Eastside Vibes: Come Experience the Culture
Celebrations, food joints, & moves to make on the Eastside this summer
By Montinique Monroe,
7:00AM, Wed. May 24, 2017
Despite gentrification, Austin’s rich cultural history still exists east of Highway 35 – a place where African-Americans and Mexican-Americans were once forced to live. Austin’s Black and Latino communities flourished there, creating their own businesses, restaurants, and schools.
The Eastside continues to be a home to some of the city’s most prominent landmarks as well as a multitude of opportunities to experience the music, food, and culture that is the true essence of daily Black and Latino life. The Eastside offers a variety of places to eat, celebrate, dance, or just simply hang out in the spirit of good vibes. Here’s a guide to events, food joints, and moves to make on the Eastside this summer. Do it for the culture!
Juneteenth is the celebration of the abolition of slavery in Texas, made final on June 19, 1865. The month of June is filled with events celebrating freedom and has been celebrated in East Austin for decades. Add the Miss Juneteenth Beauty Pageant and the historic parade to the top of your list of events to experience this summer. The beauty pageant takes place June 10 at 6pm and the historic parade and festival on June 17, beginning at 9:30am.
The annual Jamaica event and fundraiser, hosted by Cristo Rey Catholic Church, brings the community together through food music and culture. Join Cristo Rey and its members on June 11, for live music, danzas de matachines, entertainment for the children, and a lot of food. Everyone is welcome.
The Pan Am Hillside Concert series is an Eastside tradition that has graced Austin for more than 50 years. From Tejano bands to Mariachi, the event showcases East Austin's history and culture bringing 2,000 people to the Pan American Recreation Center. The concert series occurs every Tuesday in July. Bring a blanket, sunglasses, and your family and friends.
This historic museum magnifies African-American history and culture through gallery exhibits, programs, classes, theatre productions, a genealogy center, and summer camps. The free museum hosts a permanent exhibit highlighting African-American families of Austin, an artists’ gallery, a children’s exhibit on African-American scientists and inventors, as well as the Juneteenth exhibit. As the first library to serve Austin’s black community, the library hosts a series of free visual, performing arts, and educational events and classes.
Six Square is your connection to black history, art, and culture. This summer, the organization will host Meeting of the Mindz on Mondays at 7pm to discuss challenging issues that the Black community faces today. Six Square also hosts Melanated Marketplace, an event highlighting black and brown businesses on the second Saturdays of each month, a Piece of Eastside History Bike Crawl on June 3, and a gallery exhibit featuring art from local artist Ethan Parker on June 6.
Tour the Cesar Chavez and Holly street neighborhoods adn learn the story of Mexican-American life on the Eastside. Join Tejano Trails for the last free walking tour on May 20, at 11am or sign up to volunteer.
Whether it’s a midday pick-up game, quick swim, or a game of dominoes, there’s never a dull moment at an Eastside park. Enjoy live music and catch candy-coated slabs riding through Givens Park on Sundays, or enjoy special guest performances, games, rides, food, and entertainment every Wednesday from June 21 to August 9 at the Jump On It summer concert series. Perfect your shot at Givens Recreation Center on weekdays during open gym from 2-5pm or get some weight lifting in on weekdays 9am-9pm, Saturdays 10am-4pm, and Sundays noon-4pm. Enjoy mixed crowds, cookout areas, and watch low riders cruise by at Chicano Park throughout the week. If you’re looking for a place to cool down, enjoy Rosewood Park’s pool Tuesday through Friday 11am-8pm.
Allow Esquina Tango instructors to help you perfect your bachata technique, take a Spanish class for beginners, attend a movie night, or take your kids to a free dance class.
The MYEC was developed as a symbol of peaceful activism and is a safe place for youth to have wholesome fun. Boogie down in the roller skating rink, bowl, and play arcade games all in one setting. If you need a break, just grab a slice of pizza or popcorn and enjoy a movie. The Millennium is also home of the Austin Area Jazz Festival this year, which will take place on May 28.
Looking for some Southern comfort? Country Boyz has you covered from fried pork chops, wingz, gumbo, and meatloaf to several tasty side options.
From smothered pork chops, oxtails, and fried fish to collard greens and chitterlings too, this is truly food for the soul.
This traditional authentic Mexican food has graced Austin since 1980. Need a starting place? Grab a Don Juan El Taco Grande for breakfast.
Known to many as the “finest barbecue in town!” Great hospitality is eclipsed by the great food including brisket, pork ribs, sausage, mutton, and chicken. Does anything else need to be said?
The Austin Chronicle’s Summer Fun issue is on stands now.
Michael King, Sept. 25, 2015
Tyler Pratt, Aug. 17, 2012
May 26, 2017
April 13, 2017
Summer Fun 2017, East Austin, Juneteenth, Jamaica, Carver Museum, Six Square, Tejano Trails, Esquina Tango, Millennium Youth Entertainment Complex, Country Boy Fixins, Roland's Soul Food, Juan in a Million, Sam's BBQ