BDR’s Top 5 for 2017

Happy New Year from Bing Daniel Realty!

As a suggested new year’s resolution, we highly recommend that you make an effort in 2017 to visit, re-visit, explore, and discover all that Austin has to offer. In this first post of the New Year, we highlight our top 5 spots to visit in 2017 – some new, some classic, some popular, and some off the beaten path. While some of the destinations on our list may not make a “must see” list, they certainly should be! Many locals may not have discovered these spots, but they are delighted when they do!

1.  Texas State Library and Archives Commission  
Capitol Complex, 1201 Brazos, Austin TX 78702

Named a National Literary Landmark, the Lorenzo de Zavala State Archiv es and Library Building is the agency’s flagship located directly east of the Texas Capitol. Often overlooked, yet steps from the State Capitol, it is well worth the short stroll to visit. Among the many impressive exhibits are the six flags flown over Texas and the panoramic Texas history mural, designed by artist Peter Rogers, in the main lobby. Current and past exhibits include the following:

  • Evolution of the Texas Rangers
  • The American Civil War in Texas
  • Historic Postcards
  • Travis’ 1836 Victory or Death letter from the Alamo


2.  El Patio
2938 Guadalupe, Austin TX 78705

Family owned and operated since 1954.  Although located blocks from the University of Texas campus, you won’t find as many students as you will the loyal regulars that prefer to keep
this place a “secret”. Offering traditional Tex-Mex classics, including famous nachos, sizzling plates of cheese enchiladas, and homemade chips (by request) and taco shells! This is my go-to place for Tex-Mex, with an appropriate 1950’s diner feel, and it is no doubt that this has been Austin’s favorite Tex-Mex for over 62 years!



3.  Little Stacy Historic Park
1500 Alameda Drive, Austin TX 78704

This super cute neighborhood park is tucked away in the hills of 78704. The wading pool is perfect for the kiddos and is surrounded by ancient giant oak trees that offer plenty of shade and serenity in this small gem of a park.


4.  Texas State Cemetery
909 Navasota Street, Austin TX 78702

Steeped in history with beautiful grounds, the Texas State Cemetery is the final resting place many former Texas
Governors, Senators, Legislators, Judges, and other legendary Texans who have made the state what it is today. This centrally located cemetery is truly a “must see” for lovers of Texas history.

Notable Texans buried on cemetery grounds include: Stephen F. Austin, General Albert Sidney Johnston, Governor Allan Shivers, Governor John Connally, and Lieutenant Governor Bob Bullock.

Since 1851, the Texas State Cemetery has witnessed many changes. From 1994 to 1997, then Lieutenant Governor Bob Bullock initiated an extensive restoration project. Shortly after this project was completed, then Governor George W. Bush appointed a three-member Texas State Cemetery Committee, whose charter and purpose is to ensure that the cemetery serves as a tribute to individuals who have made Texas famous throughout the world.


5.  Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew
6610 North Lamar, Austin TX 78757

By far the Bing Daniel Realty family favorite that has become not so hidden. Stiles Switch is located in the oldest strip center in Austin – The Violet Crown. It is our opinion that the brisket served at Stiles Switch is not only the best in Austin, but the best in any town! While you may have to wait in a short line to order at the counter, it is without the hype of some other Austin joints that require a 3-4 hour wait. Side dishes are equally scrumptious, with corn casserole and pinto beans are the star stand-outs to be sure.

Top 10 Zip Codes in Austin

78703 – One of my favorite zip codes. High-rise living that allows Austin residents to walk to Whole Foods headquarters, Book People, Starbucks, 6th Street, and scores of bistros, bars, and shops. Most of Austin’s high rises were built after 2000, offering luxury living at its best.

78756 – Median Home Price $440,000. A blend of both “Old” and “New” Austin. Renovation and new construction throughout the neighborhood provides a modern feel to the area.

78731 – Median Home Price $560,000. Home to “Northwest Hills” – one of Austin’s most prestigious neighborhoods with stellar schools. Each home is has character and their own unique curb appeal.

78705 – Median Home Price $230,000. An eclectic mix of early 20th century single-family homes, apartments, and student housing in Central Austin.

78748 – Median Home Price $250,000. Large brick homes built in the 1980’s and 1990’s. Homebuyers continue to be priced out of developed neighborhoods with low inventory. New businesses like South Austin Beer Garden have taken root on the southern end of Manchaca Road. Many locals are now calling this area “So-Chaca”.

78757 – Median Home Price $365,000. This North Central Austin community is filled with charming bungalows, mid-century ranch houses, and laid-back residents. This area of town is very similar to 78756.

78741 – Median Home Price $215,000. Next to Downtown Austin. One of this area’s most attractive attributes is its easy access to Lady Bird Lake, the Boardwalk, and the Hike and Bike Trail. A very hot and fast-growing area. Mixture of condos and new construction. This is one of Austin’s hidden treasures close to Downtown.

78749 – Median Home Price $320,000. Situated in Southwest Austin. Residents have access to an Alamo Draft House, Whole Foods, and cool restaurant’s including Via 313 and Jack Allen’s Kitchen. Beautiful trails, green spaces, and pools. Large, affordable, and established new construction homes.

78722 – Median Home Price $400,000. Vintage homes and wood-framed bungalows. This area is a melting pot of students, professors, small businesses, and families young and old. Bound by I-35 and Airport Blvd. When people move to this area, they tend to stay. You don’t often see houses on the market as this is one of Austin’s hidden treasures.

78751 – Median Home Price $410,000. Just a few minutes north of Downtown Austin. A modest mix of bungalows, condos, and historic mansions. Includes the Hyde Park neighborhood with listings ranging from $255,000 to $2,300,000. The heart and soul of this community is the neighborhood pool at Shipe Park and the Elisabet Ney Museum with breathtaking grounds. Lots of neighborhood hot spots accessible by foot or bike.

Torchy’s Taco Review

13 Austin Locations! 27 others in Texas, Colorado, & Oklahoma!

Torchy’s Tacos is a taco nirvana. With humble beginnings in a single Austin food truck on Bouldin Creek, Torchy’s has become one of the fastest growing restaurant sensations in the state of Texas. With all the excellent Tex-Mex spots in Austin, you’ve got to be on your “A” game if you’re going to compete. Now with 13 locations in the Austin area (plus 27 others in Texas, Colorado, and Oklahoma), Torchy’s has quickly become the go-to place for all things taco – whether it’s for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or a late-night or mid-day snack. With their catchy and creative names, 3 out of 5 people you ask in Austin will likely know what you mean when you say you’re craving a “Trailer Park Trashy Style”.

My personal favorite is “The Democrat” – shredded beef barbacoa, fresh avocado, queso fresco, cilantro, onions, and a wedge of lime – perfect their homemade tomatillo salsa.

Vegetarians will love the “Fried Avocado”, which comes with hand-battered fried avocado, veggie refried beans, pico, lettuce, & cheese.

My husband’s favorite is the “Trailer Park Trashy Style”, which includes fried chicken, green chiles, pico, queso (instead of lettuce!), and poblano sauce.

Don’t forget to try their queso and chips – it definitely rivals any of the top five in Austin.

Satellite Bistro & Bar Review


A South Austin delight…

This spacious, well designed restaurant is a visual walk down memory lane. Turquoise booths, a retro bar complete with space needle light fixtures – a classy nod to the 1960’s and George Jetson and his boy Elroy! But…that’s where the 1960’s end at Satellite Bistro & Bar. There are certainly no cheese whiz appetizers, Jell-O molds, or Chicken a ’la King served here.

Satellite Bistro & Bar serves American favorites with a contemporary spin, and local fresh and savory plates are always in orbit! The bistro provides the service of a fine French restaurant (without any pretentious attitude). The Kamburis brothers did not neglect a single detail at this fine establishment. Don’t miss out on creative craft cocktails, a diverse wine list, and plenty of local and craft brews on tap. Here is a sampling of what my group of friends ordered on my visit last month:

  • Diver scallops cooked to perfection, with heavenly subtle saffron-infused sauce. Fresh, and fabulous.
  • French Pork Chops with a red wine reduction glaze served with garlic mashed potatoes. All you carnivores will be craving this again and again.
  • Stacked Chicken Enchiladas for those that need to get a Tex-Mex fix. Bring on the Verde sauce and spice!
  • I’m not a Mad Men “I’ll have my martini shaken not stirred” kind of gal, but signature martinis have my name (and my friends’ names) all over them! Tito’s Hand Made Vodka – distilled in Austin (in the first legal distillery in Texas for you trivia lovers) – is the perfect choice for the Lemon Drop. The Mojitos Martini is a refreshing blast of mint, perfect on one of many hot Texas days.

Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen Review

6319 I-35 NORTH, AUSTIN TX 78752


…more locations opening soon!

I have a standing lunch date with my husband at least once a month on Saturdays at Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen. One of the few places that have the lunch menu and reduced lunch prices all week long – including weekends. I have never had a bad meal here, and the seafood is always fresh, well-seasoned, and expertly prepared.

The fried shrimp and oysters are not greasy, and the homemade batter is crisped to perfection. All the sides are wonderful, and you will not go wrong with the seafood gumbo or crawfish bisque. Portions are Texas-sized and easily shared – especially the jambalaya and any multitude of their fish dishes. Go for lunch or an early for dinner. Crowds and wait times can be longer after 6:00PM. Pappadeaux is always consistent, tasty, and on our list of highly recommended restaurants.

Lamberts Downtown Barbecue Review


Rockin’ cornbread and all the fixins’. One of the few places that is consistently awesome. Complimentary cornbread muffins set the stage for what’s to come — scrumptious offerings on an evolving menu, putting a fine culinary spin on the staple that is Texas BBQ. We recently enjoyed chopped brisket lightly tossed in a smoky sauce, with freshly prepared coleslaw and some of the best baked beans ever! BONUS: the coleslaw was not laden with mayonnaise! I wish I had saved room for the Southern pecan pie that was glistening with a Karo syrup glaze — next time, which I hope will be soon. Check out the Sunday brunch as well (reservations needed), when you are able to sample some off-menu treats. A top 5 in Austin for sure.


Curra’s Grill Review


A South Austin classic, Curra’s Grill is a go-to restaurant for regional Mexican and Tex-Mex food and drinks. Eclectically decorated with murals and other artwork by local artists, Curra’s exudes the “we’ve been around for quite a while” vibe, and in a very good way. Famous for their Avocado Margarita, there are a multitude of other tasty spins that Curra’s offers on this traditional frozen concoction that helps us hang on! With early opening hours (7AM), Curra’s serves up great breakfast offerings with their famous Oaxica blend coffee (specially made and available for purchase both at the restaurant and Texas Coffee Traders: 1400 E 4th St, Austin TX 78702). For breakfast (served all day), we recommend any of the various combinations of breakfast tacos served in homemade corn or flour tortillas and other specialty dishes such as the Huevos Divorceados. For lunch or dinner (or breakfast if it fancies you), the Carne Guisada is a must, as are the world famous tamales (available with pork, chicken, beans, or veggie).

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La Fontaine de Mars Review


We have been to Paris quite a few times, and La Fontaine de Mars is always one of our stops — specifically on a Sunday as they are one of few great restaurants that are open. The location is just a few steps from the Eiffel Tower, meaning that you are likely to stumble onto some tourists. However, we have also noticed several local regulars dining at the restaurant.

Some folks complain about it being hard to get in. However, that is simply not so if you follow the common courtesy (to them) and obtaining peace of mind (for you) by making a reservation in advance.

Service may seem a little rushed when compared to other Parisian dining establishments, but that’s usually only occurred when it was crowded. If you’re looking for less crowd and less rushed service, opt for an earlier seating – 11:00 for lunch or 6:00 for dinner are recommended. Whether rushed or not, the service is ALWAYS friendly.

On this trip, we were with my son who is a vegetarian – typically tough to accommodate in French restaurants, but becoming more and more accommodating each day. We informed our waitress (who was SUPER friendly and had a great sense of humor), and she had the chef prepare a special plate of fresh vegetables – an assortment of all vegetarian options from the menu. That was truly special and something I have NEVER seen in Paris.

The food is fantastic bistro-esque, but many notches above the standard Parisian bistro. We have had the coq-au-vin, the roasted chicken, the foie gras, and a little of everything else on the menu. Our suggestions are to have at least one bottle of the house red – it is not made in house, but it is made by the Domaine Rotier vineyard and labeled specifically for La Fontaine, always opt for at least one thing on the daily special – not the daily special on the menu, but something on the daily chalk board that will be presented shortly after you are seated, and order at least one of their stellar potato dishes (my favorite is the Gratin Dauphinois – a rich, cheesy, bite of heaven).

The price can be on the high side if you go hungry and elect to order all 3 of a starter, main, and dessert. However, the price can be reasonable if you order smartly. You are in Paris after all, and you are in a quality Parisian Bistro – anything that is high quality is going to cost a few euro. Do the research ahead of time and know exactly what you are going to do beforehand.

We will be back again for sure if and when we find ourselves back in Paris.

The China House at Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok, Thailand Review


My son and I were on a whirlwind first-timers tour of Bangkok – only 2 nights, and 2 days – before meeting up with the rest of our travel group in northern Thailand – Chiang Mai for the Yi Peng/Loi Krathong festivals. Of course, a whirlwind tour is “go go go go go”, but you have to take time to eat, and the China House at Mandarin Oriental was hands town the best place to do that for us on our second day.

We had enjoyed street food and other cheaper meals in Bangkok, and we were looking to splurge and indulge ourselves. We (primarily me) were also in need of a change of pace before hitting the streets for more sightseeing. The Mandarin Oriental provided that quiet respite, and the China House was quite the treat.

Because it was a Saturday, we were lucky to be able to enjoy brunch (also available on Sundays), including a buffet selection – unlimited dim sum and other appetizers, a self-service buffet complete with roasted suckling pig and Peking duck, and there was an extensive menu which included approximately 75% of the total a la carte menu – all priced at 1,000 Thai Baht (approximately US $30) per person. Ordering what we had off the a la carte menu would have easily been 4 x the price. My son is vegetarian, and he was able to order special dishes off the normal a la carte menu at no additional charge.

The food was simply delicious, the service impeccable, and the atmosphere very much exuding the 5 stars you would expect from the Mandarin Oriental grounds. Go on a weekend, go for the splurge, immerse yourself in the fanciful flavors, and most of all, enjoy yourself!