Next time you find yourself on Chicon Street in Austin, stop by and say hi, get yourself one heck of an espresso, a bag of beans and make friends with the welcoming staff. They're not kidding when they say that it's "worth the drive on 35."
EAT | OTHERSIDE DELI
When one thinks of Central Texas BBQ, brisket remains the king of the mountain. However, thanks to Derrick Smith and Conor Mack, they've brought serious competition serving the absolute best pastrami, corned beef, and other Northeastern fare to Austin, via Otherside Deli. Smith spent five years brining and smoking pastrami at Philadelphia's famous Hershel's East Side Deli, and his experience shines through in sandwiches like their classic Reuben or Corned Beef Sandwich. Personally, I try to make a weekly visit for their Rowdy Roddy, a hot sandwich served with house pickled hot peppers and a slice of American cheese. It's typically served on Turkey, but adhering to what these Pennsylvania and New Jersey natives do best, I recommend ordering one with Pastrami - you won't find a Northeastern delicacy anywhere else in Texas worth the visit.
LISTEN | EMAHOY TSEGUÉ-MARYAM GUÉBROU
I've been listening to this record quite a bit during the pandemic. I've found it's instrumental, piano-based nature is a relaxing way to spend time at home, allowing me to escape into my own thoughts for a time. Beginning in 1967, Ethiopia's Guèbrou, a lifelong nun, almost seems to uniquely transform her piano into a marionette of floral, lilting lullabies. Notes and chords quickly gain pace and then retreat back into their bouquets of color, and I find that it offers me an almost aural kaleidoscope that tickles the mind and ears.
BUY | BARATZA ENCORE GRINDER
Having worked in the coffee industry for more than twenty years, I'm often asked by customers how to improve their coffee brewing at home, and I've nearly always provided the same answer every time - great water and a great grinder. The Baratza Encore grinder offers not only 40 different grind settings and affordability, but also includes Baratza's famously friendly and helpful customer service. It's simple, reliable, and highly capable of offering the user a much better brewing experience at home, for years to come, and without sticker shock.
DRINK | WRIGHT BROS. BREW & BREW
Wright Bros. Brew & Brew opened nearly seven years ago, eponymously serving both brew, and yep, brew. Excellently prepared coffees served all day, paired with a large, critically sourced beer and wine menu, Brew & Brew is a one stop shop offering fantastic wines and beers, tasty coffee, and delicious food items. They recently partnered with Bufalina, inarguably one of the very best pizza and wine joints in town, to provide the Eastside with really incredible Italian sandwiches, served on bread baked daily down the street in the pizza ovens.
BROWSE | TUNNEL RECORDS + BEACH GOODS
San Francisco's Tunnel Records, in the Outer Sunset, offers a small, well-curated selection of vinyl records, cassette tapes, and tasteful homewares. Since 2017, they've stocked an expansive selection of Jazz LPs, Rare Imports, and my personal favorite, local and Bay Area psych-rock. If you're also in need of a pick-me-up before or after perusing the record bins, the Outer Sunset's cafes, Avenues, and my personal favorite, Andytown Coffee, are very nearby (side note: Andytown graciously sold their roaster to my own shop a few years back, allowing us to follow in great footsteps.)
VISIT | TIGER MOUNTAIN STATE FOREST
I was born in Washington State, and was fortunate enough to have Tiger Mountain State Forest as my literal backyard, where my grandmother's yard ended, the forest line began; 15,000 acres of unspoiled Nature. It's one of only seven temperate rain forests in the world, and for thousands of years has sheltered massive evergreen trees, grizzly bears, mountain lions, and even my childhood personal mascot, the banana slug (please Google these). I may be biased, but I think this forest provides a quintessential Northwestern outdoors experience: miles of trails through foggy Douglas Firs and Lady Ferns, the percussive hammering of woodpeckers, and all under a solemn gray sky. If you get tired of the rain and you're a Twin Peaks fan, head over to Twede's Cafe in nearby North Bend, for a 'damn fine cup of coffee', and 'a cherry pie that'll kill ya.'