A walking tour of my favorite neighborhood in all of Austin, where I WILL move back someday. When I'm a millionaire. (Sniff.)
Avenue B Grocery was built in 1909, and is one of Hyde Park's most precious gems. As anyone who's ever been here knows, sandwiches are an absolute must: Order the "Queen B," slathered with three cheese, avocado, mushrooms, and jalapenos.
Mother's is such authentically hippie, old Austin, that you have to smile at their earnestly vegetarian menu options: Tofu Lasagna, BBQ Tofu, Tofu Enchiladas -- did I mention they serve a lot of tofu? Don't be scared, carnivores -- this really is delicious, down-home fare that hippies and cowboys enjoy equally.
Somewhere between a diner and high-class eatin' lies Hyde Park Bar & Grill, the fork sign-fronted fixture of Duval Road. "Comfort" is the word that immediately comes to mind, lacing not only the chicken fried steak and famous french fries, but the throwback vinyl furniture and cozy house feel.
A while back, when my regular stylist had to cancel our appointment last minute, I called 4001 Duval Hair Salon to see if they could squeeze me in. They could, and I was immediately charmed by the neighborhood feel of this place, a salon I had strolled by so many times. Adam touched up my layers, and we also talked about Keratin Treatments (think Brazilian Blowout). I was too broke at the time, but starting at $200, theirs are actually on the more affordable end for local salons that offer this.
The sign for Hyde Park Gym alone -- the vein-wrapped, bulging bicep bursting out of the wall -- is one of the main reasons I was convinced to move to this neighborhood. This is a no-frills, old school, mostly-dudes gym, where you won't find many inflatable balance balls, but racks and racks of hand-weights and bell bars, accompanied by a sound track of rock music and male grunting.
A happy gathering place for Hyde Park kids and families, Shipe Park & Pool carries the namesake of Monroe Martin Shipe, who developed Hyde Park in 1891 as Austin's first suburb. On any given day, you can find children splashing in the pool, moms helping their toddlers down the slide, and UT students tossing around a frisbee.
A cozy, classy Italian spot right in the middle of "downtown Hyde Park," i.e. the corner of Duval and 43rd Streets. The food here is elegant and unfussy, like the garganelli (my favorite), made with black truffle, leeks, radicchio, parmesan and cream.
A tiny, intimate theatre that hosts Frontera Fest each year, Hyde Park Theatre is a hidden outpost of extraordinary local acting talent. A show here, and pizza across the street at The Parlor, make for a lovely and oh-so-Austin date night.
I used to walk by Blue Moon all the time thinking, "what the hell IS that place?" (Not that it's already spelled out clearly on the sign...but I digress). Blue Moon not only sells all manner of glass art (mosaics, jewelry, windows and window hangings), but teaches classes too, in fusing, staining, and frameworking.
Here in Austin, Antonelli's has successfully created a whole culture (har!) around cheese. It's a relatively new addition to Hyde Park, and honestly, I wasn't sure it would last when it first opened up. "That shop seems so...specific," I remarked to my husband when we walked by it one day. "Why not just get your cheese at the grocery store?" Then I walked inside, and immediately understood: Here was a tiny, intimate room of passionate cheese lovers, as capable of helping you round out your dinner as an oenophile with a vintage wine.