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Sandra Bullock, San Antonio tacos and more: what’s on celebrities' minds at SXSW
Lizzo sat down with iHeart Media's Angela Yee for a Keynote on Sunday. (Laura Figi/Austonia)

With the red carpet rolled out in front of the Paramount Theatre and loads of sessions each day, South by Southwest is buzzing with celebrities and influencers who are offering their take on Austin’s food, growth and culture. Here’s what they had to say:


Pedro Pascal, Anne Hathaway and Daniel Radcliffe

Pascal, known for his roles in the Mandalorian and Game of Thrones, arrived in Austin for the premiere of his film “The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent.” He lived in San Antonio after emigrating from Chile, so Austin 360 was curious about his stance on whether Austin’s taco scene beats out San Antonio's.

“It's San Antonio, people. It’s San Antonio," Pascal said. "If we’re talking about tacos? Chile con queso, maybe you can get that in Austin. But you get a taco in San Antonio, por favor! As far as I remember, yeah. Sorry, I love Austin."

Anne Hathaway, meanwhile, came to Austin for the premiere of her new show “WeCrashed.” The Princess Diaries actress seems to be a big fan of Austin tacos, and swung by East Austin’s Nixta Taqueria.

Also on food, Daniel Radcliffe was in need of barbecue recommendations. If you're in Radcliffe's boat, we have you covered with our guide to some of the best spots.

Sandra Bullock

On Saturday, Sandra Bullock was at the premiere of the latest action and comedy film she’s in, “The Lost City.” The actress, who lives in Austin, would be up for having women's soccer here. She was also asked what she thinks about the uptick of people moving to the capital city.

"If people come here and they appreciate what it has going and don’t try to change it, I say welcome,” Bullock said. “Just make sure the community is taken care of. Don’t try and change it, it’s perfect."

We agree, Austin is perfect. Except for its tacos, Pascal might say.

Lizzo

1 p.m. Sunday, Keynote with Lizzo | Austin Convention Center Ballroom D

The keynote speaker Sunday was “Truth Hurts” singer Lizzo, who talked about body representation and her new show, “Watch Out for the Big Grrrls.”

"This is something that has been a passion of mine for years and years and years before I had a TV show," Lizzo said. " I needed big girls more than I needed a television show. Ever since 2014, I've had open casting calls for dancers that look like me and it's been very difficult."

Jonathan Van Ness

Queer Eye to resume casting 6th season in Austin. (Queer Eye/Instagram)

Rocking a hot pink dress, the “Queer Eye” star took to the stage Monday to talk about the beauty industry and identity.

And as Texas makes headlines for Gov. Greg Abbott’s order to treat gender affirming care as child abuse— an order that was blocked by State District Judge Amy Clark Meachum on Friday—Van Ness also covered gender during his talk.

Van Ness said we should be talking about matters like climate change, gun safety, infrastructure, etc. “But yet again, trans people are used as a scapegoat for political purposes.”

The latest season of Queer Eye took place in Austin, where the group visited sites like nonprofit Safe in Austin.

“You shouldn’t have to change who you are to be safe and to be loved,” Van Ness said during Monday’s talk.

Jamie Lee Curtis

Curtis, who attended the festival for the premiere of “Everything Everywhere All At Once,” also talked about rights for transgender Texans.

In an interview with the Austin American-Statesman, Curtis shared her stance on Abbott’s order.

“It’s outrageous and horrifying that the governor has taken this position,” Curtis told the Statesman, noting that Ruby, her daughter, is trans. “I will do everything that I can, along with millions of other people, to support and defend the rights of these trans young people.”

Popular

‘Like speed dating of cats’ at Purr-fecto Cat Lounge
Purr-fecto Cat Lounge

Lina Martinez with her newly adopted cat, Emmanuel, who she renamed Sullivan.

Timmy and Tommy are ready to play.

As the 2-month-old white-and-tabby brothers swat feather wands, chase toys and generally hold court inside Purr-fecto Cat Lounge, a half-dozen potential adoptive parents look on lovingly, trying to get their attention.

“This is kind of like the speed dating of cats,” said Lupita Foster, owner of Purr-fecto Cat Lounge. “I intentionally didn’t put in any tables. That’s why we call it a lounge instead of a cat café because we have these lounge areas where you can sit and relax and cuddle.”

Foster, who has owned a cleaning company, Enviromaids, for 18 years, was inspired to open Purr-fecto Cat Lounge after adopting her own cat, Romeo, from a local shelter.

“When you want to adopt a cat, you have to spend a lot of time with them to get their personality,” Foster said. “I wanted to do something to help the community and something that makes me feel good, that warms my heart. A business with a purpose. This was a perfect idea.”

Actually, a purr-fect idea.

Inspired in part by a cat lounge she visited in Los Angeles, Foster began laying the groundwork for the business in late 2021 and officially opened the doors of Purr-fecto Cat Lounge, located at 2300 S. Lamar Blvd., in July 2022. Since then, she’s worked with rescue organizations such as Fuzzy Texan Animal Rescue and Sunshine Fund Cat Rescue to facilitate nearly 100 cat adoptions.

At any given time, there are 10-15 cats living in the space, which features an ideal blend of calm, cool corners and adorably Instagrammable backdrops with phrases such as “I want to spend all my 9 lives with you.”

Lina Martinez, 32, learned about Purr-fecto Cat Lounge from a friend’s Instagram post and made an appointment to visit two days later.

“My first impression was, ‘AWW!’” Martinez said. “The kittens were to die for. I felt happy and at peace – just what I needed.”

Visitors to the cat lounge pay $15 for a 30-minute CATXperience session or $30 for a 70-minute session that is spent getting to know the personalities of each cat. Foster said the first thing she typically sees from visitors to the lounge is a smile.

“Everybody that enters the door is smiling,” she said. “And we’ve seen people who have cried because they can’t have kids and they decide to go and adopt a cat instead.”

Foster said she loves bringing in cats who might not have a chance to be adopted at traditional shelters. She told the story of one cat named Izzy, who was partially blind, who was adopted by a family that had a deaf cat at home.

“Izzy was not going to get adopted anywhere else, but she’s extremely beautiful,” she said. “If she was in a cage in a rescue and you tell people she’s blind, she was probably going to be overlooked. But visiting our space, she doesn’t seem like she’s blind. She knows her way around. She moves around perfectly.”

Although Martinez, who had been casually looking for a pet to adopt since moving to Austin nearly four years ago, was interested in a cat named Ruby that she had seen on Purr-fecto’s social media, at the lounge she instead found herself drawn to 5-month-old mixed breed Tuxedo cat.

“I thought he was a star,” she said. “He worked the room and introduced himself to everyone. When I laid down to pet Ruby, he ran from the other side of the room and cuddled with me. It was game over. He got me.”

And she, of course, got him, complete with a commemorative photo that read “My Furrever Family” the day she took him home. Although his original name was Emmanuel, she renamed him Sullivan after her favorite DJ.

“Purr-fecto is special because of the amount of effort and love they put into taking care of the cats,” Martinez said, “and finding them good homes and making possible adopters feel at home.”

Foster, who spent a recent Thursday hosting a group of teenagers in foster care at the lounge, several of whom expressed interest in working there, said the best part about her new endeavor is that her heart is always full.

“I just feel complete,” she said. “I always felt as an entrepreneur that I was missing something. I knew I accomplished a lot, but in my heart I was missing a little connection with the community. Now I’m creating connections between humans and pets and that’s amazing. I’m creating family bonds. It’s just about love, you know. And we need that.”

Austin's 7 Best Indian Restaurants

We all have those cravings for an amazing butter chicken or some authentic dosas with coconut chutney, but when I was thinking about where I wanted to go to satisfy my taste buds I realized that my list of great Indian food around Austin was surprisingly short. After doing some research and asking around, here is your list of the best Indian restaurants around town.

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