Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Texas design tour

--- Our team at the "i love you so much" mural ---

As I've mentioned before, I grew up in San Antonio, so I consider Texas home. I lived there predominantly my whole life just past college graduation before moving to Ann Arbor, Michigan and then here to the St. Louis metro area. My boss wanted to plan a trip for the four of us to travel together. It's rare that the four of us on our team all travel at the same time to the same place. The purpose of the trip was to not only see some of our open cafes in the market, but to also visit other concepts for design inspiration. The trip was amazing for me and I had to make sure I documented all of our stops because I have a new appreciation for my home state.

Top: CS Gems | Bottoms: American Eagle | Booties: Cole Haan

My travel outfit for day one was pretty typical airport attire for me. Easy knit pieces that won't wrinkle even though I will be sitting and wearing them for a good 14 hour work day. The fabrics were breathable which was definitely welcomed because it was SO DANG HOT everywhere!

Our flight was first thing in the morning on Monday and we were on a direct flight to Dallas, arriving just before lunch. Our first stop was to see a recently opened cafe in Rockwall, TX, and I was starving! I searched a few local restaurants and found one called Gloria's Latin Cuisine. We were pleasantly surprised because their patio overlooked water (apparently Lake Ray Hubbard.) They served black beans with their chips and salsa, which I devoured. I ended up ordering the Ceviche Trio. It was so hot already at the start of the trip, I needed something refreshing and this did not disappoint!

Cafe at the UT Arlington campus

We visited the cafe as planned, then headed to another one of our cafes on the UT Arlington campus. That campus site is a very unique location, and the space felt great with a generous patio! Our last stop was a newly remodeled cafe in Ft. Worth, and then we made the haul back to the airport from there.

Our flight to San Antonio ended up getting delayed a couple of times. We arrived about an hour later than we had planned, so we decided to call the hotel, letting them know we would be arriving later so we could head to dinner first and foremost. I had been telling my co-workers about The Pearl district, so we knew dinner would take us there. We already had some light bites at the airport waiting for our delayed flight, so we ended up just getting cocktails and parmesan fries at Down on Grayson. I was happy because my brother was able to meet us out, and we were able to enjoy another patio! 

The Twig storefront at The Pearl district

We stayed at the Emily Morgan hotel downtown. It has a reputation of being haunted... but I was trying not to think about it. I recommended it to my coworkers because 1) it was within our price limit per our travel policy 2) it was within walking distance of the Riverwalk but not *actually* on the Riverwalk so we could still 3) have surface parking. Plus, it's a historical building, and those are always fun to see anyway. We checked into the hotel after dinner and decided to take a quick walk to the Riverwalk since we most likely would not have time to do that in the morning.

Living in San Antonio, honestly, I did not go down to the Riverwalk often. It's beautiful and unique, don't get me wrong, but it really is touristy, and after awhile, you kind of get the point - river, restaurants, bars, shopping. It all starts to look the same. Definitely worth seeing at least once though just so you can see it! Since it was a random Monday night, there wasn't much open, so we grabbed a drink at one of the only places that still had life inside - the Mad Dogs British Pub. Your typical pub - nothing fancy, but they had alcohol and a patio, so we were sold.

I didn't bother taking a selfie because my outfit for day 2 was this exact outfit head to toe that you saw on the blog here. However, I did end up changing into the Bailey 44 dress you see in this post here for dinner because I WAS SO HOT and could not take my jeans sticking to me any longer!

We met for a not-so-early morning at 9am for breakfast. We drove back to The Pearl to try Bakery Lorraine. Holy moly it was good! I just got the breakfast platter but a coworker let us try his blueberry lemon muffin and it was amazing. As was the coffee and the atmosphere. So clever! After breakfast, we walked off our food exploring a little bit more of the Pearl campus. I kind of wish this was a thing when I lived here. It's such a great gathering place and all of the details are inspiring.

Sculpture at The Pearl district

We then took a quick drive up to the South Flores Market HEB, which I'm gathering is the urban footprint for HEB. I miss HEB so much!! The signage, the fixturing and decor indoors. I love that it's a grocery store, but still architecturally beautiful.

Next on our list was the Blue Star Arts Complex which is a melting pot for art galleries, boutiques, and restaurants. Unfortunately, their hours were only Thursday through Sunday, so none of the adorable shops were open when we were there. But, we still got to explore and found some hidden gallery space to look at which was fun.
On our way out of San Antonio, we parked outside of the DoSeum, which is a children's museum that didn't exist when I lived here, or at least, I wasn't aware that it existed. It looked interesting from the exterior which is why I recommended making the stop, but we didn't actually get out of the car here.

We then started the drive to Austin, which was an hour drive, if that. On the way, we stopped by our New Braunfels cafe because we had only seen it in photos but not in person until now. We landed in Austin by about 2pm.

One of our past co-workers recommended eating at the Elizabeth Street Cafe so that was our first stop! I heard "cafe" and expected typical cafe food, and hadn't looked at the menu at all. I was wrong. It was Asian fusion with spring rolls and noodles and pho! My boss ordered a handful of menu items for us to share, which was definitely the right way to go. And of course, we enjoyed it outside on their patio.

As we were eating lunch, we were intrigued by the building next door. We found out it was a Thai restaurant called Sway. The architecture lured us in and we sat at the bar to have refreshments like Thai iced tea and Thai iced coffee. Loved this space so much!

Soco Spaces "Yellow Door" unit

As far as our hotel, my boss likes to use the Hotel Tonight app to find last minute, greatly-priced, boutique hotels. What we booked ended up being duplexes that could sleep up to 5 people EACH! We could have definitely consolidated and shared between the 4 of us, but instead we each basically got our own house. The "parent" company is Soco Spaces and I stayed in the one called "Yellow Door." Highly recommend for anyone wanting to really experience the local neighborhood. The South Congress area is eclectic with so much to see and do.

Soco Spaces "Yellow Door" unit

Once we got settled into our rooms, we met again for more exploring. We wanted to check out some retail spaces first, so we popped into TOMS and Kendra Scott. TOMS had a coffee shop and sitting area that was bigger than their actual sales floor. Their coffee smelled amazing, and we brought a bag home with us for the office. I was interested going into Kendra Scott since the company was born in Texas and I wanted to see how the design differed from the store in St. Louis. You could definitely tell it was one of the originals, but it was fun to visit regardless.

We also stopped into Hotel San Jose. Crazy because I stayed there so long ago when they first opened, and it's definitely more developed around the hotel than I remembered. I had hoped we could actually stay here while we were in Austin, but not only were the rooms all booked, but they were a bit above our price limit. Such a beautiful hotel though and makes you feel like you are not in Texas.

We split dinner up into about four stops, though I'm not sure that was entirely intentional! First, we had oysters, ceviche, and cocktails on the patio at Perla's. The food and drinks were great, though we had a freak accident with the bottom of my boss' glass literally falling out and her RED DRINK spilled in her lap. (luckily she was wearing dark clothes, but that doesn't fix the sticky wet problem.) She didn't bump the glass or anything, she was just holding it and the entire bottom fell out. I'm not convinced the restaurant went above and beyond to make sure we were happy after that, but, the food was at least good.

Our co-worker has a friend who lives in Austin that recommended the South Congress Cafe. We split plates again - the brie and the lamb enchiladas. Since we went to ALL THE RESTAURANTS on this trip, it was such a life saver to share plates like this! Both were excellent. I had a bourbon flight, trying a couple I never had any more. The Garrison Brothers was my fave of this flight, which randomly had an aftertaste of pancake batter! It was so smooth though!

Two of my coworkers are ice cream addicts, so we made sure we had an ice cream stop this night. We found our way to Dolce Neve Gelato. We all got a scoop, and then we surprised my coworker with an ice cream sandwich for his birthday, which was two days later, and I know he was thinking we all didn't know about it!

We finished off the night with some cocktails at Lucille Patio Lounge. We literally just got out of the car, walked down Rainey Street and picked the place that had action, but not too much action. Ha! The back patio was great with a variety of sitting areas from couches to hammocks to regular chairs. I can see why this would be a destination hangout. I was jealous of all the people out on a random Tuesday night!

I was so defeated by the heat come day 3. I brought a pair of olive skinnies to wear for the last day, but I knew my bloated, sweaty body would not be able to take it. I brought these joggers with me as a backup for a casual dinner in case I needed to change, but it ended up being the bottoms I wore for the entire last day. They really are the perfect, lightweight, casual pant and I am SO thankful that I found them. The cropped length was perfect, and the fabric was super breathable, perfect for the humidity!!

I kept going on and on about how much I missed my breakfast tacos after living in San Antonio so long, so we decided to grab some for breakfast on our last day at Torchy's. I think I was the only fatty in the group to order more than one taco but sorry not sorry!
After breakfast, we did a random driving tour of Downtown around the capitol building and then headed back to South Congress to pop into a couple of the shops. We also made a quick pit stop at the Forever Bicycles structure which is hella trippy when you see it in person. I saw a brick and mortar Modcloth that I definitely wanted to go into because I didn't realize they had any real life stores! I found out that it was a dressing room for their online website. When you walk inside, it looks like a regular store, and all the sizes are stocked in their back room. The difference is that if you want to buy anything, they order it online for you and ship it for free to your house. Convenient for out-of-towners, but not so convenient maybe if you were hoping to go home with something that very day! Still an interesting concept!

Forever Bicycles sculpture 

We grabbed a quick coffee at Jo's coffee and then it was time to head to the airport. Except, we found out that our flight was a couple of hours delayed and all of a sudden, we had time for lunch! Yay! One more amazing meal in Austin. We chose Clark's Oyster Bar where I had the BEST clam chowder. Seriously so good.

I realize this is the longest, most photo heavy post ever, but we went to SO many places and I wanted to make sure I could use this post as a reference later. It was such a fun, productive, and inspiring trip! And it was placed perfectly at a time that I needed a little boost like that!

Linking up with: Oh, Hey Girl!, What I Wore Wednesday, Gina and Amy Ann for Style on the Daily

1 comment :

  1. what an amazing work trip, I have to refer back to this post if I'm ever in this area. I love these cropped trousers too, they look so comfy.