Hot spots in Big 12
With the Jayhawk football team headed to Colorado this weekend, this might be the perfect time to hit the road and explore some Big 12 college towns.
We asked Lawrence resident Susan Kraus, author of “A Game Day Guide to Towns of the Big 12,” for her tips for visiting Boulder, Colo.; Lubbock, Texas; Austin, Texas; and Manhattan, the four Big 12 cities KU travels to during football season this year.
If you want more suggestions, check out the Road Hawks feature at KUsports.com.
Pearl Street is the soul of downtown Boulder, with fun shopping, galleries, restaurants and bars. At 7 p.m. Fridays, the CU Buffalo Stampede with CU marching band, cheerleaders and pep rally fills Pearl Street.
Eats: The Kitchen is about local farm-to-table eating and being earth-friendly. With a Wine Spectator “Best Award of Excellence” and cheerful staff, you can’t go wrong. 1039 Pearl St.; www.thekitchencafe.com.
• Black Cat is a classy bistro-farm combo, with its own 10 acres of organic produce. 946 Pearl St.; www.theblackcatboulder.com.
• Jax Fish House: This is a favorite old stand-by, but the hot news is that Chef Hosea Rosenberg rules … he was just named No. 1 on the reality show “Top Chef.” Make a reservation now. 928 Pearl St.; www.jaxfishhouseboulder.com.
Drinks: The Sink is an institution: 86 years old, student-dominated, and Robert Redford was a former janitor. Burgers and beer are staples. 1165 13th St.; www.thesink.com.
• The Walnut Brewery (1123 Walnut St.; www.walnutbrewery.com) is an award-winning brewpub with a rooftop bar.
Plus: Chautauqua Park walk: Take Baseline Road up to Ninth Street. Turn left. It’s not really park but acres of preserved land at the base of the mountains. Stretch, breathe deep and enjoy the view.
The pre-game and post-game frenzy floods Aggieville. Daytime is family-friendly, and at nights students rule.
Eats: A reincarnation of a ’50s original, The Chef has tasty food, ample portions (breakfast and lunch only), happy staff and is worth the wait. It’s a place where you ogle other people’s meals. 111 S. Fourth St.; www.thechefcafe. com.
• For Italian/Mediterranean, Della Voce is a find. If you’re staying over, try their jazz on Sunday. Smoothest martinis in town. 405 Poyntz; www.dellavoce.com.
• In Aggieville, Rock-A-Belly Bar and Deli, Coco Bolos, Bluestem Bakery (yummy homemade soups) or Radina’s Coffee House and Bakery are all within a few blocks with good food and relaxed ambience. Hibachi Hut was a finalist for the Eight Wonders of Kansas Cuisine contest and is known for its “Belly Bomb.”
Drinks: There’s a bar every 10 feet in Aggieville, and they all have fans.
• One of my favorites is Kite’s Grille and Bar (www.kiteslive.com), an Aggieville institution. Or see if you can handle a “Belfast Bomber” at O’Malley’s. Not in Aggieville, G’s Jazz Bar is a new addition (Grand Mere Village, in the corner of Kimball Avenue and Vanesta Drive), with live music and a hefty wine list.
Plus: Beach Museum of Art is right across from Aggieville, an oasis of quiet (just take an hour), by the free shuttle stop. Opens early on gamedays.
Eats: Fuzzy’s Taco Shop is new and hopping. Love the fresh fish tacos (plus enchiladas, fajitas, etc.) 2102 Broadway, www.fuzzystacoshop.com.
• Gardski’s is a landmark, where Lubbock and Texas Tech history dominate the walls and the menu has something for everyone. 2009 Broadway; www.gardskisloft.com.
• Café J may be my favorite, whether fine dining, upscale burger or soup and salad. Great appetizers to pair with a bottle of wine. Bar is refined, patio sweet. 2605 19th St.; www.cafejlubbock.com.
Drinks: Lubbock rocks, from close-to-campus to the “Depot Entertainment District” (Buddy Holly, Texas and Crickets avenues). You need a few nights to experience them all.
• Cricket’s Draft House: across from campus, with more than 100 drafts on tap and solid pub-plus menu. 2412 Broadway; www.cricketsgrill.com.
• The Library: This is so not a library, but it makes it easier not to lie … “Hey, really, I was at The Library.” Hangout bar, great music. 1701 Texas Ave.; www.librarybars.com.
• The Blue Light does up-and-coming Texas bands (check out the new back patio.) Right next store is Tom’s Daiquiri. Both are staples on Buddy Holly Avenue.
Plus: The American Wind Power Center features 28 acres of windmills from around the world, 710 Canyon Lake Drive; www.windmill.com. The National Ranching Heritage Center (Fourth and Indiana streets) recreates ranching with 47 separate structures from 1700s to 1900s. The Buddy Holly Center, 1801 Ave. G; www.buddyhollycenter.org, celebrates not only Holly but American music from 1936 to 1959.
Austin is no cozy college town but a big city, with big-city traffic. So look for “districts” to park-and-play rather than find yourself driving all over town.
Warehouse District: What used to be “Sixth Street” is now Second to Sixth, Congress to Guadalupe. Yuppie prospers here. Some cool stops are Speakeasy, 219 West, Betsy’s Bar and Malaga.
South Congress: South Congress (across Town Lake) is a strip of hip vintage and antique shops, with some fun restaurants for pre- or post-game shopping and dining. Continental Club (1315 S. Congress) features blues, rock and little folk with an upstairs gallery. Guero’s Taco Bar is one of my favorites for Tex-Mex with panache, 1412 S. Congress Ave.; www.guerostacobar.com.
Eats: Jeffrey’s is known for upscale cuisine (like their signature oysters-on-yucca-root-chips appetizer), with a chef’s tasting menu that will please your palate, www.jeffreysofaustin.com.
The Oasis has spectacular views and seats hundreds and hundreds. 6550 Commanche Trail; www.oasis-austin.com. It’s a destination, not just a restaurant.
Drinks: At La Condesa, go for an “Enlightened Austin Martini” (recently named Austin’s new official cocktail) at this hip hotspot. Interior Mexican cuisine, www.lacondesaaustin.com.
• The Broken Spoke will have you two-stepping to classic country or just soaking up the ambience of one of the truly great dance halls, www.brokenspokeaustintexas.com.
• Scholz Garden packs them in on gamedays (think Tokyo subway at rush hour) but can be a quiet respite in the garden at other times, 1607 San Jacinto Blvd.
Plus: Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum is close to campus, with outstanding exhibits, 1800 N. Congress Ave.; www.thestoryoftexas.com.