Howler Guide to SXSW

Posted on March 8, 2018

Since we call Austin home, we often get asked about South by Southwest. What to do?  Where to stay?  Where to eat? For many Austin folks, their instinctive answer is “get out of town” or “run for your life” since SXSW brings throngs of people and layers upon layers of additional traffic to our already-clogged transportation arteries.

Here at Howler, we aren’t so cynical about SXSW and think there is a way to dip your toe in the action without losing your mind. We thought we’d help you out a bit and give you our two cents on how to gracefully enjoy the week. If you want more or want a personalized itinerary, just swing by the shop while you’re in town. Hell, we might even take you out for a brew.  

Read below for the insight...

Out of the way / real Austin bar  Donn’s Depot

This is the go-to spot for the Howler crew. Donn’s is a baffling configuration of old train cars that is part honky tonk, part dancehall and part retro lounge.   You’ll find the UT crowd right next to the bearded Americana set right next to an 80+ year old wearing a cowboy hat and shirt that says “Chick Magnet”.  You’ll see some impressive dancing if you are there at the right time, like Wednesday nights when Frank & the Honky Tonk Doctors roll through the country standards.     
What to wear - Gaucho Snapshirt of your choice.   Some kind of pants.   Boots.  


Out of the way BBQ  Sam’s 

Most of the hype about some of Austin’s most famous BBQ is real.  Places like Franklin BBQ are damn good.  But, when you don't have the time or the patience to line up 5 hours in advance to get a meal, you have to find an alternative.   We recommend Sam’s.   To say Sam’s is off the beaten path is an understatement.   Nestled in a shack in East Austin, Sam’s feels classic with all your Texas fixings like white bread, pickles and a jug of red Kool Aid.   Their slogan is “You Don’t Need Teeth to Eat our Beef” for a reason.   Rumor has it, the late proprietor was an honorary pallbearer in Stevie Ray Vaughan’s funeral.   Open late.   
What to wear - Howler Classic T of your choice.   HB Scout Snapback.   Air Jordans.  


Out of the way Mexican by day  Cisco’s

Cisco’s isn't exactly out of the way since it’s down in the mires of 6th street.  Ordinarily, we recommend you avoid this area altogether during SXSW but since Cisco’s only stays open till 2:30, we think you’re safe.   Daylight hours are your safest bet for 6th especially if you are going for some of Cisco’s renowned breakfast tacos and migas.  
What to wear - Crockett Polo.  Jeans.   Howler X Smith Optics Founder Sunglasses.  


Essential Mexican  Maudie’s

Maudie’s is hardly a secret.  It will likely be packed when you try to go.   But, trust us, you can miss your buddy’s bands showcase for Maudie’s classic tex-mex.   The margaritas kill but don't be afraid to step out and get a fully “dressed” Pacifico or a Michelada.

What to wear - Guayabera Fantastica.   Cornerstone Cord Shorts.   Howler x Chaco Flip flops. 

Best Record Store That’s Not Waterloo  End of an Ear

Waterloo is awesome and we ain’t dissing it. It’s just that the SXSW crowd and all the attendant posturing invades it’s normally comfy confines in a big way. So, we recommend sliding out to End of an Ear during SXSW week. You can still go heavy and deep at End of an Ear and find some diamonds you won’t find in your hometown.
What to wear - Mansfield Shirt Dobby. Frontside 5 Pocket Pants. Pick up an End of an Ear hat while you’re there.  


Best place to pick up something for those you left behind  Howler Brothers World Headquarters

Come by our little shop in Clarksville neighborhood, meet the crew and carry home an array of Howler gear including some stuff you can’t get anywhere else like Howler HQ t-shirts, books and even some surfboards. We’d love to meet you. And we have free beer and a fine collection of records.  

And check out our SXSW playlist