Wednesday, May 26, 2010

East 11th Street Walking Tour

With the opening of Moxie at 1200 E. 11th, I've been spending more time in this neighborhood. I'm a bit smitten with it, so I thought I would encourage others to check it out. Also known as the East End IBIZ District, this little strip in Austin is blooming in lots of ways. If it hasn't hit your radar yet, be prepared for some surprises. I recommend the tour for a Wednesday or Friday evening--Fourth Fridays would be especially fun. (Why? Read on.)

 Mural, John Fisher 1979

Start at one of my favorite institutions--the public library. The Carver Branch at 1161 Angelina on the corner of Rosewood is a relatively new facility and sports some fine public art. It also has the distinction of housing the Carver Museum. The collection here is great, so check out a book or two for some weekend reading.
Mural, Freddie McCoo

Next, some fortification for this half-mile walk--East Side Pies across the street at 1401 Rosewood Ave. The pizza here is good--some say great--but I lived in NYC far too long to be objective about that. Grab a slice and something cold to drink and enjoy their little side patio.
Once you've had your fill of greasy goodness, head next door to Trailer Space Records for -- wait for it, w a i t--records! Oh, and apparently CDs, t-shirts, posters, books and fun.

Here's where you actually start walking on this walking tour. Head west on Rosewood and wander for a block or two. You'll be ready for a refreshing beverage at this point, so stop in at East End Wines. Owners Matt Miller and Sam Hovland have spent the last year renovating and restoring 1209 Rosewood and are now officially opened for business. Wednesdays and Fridays at East End are free tasting nights, so sip to your heart's content (or til they cut you off) and then pick up a bottle or two for later. Head west again, this time on East 11th.
With a belly full of pizza pie and a mind soothed with spirits, it's time to cross the street for some shopping at the newly reborn Moxie. This shop is in the groovy new East Village. You can't miss the building with its bright orange, yellow and red panels of "second skin."
Moxie is around the corner on the Lydia entrance of the building. Filled to the brim with locally handmade wares, art and general goodness, you'll be waylaid for a bit here. If you're into vintage, Moxie has got a bunch of that too--clothing and tchotchkes.  The store has just opened, but there's already plans for some fun events. I'm scheduled for a little trunk show this week for Fourth Friday, (May 28) so stop by to say hi and check out the new digs.
Supporting local artists and designers is rewarding, but it can take a toll on your feet. You need to take a little break and the next block offers three amazing choices. If you're in need of some liquid refreshment, one of Austin's oldest bars the Longbranch Inn at 1133 E. 11th, might be the perfect choice. Adult beverages have been served continually at this location on the 1890s era quarter sawn bar since 1934. Some Yelpers complain of lousy service (among other things), but that seems a small price to pay for a little sip of history. If you don't stop in, at least take a moment to enjoy the the Man in Black and random anthropomorphized lion art on the east wall.

If neighborhood-dive-bar-turned-hipster-hangout isn't exactly what you need, take a few more steps down the sidewalk to one of the best little eateries in ATX. No joke. The food at Blue Dahlia is really great--and not in that snooty one scallop on the plate for $45 sort of way. They make simple foods from fresh and often local ingredients. I highly recommend their Black Bean Salad. It comes with a dressing that is absolutely luscious. It took a bit to figure it out, but the cumin is what makes it so fab. I asked if they sell it by the bottle, but no luck. You ask too. Maybe they'll eventually take the hint.
If, after all these new(ish) establishment you find you really want to hang at a true old Austin institution, just head directly to the Victory Grill. The Victory is famous for more than just the great food--their stage has been alive with amazing blues and jazz artists since the doors opened in 1945. (Well, except for the dozen or so years in the 70s and 80s when the stage was closed down.) They have a special event planned for Fourth Friday that sounds delicious. I wish I wasn't already booked.

You may have noticed by now that great public art abounds on the East End. I'll leave you with just a couple more. The mosaic wall has been a favorite of mine for years. How embarrassing to find out just two days ago that the reverse side is almost more fabulous than the street side. It's amazing what you learn when you take the time to look. 
Okay, I'm not even walking and I'm tired. There's even more great stuff along this strip, but I've run out of energy. For more info about the East End District, check the Facebook page or the Austin Independent Business Alliance Ibiz District Page.


Carol B said...

Thanks for the tour info! I've heard about Blue Dahlia and the new Moxie store. I'm motivated to head over there to explore after reading your post.

blake shanley said...

Thank you for writing such a great take on the 11th Street experience! It warms my soul! I love your stuff at Moxie by the way (ask Kayci, she'll tell you it's true). I hope to meet you at the shop some day. I'm always around (By day, I'm the Realtor that represents the building at which Moxie has taken residence, By the rest of the day, I'm an advocate, promoter, patron, etc. of 11th Street)

Blake Shanley

peterstaats said...

i need to get out more,

adaptive reuse said...

What's amazing is there are still a bunch of cool places that I didn't even get to. Maybe I'll need to do a part 2 at some point.

luluvillage said...

That 'second skin' is pretty awesome! Love the public art, I am a big fan of quality public art, it's great to see so much of it present and in good shape, too.