

This photo was taken in Nogales, AZ. On the other side of the 18-foot fence is Nogales, Sonora, in Mexico. I've been here on reporting trips before, but the sheer size of the fence never ceases to surprise me.     960 1280

Mariana van Zeller  

'Breaking Bad'?

'Breaking Bad'?

It ain't Breaking Bad; it's Breaking Borders. Oh, and it airs every Sunday at 9|8c on Travel Channel. 960 1280

Mariana van Zeller  

Michael Voltaggio, Excited for Cuisine & Compliments

Michael Voltaggio, Excited for Cuisine & Compliments

Michael is excited to try authentic Mexican food in Nogales, Sonora. Or perhaps it's because a 70-year-old Mexican lady just said, "Qué gringo más guapo!" (“What a handsome gringo!”)   960 1280

Mariana van Zeller  

Bottoms Up!

Bottoms Up!

Yes, they were all for me — 10 shots of pure gold. What happens in the field stays in the field. 960 1280

Mariana van Zeller  

Mountain Minutemen

Mountain Minutemen

In Arizona, we spent a few hours one night with members of the Mountain Minutemen, a group of armed men and women who camp out in the desert, hunting for illegal border crossers. This man asked us not to show his face or reveal his identity, but the leader of the group, Robert Crooks, was one of our dinner guests on the episode. 960 1280

Mariana van Zeller  

Photos

Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge

Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge

This Oklahoman park (the only one of the list not in Texas) is a six hour drive from Austin and offer miles and miles of hiking. Another big draw is the bison herd that roams the land here; these majestic beasts can be seen grazing throughout the park. On your way out, be sure to drive to the top of Mt. Scott for 360-degree views of the land below. Bonus: this is the only park on the list that doesn't charge an entrance fee! 960 1280

Jeremy Pawlowski / America Y'all  

Pedernales Falls State Park

Pedernales Falls State Park

I like to refer to this state park as a jungle gym for adults. Pedernales Falls is more about creating your own path rather than following set trails. Climb around the limestone cliffs and bluffs that make up the bulk of the land; or if you happen to visit during the heat of the Texas summer, take a dip in the river that runs through this park. Being only thirty miles outside of Austin, this park is perfect for a day trip or a weekend where you'd rather spend your Sunday enjoying the sun instead of spending hours driving home. 960 1280

Jeremy Pawlowski / America Y'all  

Pace Bend Park

Pace Bend Park

This is one of the closest parks to Austin, but with 400+ campsites, you're always able to get away from others and enjoy some solitude. It's best enjoyed during the summer when you can take full advantage of the cliff diving that makes this place famous. Get there early in the day and get yourself a campsite along the nine miles of shoreline, as this park does not take reservations. 960 1280

Jeremy Pawlowski / America Y'all  

Mustang Island State Park

Mustang Island State Park

Stretching five miles along the Gulf Coast of Mexico, this state park offers a few RV spots, but what you really want to do here is pitch your tent right on the beach. No hiking trails, no mountains to climb, this place is all about relaxing in the sun and enjoying the waves. 960 1280

Jeremy Pawlowski / America Y'all  

Caddo Lake State Park

Caddo Lake State Park

In a bayou cloaked in history and mystery, you can pitch your tent under towering pines and bald cypress trees with low hanging Spanish moss. It's one of the only natural bodies of water in the state, so be sure to rent a canoe and paddle yourself through the swamplands that divide Texas and Louisiana. Just be sure to watch out for the alligators.  960 1280

Jeremy Pawlowski / America Y'all  

Big Bend National Park

Big Bend National Park

The most ambitious of all Austin weekend trips, and probably one that should be saved for a three day weekend at the minimum, is Big Bend National Park. This Texas national park has it all: the Chisos Mountains, The Rio Grande, and the Chihuahuan Desert — an ecosystem for every explorer. After hiking to the top of Emory Peak, the highest point in the park, be sure to take a dip and relax in the 105-degree hot springs located within the park. 960 1280

Jeremy Pawlowski / America Y'all  

Amistad National Recreation Area

Amistad National Recreation Area

Go here if you want to camp in true solitude. This reservoir has shores in both the USA and Mexico, so bring your passport if you plan on paddling across the border. With more than 65,000 surface acres, Amistad is a haven for fishermen and water sports enthusiasts, but come night time, the place is empty. Pitch your tent anywhere along the 547 miles of shoreline and enjoy complete isolation.  960 1280

Jeremy Pawlowski / America Y'all  

Kayaking on the Colorado River

Kayaking on the Colorado River

Feeling a little adventurous? Go kayaking on the Colorado River in the summer. Make sure you look up when you’re underneath the Congress Avenue Bridge. Why? Because about 1 million Mexican free-tailed bats migrate from central Mexico to this popular roosting site, making it the largest urban bat colony in North America. 960 1280

Live Love Paddle  

Austin City Limits Music Festival

Austin City Limits Music Festival

Austin is a hot spot for music. We recommend that travelers plan a fun trip to this city in October to catch the Austin City Limits Music Festival in Zilker Park. Sam Smith, Iggy Azalea, Eminem, Beck, Foster the People, Pearl Jam and the Replacements have been featured artists over the past few years. In March, Austin hosts South by Southwest, the hottest ticket in town. The 10-day event consists of film, interactive and music festivals and conferences. 960 1280

Erika Goldring/FilmMagic/Getty Images  

Mount Bonnell

Mount Bonnell

Don’t miss out on catching some of the best panoramic views of Austin from Mount Bonnell, located near Lake Austin. In addition to its long staircase that visitors can climb to get an amazing view, this area — a major tourist destination since the 1950s — is also a popular spot for hikers and bikers. 960 1280

Austin Convention & Visitors Bureau  

Horseback Riding

Horseback Riding

A trip to Austin wouldn’t be complete without spending some time horseback riding along a few of the city’s popular trails. We recommend saddling up at the 350-acre Lake & Creek Ranch in the Hill Country. Texas Trail Rides also offers patrons sunset and romantic rides, as well as a winery tour on horseback. 960 1280

Kenny Braun  

Lake Austin Spa Resort

Lake Austin Spa Resort

Unwind and relax at Lake Austin Spa Resort. This luxury lodging offers more than 100 spa treatments and services, including a Rosemary Citron Sensation scrub, wrap and massage. Special treatments are also available for men and teens. Hot tubs, steam rooms and 2 pools are just a few of the spa’s amenities. Now we understand why Condé Nast Traveler named it the No. 4 destination spa in the world in its 2014 Readers’ Choice Awards. 960 1280

Lake Austin Spa Resort   

Barton Springs Pool

Barton Springs Pool

No matter the weather in Austin, the blue waters of Barton Springs are always welcoming, hovering around a cool 68 to 71 degrees.  The pool has year-round swimming, full-moon parties, free yoga on Saturdays and a New Year's Day polar bear plunge.  As Austin as it gets. 960 1280

Heather Cowper, via Flickr  

Fly-Fishing

Fly-Fishing

Explore the great outdoors in Austin! Go fly-fishing at Barton Creek or in Bull Creek District Park. Maybe you’ll be lucky enough to catch a Guadalupe bass, largemouth bass, redbreast sunfish or catfish — native marine life in Austin’s creeks. 960 1280

Danita Delimont/Gallo Images/Getty Images  

Umlauf Sculpture Garden and Museum

Umlauf Sculpture Garden and Museum

Enjoy a nice day outside and visit the Umlauf Sculpture Garden and Museum, which is dedicated to American sculptor Charles Umlauf. He and his wife donated their home, studio and 168 sculptures to the city of Austin. Several pieces are eye-catching masterpieces, such as The Kiss, a sculpture of an intertwined couple kissing that is located in the center of the garden. 960 1280

ParisSharing, via Flickr  

Zilker Botanical Garden

Zilker Botanical Garden

Located near the bank of the Colorado River, the Zilker Botanical Garden — the centerpiece of Zilker Park — attracts 500,000 people from around the world each year. Green thumbs will feel right at home at this 25-acre site, which features the Mabel Davis Rose Garden, the Isamu Taniguchi Japanese Garden and the Doug Blachly Butterfly Trail and Garden. 960 1280

Stephen Saks/Lonely Planet Images/Getty Images  

Hippie Hollow Park

Hippie Hollow Park

Shed your clothes on the 109 peaceful acres known as Hippie Hollow. Located about half an hour from downtown Austin, this clothing-optional park is a popular hangout for locals to swim and sunbathe near Lake Travis. Crowds flock to Hippie Hollow in the summer because it’s the only clothing-optional park in Texas. 960 1280

Matthew Rutledge via Flickr  

Hope Outdoor Gallery

Hope Outdoor Gallery

Check out local artwork at one of the largest outdoor galleries in the US. The Hope Outdoor Gallery is an educational art project developed to provide muralists and graffiti artists with a 3-story canvas to display inspirational and positive art. This unique, open-air exhibition is located at 11th and Baylor streets in Austin. 960 1280

Kimberly Brotherman/Moment Mobile/Getty Images  

Renaissance Market Shopping

Renaissance Market Shopping

In addition to the Austin farmers market, Lakeline Mall and Round Rock Premium Outlets, shoppers should also stop by the Renaissance Market, located near the University of Texas’ campus. More than 90 vendors sell handmade arts and crafts, including candles, pottery and jewelry. 960 1280

Richard Cummins/Lonely Planet Images/Getty Images  

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

Tour this nature preserve that was founded in 1982 by Lady Bird Johnson, who was renowned for her campaign to beautify highways when she was the nation's first lady. You can amble through the bluebonnets in the spring and enjoy the walking trails, native plants and amazing landscape year-round. And don’t forget to take the kids to the new children's garden. 960 1280

Stephen Saks/Lonely Planet Images/Getty Images  

Longhorn Cavern State Park

Longhorn Cavern State Park

Spend the day hiking and exploring the more than 600 acres of Longhorn Cavern State Park. Guests should not miss out on the guided tours, such as a walking tour, wild cave tour, photography tour and, yes, a paranormal tour. Stories and legends about the cavern draw large crowds each year. One story claims that outlaw Sam Bass hid $2 million inside the cavern, but there’s no concrete evidence that he was ever in the park. 960 1280

Texas Tourism  

Lady Bird Lake Hike and Bike Trail

Lady Bird Lake Hike and Bike Trail

Stay active in Austin! Walk, jog or bike on 10 miles of trails around Lady Bird Lake. While you’re there, check out the memorial that honors legendary blues guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan. 960 1280

Austin Convention & Visitors Bureau  

East Side Kings

East Side Kings

The East Side Kings trailer behind the Liberty Bar serves Thai fusion food so good that it will, as the motto states, "make your eyes roll back." The fried Brussels sprouts salad, overflowing with mint, basil and other fresh herbs, is a consistent favorite. This is just one of many delicious East Side Kings food trailers feeding hungry Austin revelers near bars across town. 960 1280

Bill Oriani, via CC-BY-NC-SA-2.0  

Harry Ransom Center

Harry Ransom Center

This museum, library and archive is a treasure chest of literature and art. In the museum, you can see the first permanent photograph ever taken and a Gutenberg Bible, as well as the current temporary exhibition. The archives, available to the public, overflow with gems such as Jack Kerouac's journal and the manuscript collection of David Foster Wallace. 960 1280

Kenny Braun  

Bullock Texas State History Museum

Bullock Texas State History Museum

Find out all you want to know about Texas’ history here. Located north of the state Capitol, the Bullock Texas State History Museum is named after former Texas Lt. Gov. Bob Bullock. This $80 million museum has 3 floors of interactive exhibits, a 200-seat Texas Spirit Theater and a 400-seat IMAX theater with 2-D and 3-D projectors. 960 1280

Bullock Texas State History Museum  

Franklin Barbeque

Franklin Barbeque

Indulge in the holy trinity of Texas barbecue: brisket, ribs and sausage. But be prepared to arrive early and wait for it, because lines at Franklin Barbecue are known to be long. But Daniel Vaughn, Texas Monthly's expert in smoked meat, says it's the best of the best and worth the wait. 960 1280

Eric Ellis  

Blanton Museum of Art

Blanton Museum of Art

If you’re near the University of Texas campus in Austin, don’t miss out on your chance to visit Blanton Museum of Art. The museum houses the largest collection of art in central Texas, which features more than 17,000 pieces, including modern and contemporary Latin American art, European paintings and more. 960 1280

Blanton Museum of Art  

Alamo Drafthouse

Alamo Drafthouse

Visit one of 5 Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas in Austin and find out why Entertainment Weekly ranks it as the No. 1 theater in America. From the classics and indie films to current box office hits, these unique theaters host events and make watching a movie an experience, providing patrons with a variety of food, a full-service bar and reserved seating. 960 1280

Nick Simonite  

LBJ Presidential Library

LBJ Presidential Library

With a major renovation just completed at the end of 2012, the LBJ Library is now sporting the latest interactive technology, giving us new insight into an often-misunderstood presidency. Listen in on Lyndon B. Johnson’s private phone conversations and participate in the new Vietnam War exhibit to get a behind-the-scenes perspective on the president's decision-making process.  And don’t miss seeing the replica of the 1960s Oval Office. 960 1280

Lauren Gerson  

Broken Spoke

Broken Spoke

Practice your two-step at this true Texas honky-tonk bar. If you're lucky, you may catch Willie Nelson visiting the Broken Spoke. He and Kris Kristofferson are known to swing by and play a song or 2. 960 1280

Winker Withaneye  

Mikey Roe in the kitchen at Frank

Mikey Roe in the kitchen at Frank

Mikey Roe in the kitchen at Frank, home to "the ultimate trinity" of booze, bands and artisan sausages. 960 1280

  

Mikey talks to customers at Frank

Mikey talks to customers at Frank

Mikey talks to customers at Frank, where he's introduced to the Jackalope: custom-made antelope, rabbit and pork sausage, with cranberry compote, sriracha aioli and cheddar cheese. 960 1280

  

Chi'lantro's kimchi tacos

Chi'lantro's kimchi tacos

The food truck Chi'lantro's kimchi tacos are a big hit with Austin’s college scene. 960 1280

  

Chi'lantro's kimchi fries

Chi'lantro's kimchi fries

Chi'lantro's kimchi fries are the ultimate in late-night fusion food. 960 1280

  

Mikey talks to a customer at Sam's BBQ

Mikey talks to a customer at Sam's BBQ

Mikey talks to a customer at Sam's BBQ -- the go-to spot for late-night Texas barbecue. 960 1280

  

Mikey films outside of Sam's BBQ

Mikey films outside of Sam's BBQ

Mikey films outside of Sam's BBQ. The restaurant offers their succulent ribs and brisket until 3 a.m. 960 1280

  

Downtown Austin

Downtown Austin

This bridge in Austin is a well-known hangout spot where spectators gather to watch bats. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Mikey makes some friends in Austin

Mikey makes some friends in Austin

Mikey makes some friends as the sun rises in downtown Austin near the river. 960 1280

  

Mikey outside the Magnolia Café

Mikey outside the Magnolia Café

Mikey talks to a band outside of the 24-hour Magnolia Café, where musicians and roadies eat after their gigs wrap and the last amp is packed ... usually around 3 a.m. 960 1280

  

Mikey at Magnolia Café

Mikey at Magnolia Café

Mikey talks to a band at Magnolia Café, where even the employees are musicians. 960 1280

  

Mikey jams out with The G.O.A.T.

Mikey jams out with The G.O.A.T.

Mikey jams out with The G.O.A.T., a regular in Austin’s Dirty Sixth district. 960 1280

  

Miguel's Cuban Café food truck

Miguel's Cuban Café food truck

Mikey eats a Cubano at Miguel's Cuban Café food truck. 960 1280

  

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