Travel Diary: 72 Hours in Austin!

What to do when you’ve only got 72 hours in Austin? You eat! My friends and I spent a calorie-filled weekend last summer in Austin to visit friends who recently relocated to the charming capital city. It’s always been in my secret bucket list to set foot in all 50 states, so I was excited to mark off Texas as the 32nd state to explore.

The entire city was so charming it immediately won my heart. Austin has the quintessential combination of proximity to nature, cool music, and mouth-watering food… what more can a girl ask for? Known as the Live Music Capital of World, Austin possesses a distinct je ne sais quoi, a vibe that’s difficult to put your finger on. It’s progressive city, an outlier compared to its metropolis neighbors. It’s a blue dot in a sea of red. It’s young, it’s hip, and it’s now one of my favorite cities!

They say the best BBQ in the world is in Texas. The best BBQ in Texas in Austin. The best BBQ in Austin is Franklin’s BBQ. Franklin’s BBQ proved to me that there are some places worth traveling 2,000 miles, waking up at 6AM, and waiting 4 hours for. When in Austin, definitely eat as the locals do! Texans know what’s up.

To burn off the the calories we just consumed, we rented bikes and took a scenic ride in Zilker Park, a recreational area situated beside Lady Bird Lake. It’s an expansive 351-acre park, offering open fields, bike trails, and leash-free dog zones! Riding around the city with the Downtown Austin skyline in the foreground was such a treat. I couldn’t help but daydream about packing my bags, driving to Austin from California, and leaving Los Angeles in the dust for good.

To those unwilling to sacrifice 4 hours waiting in line at Franklin’s, a notable alternative is The Salt Lick BBQ in Driftwood, Texas. About a 40 minute drive southeast of Austin, Salt Lick is another BBQ heaven. It definitely offers an authentic Texas experience. Situated in the middle of, well…nowhere, The Salt Lick has a restaurant, a winery, live music, and even a mini market where their special seasoning mixes and rubs are available for purchase.*

*Side Note: TSA gave me a hard time at the airport because of these dry rubs. Make sure the bottles remain sealed when you pack them in your luggage.

Can you say BBQ Holy Grail? This pit is insane! Texans don’t mess around when it comes to their BBQ.

Another unexpected treat I experienced in Austin is trying the Hey… You Gonna Eat or What?’s award-winning Shiner Monte Cristo. It was A M A Z I N G. It impressed the pants off me! My tastebuds were blown away (as seen in my face in the video below). It was the perfect combination of sweet and salty and soft and crunchy…. ugh! My mouth is watering just writing about it. That dish alone is enough of a reason for me to fly back to Austin.

Shiner Monte Cristo: Shiner beer-battered sandwich filled with ham, turkey, mild cheddar, provolone with a side of fig jelly. If this sandwich was a person, I’d marry it.

Photo by: Justine Mendoza

We spent our last day, Sunday morning, kayaking around Lady Bird Lake. Another must-do when in Austin! The lake is fairly calm. There are no currents, so kayaking was more leisure than a cardio work-out. You might also meet ducks, turtles, and swans!

Thank you so much to our lovely friends, Sara and Nette, for welcoming us to their home and showing us around Austin! Scroll below to watch our video diary!


1) Bike around Zilker Park
2) Kayak on Lady Bird Lake
3) “Greetings from Austin” mural
4) South Congress Street
5) Sixth Street
6) Ride a mechanical bull
7) “You’re my Butter Half” mural


1) Franklin’s BBQ
Address: 900 E. 11th Austin, TX 78702
Hours: Mon (closed), Tues – Sun (11:00AM – sold out!)

2) Salt Lick BBQ
Address: 18300 FM 1826, Driftwood, TX, 78619
Hours: Everyday (11:00AM – 10:00PM)

3) Churro Co. Austin
Address: 1620 E. Riverside Drive Austin, TX 78741
Hours: Thurs (1:00-9:00PM), Fri & Sat (1:00PM – 11:00PM), Sunday (1:00 – 9:00PM)

4) Hey… You Gonna Eat or What?
Address: 1905 S. Capital of Texas Hwy Austin, TX 78704
Hours: Lunch (noon – 4:00PM), dinner (5:00PM – 9:00PM), Wed (closed)
*Please, do yourself a favor and order the Shiner Monte Cristo.

5) Gourdough’s. Big. Fat. Donuts.
Address: 1503 S. 1st St. Austin, TX 78704

6) Lick Honest Ice Creams
Address: multiple locations
Hours: varies

7) Austin City Lemons
Address: 1511 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704
Hours: Thurs – Sun (12:00PM – 6:00PM)

8) Lone Star Kolaches
Address: multiple locations
Hours: varies

9) Guero’s Taco Bar
Address: 1412 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704
Hours: 11:00AM – 11:00PM

10) Don Japanese Kitchen
Address: 2716 1/2 Guadalupe St. Austin, TX 78705 (University of Texas, West Campus)
Hours: 5:00PM – 8:30PM

Austin gives me warm fuzzy feelings every time I find myself reminiscing. Watch our video diary below, made by my soul sister, Justine Mendoza. Make sure to watch in HD!


Cauliflower Rice

Growing up in a Filipino household meant that rice is king. It’s not unheard of for us to consume it three times a week. It’s still very hard for me to stay away from it, especially during family parties, but having lived on my own for the past three years has helped a lot with cutting back on my daily intake.

Don’t get me wrong, I still crave it every once in a while, but I’ve learned to substitute healthier options that satisfy the yearning without sacrificing taste.


  • 1 head of cauliflower, grated
  • 1 medium onion
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 medium tomato
  • 2-3 tbs of Trader Joe’s Toasted Sesame Oil
  • 1 cup of cooked edamame (optional)
  • 1/2 cup of shredded carrots (optional)
  • 2 large eggs, scrambled


  1. Mince garlic; dice tomatoes and onions in small cubes
  2. Cut cauliflower in large florets. Using a grater or food processor, shred or pulse raw cauliflower florets.
  3. Sauté minced garlic, tomatoes and onions in medium heat for 5 minutes or until onions start to sweat
  4.  Add grated cauliflower, cook for another 5-10 minutes until cauliflower is cooked and tender.
  5. Drizzle 2-3 tbs of Trader Joe’s Toasted Sesame Oil; mix thoroughly until all contents are coated.
  6. Pour the scrambled eggs.
  7. Turn off heat, toss in edamame and shredded carrots.

Thanks for reading!


Cauliflower and Chickpea Curry Masala

Life list #85 is to spend 30 days without meat. The last time I attempted foregoing meat was in college. The ordeal lasted two weeks, ending abruptly as I found myself on my knees, helplessly drooling over Porto’s potato balls, unable to maintain the discipline I developed the past 14 days. It was a glorious defeat and not one that I regret.

Last week, I resurrected that goal, and it definitely feels more natural. Now that I live on my own, I have 100% control of the items and produce that enter my fridge and pantry. It no longer feels like I’m actively depriving myself. During my first try, my mentality was “I can’t eat meat,” now it’s shifted to “I won’t eat meat.” Changing the language alone is empowering because now it doesn’t feel like I’m punishing myself or denying myself certain foods, which made me miserable. Now, I’m choosing to stay away from it.

It’s currently day 5, and I am feeling the difference. I just finished a 7-mile hike at Los Leones Canyon in Pacific Palisades, and I prepped myself this post-workout meal. It’s not only nutritious but hearty as well! Note that the recipe is for one (1) serving!


  • 1 tbs of coconut oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic (minced)
  • 7 oz (half a can) of garbanzo beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 1/2 cup of barley (substitutes: quinoa, brown rice, millet)
  • 1 cup of vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • 1 medium size cauliflower head
  • 1 cup of Trader Joe’s Curry Simmer Sauce


  1. Cook barley in vegetable broth/water combination until tender.
  2. Remove the leaves of cauliflower and cut florets.
  3. In a small pot, boil each cauliflower floret for 30-60 seconds. Remove from heat.
  4. Coarsely chop half of the florets and mix with the barley.
  5. In a separate pan, in low-medium heat, sauté minced garlic in coconut oil until the garlic is fragrant. Add garbanzo beans and the remaining cauliflower florets.
  6. Pour Trader Joe’s Curry Simmer Sauce. Cook for 3 minutes.
  7. Serve cauliflower chickpea curry masala on top of the barley-cauliflower mix bed.

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Brussels Sprouts and Eggs

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Tired from a long day at work, I began rummaging my fridge earlier this evening, searching for ingredients for a simple, quick, yet healthy non-microwavable dinner. Coachella is only a few weeks away, and I am trying to slim down for the big event. Ever since I started living on my own and buying my own groceries, I have consciously made an effort to stock my fridge with lots of veggies, tofu, all sorts of fish, white meat… which have been predominantly successful with the exception of me always having at least two pints of ice creams if I’m going to be totally honest. Lately, I can’t get enough of Trader Joe’s Coffee Blast and Maeda-en’s Green Tea, but I disgress.

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Zoodles (Zucchini Noodles) with Creamy Avocado-Cucumber Sauce

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You know you’re an adult when you make plans to go to Bed Bath & Beyond after work to buy a vegetable spiralizer. I finally purchased my very own Spirooli Spiral Slicer a few days ago, and as soon as I got home, I immediately started researching spiralizer recipes. I couldn’t wait to use my shiny new toy.

Continue reading “Zoodles (Zucchini Noodles) with Creamy Avocado-Cucumber Sauce”