North South East West | WEST

North South East West | WEST

Come On In—Austinites in every direction share their secret spots and stories of the ‘hoods they love most.

 

The Silverstein Family’s Bryker Woods
by Jake Silverstein

After many years on the East Side and then a couple in the Zilker neighborhood, we finally ended up in Bryker Woods about a year ago. There’s nothing flashy about this neighborhood. The houses aren’t the biggest or nicest or weirdest or oldest in town. The restaurants aren’t the most hip. Bryker Woods doesn’t really have a thing. Which is part of why we like it. We fell in love with the house first, a sweet old 1940s bungalow gracefully expanded in the 1980s, with two giant pecan trees standing guard out front. That it was two blocks from the elementary school sealed the deal. We soon realized that this is one of the city’s most walkable neighborhoods. Our older son, Leo, walks or bikes to Bryker Woods Elementary every day, and we often end up wandering over to the playground in the evenings too, beer in hand. On weekends it’s a five-minute stroll to pancakes at Kerbey Lane, after which, flying high on syrup and OJ, the boys find their natural habitat on the Shoal Creek Greenbelt.

The greenbelt is one of the compelling features of this neighborhood. It’s a narrow strip of nature, but there’s still a lot to explore; and it’s substantial enough to act as a psychological moat (and in the old days, when the bridges would get washed out regularly, it effectively was a moat) between the nearby downtown and our house. There’s always so much happening in Austin that we like living in a neighborhood where not much is happening—just our own family stuff, the trees growing their leaves and dropping their pecans, the kids smashing them open with rocks and eating the nuts. Bryker Woods is sort of like a twenty-first-century Austin-flavored riff on Mayberry. You half expect to see the milkman on his rounds.

The key to that is the elementary school. It’s truly the heart of this neighborhood. In the mornings during the school year, when the streets are full of parents sipping coffee and kids lugging backpacks, everyone spilling out of their houses and waving to each other, the whole place takes on the feel of a village. We like that; it makes it easier to raise our kids. And let’s be honest: Raising kids is a pain in the ass.

Mary LaMotte and Jake Silverstein met in New York in 2000 and returned to Texas, where they had both lived in the 90’s, in 2002. They have two boys, Leo (6) and Joe (3). Jake is the editor in chief of Texas Monthly; Mary is a freelance editor.

 

Jake's Top 10

Shoal Creek Trail/Greenbelt—We use it almost daily, for running, fish-egg hunting, rock identifying. When it rains, Jake and the boys immediately head for the creek.

Lammes Candies (1000 W. 38th St.)—Mary has an unrelenting sweet tooth; Lammes is her hometown favorite. The peanut butter squares and dark chocolate mints are key to her optimum daily functioning.

Bryker Woods Elementary (3309 Kerbey Ln.)—Small, warmhearted school with caring teachers and parents alike. The playground is dreamy; We hit it pretty much every weekend.

Anderson’s Coffee (1601 W. 38th St.)—The best coffee in town. Incredibly fresh, beautifully crafted brews in a homey old store with a creaky wood floor. The secret is they roast all their beans daily in small batches. Jake is currently hooked on the Organic Dark Sumatra. There’s also an excellent tea selection and salted chocolate caramel balls for Mary. Lyle Lovett sightings a plus.

Pasta and Co. (3502 Kerbey Ln.)—Fresh pasta and homemade sauces, salads, bread, to-go only. Dinner in five minutes, in and out. Perfect on deadline nights.

Pediatric Associates (1500 W. 38th St.)—A great practice that has taken such good care of both our boys. You can’t go wrong with any of the doctors. Ask to see Dr. Mirrop’s Star Wars room and prepare to be blown away. Or perhaps just totally confused.

FoodHeads Café (616 W. 34th St.)—Excellent lunches. The squash and fresh Mozzarella sandwich, grilled with spinach, tomato, pesto, and blackberry balsamic vinaigrette, is unbelievable.

Ramsey Park Playground (4301 Rosedale Ave.)—Technically in Rosedale, but so close we’re there at least a few times a week. Something about the space makes kids band together and ignore the adults. This is good.

34th Street Café (1005 W. 34th St.)—Unassuming, solidly delicious neighborhood lunch and dinner spot.

Breed and Co. (718 W. 29th St.)—Hardware, paint, plants, a fancy corkscrew or two. Everything you need for anything you’re doing. And a staff that has the correct balance of knowledge, speed and gruffness. Plus (note the trend), there’s a candy counter for Mary.

 

 

The Asazu Family’s Tarrytown
by Kayo Asazu

My husband, Také, and I were raised in the Kansai area of Japan, where we always had convenient public transportation and could get to the city within 30 minutes. The only thing we were missing was space. So when we decided to buy our first house in Austin, we chose to live in northwest Austin, where we could get more space and a lot of nature. We lived there happily for seven years, but by the time we opened our first brick-and-mortar restaurant, Komé, we realized we needed to live closer to the central city, where we could enjoy more urban activities.

With our busy schedule after we opened Komé, we did not allow ourselves the time to do house hunting, so we decided to move into a condo in Tarrytown that a friend owns. It has only been a year since we moved to this neighborhood, but we have already made the decision to stay here as long as we can.

As soon as we moved in, we fell in love with the neighborhood. I remember the first night we were in the condo. I was so excited, and I said to Také, “All these coffee shops and restaurants are less than a mile away! We should go out tonight!” He made me calm down, saying, “Kayo, we are going to live here a long time, so we can go out any night.”

The best thing about this neighborhood is that you can enjoy the location so much. It is so close to everything—not just city activities like shopping and dining, but also outdoor activities such as kayaking at Lady Bird Lake or hanging out at Zilker Park. Sometimes I go kayaking in the morning before going to work. Sometimes I stop by one of the great neighborhood coffee shops and finish my work before picking up my kids from school. And I can’t ignore the benefit of getting to work within 10 minutes!
We have great people in this neighborhood, which I was able to tell from the people I met at the neighborhood elementary school where my son, Kenta, goes. People are very open-minded. Everyone we have met so far has been very supportive and friendly.

But what we love most about the neighborhood is its personality. There are many old/historical buildings and houses that have a very intimate character from the past. People here take care of their property, and you feel that the neighborhood itself is very well preserved.

As Austin grows, we will see more high-rise condos and hotels downtown, but I am confident that this neighborhood will keep the beautiful look that it has today and had many years ago. This neighborhood is like a well-hidden jewel in Austin.

Kayo came to Austin in 1996 from Japan, and met her husband, Také. They lived in New Orleans and back in Japan before deciding on Austin as the place to start their family in 2003. The Asazus ran Deli Bento at the Sunset Valley Farmers’ Market and two Sushi-A-Go-Go trailers for a few years, then opened their first brick-and-mortar restaurant, Komé, in 2011. Kayo has recently opened Daruma, a ramen restaurant on Sixth Street.

 

Kayo's Top 10

Mozart’s Coffee Roasters (3825 Lake Austin Blvd.)—I never get bored with enjoying my coffee on the patio looking at the beautiful sunrise.

Black Swan Yoga (1114 W. 5th St., #202)—This donation-based/no-commitment yoga studio perfectly works for my busy work schedule. I especially enjoy the late-night candlelit sweaty yoga class to relax my soul before going to bed.

Sweetish Hill Bakery (1120 W. 6th St.)—My husband and I go here for our date breakfast after we drop the kids off at school. I love this place because their pastries are really good and they have many petite selections that suit my appetite.

Café Medici (1101 West Lynn St.) —Cozy little place to meet my friends and chat over a delicious espresso drink.

Nau’s Enfield Drug (1115 W Lynn St)—I can get the great old American feeling that I used to dream before I came to this country. Very simple burgers and yummy shakes!

Amy’s Ice Cream (1012 W. 6th St.)—I take the kids to Amy’s for after-dinner dessert, especially on weekends, when they can stay up late. And the staff keeps us entertained!

Food! Food! (2727 Exposition Blvd.)—When I work from home, I usually grab sandwiches here. They are so convenient and good!

Fresa’s (915 N Lamar Blvd.)—Delicious chicken and my favorite horchata! Great take-out place for family movie night at home.

Laguna Gloria (3809 W. 35th St.)—Great place to have a walk. Kids take a variety of art classes every now and then. I love to hang out here with a cup of coffee when I am waiting for the kids’ classes to be over.

Waterloo Records (600 N. Lamar Blvd.)—It has always been our date place since the day we met!

 

 

The Waitzkin Family’s Westlake
by Kate Waitzkin

It’s curious how life often leads us through a variety of directions and countless experiences only to bring us full circle to land right back where we started. If we are lucky, the journey affords us the opportunity to step out of our comfort zone, exposes us to new people and places, and inspires personal growth while also reviving our appreciation for our roots and fabric from which we came.

Having been born and raised in Austin, I moved to New York City in search of whatever it is we crave at the ripe and emboldened age of 21. Lucky for me, (my husband) Graeme, born and raised in our nation’s capital, had the same spur in his saddle and landed in Manhattan at the same time. After meeting, we fell in love, moved in together and tied the knot at Austin’s own Mercury Hall—in that order and almost as fast.

The four years that followed included a move to San Francisco, the birth of our first son, and the thrilling (and, if we are being honest, slightly terrifying) news that I was pregnant with twins and we would soon be adding two more boys to our rapidly expanding family. The news put us on a fast track back to Austin, where we had a support system of family and friends, a welcomed and proven necessity with three boys under the age of three.

After months of scouring houses, exploring neighborhoods and meditating on our priorities, we landed in Westlake’s Lost Creek, less than two miles from where I attended high school. Having lived an urban lifestyle in shoebox apartments for the last twelve years, the idea of moving to what felt like the ‘burbs was anxiety-provoking for both me and Graeme. We were reluctant, but it didn’t take us long to experience the strong sense of community and discover all the natural beauty our new surroundings offered.

Settling just outside the city limits has blessed us with a backyard setting reminiscent of the wide-open Hill Country, a nighttime view of downtown (our sons’ favorite way to end his day) and a rockin’ playground at the end of our block. Perched above Barton Creek Greenbelt, Lost Creek sits just a short drive from Graeme’s downtown office, our boys’ preschool at St. David’s and the studios where I teach yoga. The deep-rooted community and educational opportunities that Westlake offers, coupled with the abundance of outdoor treasures and the serenity they afford are the perfect recipe for our family. When nostalgia kicks in and we’re itching for the shops, restaurants and music suggestive of our days in New York and San Fran, downtown Austin never fails to deliver.

Kate Waitzkin is a yoga teacher (kateyoga.net), and Graeme Waitzkin is an associate strategy director at Frog Design. They love living in and exploring Austin with their three boys, Miles, Wills and Shields.

 

Kate's Top 10

Lost Creek Park (1305 Quaker Ridge Dr.)—Undoubtedly one of the reasons we bought this house, arguably one of the best parks in Austin is situated a stone’s throw away from our front door. With three boys and energy to burn, we frequent this park almost daily.

People’s Pharmacy (4201 Westbank Dr.)—Saturday mornings are pancake mornings in our house, but by ten o’clock the boys are ready for a mid-morning boost. People’s always-tasty breakfast tacos hit the spot.

Barton Creek Greenbelt—On sunny mornings, we throw our bathing suits and water shoes on and roll down Lost Creek Boulevard to jump onto Austin’s beloved greenbelt. Hiking through the sun-drenched trees, splashing through the creek and taking a dip in the swim hole make for the perfect little adventure.

Breed + Co. (3663 Bee Cave Rd.)—A favorite pit stop for my tool-obsessed husband and son.

Commons Ford Park (614 Commons Ford Rd.)—Off the beaten path, we hike the dusty trails that wind through grassy fields and finish up with a picnic by the lake watching the boats cruise past and wave.

Westbank and Laura’s Library (1309 Westbank Rd.)—Our boys have always been book lovers. Sometimes more for chewing on than reading, but I digress. Both library locations offer a sweet and engaging story time throughout the week.

Barton Springs Nursery (3601 Bee Caves Rd.)—Always the project man, Graeme has an ever-evolving vision for our landscape. Our babes can get lost in the labyrinth of plant life while Graeme satisfies his hankering for getting his hands dirty.

Hat Creek (4407 Bee Cave Rd.)—Delicious but casual chow (my personal fave is the Hot Dang grain burger), cold beers and a deck overlooking the playground, where our boys can get sweaty and work up an appetite.

Bee Cave’s Goodwill Drop-Off (12400 W. Hwy. 71)—Inspired by our days in New York, where some of our favorite furniture finds were picked up on the street corner with a “free” sign attached, this super-convenient location gives us the chance to return the favor with the hope that our donated toys and furniture will find a happy second home.

Our Own Backyard—Dinner at home with friends and family is hard to beat. We love to transport our kitchen table outdoors to nosh and sip al fresco, while the kids play in the sandbox or climb through rosemary shrubs looking for doodle bugs. Closing out the day with a view to the hills and our boys’ smiling and dirt-laden faces makes everything right in the world.

 

Album

Jake Silverstein, the editor of Texas Monthly, enjoys a couple of Shiners with his wife, Mary Silverstein, and their two boys.
Kayo, Také and their two children Kaya and Kenta, owners of local restaurant favorites, Komé and Daruma, spending the afternoon at one of their favorite neighborhood spots, Laguna Gloria.
“With three boys, we need a space where they can go and just be boys, so there are pretty much no rules in this room. We painted one of the main walls with chalkboard paint, where Miles loves to draw and practice his letters with chalk,” Kate Waitzkin says.