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Photo courtesy of Loro

It seems fair to say Austinites know they can drop by H-E-B for most of their game day needs. But we’re not talking needs, we’re talking excess. Whether you’re a die-hard fan or a host who wants to offer something truly memorable — or just absolutely clueless on this whole football thing but looking forward to Rihanna and the food — CultureMap is setting you up for a touchdown.

On February 12 at 5:30 pm, the Kansas City Chiefs will face off against the Philadelphia Eagles, and there are basically two places to be: at home, or out with everyone else. If the former is more your style, make sure you order well in advance. If the latter, keep in mind that many of these events operate on a first-come-first-serve basis. Either way, time to tackle these game day plans.

Take-home snacks

Little Ola’s Giant Biscuit Bowl
One of the most extravagant and Southern offerings comes from Little Ola’s, one of Austin’s favorite biscuit makers. The Giant Biscuit Bowl ($140 feeds six) is, as described, a giant biscuit carved into a vessel for vegan queso. This main dip is accompanied by a seven-layer dip, deviled ham dip, and chicken salad. Just add chips for the classiest dip buffet on either side of the Colorado River. Order on Tock for pickup at Little Ola’s or Olamaie.

Loro’s Big Game Party Pack
Barbecue is a game-day staple, and Loro offers an Asian twist in its Big Game Party Pack. It comes with all the classics, but more interesting: wonton chips and dip, smoked baby back Duroc ribs (sourced from a specific breed of pig), whole smoked “sake can chicken,” Thai-style sausages, and oak grilled zucchini to balance out all the meat. Preorders available until February 10 via toasttab.com.

Oseyo's Korean fried chicken buckets
Oseyo is kicking the chicken wing tradition up a notch with Korean fried chicken buckets ($50). Those include twice-fried chicken, waffle fries, a pint of Korean potato salad, a pint of sesame cole slaw, half a pint of house pickles, and four chocolate-black sesame brownies (add more of these à la carte for celebration or stress snacking). Drink add-ons include a six-pack of Terra Beer (Korean Lager), a 32-ounce "Kimchilada mix" (Makes about 8-10 drinks), and non-alcoholic St. Elmo Hop Water. Preorder on Tock.

Goodstock by Nolan Ryan's specials and discounts
If a downtown restaurant is too fancy but preparing everything at home is not enough, Goodstock by Nolan Ryan is ready to meet in the middle. The Round Rock butcher shop's game day specials include bacon wrapped jalapeño poppers and beef kabobs, plus discounts on popular party items from now through Valentine's Day. House-made burger patties, Butcher’s Blend sausage, wings, steaks and more are 20 percent off. Head to the store to see what's on sale — the discount only works in person, anyway.

Watch parties

The Driskill Bar
Whether a visit to the Driskill is your way of keeping up with college football traditions, or you want the non-football fans in your group to have a special experience beyond the TV screen, the historic bar is offering deals. Domestic beer buckets will be available for $20 per five beers. The hotel’s location on 6th Street will make it just as fun as any sports bar, with the added benefit of a much nicer atmosphere.

Punch Bowl Social
For parties who’d like something else to keep busy with during game delays, Punch Bowl Social is hosting one of the most energetic watch parties in the city. The pregame starts at 4 pm with arcade games, bowling, cocktails and bar snacks. It’ll probably be crowded; consider signing up as VIPs for a projector screening, buffet, and lounge. A local DJ will close out the post-game party. Tickets ($70 with two drink tickets) for The Domain and downtown locations available on Eventbrite.

Fierce Whiskers Distillery
Whiskey distillery Fierce Whiskers is always ready with a party for big days in Austin; for Super Bowl Sunday, it’s staying ready for big crowds with pre-batched cocktails and rivalry-stoking theme-themed punch bowl drinks. Otoshi, the onsite food truck, will serve creative wings and burgers while game watchers play bingo and trivia for prizes. Dogs are welcome, and the free watch party does not require an RSVP.

Meanwhile Brewing Co.
Just down the road, the distillery’s neighbor Meanwhile Brewing Co. is breaking out the big screen outside, kicking off the party early (12 pm) for an all-day party. The super-popular group of food trucks — including an exciting new addition specializing in fried chicken sandwiches — will be churning out their own specials from the sidelines. Pueblo Viejo offers a tostada plate, and Bésame is putting together a sundae special, with more to come. RSVP on Eventbrite.

Armadillo Den
Another opportunity to watch on an outdoor projection screen is at Armadillo Den, made even greater with a gigantic crawfish boil. Let’z Geaux Boil, a weekend popup in the Armadillo space, is hosting a feast of up to 500 pounds of crawfish, plus specials on beer and seltzers. Fans who arrive via rideshare get 10 percent off for showing a receipt. The big screen is visible from downstairs tables as well as the second-floor space, but there are smaller TVs around the venue to spread out the crowd.

The Lucky Rabbit
If you're feeling superstitious about your favorite team, the Lucky Rabbit could be a good place to settle in for the game. There are 10 TVs in total, with sound on, plus a comfortable rustic atmosphere that's perfect for what could be a long game. There will be specials all day including $1 off all drinks and some wings (including habanero sweet chili, buffalo, ranch rub or BBQ), and $3 off all appetizers. The cozy space with heaters and fire pits is weather-protected, and welcomes the whole family, including dogs.

Austin-based Bumble and Serena Williams serve up Super Bowl 2019 commercial

Courting customers

Austin-based dating and networking app Bumble seeks to score a marketing touchdown February 3 with its first-ever Super Bowl ad.

The TV ad will kick off a year-long campaign called “The Ball Is in Her Court,” designed to empower women to make the first move in life, love, and business. The campaign stars tennis pro Serena Williams, who’s been tapped as global adviser for the woman-centric app “to reinforce the brand’s mission to end misogyny and empower women around the world.”

“Society has taught us as women to kind of sit back and not necessarily be the first one to speak up. We want to take that and flip the story,” Williams told Reuters.

“We are letting people know we are not afraid,” she added. “We no longer want to cower. We want to stand up.”

The spot will air during the first half of CBS’ broadcast of the Super Bowl LIII matchup between the Los Angeles Rams and the New England Patriots.

Bumble hasn’t divulged how long the ad will be. Whatever the length, the commercial won’t be cheap. This year, the cost of broadcasting a 30-second Super Bowl spot on CBS reportedly exceeds $5 million.

Earlier this month, Bumble posted a video teaser of the Williams ad, which was produced by an all-female creative team and crew. “Partnering with Serena Williams has been a dream of mine since we launched Bumble, as she is one of the most inspiring women in history and a shining example of someone making the first move in all facets of her life,” Whitney Wolfe Herd, founder and CEO of Bumble, says in a release. “She is a role model, a mom, an entrepreneur, and a fierce athlete. She is the epitome of strength, integrity, kindness, empowerment, and everything Bumble stands for.”

Williams says she wouldn’t have achieved the success she had if she’d let fear of making the first move hold her back.

“Like Whitney Wolfe Herd, I am a firm believer in striving to achieve greatness, as every single one of us holds the power to write our own stories,” Williams says in a release. “I look at my daughter and know it is my duty to pave a powerful path for her, and as Bumble’s global adviser, I can encourage her and women everywhere to think like a champion, define their lives and, ultimately, embrace the power we have within.”

Matthew McConaughey scores big with Austin newspaper ad to Nick Foles

Lone Star Love

KVUE — Matthew McConaughey had a Texas-sized congratulations ready for Super Bowl MVP — and Austin's own — Nick Foles when he opened up his Sunday morning paper.

On February 11, the Academy Award-winning Texan bought a full-page advertisement in the Austin American-Statesman to show his respect for Foles and the Philadelphia Eagles after they defeated the New England Patriots.

The ad reads: "From one local to another, congratulations Nick Foles. Just keep livin, Matthew McConaughey."

While McConaughey is reportedly an uber Washington football fan [not a Cowboy's fan], he clearly knows where his loyalty lies: the great state of Texas.

Austin American-Statesman managing editor John Bridges called it a "bromance, Austin-style."

The Eagles Super Bowl win on February 4 rocked Central Texas and the Westlake community where Foles grew up. Foles' baby girl also won the hearts of America, as she was apparently the cutest honorary-MVP of the big match up.

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To read the full story, head to KVUE.

Photo courtesy of NRG Park

Want to score the ultimate Super Bowl package? It'll cost you $1 million.

Attention Football Fans

Attention well-heeled football fans: Here's a deal for you. Austin-based ticket agency TicketCity is offering a $1 million package for Super Bowl LI in Houston.

We know that sounds like a lot, but it's for 20 people and includes the following:

  • Private plane to and from Houston
  • Police escort to Super Bowl
  • Super Bowl premium seating
  • Courtside Houston Rockets tickets
  • UFC Fight Night VIP package
  • Stay at two luxury homes in the heart of Houston
  • Meals at Damians, Brennan's, Smith & Wollensky
  • Entry to ESPN party, Rolling Stone party, Leather and Laces party, Maxim party, NFL Honors Awards Show
  • Entry to NFL Players Tailgate party

Other perks for the four-night package (February 2-5) include a personal concierge; a spa day at the Houstonian; bourbon tastings; autographed helmets from such stars as Tom Brady, Troy Aikman, and Aaron Rodgers; autographed jerseys from Jerry Jones and the 1972 Miami Dolphins perfect-season team; and a Super Bowl 50 helmet autographed by John Elway and Peyton Manning, along with a $5,000 gift card to shop for NFL merchandise.

"People in Texas want to spend a lot of money on shopping and football," says Shannon McKinley, TicketCity director of PR/communications.

A Super Bowl ticket in the club level at NRG Stadium already is going for more than $11,000, so the package, which averages $50,000 per person, could be considered a bargain in some circles, particularly if the Patriots make it to the Super Bowl, when it could be the most expensive sports event ever.

McKinley says the agency has two $1 million Super Bowl packages available, with other options available for customized packages. For additional details, contact Shannon@ticketcity.com or call 512-721-1124.

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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

Charming Austin suburb is the fastest-growing city in the country, plus more top stories

hot headlines

Editor’s note: It’s that time again — time to check in with our top stories. From Georgetown to Brenham, and of course inside Austin proper, here are five articles that captured our collective attention over the past seven days.

1. Charming Austin suburb is the fastest-growing city in the country, with neighbors close behind. Georgetown had a 14.4-percent population increase from 2021 to 2022, bringing the city's total population to more than 86,500 residents.

2. Austin dethroned from top spot in new ranking of top summer travel destinations for 2023. Some Austinites are happy to hear the summer will be less crowded, but tourist revenue may suffer.

3. Lengendary Texas ranch resort makes waves on the market with $15 million price tag. It's a stretch to call it rustic, but this resort for sale includes horse stables, wildflowers, and an organic farm.

4. This is how big Austin apartments get for $1,500 a month. Unsurprisingly, it's not as much square footage as you can get elsewhere in Texas, but it's still not even close to Manhattan.

5. Here are the top 7 things to do in Austin this holiday weekend. The Memorial Day weekend brings chances to try great barbecue, take a walk with faeries, and hear lots of live music.

Dip your toes into these 7 Austin pools with passes, snacks, and summer events

Wet Hot Austin Summer

Memorial Day is here, which means so are the days of sitting in a lounge chair and sweating while looking unreasonably fabulous. Whether it's to beat the summer heat or to show off a new swimsuit, Austinites may have more options than they think to take a swim at the many pools around town. Even if you haven't committed to an overnight stay, most hotels offer day passes, and some even offer other deals or poolside programming.

One great way to find passes not just to pools around town, but also to spas and other hotel amenities, is to browse ResortPass. (Not sponsored, just cool.) There are 26 Austin options on the site right now.

But we wanted to let you know what's going on beyond the pass — who will set you up for a great meal, who lets you drink out of a coconut, and whose views (or lack thereof) provide the best ambiance for your day off. Some of our choices aren't even on the platform.

Go grab your sandals, and save us a towel.

Greater Austin YMCA
Let's start with the less glamorous before we break out the poolside fashion. The YMCA is a family staple for a reason, and if your goal is just to get in the water regularly throughout the summer, especially with kids, it's a great place to start. There are "interactive hours" at the outdoor pools (more fun than swimming laps) at the East Communities, Hays Communities, Northwest Family, Southwest Family, and Springs Family YMCAs, as well as the YMCA at Camp Moody. The Y is semi-affordable; It would probably be cheaper to visit a hotel pool once or twice, but a Y membership includes a month of access, guest passes, and much more, and may replace your gym membership for the summer. $69 per month, with age and household discounts. austinymca.org

Hotel Van Zandt
If your pool visit doesn't include spritz and giggles, why are you even there? Hotel Van Zandt is opening up its stylish rooftop pool for the "Spritz & Giggles Poolside Happy Hour & Sunset Swim" event series. Every Monday through Thursday, visitors can enjoy $8 frozen Aperol spritzes, $8 specialty cocktails, and a special pool menu with items like a refreshing green salad, pork belly al pastor tacos, and a spicy fried chicken sandwich. Geraldine's, the main restaurant, is right inside for even better drinks, expanded bites, and sometimes live music. Starting at $48 per day for adults, $15 for kids. hotelvanzandt.com

Carpenter Hotel
If one day at the Carpenter Hotel pool is just not enough, the hotel has now added monthly passes. In addition to unlimited access to the secluded pool in the Zilker neighborhood, a pass gets a $30 discount for the new monthly BBQ Pool Parties (bringing attendance down to $25). That will include a great spread of less commonly seen barbecue items like grilled bay scallops, mushroom skewers, elotes, deviled potato salad, and more. Monthly pass holders also get to bring one child under 8 for free. $40 daily, $200 monthly. Both Monday through Thursday. carpenterhotel.com

South Congress Hotel
The South Congress Hotel is right in the middle of where many Austinites want to be on a summer day, if it weren't so dang hot. This rooftop pool solves that problem in style, with daily pool passes every day of the week, as well as cabana rentals. Café No Sé supplies poolside drinks and snacks, and downstairs, Austin's Best New Restaurant Maie Day offers a hearty meal after a day of napping in the sun. Cabanas can be rented for four people and include self-parking, bottled water, and a bottle of champagne or bucket of High Noon. Days for $40 and cabanas for $300 on weekdays; days for $75 and cabanas for $400 on weekends. southcongresshotel.com

Hotel Viata
Hotel Viata is a bit of a sleeper hotel among Austin boutiques, as it's located a little beyond West Lake Hills. Still, if you want a taste of Italy, the drive to this retreat will be worth it. Not to mention, with the extra room these downtown hotels can't offer, a pool pass includes access to a hot tub, fire pits, and great views of the hills around the city. Pool passes are available, but if you want to see it for free before you spend, wait for June 10; The hotel invites guests 21 and up to check out the pool for free at the "Summer Festa in Piscina" party, with a "Taste of Italy" add-on ($55) for Aperol Spritz, limoncello lemon drops, and negronis all day. $45 per day for adults, $25 for children. resortpass.com

Wax Myrtle's
This rooftop bar and pool is known for its never-ending events calendar, and of course that energy extends to poolside entertainment. There will be live music on the weekends, plus live DJ sets on Saturday nights, alongside whatever other programming happens to be going on inside. Even if it's a do-nothing day, these large, over-the-top drinks will give you a delicious challenge. The "Boot Scootin Fruity" mixes rum, an aperitivo, hibiscus, and lime in a cowboy hat punch bowl ($90); the luxe "Mojito 75" combines Moët & Chandon with rum and mojito must-haves in a disco ball ($230); and an unnamed cocktail is worth trying just to enjoy it from a real coconut. Starting at $15 for adults, $10 for children, and more for daybeds and cabanas. waxmyrtles.com

Austin Motel
Perhaps one of the best known pools in Austin for its retro vibes, fun events, and accessibility to on-foot wanderers is the Austin Motel. This is a great, less expensive choice that's probably more fun for casual pool revelers who would feel a little put out by having to dress up and behave in a more luxe hotel setting. There are also frequent poolside events at this motel, like the free "Bounce Motel" series with live DJs, or the body-positive "Chunky Dunk." The pool is offers daily passes every day, even when there's nothing on the calendar. $25 on weekdays, $45 on weekends, or $600 in three-and-a-half-month "waves." austinmotel.com

Carpenter Hotel pool

Photo by Andrea Calo

Austinites don't need to stay at a hotel to be invited to the pool. (Pictured: The Carpenter Hotel)

6 Austin museums are offering free admission for military families all summer long

spread the museum love

Half a dozen Austin museums are honoring active-duty military personnel and their families with free admission through the Blue Star Museums initiative, May 20 through September 4, 2023.

Established by the National Endowment for the Arts, Blue Star Families, and the U.S. Department of Defense, the Blue Star Museums program annually provides military families free access to 2,000 museums nationwide throughout the summer. The program begins yearly on Armed Forces Day in May and ends on Labor Day.

Free admission is extended to personnel currently serving in the U.S Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard (including those in the Reserve), and all National Guardsman. Members of the U.S. Public Health Commissioned Corps and NOAA Commissioned Corps are also included in the program.

Those who qualify can use their military ID to bring up to five family members – including relatives of those currently deployed. More information about qualifications can be found here.

There is no limit on the number of participating museums that qualifying families may visit. Admission for non-active military veterans, however, is not included.

According to the National Endowment for the Arts website, the initiative was created to help "improve the quality of life for active duty military families" with a specific focus on children. The site states two million have had a parent deployed since 2001.

"Blue Star Museums was created to show support for military families who have faced multiple deployments and the challenges of reintegration," the website says. "This program offers these families a chance to visit museums this summer when many will have limited resources and limited time to be together."

Among Austin's participating museums, the Blanton Museum of Art recently held its grand opening celebration to debut their new grounds, complete with a new large mural by Cuban-American artist Carmen Herrera.

“As a museum that has long been at the forefront of collecting work by artists of Latin American descent, as well as the place where Ellsworth Kelly realized his last great work of art, entering the collection at this moment marks a high point in my long career," Herrera said.

Here's a look at all the museums in Austin that participate in the Blue Star Museums initiative.

For those looking to take a drive around Central Texas, the Temple Railroad and Heritage Museum and Taylor's Moody Museum are also participants in the Blue Star Museums initiative.

More information about Blue Star Museums and a full list of participants can be found on arts.gov.