The lighter side of real estate

The 10 Biggest Debates in Austin

How do you ruin a good time in Austin? Bring up one of these 10 heated debates.

Natalie Grigson

Staff Writer

155 articles, 0 comments

Recently, I wrote a post covering the 25 things you should know before moving to Austin, Texas. You know, telling people all about the issues—Austin’s political atmosphere, Austin’s weather, and more important things like where to get the best barbecue.

And that’s where things got a little heated.

Why mention Franklin and not Stubbs? Why SXSW and not ACL? And seriously, what about Stubbs? So in today’s post, I’m going to cut straight to the chase and address the black denim-wearing, long-haired, mustachioed, hipster-meets-hippie Austin elephant in the room, in a battle to end all battles. Here are the Top 10 Debates in Austin.

And for added fun, I’ve gone ahead and indicated my choices (the correct choices) in bold. So feel free to agree, disagree, or take it virtual mud-wrastle style in the comments below.

1. Rainey v. West Sixth Street

Source: Flickr user Robert Hensley

Source: Flickr user Robert Hensley

Until about four years ago, West Sixth Street was the go-to place for young professionals, frat boys and sorority girls, and… well, frat boys and sorority girls turned young professionals. But then Lustre Pearl came to Rainey Street, paving the way for other bars and restaurants like Clive, Bar 96, and Bangers, to make things a whole lot more confusing for trendy Austinites—to hula hoop at Lustre Pearl, or be a bro at Molotov? Winner: Rainey

2. Lake Austin v. Lake Travis

Austin 2
Imagine a beautiful lake, surrounded by lush, green trees, rolling hills, golf courses, and some of the largest and most extravagant homes you’ve ever seen. Wakeboarders, jet skiers, and lake rats of all types take over the waters during the long, hot, summer days, stopping by Austin-famous restaurants that dot the shores for snacks. This magnificence is the reality that is Lake Austin… and Lake Travis. So you can see why there is a debate. Winner: Lake Austin

3. Whole Foods v. Central Market

Source: Flickr user gisele13

Source: Flickr user gisele13

Just because Whole Foods started out in Austin, doesn’t mean it is any cheaper than the Whole Foods in your city. Central Market is like the less expensive little sister of Whole Foods; it’s kind of like a Trader Joe’s, and for many Austinites (like me) it is the clear choice over Whole Foods. Though, sadly, it does not come with a chocolate fountain. Winner: Central Market

4. Greenbelt v. Barton Springs

Source: Flickr user Shawn Thomas

Source: Flickr user Shawn Thomas

There comes a point in every Austinite’s summer when they must decide: to the Greenbelt or to Barton Springs? There are obvious pluses and minuses to each; the Greenbelt is free, you can bring your dog, you can bring drinks; on the other hand, it can be pretty gross when it hasn’t rained in a while. And while Barton Springs may not allow Fido, at least there is always water in it (icey, numbing, water!) Winner: Greenbelt

5. ACL v. SXSW

Source: Flickr user ejmc

Source: Flickr user ejmc

South by Southwest is every spring for about a week, and is a veritable mess of thousands of musicians, comedians, film producers, game creators, and celebrities. Austin City Limits is in October (now two weekends instead of one!) and filled with about the same—only in this case, the who’s who are mostly the audience*. Winner: ACL

*Next time you go to Austin City Limits, play “Spot Ryan Gosling!” What do you get if you win? You get to SEE Ryan Gosling!

6. Matt’s El Rancho v. Maudie’s

Source: Flickr user Paul Lowry

Source: Flickr user Paul Lowry

For one reason or another there is a debate between these two Tex-Mex restaurants; but if you ask me, the people voting for Maudie’s must be basing it on something besides the quality of the food. Maybe they have nicer hand soap in the bathrooms? Winner: Matt’s El Rancho

7. Kerbey Lane vs. Magnolia Café

Source: Flickr user nffcnnr

Source: Flickr user nffcnnr

Both 24-hour diners, both Austin staples, and both offer up some dangerously delicious cheesy appetizers—Cowboy Queso and Mag Mud, respectively (Cowboy Queso is the clear winner.) It really comes down to ambiance: Would you prefer to be surrounded by drunk, college kids at 2:30 a.m. at Kerbey Lane or Magnolia? Winner: Kerbey Lane

8. Town Lake v. Lady Bird Lake

Source: Flickr user pboyd04

Source: Flickr user pboyd04

If your lifelong best friend, Tracey, suddenly asked you to start referring to her as Miss Lucinda Fancypants, you’d probably tell her no, continue to call her Tracey, and perhaps start to worry about her and her 36 cats. While the case isn’t quite the same for Lady Bird Lake, it does feel a bit forced to suddenly start calling the Austin landmark, Town Lake, by its new name—even if it was legally changed to Lady Bird. I’m sorry—do you call it Lady Bird Lake? I reckon you’re not from around here. Winner: Town Lake

9. The Driskill v. the W

Source: Flickr user rutlo

Source: Flickr user rutlo

Just like Town Lake vs. Lady Bird Lake, this isn’t really about the surface debate of two hotels; it’s about Old Austin vs. the New. The Driskill, built in the heart of downtown in 1886 is clearly the Old—charming, elegant, and yet cozy. The W—built in the future, apparently, and sent back to Austin via a hellish, character-draining portal in West Hollywood—clearly the new. But just lovely, really. Winner: The Driskill

10. Austin v. Rick Perry

Source: Flickr user Stephen C. Webster

Source: Flickr user Stephen C. Webster

There is a clear divide between most Austinites, who are notoriously liberal, progressive, and generally value human rights—and the Texas Governor, Rick Perry, who is known for being conservative, regressive, and… what’s the third one, there?

Anyway, I think this picture speaks for itself. No real need for another. Winner: Austin

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posted on: September 2, 2013
11,744 views, 3 comments


  1. janet appleby

    I can’t share your posts on facebook because the at and t advertisements are blocking the post button.

  2. Adam

    A.K.A. what idiots argue about.

  3. Nathan

    You did alright, but I’ll take Magnolia over Kerby any day. And Maudie’s for Brunch, Matt’s the rest of the time. And big yes to Central over Whole Foods. Better prices (though not by a lot), better service, cooking classes, live music multiple times a week at the north location, and the cheese and wine/beer selections are to die for.


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