Second St. District is known in Austin for its vibrant boutiques, countless dining options and stunningly lit-up trees. It’s full of unique things to do and see — but half of them are complete rip-offs. So I’m here to tell you what’s best and what’s a mess. This week’s subject: Second Street.
Why: Let me get this started by saying, I’m all for treating yourself to a relaxing day and spas can be a great way to do that. However, paying $40 for a basic manicure or $80 for a simple haircut seems like the opposite of relaxing to me.
Why: Toy Joy is your childhood dream come to life. From one-of-a-kind toys to adorable trinkets to classic board games, everything you need for a fun day is here. It’s a blast for kids and adults alike.
Why: This is your chance to see awesome movies and support your local community at the same time. The Violet Crown partners with local businesses and nonprofits. So you can feel good about stopping by to watch a wide array of movies, from newly emerging cinema to beloved classics.
Why: This place is the textbook definition of a tourist trap. It’s full of overpriced souvenirs like $30 graphic t-shirts and $65 beach chairs. Trust me, your money is better spent elsewhere on Second Street.
Why: This place, while arguably overpriced, is full of so many unique treats. From dill pickle soda to homemade chocolate pecan caramel fudge to grand truffles, Yummi Joy really does have something for everyone. Your wallet may be empty when you walk out of here but your stomach and heart will be full.
Now go forward and stride down Second Street with truffles in one hand and Violet Crown tickets in the other. You’re ready for this! You won’t be scammed today.
Whether you’re looking for comfort after a particularly hard math test, or want to celebrate turning in an essay on time, the dining halls are a great place to satiate your sweet tooth. For students living on-campus, unlimited swipes mean unlimited access to all the dining halls have to offer. However, the desserts at Kinsolving can be hit or miss. So, here are some ratings of Kins’ finest.
Oreo Cupcake: 5/10
The oreo cupcake was unusual for Kinsolving, which doesn’t typically feature cupcakes in their line-up. As such, I was interested to see how it would compare with the other desserts. I’m not a huge frosting lover, so I was pleasantly surprised that the icing was, in fact, whipped cream. The texture of the whipped cream was great, and it had a faint oreo flavor, as promised by the description. However, the actual cake part was disappointing. It was a regular chocolate cake, and a not-very-flavorful one at that. However, the texture was pretty good.
Vegan Sugar Bars / Snickerdoodle Bars: 9/10
My favorite dessert at Kinsolving, these sugar bars are a classic and a staple of the vegan dessert options. With a texture in between a cookie and a brownie, these bars are thicker and on the softer side. They are pretty sweet, so those with a sweet tooth could easily go through four or five of them at a time. They’re also great to take on the go!
Kinsolving has a few variations of this dessert, chocolate chip bars and rainbow sprinkle bars. The cookie base of the chocolate chip bars is less sweet than the other variations, but the chocolate chips make up for it.
As someone who is a proponent of brookies (the combination of a brownie and a cookie) as a concept, I was a little bit confused by Kins’ presentation. The dessert resembled less of a cookie or a brownie, and more of a thick chocolate cake. The texture was hard to get past because it ended up being glue-y and coating the inside of my mouth. I do like dark chocolate, so I appreciated that the “brookie” was less sweet than some of the other desserts here. In addition, the chocolate chips inside the brookie enhanced the flavor of the dessert itself.
Cereal Bars: 6/10
As someone who will eat dry cereal by the handful, it’s really hard to go wrong with cereal-themed desserts. However, the sugar coating that is holding the cereal together makes this dessert less enjoyable. You don’t really get the taste of the cereal itself— only the sugar concentration. Texture-wise, the crunchiness of the cereal is also obscured by the chewy coating. Depending on how you look at it, this could be a pro or a con. While crunching on cereal can be satisfying, it’s also probably easier on your teeth to consume cereal in this form. Kins will use different types of cereal for these cereal bars, something that changes the experience vastly. While the Lucky Charms version was decent, the Fruity Pebbles one was off-putting. The strength of the Fruity Pebbles flavor combined with the syrupy coating was overly sweet.
Tres Leches Cake: 6/10
As one should expect from tres leches, the cake itself was creamy. Most of the kinsolving desserts are presented at room temperature, but this cake was still cold, which was a nice touch.The frosting tasted generic, though, and didn’t add much to my eating experience. In addition, the frosting had a slight pineapple flavor, which detracted from the cake itself. I would eat the cake again in a heartbeat, but remove the frosting first.
This dessert is great for those who want to satisfy their sweet tooth without too much of a commitment. The crust was sugary and crumbly and tasted homemade. The flavor of the cake was mild, which was perfect to offset the sweetness of the crust.
Although some of the desserts are better than others, the “best” desserts at Kinsolving will likely be the desserts you typically enjoy the most. I would recommend trying out the desserts yourself to get a good idea of what you like and don’t. And while you’re at it, stock up on the vegan sugar bars whenever they’re available.
Austin is full of things to see, do and experience— and half of them are total rip-offs. So I’m here to tell you what’s best and what’s a mess. This week’s subject: The Drag.
Why: Come on. You knew this was coming. We live in Texas. You can get better tacos for less money at pretty much any food truck.
Verdict: Worth It
Why: Say what you want about Whataburger not being as good as it was five years ago, it’s still a Texan staple. From the fun orange color scheme to the iconic Dr.Pepper shake, this is the place to go at 2:00 a.m. with $5 in your pocket.
Why: To be honest, I’ve never gotten the hype around Coco’s. It has okay drinks, long lines and an expensive price tag. I’d recommend getting your boba fix elsewhere.
Verdict: Worth It
Why: Caffe Medici is a prime study spot. There is something on the menu for everyone, including coffee, matcha and Italian sodas. Plus, the atmosphere is student-friendly and there’s plenty of seating.
Verdict: Rip-Off AND Worth It
Why: The food is mediocre but no one really goes to Kerbey for the food. They go for the tradition and for saying they ate chocolate cake with friends at 4:00 a.m. after finishing a final paper (possibly based on a true story). So, yes, it is a rip-off, but I also highly recommend you go sometime in your college career.
Now that you’re armed with knowledge, go forth and explore the drag with confidence! You are most certainly not getting ripped off today.
Mug cakes are a great way to start the week and the Cookist has some amazing recipes to choose from. Whether you’re craving a vegan, paleo, or vanilla cake, there are many variations of this easy and delicious dish to try out and enjoy.. Most of the ingredients can be picked up at your local Dobie Target!
If you’re in a rush and have no time to make all these recipes then we have a solution for you: Betty Crocker. The company has a bunch of different mug cakes that are ready within minutes. Just add milk or water, and pop it in the microwave. Did I mention each box is less than $3?
If you really want to treat yourself checkout Polkadots Cupcake Factory. Their store is only a quick drive or bus ride away from campus. Although they may be a little pricey with $3.65 per cupcake, their 98 Google ratings say they’re more than worth it. Popular favorite flavors include Red Velvet, Confetti, and Chocolate.
This 10 minute recipe by Lauren Allen is a fantastic choice for students. This is especially geared towards those students who live in the dorms since this is a no-bake dish. While some of the ingredients might be a little pricey, HEB has all the ingredients you need for much less than other retailers.
Want a study space and a yummy treat all in one? Why not buy a Tiramisu slice ($3.49) at Whole Foods on Lamar? There are plenty of seats outside and inside with ambient music. If you can’t find a place to sit, there is a Starbucks right across the street as well.
It’s Dinner time and you still haven’t eaten cause you’ve been super busy from all that studying. (or procrastinating) Whichever it is, why not check out UTea Pho and grab a tiramisu slice for dessert after your meal? Perhaps use this as an opportunity to have a “study and dine date” with that zoom cutie from class.
If you’re lucky enough to have a waffle maker and want a fun breakfast dessert then why not make some waffles? You probably haven’t used it that much since class has been taking so much of your time. So, why not give it and yourself some love by making some yummy yummy waffles. (side note: You don’t even have to eat them just for breakfast!!)
While not as delicious as the other options, this one is the fastest and cheapest ! Pop it into the microwave or toaster oven and voila dessert/breakfast is served. Add some whipped cream, fruits, or some syrup to make it taste even better. Personally, I think some vanilla ice cream would go amazing with this delicious meal !
If you have the time and want to really treat yourself, Mary’s cafe is said to have some of the best waffles in Austin! This is also a great option for those of us without cars since it is just a quick 15 minute bus ride away from campus. Each waffle is about $6.75 🙂
After eating all those yummy desserts this week, you might be looking for something just a little healthier today. Why not make yourself a fruit tart? Delish has a yummy recipe that is easy and delicious.
If you’re studying at the Austin Public Library and are looking for a little reward for all those hours of studying. Trader Joe’s is just a short walk away and their Raspberry tarte is absolutely delicious. (If they don’t have any tartes, they have a plethora of other amazing desserts for you to try.)
Mozart’s Coffee is a favorite for just about anyone. Did you know that they also carry fruit tartes? Well, they do! A view, a study space, delicious coffee and a great fruit or lemon tart, what more could you ask for?
It is finally Friday and you have made it through the week! Treat yourself this morning with a homemade fruit parfait. A quick, easy, and customizable desert that can appeal to anyone. You can add just about anything to a cup of yogurt ! My personal favorite toppings are almonds, granola, raspberries, strawberries, and a little bit of chocolate.
If all these options don’t seem to interest you then head out and have some plain ol’ ice cream. Choose your own toppings and flavors. Tropical Dreams is an ice cream store located right behind Dobie and has a bunch of unique ice cream flavors. Some interesting flavors include Ginger, Macadamia Coconut, and Mango Cream.
It is finally the weekend and you’re done with finals! It is time to crash and rewind as you prepare for the next week. As you remember all the amazing and delicious desserts you ate this week, you think to yourself why not try 5 different healthy smoothies next week to detox the body and mind from all the semester stress.
Good luck on your finals everyone and remember to treat yourself through these stressful times. 🙂
For some, H-E-B isn’t just a grocery store, it’s a way of life. Whether you’re new to Texas or not, H-E-B is a staple for any central Texas resident; including our fellow longhorns. H-E-B offers locally sourced products and a unique grocery experience. H-E-B is constantly creating new, unique products for its customers, and as a former H-E-B checker, I’ve seen a lot of what H-E-B has to offer. From unique ice cream creations to delicious coffee, here are some of my tried and true H-E-B favorites.
H‑E‑B Select Ingredients Mocha Lovers Trail Mix
H-E-B has multiple trail mixes, but for coffee and/or chocolate lovers like myself, the Mocha Lovers Trail Mix is the best trail mix to satisfy your sweet tooth and caffeine cravings. The trail mix includes dark chocolate covered cranberries, white chocolate covered coffee beans, dark chocolate covered coffee beans, roasted almonds and roasted cashews.
Where you can find: H-E-B pantry area in the snack, chips or candy aisle.
H‑E‑B Sensational Belgian Chocolate Chip Cookie
The H-E-B Belgain Chocolate Chip Cookies might just be one of the best chocolate chip cookies I’ve ever had. Each cookie comes in a pack of two and is an inch thick full of chocolate and walnut goodness!
Where you can find: Bakery Section
H‑E‑B Gourmet Brownie Party Tray
The H-E-B Gourmet Brownie Party Tray quite literally changed my life. These rich chocolate brownies come in an assortment of various frosting and nut toppings.
Where you can find: Bakery Section
Cafe Ole by HEB Coffee
H-E-B has an array of coffee flavors for folks with a variety of tastes. For those who like to enjoy a sweet or flavored coffee, H-E-B’s Cafe Ole offers unique flavors. Some of my favorites are the Texas Pecan Medium Roast, Taste of San Antonio Medium Roast and Taste of Austin Medium Roast. For those who prefer a bold or rich coffee, Cafe Ole offers Donut Shop Medium Roast, French Roast Dark Roast and Colombian Bucaramanga Supremo Medium Roast.
Where you can find: Coffee aisle
H-E-B Sea Salt Tortilla Chips
Something about the H-E-B Tortilla Chips is so addicting I could eat half the bag in one sitting. They go great with guacamole or salsa or even on their own. The chips are light, slightly salty and oh so delicious!
Where you can find them: Bakery or Produce sections
H-E-B Ice Cream
H-E-B has killed it when it comes to ice cream. H-E-B offers dozens of ice cream flavor and topping combinations. It’s hard to choose just one! Some of my tried and true favorites are Swoon by H-E-B Cookie Lovers, Creamy Creations Cookies Over Texas, Creamy Creations Dulce De Leche and Creamy Creations Texas Starry Night.
Where you can find them: Ice cream or Frozen Foods section
H-E-B carries so many unique products that any time I go, I’m bound to try something new. If you’re looking for a taste of Texas, just stop at your local H-E-B because it’s true, here everything is better.