Lists! Lists! Lists!

New York Times declares Austin one of the 52 Places To Go in 2020

New York Times declares Austin one of the 52 Places To Go in 2020

Franklin Barbecue
Franklin Barbecue, located on Austin's east side, was among the many places the Times called out.  Photo courtesy of Franklin Barbecue

A few years ago, specifically 2013, it seemed Austin appeared on just about every "must-visit" list published. The city reached such a saturation point that the Washington Post cheekily declared Austin "out" in 2014. That news, however, did not make it to the hallowed halls of the New York Times, which on January 9, declared Austin one of the 52 Best Places to Go in 2020

While we certainly don't want to discourage anyone from visiting our fair metropolis, it appears the New York Times has a few, ahem, issues. 

Rather than just tell readers that the New York Times named Austin the 27th best place to go in the world, we felt it was important to tell you the news while also offering a brief fact check.

Let's begin.

What they wrote: "It’s no surprise that your friends and friends of friends have been talking for years about Austin, where a buoyant economy and an intellectual hub are packaged in an aesthetic of cowboy patina and broken-in leather."

The beginning part is true, based solely on two very particular, entirely unscientific things. First, when you tell people you live in Austin, they are either just returning from or in the process of planning a trip to the city. Second, one time I was in an art gallery in Charleston, South Carolina, and the owner asked me where I was from. When I told her, she responded, "Oh, I love Austin. I've never been there, but I love it." 

The second part is partially true. Yes, you will occasionally see someone on horseback trotting down South Congress, but these days you're far more likely to see a Tesla parked outside the Broken Spoke than an Appaloosa. 

What they wrote: "This year, as a blue capital in a red state, Austin will play an important role in the presidential election. But politics aside, the major draws are in the art, music and food scenes."

Talk about dropping a bomb and walking away. We will? How? The two Texans vying for the Democratic nomination have both dropped out of the race and our conservative governor seems more interested in harassing Austin City Council about local homeless and plastic bag ordinances than actually governing the state. (While tweeting things like this, mind you.)

The second part we agree with, though it says nothing of the affordability issues that threaten to destroy all three of those cultural touchstones. But, the New York Times is having fun with a cute list, so we understand. Moving on.

What they wrote: "Dive into Austin City Limits and South by Southwest, yes, but don’t miss the East Side’s art galleries, either."

While we agree with the sentence, we disagree with execution. In the interactive piece, the New York Times links the phrase "East Side's art galleries" to a Big Medium splash page for the 2019 East Austin Studio Tour ... which happened six weeks ago. If you're actually looking for an in-depth look at Austin galleries, read Sightlines, which covers the local art scene better than anyone.

What they wrote: "And options for chill times outdoors are everywhere, from sampling churros at the food truck park The Picnic and sour brews at Jester King Brewery to canoeing around Lady Bird Lake (through the skyline’s reflection) and gorging at Franklin Barbecue downtown."

Check, check, check, but no, Franklin is not downtown. (A previous version of the article said it was open in the evenings, a fact the New York Times quickly — and rightly— remedied.)

Both Franklin Barbecue and the newly opened Franklin Barbecue’s Tacos & Coffee trailer are located at 900 E. 11th St., which is East Austin. 

What they wrote: "Austin is an explore-at-your-pace kind of place, which is why so many people get stuck, even those who once rolled their eyes at Austin believers."

Get stuck? Let's rewrite this as, "... which is why so many people choose to live in one of the 52 Best Places to Go in 2020." Better.

What they wrote: "You can resist Austin, sure. But why would you, when the music, the art, the outdoors and the breakfast tacos — at Tacodeli, particularly — are so mind-blowingly good?"

As far as the first part, it's easier to resist Austin in the summer months. March and November, however, are completely irresistible, which is why so many people decide to move to Austin while visiting for SXSW.

And as for that last part about the tacos? Them's fightin' words. In Austin, it's not talking about politics or religion that's discouraged, but breakfast tacos. It's highly personal, entirely subjective, and opens up an entire cultural debate that deserves more than the 184 words the New York Times allotted for this piece. 

Plus, everyone knows Tamale House East has the best breakfast tacos.