Get Out There: Looking for Brunch, Coffee, and Queers In All the Right Places

via Geneva Armstrong

via Geneva Armstrong

Welcome back to GET OUT THERE, a brand-spankin’-new miniseries in which you and I (and all your friends) are gonna explore the heck out of the places we live. (And then put a bunch of collectable downloadable stamps into a tiny book to prove it all actually happened.) We’re gonna find new places to eat, drink, be merry, escape, and breathe fresh air — together. We’re almost done with our challenges, but it’s not too late to get started!


My Last Two Weeks

Over the past two weeks, I set out on a mission to find the best coffee shops in Austin.

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My first stop was a student favorite, Bennu, which is dangerously close to the University of Texas at Austin. I say dangerous because the parking is always tight and students essentially pack into this place during finals — red-eyed, might I add — because the place is open 24/7. But I’ve been frequenting Bennu due to the copious amounts of queer women who work and patron here. (At least I think they’re queer; someone get them a Gal Pal shirt, stat!) I love Bennu’s comfy seats — there are couches and plush chairs — and the delicious, GIANT mocha drinks they cleverly craft. Each drink is named after a literary figure: Oliver Twist, Moby Dick, you get the idea. I, being a feminist and all around lover of sexual women, chose The Scarlet Letter.

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Let me tell you, with a dab of homemade whip cream and a shot of some spice this was a dream of a creamy coffee beverage. Points for that! But minus points for the crazy login necessary for using the internet, which also wasn’t always consistent. Boo. On to the next: Cherrywood Coffeehouse.

Cherrywood had a full bar and a large selection of grub. Their coffee drinks couldn’t hold a candle in the wind to Bennu, but I did try a latte and it was very good and got me buzzin’. After spending the afternoon working in Cherrywood I was really feeling the eclectic vibe. More of a family joint, I saw a bunch of babies, mom, dads, grandpas and all around let’s-come-together-to-drink-coffee types. One elderly gentleman even brought his own library style reading lamp by which to read! Huzzah!

Coffee shop number three was Figure 8 Coffee Purveyors — and by the name alone you might guess that it’s severely hip. Filled with young business professional types and aspiring creatives, this place is one to make even the most stylish feel intimidated. The atmosphere is chill, the music is new wave and the espresso is international and hard to pronounce. I got a shot of something citrusy and it straight up tasted like lemon coffee! Cool, man.

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The winner of these three would have to be Bennu just based on the gays. Love you all.

Next, I followed my heart and set out to find a queer space in Austin. Since we don’t have any designated lesbian bars or clubs, I was hoping just to discover what the queers are up to in this city. That led me — duh — to brunch.

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ABCDE Events, the brainchild of Topher and Bobby, hosts a seasonal brunch party called Big Gay Brunch. With a passion for midday breakfast foods and champagne avec orange juice, it started when they called upon their friends to brunch as fabulously as possible. As the event grew, the guys started taking over restaurants and providing special acts, such as drag queen sets. Bobby and Topher also told me that the event was around to do more than enable us to imbibe mimosas (honestly, I didn’t need another reason!) – $5 cash donations were requested to benefit Out Youth Austin, an organization which serves LGBTQ youth.

The drinks were flowing, the fake snow machine was blowing and I was giving my dollars away for a good cause. All was right in the world.


Social Media Spotlight

Alright, ‘Straddlers. We’ve gone full throttle through 6 challenges, getting out there left and right! Here’s some highlights from the adventures of your fellow ‘straddlers during the last two weeks. To be included, just tag @autostraddle and @lezbackpack on Instagram and use the tag #GotOutThere!

This morning: #sunkencity with my partner. #SanPedro is gorgeous– the rolling hill is showered in sunshine and so heavy with painted houses that the penninsula looks as if it will fall into the sea; this is precisely what happened with Sunken City, supposedly. I’ve been wanting to participate in the #autostraddle ‘Get Out There’ challenge, but I’m recovering from mono and other ailments which have made it difficult to find the energy while working, and plus, I explore San Francisco so much that I’ve already done everything on the challenge list. Even though I grew up in #socal , I don’t know it that well anymore so it was fantastic to go explore a place I’d never been before, but was only a half hour away. Anyway, I know I’m hella late on the first challenge but I’m only now feeling well enough to live my life, so #gotoutthere @autostraddle @lezbackpack A photo posted by @poorlittlerich on

#gotoutthere with my old (and new) steadies: chromatic, bitch planet+journal 🌑

A photo posted by jen(n) campbell (@jenacam_) on


How to Participate

  1. GET OUT THERE. Go see your city! Do the thing! Feel free to adventure solo, form a rag-tag group of adventurers, or even host meet-ups around the challenges and get ’em done in a group! However you wanna see your homespace is up to you. People living in extremely rural places might want to cast an even wider net and include neighboring cities and towns. So many options!
  2. Post pictures and updates from your adventures on Instagram with the hashtag #GotOutThere and tag @autostraddle and @lezbackpackUsers who share their stories on social with us could be featured in posts and every one of y’all will earn bragging rights in the process. (You’ll notice the hashtag is a little different from the title of this very series — just roll with it! We’re excited for your posts to show how you actually went and did things, how you seriously got out there and saw new places and faces.)
  3. Download, print, and collect our custom passport stamps for each challenge in a DIY passport in order to cherish your memories and remind yourself how badass you are.

That’s it! Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

I’m doing the challenges in the order listed below, but you can do them in whatever order you want. Feel free to follow my lead so that you can get tips and inspiration every two weeks, or plot out your own course like the brave soul you are and go for it on your own terms. There’s also a Choose Your Own Adventure stamp for those of y’all who wanna think up a different way to see the sights in town!

The Challenges

For our final two challenges, we’ll be hitting up a free event and visiting a local museum. If you haven’t picked your own adventure yet, this is the moment!

  • 10/22 – 11/5: Visit a Historic Site, Explore Local Nature
  • 11/5 – 11/19: Take Local Transit, Try Local Cuisine
  • 11/19 – 12/3: Connect and Explore with Someone Else on Social Media Who #GotOutThere, Go To a Sporting Event
  • 12/3 – 12/17: Find a Queer Space, Visit Local Coffee Shops (and pick a fave!)
  • 12/17 – 12/31: Go To a Museum, Attend a Free Event
  • CHOOSE-YOUR-OWN ADVENTURE: Go way off the beaten path and take on a challenge I haven’t even thought of – find a vegan joint, check out all the ice cream shops in town, shop at local thrift stores. Whatever you dream up!

Resources for This Week’s Challenges


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Profile gravatar of Melissa Langley

Melissa has written 6 articles for us.

2 Comments

  1. I would go to Bennu all the time to write my papers and do homework! In fact, I wrote my last paper for my “Queer Visual Culture” class there into the wee early morning. Parking was always hell but I’d do anything for those mochas, a comfy seat and a 24/7 place to study that wasn’t the library! <3 good times. Yes, there’s a bunch of queers here.

    Have you gone to Cheer Up Charlies yet, Melissa? It’s not explicitly a queer space but it’s queer-owned and the last time I went it was pretty fucking queer. Also at Barbarella they have a gay night called Tuesgayz and that’s pretty fucking queer too. I mean, all this information could be wrong since I haven’t lived in Austin since 2013 so things might’ve changed.

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