City Guide is a new project to This year, you can expect this on-going feature to highlight my many talented friends and acquaintances from around the world. Each profile will focus on that person’s favourite city, or the city they call home, offering you their personal guide to the best food, shopping, drinking, and more, that their city of choice has to offer. Consider this your encouragement to travel more, and connect more, with all of the great people and places that make up the world we live in.

First up, please meet Lia Parsley – a Torontonian who is now based in Austin, Texas with her hubby and their dog. While living in Toronto, Lia was a writer for Toronto Life and ELLE Canada, upon moving to Austin she launched her vintage Etsy shop, Violet Crown Vintage.

In case it didn’t come across clearly enough in last week’s Beyonce in Texas post, I love any and all things Texan. If you’re anything like me, then you will especially love Lia’s online shop as it is a site filled with glorious treasure finds from Texas.

Excited? Things are about to get even better. Lia has generously offered two $25 gift certificates to Violet Crown Vintage for two lucky readers to win, and 10% off for ALL readers today until January 31st using the code GRACIE10.

To Enter: FOLLOW @GracieCarroll and @Violet_Crown on Twitter OR @GracieCarroll and @Violet_Crown on Instagram. Then, leave a comment below providing a relevant email in order for us to contact you. We also encourage you to share with us your favourite items/what you would buy from Violet Crown using your gift certificate!

Don’t forget, contest closes January 31st and winners will be announced on February 1st.

Now, enjoy Lia’s great guide to Austin, Texas!



 Where To Eat:

Breakfast: The Magnolia Cafe if you like yummy, kitschy diner vibes. Bouldin Creek Coffee House for casual, hip, vegetarian eats. 24 Diner is great as well, if you have to wait for a table, pop next door to Waterloo Records to kill the time.

Lunch: Elizabeth St. Café is a French/Vietnamese fusion joint with the cutest interior and patio. If you go for lunch you have the choice of pastries with an amazing selection of teas and coffee or, of course, a variety of vermicelli spring rolls, pho and bun dishes. All innovative deliciousness. My food truck of choice for lunch is Conscious Cravings—think Toronto’s Fresh on a smaller (and way cheaper) scale. Order the black bean on quinoa and thank me later!

Dinner: Papi Tino’s for authentic Mexican with amazing ambiance (perfect date night) and La Condesa for kinda bougie (also) Mexican—the fish tacos, white wine sangria + margs are all excellent.

Where to Drink:

The Bar: I’m not much of a bar-goer but my absolute favourite place for happy hour (especially after shopping on South Congress) is the San José Hotel patio. It’s like the Austin version of Toronto’s Drake Hotel except smaller, bungalow-style, plus catci. Order the Champassion with a side of edamame and keep your shades on for the best people watching. On Friday and Saturday nights, Broken Spoke is a must-hit for pure honky tonk fun and two-steppin’ dance lessons. I also really dig the canopied, picnic table patio and patrons at Yellow Jacket Social Club.

The Party: If you’re visiting Austin, of course you have to squeeze in some live music so research the shows on in town and if you’re lucky, you’ll get to see something at Stubbs‘ magical outdoor venue. If you’re into dance parties at dive bars, head over to East AustinCheer Up Charlie‘s has a couple food trucks out back and kombucha on tap.

Where to Shop: 

For women’s vintage, Feathers and Prototype (both just off the SoCo drag) are absolute must-stops for all those who love vintage and even for those who don’t—both places are quintessential Austin feast-for-the-eyes-retail. While you’re at it, pop into New Bohemia for totally great, totally affordable vintage from all decades. Not far away on South 1st Street, Laced With Romance (also vintage) is a cavernous little haven for everything Southern Gothic/Bohemian Grunge. It’s so well edited! LWR is just so impressive in so many ways. For contemporary jewellery, gifts, and things for home, check out Spartan and JM Dry Goods—two of the most elegant shops ever that share the same space on South Lamar. Think West Texas minimalist design space peppered with Mexican textiles and ceramics, international fashion/culture mags, leather goods and whimsical, independent jewellery lines.

Where to… Watch the Sun Go Down: 

Head up to Mt. Bonnell and check the city out from the highest point within Austin city limits. Atop a cliff overlooking Lake Austin (part of the Colorado River), this is my favourite place in town to take in some of the best sunsets in the world. #TexasForever


All images via @LiaParsley on Instagram

Enter the VCV giveaway and shop using the GRACIE10 code now now now!