Page Two: Eastside Crawlin'
No lack of hipness on these streets
There is a constant complaint that Austin is not as cool as it once was, not as hip or intimate – but this criticism fails to address the many neighborhoods that have come into their own over the last decade and a half. These include North Loop, from 53rd Street to Airport Boulevard, with its shops and restaurants; the restaurant row that Manor has become; and the developments in the Rainey Street neighborhood. Not everyone is a fan of these new commercial areas, but for the most part they are very citizen-friendly, casual, and welcoming.
In this issue, we offer a look into four Eastside bar crawls. When this was being discussed in our editorial meeting, we debated exactly when the Eastside began to change into what it has now become. As we recall, the Eastside – long home to African-American and Hispanic bars and businesses – began to experience an influx as early as 2003 and 2004. Though, as Food Editor Virginia Wood points out in her introduction to the bar crawl, things really began to change after "the economic downturn in 2008. When the bottom fell out of the construction business, the area's popular Tejano and Norteño bars fell on hard times because their construction clientele no longer had jobs." This led to available real estate that entrepreneurs utilized to open any number of businesses.
Over the last half decade, the Eastside has truly transformed, loaded with all kinds of new restaurants, bars, and ventures. Under Wood's supervision, four teams were sent out to participate in a bar crawl and relate what they found. This is not a comprehensive guide to Eastside businesses, but just a look at established popular bars as well as up-and-coming ones. (Personal favorites may have been left out for any number of reasons; we apologize for any omissions and, as always, welcome additional comments, letters, and observations from our readers.)
On another note, congratulations to our own Jordan Smith on receiving yet another journalism award. She is one of three alt-weekly writers to be recognized by the State Bar of Texas with their Texas Gavel Award for excellence in legal reporting.