"There's the Texas Chili Parlor for chili and drinks. And I love going to nearby Llano for Cooper's Old Time Pit BBQ. They just carve the meat right in front of you. It's this great big pit. It's very, very working class. You sit down and they put paper in front of you and give you your meat, a loaf of bread, and your sauce.They have some of the best steak and chicken ever. The Salt Lick is about 20 minutes from Austin, headed toward Dripping Springs. Fantastic for ribs. Again, it's about putting things on the paper and making a mess. Stop in Fredericksburg at a terrific place called The Nest. It's in an old Victorian building. It's very intimate. The food is just about as good as anything I've had in Texas. It's got a great porch, so when my daughter starts getting exasperated, we can run around outside. They make wonderful food. It's great contemporary, hearty food done with sophistication in completely informal surroundings."
"There's a great comedy troupe at Esther's Follies, where they have Saturday Night Live-type parodies of political things. I can't wait to get back there now that George W. Bush is in office. They'll have lots of fun with that. But if I could only do one thing in Austin it would be getting a season ticket for all summer long to The Backyard. It's an outdoor venue and it's magical. They get great acts, whether it's John Prine or Dwight Yoakam. It's west of Austin. You take some back roads and arrive at this little, tiny amphitheater out there. The seating is informal with decks you can sit on. It's a warm, terrific feeling."
"I would recommend going to Austin in the spring, like at the beginning of April, when the bluebonnets start blooming. Take Highway 290 - this is the big thing - take 290 toward Fredericksburg, toward Johnson City, to the LBJ Ranch. I know it sounds like a touristy thing, but it's actually kind of amazing. Lady Bird Johnson still lives at the ranch some of the time. And it's gorgeous. The colors are just extraordinary. There's a wild flower farm up there."
"Las Manitas for chile rellenos. It's downtown on Congress Avenue, a funkier kind of place. It's a great breakfast place, but good anytime. You see people of all ages and differences. You sit around and talk to people next to you. I am really, really partial to the chile rellenos and their handmade corn tortillas - that's just the living end to me. A Mexican restaurant isn't really Mexican unless they're hand-patting their tortillas."
MADELEINE'S FAVORITE HANGOUT
"One of my true favorite places to hang out is Luckenbach, a tiny town 80 miles west of Austin. That is just wild. There's a bar and a post office there. You get all types of people in Luckenbach, from bikers to families to ex-hippies to the working class. You never know who's going to be playing. On Wednesdays there's Jimmy Lee Jones, a bass player who's a bartender and he plays amazing stuff. Or they'll have Willie Nelson's Fourth of July Picnic and thousands of people will show up. There's a bartender there named Marge and they call her Sheriff Marge of Luckenbach. She's tough and fun and kind and keeps a lot of the people in line if they get a little rowdy. You can go out and dance and two-step, and there will be dogs running around the dance floor. People will get rowdy. It's just divine. You just have to know that anything goes. I always check out what's going on in Luckenbach, because I never cease to have a fun time there. You see everything. And I love to watch."