Your Austin Food Guide

Lifestyle

Recently, I spent a long weekend in Austin, TX with friends and had a spectacular time trying the best food places and most famous tourist attractions. Our main purpose of going to Austin was to attend a conference, but we tried cramming in whatever we could when we had spare time. And trust me, we sure got hungry.

Halal Bros.

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You must have heard of the famous Halal Bros. that got its start in Brooklyn. They opened up another location on Guadalupe St. in Austin, and I have to say, it’s pretty darn good. They have amazing hummus, falafel, shawarma, gyro, and chicken over rice with a side of fresh salad. The picture above is of the combination plate. And don’t forget to ask for extra white sauce!

Gordough’s

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Gourmet + Doughnuts = Gourdough’s, get it? This little dessert truck is an Austin classic because of how crispy and delicious their donuts are. They have a variety of options on their menu, from The Nutty Valentine with strawberries and nutella, to Black Out with brownies, fudge and chocolate chips.

Lick Honest Ice Creams

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Lick Honest Ice creams has fun flavors on their menu like Horchata, and Roasted Beets and Fresh Mint. Ask for their waffle cone!

Popbar

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What’s cooler than handcrafted gelato on a stick? Create your own popsicle or get a pre-existing combination from the menu and design it with sprinkles, coconut shavings, cotton candy, milk, dark, or white chocolate. Do it for the gram!

Austin Chai Wala

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If you’re on-the-go and looking for an Indian breakfast, this is your best option. Austin Chai Wala is a food truck that serves anything from samosas and kashmiri chai to nutella parathas.

Arpeggio Grill

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This may be a Mediterranean restaurant, but they are well known for their 30-inch halal pizzas. Yes, it’s bigger than your face.

Longhorn Chicken

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If you’re looking for food past midnight, this is the best place to get halal fried chicken and waffles.

Indian Wedding Meets Natural Disaster

Self

The holidays are over and boy, I have so much to catch you up on. My three week trip to India for my uncle’s wedding was a memorable one to say the least. From enjoying a 5-day wedding in India to getting stuck in New York for three days because the airport shut down, I have had a crazy start to the new year. I’ve documented my entire trip in the vlog below, so I’ll just give you the backstory and tell you how my year went from 100-0 real quick.

The uncle who got married is my mom’s youngest brother, who lives in Canada. My grandparents live in Hyderabad, India and the bride lives in India as well, so we all flew there for the wedding. Indian weddings last about a week, so each day calls for its own outfit and jewelry, which you can see in my vlog.

I visit India quite often, but it’s not always fun. We mostly sit at home in my grandparent’s home and eat scrumptious food, but you can only do that for so long, till it gets boring. Friends would make the experience more exciting, but when I lived in India for four years during middle and high school, it was in a completely different state.

The wedding, however, made this trip exponentially better. This was my first family wedding in India that I’m old enough to remember. It’s also the last wedding that will happen in our close family until my own wedding.

All my favorite uncles, aunts and cousins came over to stay at my grandparent’s house and there was so much going on all the time, that it was difficult to be bored. Sure, the tiny apartment got stuffy with all these people going in and out, and sleeping on the floors and couches. But there’s something about family coming together from all over the world to celebrate a joyous event, that warms my heart. Almost like how it would be during a family reunion for Thanksgiving (but we’re brown, we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving). We had two weeks to help with planning, find the perfect dresses, and treat ourselves with facials, manis, and pedis before the big week. You can watch all that fun stuff in my vlog.

Food Poisoning

The food was probably the best part of the trip (sorry, uncle). I had a feeling my four years of living there would give me enough immunity to eat whatever I wanted. Normally, it’s a requirement to get food poisoning as soon as you reach. But that didn’t happen, so I was taking advantage of it by binge eating all the local chaats and kulfis.  On January 2, my last day in India, I went to the annual Hyderabad exhibition, which is basically a carnival filled with food stalls, local shops and even rides. If you eat there as a foreigner, you’re basically asking for food poisoning by eating there. But I didn’t know that then.

I ate from 10 different stalls on my last day in India, and suffered the consequences when I woke up at 4 AM puking my insides out, on the morning of my 22 hr flight home. I was rushed to the family doctor and they ran an IV on me to get some glucose and antibiotics in my system.  I’ve only ever seen it in the movies, so you can imagine how cool I thought it was. After an hour of that, I felt like a new woman. Forget vomiting and nausea, I felt like I was active enough to run a marathon. We came home right after, spent 15 minutes gathering our luggage and went straight to the airport.

The ‘Bomb Cyclone’

I got accepted to the NPR Next Generation Radio weeklong boot camp, so my mom and I planned to come back home just in time to make it to that. I’d have two days to get rid of my jet lag.

On January 4, we landed in New York for one last flight to get home, but within moments of us landing, the airport shut down because of a ‘bomb cyclone.’ Don’t ask me what that is because I have no idea. New York was declared as being in a state of emergency. 4,000 flights got cancelled and to top it all off, they lost our four check-in suitcases full of clothes, jewelry and souvenirs from the trip. They said the next flight to Houston was on January 10, and that’s basically the end of my NPR program. With a 3 hour line to inquire about luggage and a 7 hour line to rebook a flight, he were stuck in JFK for 12 hours and it was chaotic. Think, natural disaster mode panic.

We left the airport hangry and disappointed. We couldn’t rebook the flight, and they told us to call customer service to find out the status of our luggage. The only thing we knew was that we had to take an hour long taxi ride to stay with my cousins in New Jersey, for who knows how long. These are the same cousins I stayed with during my summer working for BuzzFeed New York. I had no idea I’d be seeing them again this soon, but it was a pleasant surprise to both of us. After staying there for two days, which mainly consisted of my mom and I being on the phone for hours on hold with different airlines.

Ultimately, we found a flight the next day to Austin, and our family friends were graciously kind enough to pick us up and drive us home to Houston, which was 3 hours away. We got our luggage a week later, and I made it the night before my NPR program, which was absolutely amazing. The point is, it all works out in the end.

Picnic Blankets and Pina Coladas

Fashion

Fall is in the air and new styles are trending. Shopping for chic but modest outfits that don’t break that bank is like searching for a needle in a haystack. It’s vexing to scour heaps of clothes only to find one embroidered long sleeve top that ends up costing $50.

So I have resorted to online shopping and I don’t mean on the sites of mainstream retail stores. My friend Merziya  introduced to Boohoo and Shein which, to be honest, I was a little skeptical about. Online stores don’t give me the option of returning clothes at the physical store and quickly picking out an alternative.

6 Things Anyone Who Moves A Lot Knows

Self

As a child, I was raised by parents who decided to move around every one or two years, whether it was because of a job far away, or shifting from an apartment to a suburban town home of our very own. Some people say “Oh I am sorry. That must have sucked,” but in retrospect, you think it was pretty awesome to get cultured in so many ways. Sure, it was stressful at first but I learned to adjust.

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If you were one of those kids, you definitely relate to the following list:

1. Everyone assumes your dad was in the army.

And when you tell them he wasn’t, you have to sit through an entire conversation explaining why you moved so much, and how it really wasn’t as bad as they presume it to be.

2. Everywhere you travel, you will have a group of friends close by.

Going to Austin City Limits music festival and you need a place to crash? No problem! You know your bestie from high school goes to UT and she can totally hook you up with a place to stay.

3. You know how to determine which friends are keepers.

With the number of people you have met, you already know which guy is the jerk just by looking at him. You also know which friends are worth hanging on to for life. #squadgoals for real.

4.  College was an easier transition for you than it was for most people.

New place and new friends? You got this! Talking to people and starting fresh is your forte. You probably even have the emotional strength of a Scorpio and emanate confidence to all your peers.

5. When people ask you where you’re originally from, you tell them the place you lived longest or the place you lived last.

Be honest, your answer to this question changes a lot but who is there to check? I think it’s pretty awesome saying you are from New Jersey, Texas, and India.

6. Your personality is a combination of fragments from all the different places you lived in.

You wouldn’t have been the person you are today, even if you hadn’t lived in one of those areas. You got your accent from Kentucky, a huge appetite from Texas, your love for rap music from New York, and met your soul mate on a mission trip to China. Say what?

Goodbye 2016…Hello to a Fresh Start

Self

Happy New Year everyone! I hope you all had a safe New Year’s Eve celebration. I know I had to get home before midnight, when drunk driving peaks to an all time high in the year.

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For New Year’s Eve I spent the night at a family friend dinner party as I stuffed my mouth with food. We ended up reaching my house at 11 pm, when my best friend came over and we walked around the neighborhood in our PJ’s to watch the fireworks. It’s become a tradition of sorts and I always wear my TMNT fleece onesie. Not only were we on a hunt for the radiant explosions of colors in the murky sky, but we were desperately trying to capture the fireworks on Snapchat and Instagram.

My neighbors were having a New Year’s bash in their backyard with the radio blaring and a parade of fireworks. My friend and I stood in their lawn, phones ready to Snapchat, as we danced and screamed along to the songs like the children we are in our hearts. I am pretty sure the party people heard us but as soon as someone began walking towards the front of the house, we bolted. Crazy, adventurous moments like these make up my highlights of the year. This exhilaration is what I look forward to in 2017.

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Here are my New Year resolutions:

  1. Be more compassionate, generous, and hopeful
  2. Spend more time with friends and family
  3. Be more consistent with YouTube, IG, and blog posts
  4. Hustle Hustle Hustle
  5. Work out everyday even if it’s just for 10 minutes
  6. Smile and laugh more
  7. Go on crazy spontaneous adventures
  8. Eat healthier and sleep on time
  9. Submit a short film to SXSW

Highlights of 2016:

  • Made amazing friends and memories 
  • First road trip and weekend getaway
  • Smooth transition after transferring colleges
  • Started YouTube channel; first 200 subscribers on Jan 1
  • My own radio show
  • Contributor for Elite Daily, MissMuslim, Society19 and Her Campus
  • Support from you all 
  • Landed an internship for Spring 2017
  • Cooked my first 4 course meal with friends
  • Arlington and Austin trip with friends
  • Toured a news station
  • Went to Canada
  • Atif Aslam and Sonu Nigam concert
  • Crashed into a hotel room with friends
  • All A’s in business
  • Awards for singing and writing

Downfalls of 2016:

  • Car accident
  • Rough times in my personal life
  • Crazy elections
  • Trump is president
  • Deaths of famous personalities and community members
  • Paris attacks
  • Terror in Aleppo and other countries

There might have been several terrible events that happened last year but don’t give up hope! Alhamdulillah (Praise God) for everything. Here is a video that will start off your new year with a laugh.

How was your New Year’s Eve and what were your highlights? Let me know in the comments below. Follow me on Instagram @rafafarihah 

Things to Do This Summer!

Lifestyle

I hope everyone is having an awesome summer. If you are not, here are some fun tips from my favorite YouTuber! Please make sure to SUBSCRIBE to my YouTube channel and follow me in Instagram @rafafarihah to keep up with my summertime adventures. Comment down below what you are up to, or what you hope to do this summer 🙂

A few things you can do without traveling:

  1. Netflix (I will post my favorite movie sites and my movie list for you this week!)
  2. Get a pet and play with it all day long (as you watch Netflix maybe? Hmmm..)
  3. Suntan in your backyard.
  4. Go on a picnic at the park.
  5. Go window shopping
  6. Go on a long drive or a day trip with friends.
  7. Visit your town’s local attractions! If you live in Houston, you NEED to see this list.
  8. Start a YouTube channel.
  9. Have a Barbecue!
  10. Camp out in your backyard in a tent (or even better, make your own tent. Be creative!)
  11. Star gaze in your backyard.
  12. Have a karaoke night.
  13. Volunteer and help somebody out.
  14. Learn a new language.
  15. Get a summer job so you have money for a spontaneous trip.
  16. Go mattress sliding down your staircase in your pajamas (works everytime)
  17. Take on a new hobby. Cooking, baking, arts & crafts, a sport, skateboarding, sewing, hacking. It can be ANYTHING. You have YouTube to teach you everything you desire to learn. I took up video editing and started YouTubing 🙂 Subscribe and I will love you more! https://www.youtube.com/c/RafaFarihah

10 Ways to Have a Rocking Summer

Self

1. Go on a road trip with your best buddies.

It must have been a while since you last saw them anyways. We all get caught up in our own lives and drift apart. But once you see them again, it’s just like old times. What better way to bond than by being car-bound for six hours? Make sure to call shotgun!

2. Meet your inner artist.

Get away from the world and the problems it brings you. Go to a secluded area to just self-reflect, even if it is your backyard or local lake. Take a breather, ponder about who you are and what you want to be, and put those emotions into writing or art. Go on, write a poem. It helps to be mushy gushy once in a while.

3. Start a new hobby.

You remember that thing you said you would do if you had more time? Well, this is the time to do it. Take flying lessons, learn archery, tennis, or whatever it may be. Some activities are limited by age. It’s hard to go sky diving when you are 70.

4. Try new cuisines.

Food is the path to anyone’s heart. Try something you have never eaten before. Duck, lobster, calamari, shark, rabbit. Thai, Mongolian, Afghani, Indian, Greek. Your youth is the time to go crazy. You have to watch your diet once you are older.

5. Spend time with your family.

It’s true, family has your back no matter what. See how they are doing and update each other about your lives. Play with the new babies in the family, have a barbecue, and maybe even a small (but wild) family party.

6. Make a summer playlist.

Every superhero needs their own theme song. You are a man/woman on a mission: to have the best summer of your life. Compile a playlist of cool songs for when you are chilling at home, driving, and road-tripping. You will feel the LIT-level go up drastically.

7. Visit a theme park or museum.

You don’t have to travel to explore. Start small, within your city. Museums can be fun if you go with other people. Learn something new about the world. What you know can only make you stronger. Check out the amusement parks nearby. Nothing sings water parks more than summer.

8. Get involved with your community.

This vacation isn’t just about you. It’s also about what you can do for others, so try to give back. You will have this warm feeling that no road trip will give you. Start a club for the kids in your community, have a fundraiser, donate to charity. The list is endless.

9. Make awesome memories.

Don’t forget to take a bunch of quality photos wherever you go. It’s not as valuable as the real life memories you make, but it will just have to suffice for the future. Maybe you can make a neat scrapbook to show your kids one day. One think you should never do, is limit your options (make sure it’s legal though). Do something out of the ordinary, weird, spontaneous, and crazy. Ask yourself, “If not now, then when?”

10. Binge watch Netflix.

Having fun can be emotionally and physically draining. Sometimes you just need to be alone, curl up under that fleece blanket, and indulge yourself with a good rom-com (or horror movie). Make that midnight Walmart run to get Cookies n’ Cream ice cream and extra buttery popcorn. Treat yo’self.

10 Signs You’re Ready for Spring Break

Self, Thoughts

It is that time of year when the weather is adjusting to reach that ideal breezy spring getaway weather we all dream of. Say goodbye to scarves and riding boots because it’s time to whip out the sandals and palazzo pants. SB2K16 is just around the corner! College is just not appealing anymore because the only things on our minds are fun, food, and friends. Here are some signs you are ready to sprint home the moment college lets out:

1. You have started slacking off since the end of the first cycle of exams

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You have a whole week to catch up. Psyche! Not happening.

2. Your to-do list consists of salon appointments and beauty products to buy

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3. You are constantly checking to see when the weather is above 60 degrees

 

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4. You already bought concerts tickets months ago

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5. Your suitcase is stuffed with rompers and swimsuits even though you haven’t              worked out since last summer

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6. You can’t wait to meet the crew from High School. You called shotgun a LONG time ago

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7. Your best friend is your bed: No shame girls

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8. There is nothing better to do in your spare time than binge eat because you’ve finished all the good shows on Netflix

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9. Your skin is suspiciously too soft and pampered

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A little too suspicious… ehh Mrs. Doubtfire?

10. You piled up all your laundry to take home because you are just too lazy. That explains your clothing choices lately

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