Three Cheap Dates in Austin
The Beatles established long ago that money cannot buy you love. The truth, however, is a bit more nuanced than that. While love is not a commodity that can be exchanged for capital (at least not by my definition), lack of said capital can certainly hinder any attempts to acquire it. Austin’s own Willie Nelson (who played at the Backyard last Saturday) characterized the pursuit of romance a bit more accurately in his song, “If You Got the Money, I’ve Got the Time”: “If you got the money, honey, I got the time/ We’ll go honky-tonkin,’ and we’re gonna have a time.”
The fact of the matter is that the Beatles’ idealized image of love missed out on what many consider an essential accessory: honky tonk (or, you know, just having a good time). And, as Willie reminds us, money is a prerequisite for hony-tonkin’: “But if you run short of money, honey, I’ll run short of time.” Essentially, love=honky tonk=money.
So how is your broke ass supposed to get any?
With our three date-night itineraries, that’s how. We know that living on the cheap in Austin isn’t easy, but still, we think Willie’s problem is that he must not know how to stretch a buck—a problem that we’ve solved (for you) thrice. And since tickets to Willie’s show will cost you $31, we’ve decided to prove a point by keeping out dates well under that mark. Here’s how to take your date out for a sweet night on the cheap in Austin, TX:
Barton Springs Fling
This cut-rate date takes off at Tacodeli on Spyglass Road. At $3.95 a ball-of-deliciousness-wrapped-in-a-tortilla, the food here is unbelievably underpriced. Two will do you each, and the both of you will order agua—if your date complains, remind him-or-her that she-or-he won’t want to be bloated while you’re swimming. 4 tacos=$15.80
At Barton Springs, of course—but first you’ll head to Zilker proper for the free summer musicals, which start around 8:30 (unfortunately, this summer’s show—The Sound of Music—ended earlier this month. So hey, bookmark this page for next year). Surprise your date with a blanket and a bottle of wine (don’t forget to paper-bag it—the wine, we hope, and not your date). Get cozy quickly because you’ll be leaving the show early (I mean, who’s ever seen The Sound of Music all the way through anyway?). With parking at $5, and a cheap bottle we’ll put at $8, that’s $13.
Past 9:00—or whenever you drain that bottle, but be sure to do it before 10:00—shimmy on down across the parking lot to Barton Springs, which at this hour is free. At 68 degrees the water is cold, so you’ll be forced to use body heat to keep each other warm. That’s the right time to mention that swim tops are totally optional.
From there on out, you’re on your own—at least metaphorically, we hope—pard’ner.
Red River Rendezvous
Get this date off to a flying-start with dinner at Fogo de Chao (just kidding).
Instead, kick it off at Koriente. At $6 a bowl of curry and $6.50 for the bibimbap (sans meat, but still highly recommended—if you need, you can add beef, chicken, tofu, or oyster and shitake mushrooms for just $2 more) such a ratio of cheapness to healthiness can be found nowhere else in Austin. Plus St. Arnold’s for $2.50 and you have such a dining deal that it’s best not to show your belle (or beau) the bill. Total, sans carne=$17.50, plus tip.
Saunter across the street to satiate your thirst at the Sidebar. $3 wells and $2.50 domestics (and we promise, these drinks are unusually strong) will make sure your labors for love are well-lubricated. Oh, and pool’s free, but postpone skinny dipping for later. Two stiff drinks each= $12.
Make your way north up Red River. Did we mention there’s a show playing at Stubb’s? Sure, nothing beats going inside, but at this point your date understands that it’s about fun, not money—he or she can still appreciate the show, depending upon where you go.
Total= $29.50, plus parking.
Congress, under Congress
Begin the night with the bats—sure, sitting out on the grass south of the South Congress Bridge is touristy, but with such vistas of the skyline against the setting sun, you’ll both have a good time. And parking is free in the Statesman’s lot.
Next, make your way down Barton Springs Road and treat your sweetheart to Sweet Caroline’s Snow Shack. Snowballs are just $2.50 a piece, or stuff them with ice cream for $3.50. For two= $5/7.
The immediate neighborhood provides you with two options: Butler Pitch and Putt is recommended for the more competitive couple, while Peter Pan Mini Golf is best for those looking to take it easy, and is BYOB. The former is $8 a game; the latter $6. Choose accordingly. Cost= $16 for both, assuming you bring gas station beer to Peter Pan’s.
Brian Shreckengast is a writer at SelfStorageDeals.com. Yes, he writes about self-storage. Yes, there are things to write about self-storage. And yes, you can make a living writing about self-storage–well, barely, and that’s why he turns to Do512 to stay up-to-date on all the best deals around Austin, TX