Austin ABC’s: Your dictionary for local lingo

Learn the local ‘Texicon’

The Austin skyline at dusk.

You can take the Austinite out of Austin, but you can’t take the Austin out of the Austinite.

Photo by ATXtoday

Whether you’re a newbie in need of a local dictionary or an Austin native testing your knowledge, we’ve got the lowdown on the local Texicon.

A is for Austin City Limits

The ACL flags flapping over a crowd of festival-goers.

The first ACL Fest was held in 2002.

Photo by Chad Wadsworth

  • You’re going to have to rely on on context clues for this one, because ACL can mean one of three things: ACL Festival, the annual music festival that takes place in October at Zilker Park; ACL Live at the Moody Theater, a live music venue located on 310 W. Willie Nelson Blvd.; or Austin City Limits, the longest-running musical variety show in American TV history.

B is for Breakfast tacos 🌮

  • Although it remains disputed which Texas town invented the humble breakfast taco, it is the undisputed classic dish of Austin. City Editor London prefers to cop a tac’ from Veracruz All Natural, while Figi enjoys a King George taco from Tyson’s Tacos. Austinites have never met a breakfast taco they didn’t like.

C is for Continental Club

  • Some of Austin’s best and brightest musicians have performed at the historic Continental Club, which has been operating since 1955 at 1315 S. Congress Ave. C is also for Cedar Fever, a yearly allergy phenomenon that leaves locals sneezy for weeks.

D is for the Drag

  • Locals call the western portion of Guadalupe Street along the University of Texas campus “The Drag.” You’ll find bookstores, school apparel, restaurants and resources for UT students on this street.

E is for Eeyore’s Birthday Party

  • This one-of-a-kind annual birthday bash celebrates the mopiest Winnie the Pooh character with a festival in the park, vendors, and good weird fun. E is also for Evil MoPac, a famously angsty Twitter account that pokes fun at the city’s infrastructure.

F is for fútbol ⚽️

  • After years of waiting for a major league sports team, the city has embraced Austin FC with open arms since 2021. F is also for football, usually Longhorn football, a well-known and beloved weekend tradition enjoyed by Texans everywhere.

G is for Grackles

A grackle sitting on a tree branch.

Grackles are known for their loud songs.

Photo by Pheanix for Wikimedia

  • Grackles, crow-like birds that love congregating in H-E-B parking lots, are either loved or despised by locals. There is no in-between.

H is for H-E-B

  • H-E-B isn’t just a grocery store, it’s a lifestyle. The San Antonio-based chain grocer has been thriving in Austin since 1957, and H-E-B opened its first upscale grocer, Central Market, in Austin in 1994.

I is for I-35 🛣

  • Just reading the name I-35 is enough to give some Austinites a twitch, as the highway is famously traffic-heavy and usually under construction.

J is for Jeremiah the Innocent 🐸

City Editor Figi and her fiance standing in front of a Jeremiah the Innocent recreation.

Outside of the mural, Jeremiah’s motif is also seen in temporary exhibitions, T-shirts, and charity events, like this backdrop City Editor Figi posed in front at ACL 2019.

Photo by ATXtoday

  • Jeremiah the InnocentAustin’s unofficial mascot — sits along 408 W. 21st St., on T-shirts, billboards, and signs asking passerbys “Hi, how are you?” The whimsical mural was painted by the late Daniel Johnston, whose artwork can be found all over the city.

K is for Kolaches

  • Filled with fruits, sausage, cheese and more, kolaches (pronounced kuh·laa·chee) were brought to Texas through Czech immigrants and are now a breakfast staple. We recommend scoring a pillowy treat from Lone Star Kolaches or Dos Gatos, if you’re able to make the drive to San Marcos.

L is for Longhorns

M is for Moody

  • Ever wondered why so many things in the city share the name Moody? The Moody Center, Moody Amphitheater, Moody College of Communications, and the Moody Foundation were all brought to town by local legacy Moody family.

N is for Nueces Street

  • This commonly mispronounced street, which runs north to south through downtown, is correctly pronounced “new-AY-sez.”

O is for Opa

  • This cozy little coffee shop and wine bar is a study spot of choice for students and the perfect way to spend a rainy weekend.

P is for Pennybacker Bridge

A view of the 360 bridge over Lake Austin.

Pennybacker Bridge is located in northwest Austin.

Photo by Jeff Gunn

  • Also known as the Austin 360 Bridge, the Pennybacker Bridge overlooks the Texas 360 Loop and Lake Austin. Every seasoned Austinite has taken a photo in front of the panoramic views at least once while living here.

Q is for Queso

  • The unofficial cheesy currency of Austin is rarely executed the same way outside of Central Texas in our humble opinion, so City Editor Figi gravitates toward Fresa’s or Torchy’s Tacos for her melty fix.

R is for Rainey Street

  • Rainey Street District is where you’ll find bungalow bars and wide-open patios to spread out on while you enjoy a local brew. Rainey is also known for hosting many tech sector happy hours, so the strip is also an ideal location to brush up on your crypto knowledge.

S is for South Congress

  • One of the areas of town that has changed dramatically in the past 30 years, South Congress has gone from being a pseudo-red light district to an upscale tourism and shopping hub. SoCo is changing all the time, so soak up your favorite areas while you can.

T is for the Triangle

  • Home to many UT students, the Triangle is an urban hub in North Central Austin where locals can find a place for a casual lunch or light shopping session.

U is for the Universities

  • It’s no secret that Longhorns bleed burnt orange, but the University of Texas has been a local front runner in higher education since it was founded in 1883. However, the Austin area is home to a host of local universities, including Huston-Tillotson University, St. Edwards University, and Texas State University.

V is for Violet Crown 👑

  • This Austin nickname originated during the 19th century, when residents began to call Austin the “Athens of the South,” as both cities give locals a purple-toned sunset.

W is for Willie Nelson

A close-up of Willie Nelson performing

City Editor Figi snapped this shot of Willie in March as he performed at the Texas Capitol

Photo by ATXtoday

  • Austin just wouldn’t be the same without our resident cosmic cowboy, who has long had a major impact on Austin’s musical and cultural identity. W is also for weird, which the city prides itself on fostering, and Waterloo, Austin’s original name.

X is for SXSW

  • OK, we’re fudging it a bit on this one, but the X in South by Southwest is pronounced “by” in all interpretations of the world-renowned film and music fest.

Y is for y’all

Z is for Zilker Park

  • Spanning 351 acres of hills and trees, Zilker Metropolitan Park is the oldest public park in Austin. The piece of land is also home to lots of local festivals, including ACL Fest and the Trail of Lights.
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