Cocktail Recipes, Spirits, and Local Bars

10 Toughest Tables: Austin

10 Toughest Tables: Austin

Every month The Daily Meal will reveal how difficult it is to reserve a primetime table at a city's most booked restaurants. This month's Toughest Tables hones in on Austin.

We teamed up with Opentable.com's Chief Dining Officer, Caroline Potter, to find out which restaurants customers have established as the most-booked. The ten places below were determined by votes from more than 41,600 diners.

To help you score a much-coveted tables, we cross-examined each restaurant to determine how tough it really is to get seated.

Austin's Most Booked Restaurants

Uchiko — 4200 N Lamar Blvd. Suite 140 — (512) 916-4808
Location: Downtown
Cuisine: Asian
Can You Eat Dinner at the Bar? "Yes, at the bartop itself you can have the full menu."
Will You Seat an Incomplete Party? Yes
Do You Accept Walk-ins? Yes
What Time Can You Almost Always Get a Reservation? "Almost always at 5pm. Other than that we're pretty much all booked up all through the rest of the night."

La Condesa — 400 W 2nd St — (512) 499-0300
Location: Downtown
Cuisine: Mexican
Can You Eat Dinner at the Bar? "Yes. It's full-service, and the bar is first-come, first- serve."
Will You Seat an Incomplete Party? "It depends on the size of the party. If it's five or more we will not, but if it is two to four we will."
Do You Accept Walk-ins? "We do. Our patio and bar are reserved for walk-ins. But we do highly recommend reservations."
What Time Can You Almost Always Get a Reservation? "We can almost always accommodate reservations for parties under five. It's large parties that we have a problem seating at the last minute Thursday through Saturday. Sunday through Thursday we can almost always seat parties under eight people at any time."

Eddie V's — 4200 N Lamar Blvd. Suite 140 — (512) 472-1860
Location: Downtown
Cuisine: Seafood/Steak
Can You Eat Dinner at the Bar? Yes
Will You Seat an Incomplete Party? Yes
Do You Accept Walk-ins? Yes
What Time Can You Almost Always Get a Reservation? "A time you can always get a reservation is at 5:30pm and 9pm. Give or take every day. But when the UT home game is on at 2pm it's going to be busy all game long."

Perry's Steakhouse & Grille — 114 W. 7th St. Suite 110 — (512) 474-6300
Location: Downtown
Cuisine: Steakhouse/Seafood
Can You Eat Dinner at the Bar? "Yes you can. It's open seating at the bar and live music every night."
Will You Seat an Incomplete Party? "Yes we will."
Do You Accept Walk-ins? "Yes we do."
What Time Can You Almost Always Get a Reservation? "We try to be able to accommodate for everything. We have a large restaurant, so we can accommodate any size party at any time. It's about 17,000 square feet so limited seating is not a problem we have to deal with. We have parties of 14 walk in at seven in the evening and we'll find room. It's all about the guest."

Uchi — 801 S Lamar Blvd — (512) 916-4808
Location: Downtown
Cuisine: Japanese
Can You Eat Dinner at the Bar? No.
Will You Seat an Incomplete Party? No.
Do You Accept Walk-ins? "Yes, it's primarily on a walk-in basis."
What Time Can You Almost Always Get a Reservation? "That is rare. Probably the 5pm's are available, but again on a walk-in basis, and even the 5pm's tend to book up."

Maggiano's — 10910 Domain Drive Suite 100 — (512) 501-7870
Location: Downtown
Cuisine: Italian/American
Can You Eat Dinner at the Bar? "You can."
Will You Seat an Incomplete Party? "Yes, sir."
Do You Accept Walk-ins? "We do."
What Time Can You Almost Always Get a Reservation? "Let's see, it's kind of... you can get a reservation for four or less at any time, but for bigger parties it's necessary to make a reservation up to two weeks in advance. It's pretty much any time of day that you can make a reservation for nine to ten, and we can take you in at any time."

Perla's Seafood and Oyster Bar — 1400 S Congress Suite B100 — (512) 291-7300
Location: Downtown
Cuisine: Seafood/Continental
Can You Eat Dinner at the Bar? Yes.
Will You Seat an Incomplete Party? Yes.
Do You Accept Walk-ins? Yes.
What Time Can You Almost Always Get a Reservation? "5:30pm and after nine."

Steiner Ranch Steakhouse — 5424 Steiner Ranch Blvd — (512) 381-0800
Location: Northwest
Cuisine: Steak/Seafood
Can You Eat Dinner at the Bar? Yes.
Will You Seat an Incomplete Party? Yes
Do You Accept Walk-ins? Yes.
What Time Can You Almost Always Get a Reservation? "You can get in whenever, but we will put you on a waitlist. Before 6pm or after 8pm. I mean, that's usually when people call us for reservations so that's the time that is the busiest for us."

Trattoria Lisina — 13308 FM 150 West Driftwood — (512) 894-3111
Location: Driftwood
Cuisine: Italian
Can You Eat Dinner at the Bar? "We do have a full-service bar, yessir."
Will You Seat an Incomplete Party? "We prefer not to."
Do You Accept Walk-ins? "Yessir, we try to hold about 20% of the restaurant for walk-ins."
What Time Can You Almost Always Get a Reservation? "Usually, definitely 9pm or 9:30pm, we are usually open. And then earlier, usually 4pm or 4:30pm."

Eddie V's — 9400 Arboretum Blvd — (512) 342-2642
Location: Downtown
Cuisine: Seafood/Steak
Can You Eat Dinner at the Bar? "Yes, most definitely it is full-service dining."
Will You Seat an Incomplete Party? "Always, definitely."
Do You Accept Walk-ins? "Yes we do."
What Time Can You Almost Always Get a Reservation? "We have a banquet room which we usually have closed, so if we get a lot of walk-ins we'll open it up for them. So whatever time you come in it's likely you'll be able to get seated."


Texas Trippin': Road Trip from New Orleans to Austin

On the last leg of our South-wide road trip, writer Valerie Rains leaves the Louisiana bayous behind for the wide-open skies of the Lone Star State.

New Orleans Lafayette, LA Gruene, TX (532 Miles)

It&aposs hard to believe we&aposre staring down the last stretch of our once-in-a-lifetime, across-the-South road trip (which started 1,554 miles ago in Charleston, South Carolina), but as my driving buddy, Tim, and I trade the mahogany seats of a New Orleans St. Charles Streetcar (norta.com) for the now-very-familiar ones of our own trusty vehicle, reality𠅊nd wistfulness—set in.

Fortunately, there&aposs still plenty of scenic ground to cover. Today, in particular, will be a haul. Looking north from I-10 as we skirt the edge of Lake Pontchartrain, the horizon disappears, and all we can see is a blurry wash of blue from the road to the sky. The driving-on-water feeling only intensifies as we go, and when we reach the 18-mile-long Atchafalaya Basin Bridge, I can&apost help but crane my neck for a glimpse of gators swimming below. At Breaux Bridge, Louisiana, 140 miles in, we branch off to visit the Cypress Island Preserve (337/342-2475), our time-saving stand-in for a full-blown bayou tour. Grabbing a bird-watcher&aposs checklist from the Visitor Center, we hit the quarter-mile-long boardwalk loop through the cypress-tupelo swamp. Tim&aposs got his eyes peeled for blue herons and white ibis, but I&aposm focused on finding gators. Every log looks like it could be a semi-submerged head, and I follow the reptiles&apos weird, bullfrog-like calls in one direction after another, always arriving just in time to spot the patches on the water&aposs surface where they&aposd gone under again. It&aposs their version of Marco Polo, and I eventually realize that I&aposm not going to win.

To soften the sting of defeat, we treat ourselves to syrup-drizzled, boudin ball-and-bacon sliders on buttermilk biscuits (a dish known as Sweet Baby Breesus) at The French Press (thefrenchpresslafayette.com) in Lafayette, Louisiana, 5 miles away. There, we discuss the one last Hail Mary for gator-spotting I&aposve got in my playbook𠅊 free roadside exhibit run by the Jefferson Davis Parish tourism commission called Gator Chateau (337/821-5521), where visitors can hold rescued baby reptiles that have been abandoned by their mothers. An hour later, I&aposm cradling Tiny T-Doux, a juvenile about the length of my forearm, against my chest. He couldn&apost be sweeter, with his bright, watchful eyes and still-vulnerable limbs. I nearly melt. Now we can set out for Texas.

The Lone Star State&aposs vast skies are perhaps most famous for their nighttime twinklers, but dusk really should get a little more credit. As we drive deeper into East Texas, the heavens unfurl a sunset of such splendor we&aposre compelled to park on the roadside to watch its progress. Long, taffy-like layers of pink and gold and tangerine stretch out before us, and each time we think it&aposs almost over, a vivid new composition replaces the last.


Texas Trippin': Road Trip from New Orleans to Austin

On the last leg of our South-wide road trip, writer Valerie Rains leaves the Louisiana bayous behind for the wide-open skies of the Lone Star State.

New Orleans Lafayette, LA Gruene, TX (532 Miles)

It&aposs hard to believe we&aposre staring down the last stretch of our once-in-a-lifetime, across-the-South road trip (which started 1,554 miles ago in Charleston, South Carolina), but as my driving buddy, Tim, and I trade the mahogany seats of a New Orleans St. Charles Streetcar (norta.com) for the now-very-familiar ones of our own trusty vehicle, reality𠅊nd wistfulness—set in.

Fortunately, there&aposs still plenty of scenic ground to cover. Today, in particular, will be a haul. Looking north from I-10 as we skirt the edge of Lake Pontchartrain, the horizon disappears, and all we can see is a blurry wash of blue from the road to the sky. The driving-on-water feeling only intensifies as we go, and when we reach the 18-mile-long Atchafalaya Basin Bridge, I can&apost help but crane my neck for a glimpse of gators swimming below. At Breaux Bridge, Louisiana, 140 miles in, we branch off to visit the Cypress Island Preserve (337/342-2475), our time-saving stand-in for a full-blown bayou tour. Grabbing a bird-watcher&aposs checklist from the Visitor Center, we hit the quarter-mile-long boardwalk loop through the cypress-tupelo swamp. Tim&aposs got his eyes peeled for blue herons and white ibis, but I&aposm focused on finding gators. Every log looks like it could be a semi-submerged head, and I follow the reptiles&apos weird, bullfrog-like calls in one direction after another, always arriving just in time to spot the patches on the water&aposs surface where they&aposd gone under again. It&aposs their version of Marco Polo, and I eventually realize that I&aposm not going to win.

To soften the sting of defeat, we treat ourselves to syrup-drizzled, boudin ball-and-bacon sliders on buttermilk biscuits (a dish known as Sweet Baby Breesus) at The French Press (thefrenchpresslafayette.com) in Lafayette, Louisiana, 5 miles away. There, we discuss the one last Hail Mary for gator-spotting I&aposve got in my playbook𠅊 free roadside exhibit run by the Jefferson Davis Parish tourism commission called Gator Chateau (337/821-5521), where visitors can hold rescued baby reptiles that have been abandoned by their mothers. An hour later, I&aposm cradling Tiny T-Doux, a juvenile about the length of my forearm, against my chest. He couldn&apost be sweeter, with his bright, watchful eyes and still-vulnerable limbs. I nearly melt. Now we can set out for Texas.

The Lone Star State&aposs vast skies are perhaps most famous for their nighttime twinklers, but dusk really should get a little more credit. As we drive deeper into East Texas, the heavens unfurl a sunset of such splendor we&aposre compelled to park on the roadside to watch its progress. Long, taffy-like layers of pink and gold and tangerine stretch out before us, and each time we think it&aposs almost over, a vivid new composition replaces the last.


Texas Trippin': Road Trip from New Orleans to Austin

On the last leg of our South-wide road trip, writer Valerie Rains leaves the Louisiana bayous behind for the wide-open skies of the Lone Star State.

New Orleans Lafayette, LA Gruene, TX (532 Miles)

It&aposs hard to believe we&aposre staring down the last stretch of our once-in-a-lifetime, across-the-South road trip (which started 1,554 miles ago in Charleston, South Carolina), but as my driving buddy, Tim, and I trade the mahogany seats of a New Orleans St. Charles Streetcar (norta.com) for the now-very-familiar ones of our own trusty vehicle, reality𠅊nd wistfulness—set in.

Fortunately, there&aposs still plenty of scenic ground to cover. Today, in particular, will be a haul. Looking north from I-10 as we skirt the edge of Lake Pontchartrain, the horizon disappears, and all we can see is a blurry wash of blue from the road to the sky. The driving-on-water feeling only intensifies as we go, and when we reach the 18-mile-long Atchafalaya Basin Bridge, I can&apost help but crane my neck for a glimpse of gators swimming below. At Breaux Bridge, Louisiana, 140 miles in, we branch off to visit the Cypress Island Preserve (337/342-2475), our time-saving stand-in for a full-blown bayou tour. Grabbing a bird-watcher&aposs checklist from the Visitor Center, we hit the quarter-mile-long boardwalk loop through the cypress-tupelo swamp. Tim&aposs got his eyes peeled for blue herons and white ibis, but I&aposm focused on finding gators. Every log looks like it could be a semi-submerged head, and I follow the reptiles&apos weird, bullfrog-like calls in one direction after another, always arriving just in time to spot the patches on the water&aposs surface where they&aposd gone under again. It&aposs their version of Marco Polo, and I eventually realize that I&aposm not going to win.

To soften the sting of defeat, we treat ourselves to syrup-drizzled, boudin ball-and-bacon sliders on buttermilk biscuits (a dish known as Sweet Baby Breesus) at The French Press (thefrenchpresslafayette.com) in Lafayette, Louisiana, 5 miles away. There, we discuss the one last Hail Mary for gator-spotting I&aposve got in my playbook𠅊 free roadside exhibit run by the Jefferson Davis Parish tourism commission called Gator Chateau (337/821-5521), where visitors can hold rescued baby reptiles that have been abandoned by their mothers. An hour later, I&aposm cradling Tiny T-Doux, a juvenile about the length of my forearm, against my chest. He couldn&apost be sweeter, with his bright, watchful eyes and still-vulnerable limbs. I nearly melt. Now we can set out for Texas.

The Lone Star State&aposs vast skies are perhaps most famous for their nighttime twinklers, but dusk really should get a little more credit. As we drive deeper into East Texas, the heavens unfurl a sunset of such splendor we&aposre compelled to park on the roadside to watch its progress. Long, taffy-like layers of pink and gold and tangerine stretch out before us, and each time we think it&aposs almost over, a vivid new composition replaces the last.


Texas Trippin': Road Trip from New Orleans to Austin

On the last leg of our South-wide road trip, writer Valerie Rains leaves the Louisiana bayous behind for the wide-open skies of the Lone Star State.

New Orleans Lafayette, LA Gruene, TX (532 Miles)

It&aposs hard to believe we&aposre staring down the last stretch of our once-in-a-lifetime, across-the-South road trip (which started 1,554 miles ago in Charleston, South Carolina), but as my driving buddy, Tim, and I trade the mahogany seats of a New Orleans St. Charles Streetcar (norta.com) for the now-very-familiar ones of our own trusty vehicle, reality𠅊nd wistfulness—set in.

Fortunately, there&aposs still plenty of scenic ground to cover. Today, in particular, will be a haul. Looking north from I-10 as we skirt the edge of Lake Pontchartrain, the horizon disappears, and all we can see is a blurry wash of blue from the road to the sky. The driving-on-water feeling only intensifies as we go, and when we reach the 18-mile-long Atchafalaya Basin Bridge, I can&apost help but crane my neck for a glimpse of gators swimming below. At Breaux Bridge, Louisiana, 140 miles in, we branch off to visit the Cypress Island Preserve (337/342-2475), our time-saving stand-in for a full-blown bayou tour. Grabbing a bird-watcher&aposs checklist from the Visitor Center, we hit the quarter-mile-long boardwalk loop through the cypress-tupelo swamp. Tim&aposs got his eyes peeled for blue herons and white ibis, but I&aposm focused on finding gators. Every log looks like it could be a semi-submerged head, and I follow the reptiles&apos weird, bullfrog-like calls in one direction after another, always arriving just in time to spot the patches on the water&aposs surface where they&aposd gone under again. It&aposs their version of Marco Polo, and I eventually realize that I&aposm not going to win.

To soften the sting of defeat, we treat ourselves to syrup-drizzled, boudin ball-and-bacon sliders on buttermilk biscuits (a dish known as Sweet Baby Breesus) at The French Press (thefrenchpresslafayette.com) in Lafayette, Louisiana, 5 miles away. There, we discuss the one last Hail Mary for gator-spotting I&aposve got in my playbook𠅊 free roadside exhibit run by the Jefferson Davis Parish tourism commission called Gator Chateau (337/821-5521), where visitors can hold rescued baby reptiles that have been abandoned by their mothers. An hour later, I&aposm cradling Tiny T-Doux, a juvenile about the length of my forearm, against my chest. He couldn&apost be sweeter, with his bright, watchful eyes and still-vulnerable limbs. I nearly melt. Now we can set out for Texas.

The Lone Star State&aposs vast skies are perhaps most famous for their nighttime twinklers, but dusk really should get a little more credit. As we drive deeper into East Texas, the heavens unfurl a sunset of such splendor we&aposre compelled to park on the roadside to watch its progress. Long, taffy-like layers of pink and gold and tangerine stretch out before us, and each time we think it&aposs almost over, a vivid new composition replaces the last.


Texas Trippin': Road Trip from New Orleans to Austin

On the last leg of our South-wide road trip, writer Valerie Rains leaves the Louisiana bayous behind for the wide-open skies of the Lone Star State.

New Orleans Lafayette, LA Gruene, TX (532 Miles)

It&aposs hard to believe we&aposre staring down the last stretch of our once-in-a-lifetime, across-the-South road trip (which started 1,554 miles ago in Charleston, South Carolina), but as my driving buddy, Tim, and I trade the mahogany seats of a New Orleans St. Charles Streetcar (norta.com) for the now-very-familiar ones of our own trusty vehicle, reality𠅊nd wistfulness—set in.

Fortunately, there&aposs still plenty of scenic ground to cover. Today, in particular, will be a haul. Looking north from I-10 as we skirt the edge of Lake Pontchartrain, the horizon disappears, and all we can see is a blurry wash of blue from the road to the sky. The driving-on-water feeling only intensifies as we go, and when we reach the 18-mile-long Atchafalaya Basin Bridge, I can&apost help but crane my neck for a glimpse of gators swimming below. At Breaux Bridge, Louisiana, 140 miles in, we branch off to visit the Cypress Island Preserve (337/342-2475), our time-saving stand-in for a full-blown bayou tour. Grabbing a bird-watcher&aposs checklist from the Visitor Center, we hit the quarter-mile-long boardwalk loop through the cypress-tupelo swamp. Tim&aposs got his eyes peeled for blue herons and white ibis, but I&aposm focused on finding gators. Every log looks like it could be a semi-submerged head, and I follow the reptiles&apos weird, bullfrog-like calls in one direction after another, always arriving just in time to spot the patches on the water&aposs surface where they&aposd gone under again. It&aposs their version of Marco Polo, and I eventually realize that I&aposm not going to win.

To soften the sting of defeat, we treat ourselves to syrup-drizzled, boudin ball-and-bacon sliders on buttermilk biscuits (a dish known as Sweet Baby Breesus) at The French Press (thefrenchpresslafayette.com) in Lafayette, Louisiana, 5 miles away. There, we discuss the one last Hail Mary for gator-spotting I&aposve got in my playbook𠅊 free roadside exhibit run by the Jefferson Davis Parish tourism commission called Gator Chateau (337/821-5521), where visitors can hold rescued baby reptiles that have been abandoned by their mothers. An hour later, I&aposm cradling Tiny T-Doux, a juvenile about the length of my forearm, against my chest. He couldn&apost be sweeter, with his bright, watchful eyes and still-vulnerable limbs. I nearly melt. Now we can set out for Texas.

The Lone Star State&aposs vast skies are perhaps most famous for their nighttime twinklers, but dusk really should get a little more credit. As we drive deeper into East Texas, the heavens unfurl a sunset of such splendor we&aposre compelled to park on the roadside to watch its progress. Long, taffy-like layers of pink and gold and tangerine stretch out before us, and each time we think it&aposs almost over, a vivid new composition replaces the last.


Texas Trippin': Road Trip from New Orleans to Austin

On the last leg of our South-wide road trip, writer Valerie Rains leaves the Louisiana bayous behind for the wide-open skies of the Lone Star State.

New Orleans Lafayette, LA Gruene, TX (532 Miles)

It&aposs hard to believe we&aposre staring down the last stretch of our once-in-a-lifetime, across-the-South road trip (which started 1,554 miles ago in Charleston, South Carolina), but as my driving buddy, Tim, and I trade the mahogany seats of a New Orleans St. Charles Streetcar (norta.com) for the now-very-familiar ones of our own trusty vehicle, reality𠅊nd wistfulness—set in.

Fortunately, there&aposs still plenty of scenic ground to cover. Today, in particular, will be a haul. Looking north from I-10 as we skirt the edge of Lake Pontchartrain, the horizon disappears, and all we can see is a blurry wash of blue from the road to the sky. The driving-on-water feeling only intensifies as we go, and when we reach the 18-mile-long Atchafalaya Basin Bridge, I can&apost help but crane my neck for a glimpse of gators swimming below. At Breaux Bridge, Louisiana, 140 miles in, we branch off to visit the Cypress Island Preserve (337/342-2475), our time-saving stand-in for a full-blown bayou tour. Grabbing a bird-watcher&aposs checklist from the Visitor Center, we hit the quarter-mile-long boardwalk loop through the cypress-tupelo swamp. Tim&aposs got his eyes peeled for blue herons and white ibis, but I&aposm focused on finding gators. Every log looks like it could be a semi-submerged head, and I follow the reptiles&apos weird, bullfrog-like calls in one direction after another, always arriving just in time to spot the patches on the water&aposs surface where they&aposd gone under again. It&aposs their version of Marco Polo, and I eventually realize that I&aposm not going to win.

To soften the sting of defeat, we treat ourselves to syrup-drizzled, boudin ball-and-bacon sliders on buttermilk biscuits (a dish known as Sweet Baby Breesus) at The French Press (thefrenchpresslafayette.com) in Lafayette, Louisiana, 5 miles away. There, we discuss the one last Hail Mary for gator-spotting I&aposve got in my playbook𠅊 free roadside exhibit run by the Jefferson Davis Parish tourism commission called Gator Chateau (337/821-5521), where visitors can hold rescued baby reptiles that have been abandoned by their mothers. An hour later, I&aposm cradling Tiny T-Doux, a juvenile about the length of my forearm, against my chest. He couldn&apost be sweeter, with his bright, watchful eyes and still-vulnerable limbs. I nearly melt. Now we can set out for Texas.

The Lone Star State&aposs vast skies are perhaps most famous for their nighttime twinklers, but dusk really should get a little more credit. As we drive deeper into East Texas, the heavens unfurl a sunset of such splendor we&aposre compelled to park on the roadside to watch its progress. Long, taffy-like layers of pink and gold and tangerine stretch out before us, and each time we think it&aposs almost over, a vivid new composition replaces the last.


Texas Trippin': Road Trip from New Orleans to Austin

On the last leg of our South-wide road trip, writer Valerie Rains leaves the Louisiana bayous behind for the wide-open skies of the Lone Star State.

New Orleans Lafayette, LA Gruene, TX (532 Miles)

It&aposs hard to believe we&aposre staring down the last stretch of our once-in-a-lifetime, across-the-South road trip (which started 1,554 miles ago in Charleston, South Carolina), but as my driving buddy, Tim, and I trade the mahogany seats of a New Orleans St. Charles Streetcar (norta.com) for the now-very-familiar ones of our own trusty vehicle, reality𠅊nd wistfulness—set in.

Fortunately, there&aposs still plenty of scenic ground to cover. Today, in particular, will be a haul. Looking north from I-10 as we skirt the edge of Lake Pontchartrain, the horizon disappears, and all we can see is a blurry wash of blue from the road to the sky. The driving-on-water feeling only intensifies as we go, and when we reach the 18-mile-long Atchafalaya Basin Bridge, I can&apost help but crane my neck for a glimpse of gators swimming below. At Breaux Bridge, Louisiana, 140 miles in, we branch off to visit the Cypress Island Preserve (337/342-2475), our time-saving stand-in for a full-blown bayou tour. Grabbing a bird-watcher&aposs checklist from the Visitor Center, we hit the quarter-mile-long boardwalk loop through the cypress-tupelo swamp. Tim&aposs got his eyes peeled for blue herons and white ibis, but I&aposm focused on finding gators. Every log looks like it could be a semi-submerged head, and I follow the reptiles&apos weird, bullfrog-like calls in one direction after another, always arriving just in time to spot the patches on the water&aposs surface where they&aposd gone under again. It&aposs their version of Marco Polo, and I eventually realize that I&aposm not going to win.

To soften the sting of defeat, we treat ourselves to syrup-drizzled, boudin ball-and-bacon sliders on buttermilk biscuits (a dish known as Sweet Baby Breesus) at The French Press (thefrenchpresslafayette.com) in Lafayette, Louisiana, 5 miles away. There, we discuss the one last Hail Mary for gator-spotting I&aposve got in my playbook𠅊 free roadside exhibit run by the Jefferson Davis Parish tourism commission called Gator Chateau (337/821-5521), where visitors can hold rescued baby reptiles that have been abandoned by their mothers. An hour later, I&aposm cradling Tiny T-Doux, a juvenile about the length of my forearm, against my chest. He couldn&apost be sweeter, with his bright, watchful eyes and still-vulnerable limbs. I nearly melt. Now we can set out for Texas.

The Lone Star State&aposs vast skies are perhaps most famous for their nighttime twinklers, but dusk really should get a little more credit. As we drive deeper into East Texas, the heavens unfurl a sunset of such splendor we&aposre compelled to park on the roadside to watch its progress. Long, taffy-like layers of pink and gold and tangerine stretch out before us, and each time we think it&aposs almost over, a vivid new composition replaces the last.


Texas Trippin': Road Trip from New Orleans to Austin

On the last leg of our South-wide road trip, writer Valerie Rains leaves the Louisiana bayous behind for the wide-open skies of the Lone Star State.

New Orleans Lafayette, LA Gruene, TX (532 Miles)

It&aposs hard to believe we&aposre staring down the last stretch of our once-in-a-lifetime, across-the-South road trip (which started 1,554 miles ago in Charleston, South Carolina), but as my driving buddy, Tim, and I trade the mahogany seats of a New Orleans St. Charles Streetcar (norta.com) for the now-very-familiar ones of our own trusty vehicle, reality𠅊nd wistfulness—set in.

Fortunately, there&aposs still plenty of scenic ground to cover. Today, in particular, will be a haul. Looking north from I-10 as we skirt the edge of Lake Pontchartrain, the horizon disappears, and all we can see is a blurry wash of blue from the road to the sky. The driving-on-water feeling only intensifies as we go, and when we reach the 18-mile-long Atchafalaya Basin Bridge, I can&apost help but crane my neck for a glimpse of gators swimming below. At Breaux Bridge, Louisiana, 140 miles in, we branch off to visit the Cypress Island Preserve (337/342-2475), our time-saving stand-in for a full-blown bayou tour. Grabbing a bird-watcher&aposs checklist from the Visitor Center, we hit the quarter-mile-long boardwalk loop through the cypress-tupelo swamp. Tim&aposs got his eyes peeled for blue herons and white ibis, but I&aposm focused on finding gators. Every log looks like it could be a semi-submerged head, and I follow the reptiles&apos weird, bullfrog-like calls in one direction after another, always arriving just in time to spot the patches on the water&aposs surface where they&aposd gone under again. It&aposs their version of Marco Polo, and I eventually realize that I&aposm not going to win.

To soften the sting of defeat, we treat ourselves to syrup-drizzled, boudin ball-and-bacon sliders on buttermilk biscuits (a dish known as Sweet Baby Breesus) at The French Press (thefrenchpresslafayette.com) in Lafayette, Louisiana, 5 miles away. There, we discuss the one last Hail Mary for gator-spotting I&aposve got in my playbook𠅊 free roadside exhibit run by the Jefferson Davis Parish tourism commission called Gator Chateau (337/821-5521), where visitors can hold rescued baby reptiles that have been abandoned by their mothers. An hour later, I&aposm cradling Tiny T-Doux, a juvenile about the length of my forearm, against my chest. He couldn&apost be sweeter, with his bright, watchful eyes and still-vulnerable limbs. I nearly melt. Now we can set out for Texas.

The Lone Star State&aposs vast skies are perhaps most famous for their nighttime twinklers, but dusk really should get a little more credit. As we drive deeper into East Texas, the heavens unfurl a sunset of such splendor we&aposre compelled to park on the roadside to watch its progress. Long, taffy-like layers of pink and gold and tangerine stretch out before us, and each time we think it&aposs almost over, a vivid new composition replaces the last.


Texas Trippin': Road Trip from New Orleans to Austin

On the last leg of our South-wide road trip, writer Valerie Rains leaves the Louisiana bayous behind for the wide-open skies of the Lone Star State.

New Orleans Lafayette, LA Gruene, TX (532 Miles)

It&aposs hard to believe we&aposre staring down the last stretch of our once-in-a-lifetime, across-the-South road trip (which started 1,554 miles ago in Charleston, South Carolina), but as my driving buddy, Tim, and I trade the mahogany seats of a New Orleans St. Charles Streetcar (norta.com) for the now-very-familiar ones of our own trusty vehicle, reality𠅊nd wistfulness—set in.

Fortunately, there&aposs still plenty of scenic ground to cover. Today, in particular, will be a haul. Looking north from I-10 as we skirt the edge of Lake Pontchartrain, the horizon disappears, and all we can see is a blurry wash of blue from the road to the sky. The driving-on-water feeling only intensifies as we go, and when we reach the 18-mile-long Atchafalaya Basin Bridge, I can&apost help but crane my neck for a glimpse of gators swimming below. At Breaux Bridge, Louisiana, 140 miles in, we branch off to visit the Cypress Island Preserve (337/342-2475), our time-saving stand-in for a full-blown bayou tour. Grabbing a bird-watcher&aposs checklist from the Visitor Center, we hit the quarter-mile-long boardwalk loop through the cypress-tupelo swamp. Tim&aposs got his eyes peeled for blue herons and white ibis, but I&aposm focused on finding gators. Every log looks like it could be a semi-submerged head, and I follow the reptiles&apos weird, bullfrog-like calls in one direction after another, always arriving just in time to spot the patches on the water&aposs surface where they&aposd gone under again. It&aposs their version of Marco Polo, and I eventually realize that I&aposm not going to win.

To soften the sting of defeat, we treat ourselves to syrup-drizzled, boudin ball-and-bacon sliders on buttermilk biscuits (a dish known as Sweet Baby Breesus) at The French Press (thefrenchpresslafayette.com) in Lafayette, Louisiana, 5 miles away. There, we discuss the one last Hail Mary for gator-spotting I&aposve got in my playbook𠅊 free roadside exhibit run by the Jefferson Davis Parish tourism commission called Gator Chateau (337/821-5521), where visitors can hold rescued baby reptiles that have been abandoned by their mothers. An hour later, I&aposm cradling Tiny T-Doux, a juvenile about the length of my forearm, against my chest. He couldn&apost be sweeter, with his bright, watchful eyes and still-vulnerable limbs. I nearly melt. Now we can set out for Texas.

The Lone Star State&aposs vast skies are perhaps most famous for their nighttime twinklers, but dusk really should get a little more credit. As we drive deeper into East Texas, the heavens unfurl a sunset of such splendor we&aposre compelled to park on the roadside to watch its progress. Long, taffy-like layers of pink and gold and tangerine stretch out before us, and each time we think it&aposs almost over, a vivid new composition replaces the last.


Texas Trippin': Road Trip from New Orleans to Austin

On the last leg of our South-wide road trip, writer Valerie Rains leaves the Louisiana bayous behind for the wide-open skies of the Lone Star State.

New Orleans Lafayette, LA Gruene, TX (532 Miles)

It&aposs hard to believe we&aposre staring down the last stretch of our once-in-a-lifetime, across-the-South road trip (which started 1,554 miles ago in Charleston, South Carolina), but as my driving buddy, Tim, and I trade the mahogany seats of a New Orleans St. Charles Streetcar (norta.com) for the now-very-familiar ones of our own trusty vehicle, reality𠅊nd wistfulness—set in.

Fortunately, there&aposs still plenty of scenic ground to cover. Today, in particular, will be a haul. Looking north from I-10 as we skirt the edge of Lake Pontchartrain, the horizon disappears, and all we can see is a blurry wash of blue from the road to the sky. The driving-on-water feeling only intensifies as we go, and when we reach the 18-mile-long Atchafalaya Basin Bridge, I can&apost help but crane my neck for a glimpse of gators swimming below. At Breaux Bridge, Louisiana, 140 miles in, we branch off to visit the Cypress Island Preserve (337/342-2475), our time-saving stand-in for a full-blown bayou tour. Grabbing a bird-watcher&aposs checklist from the Visitor Center, we hit the quarter-mile-long boardwalk loop through the cypress-tupelo swamp. Tim&aposs got his eyes peeled for blue herons and white ibis, but I&aposm focused on finding gators. Every log looks like it could be a semi-submerged head, and I follow the reptiles&apos weird, bullfrog-like calls in one direction after another, always arriving just in time to spot the patches on the water&aposs surface where they&aposd gone under again. It&aposs their version of Marco Polo, and I eventually realize that I&aposm not going to win.

To soften the sting of defeat, we treat ourselves to syrup-drizzled, boudin ball-and-bacon sliders on buttermilk biscuits (a dish known as Sweet Baby Breesus) at The French Press (thefrenchpresslafayette.com) in Lafayette, Louisiana, 5 miles away. There, we discuss the one last Hail Mary for gator-spotting I&aposve got in my playbook𠅊 free roadside exhibit run by the Jefferson Davis Parish tourism commission called Gator Chateau (337/821-5521), where visitors can hold rescued baby reptiles that have been abandoned by their mothers. An hour later, I&aposm cradling Tiny T-Doux, a juvenile about the length of my forearm, against my chest. He couldn&apost be sweeter, with his bright, watchful eyes and still-vulnerable limbs. I nearly melt. Now we can set out for Texas.

The Lone Star State&aposs vast skies are perhaps most famous for their nighttime twinklers, but dusk really should get a little more credit. As we drive deeper into East Texas, the heavens unfurl a sunset of such splendor we&aposre compelled to park on the roadside to watch its progress. Long, taffy-like layers of pink and gold and tangerine stretch out before us, and each time we think it&aposs almost over, a vivid new composition replaces the last.