Where We Hang Our Hats: French Place
We fell in love in our neighborhood before we fell in love with it. We would take a blanket over to Alamo Park where we would flirt, future trip and talk story. Fast forward almost three years, and we now live within striking distance of that park with our seven-month-old son, River. Before we know it, he will be playing on the swing set there.
We love our neighborhood for so many reasons. We both appreciate, for example, that most of the houses were built in the 1940’s and that there are so many garage apartments, which means we hear Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday band practices (and the occasional beer pong tourney). We hope at least one of the bands will sell out a show at Stubb’s one day. We’re also so close to the UT campus that we can often hear the baseball commentator and the crowd roaring. It feels pretty darn apple-pie-Americana while we’re outside working in the garden or grilling. Almost every evening, we take a walk and enjoy our friendly neighborhood: just last week, as the sun was setting on a warm Sunday evening, some folks we had never met before were on their front porch, watching their two daughters play in the sprinkler. The adults were drinking beers—the same way we do on our porch—and waved so energetically at us that I felt instant love for them. I even said to sweet Martha, “Damn. I love Austin and I love our neighborhood.” In fact, we know most of the people on our street: since we both work from home, we have been able to befriend a lot of the stay-at-home dads during our daily walks, and on a weekly basis, we visit with our dear friends from San Francisco who moved down the block. Another neighbor is completely inspiring with their DIY projects and organic gardening and shares their radishes, bok choy and chard with us. In addition to our childhood friends in the neighborhood, we became fast friends with our neighbors across the street shortly after we moved in. We laugh a lot with them, and they adore our son.
Finally, one of the things we love most about French Place is the annual Halloween parade. As new parents, Martha and I headed over with River, not knowing what to expect. On our way, we made a bet if we would be the only parents with beer in the cup holders of our stroller. Luckily, I won the bet since about half of the parents had beer! We were amazed by literally hundreds of parents and kids that poured onto the street. Costumes included bugs, superheroes, the Village People and our little unicorn. We love living in such a creative neighborhood with so much joie and enthusiasm. I can’t imagine living anywhere else in Austin.
Jo is a word-smith, number cruncher for Microsoft and large scale art enthusiast. Martha is an Austin native and founder of The Hot Dang grain burgers and her food blog, Not That Martha. River is pure delight.
Jo and Martha's East Austin
1. Escuelita Del Alma (3109 N. I-35). The best daycare in the land!
2. Taco-Mex (2611 Manor Rd.). This walk-up taco window was a close contender for the #1 spot.
3. Rain Lily Farm (914 Shady Ln.). A beautiful four-acre farm in the heart of East Austin owned by fantastically good people.
4. The Butterfly Bar (2307 Manor Rd.). The bar is owned by an Austin native and is the best backyard for buying a glass of wine.
5. Monarch Food Mart (1402 E. 38 1/2 St.). A shop with a pretty good wine selection and locally made natural foods.
6. Alamo Park (2100 Alamo St.). Good for falling in love, a pick-up basketball game and a fun playground.
7. Thunderbird Coffee Shop (2200 Manor Rd.). Makes a mean Arnold Palmer with peach tea and brews the fabulous Cuvee coffee.
8. Cherrywood Coffee House (1400 E. 38 1/2 St.). Hosts a lot of fun community events. River attended his first SXSW show there.
9. Bennu 24 Hour Coffee Lounge (2001 E. MLK Jr. Blvd.). Good for the 24 hour coffee needs.
10. Contigo (2027 Anchor Ln.). A lovely outdoor dining spot with responsibly sourced food.