On Second Thought
Why Downtown Austin’s Second Street District is as fresh and relevant as ever
by Madelyn Reiter
Newspapers, magazines and blogs often title Austin as one of the best places to live in America. In fact, just last month, U.S. News and World Report named the city as the best place to live in the country for the third year in a row – and it’s no surprise why! With its evolving food scene, friendly atmosphere and endless array of events, it’s hard not to fall in love with ATX.
Within Austin’s larger city limits, Second Street District (2SD) is catching the media’s eye, particularly after it was ranked one of the “28 friendliest neighborhoods” by National Geographic Traveler. Second Street is filled with Austin originals and national favorites and is constantly evolving.
In honor of 2SD’s new title, we are visiting some of our favorites.
Curate your own style with a wide variety of handcrafted jewelry, sourced locally and globally. Designers carefully use recycled and responsibly mined metals to bring clients high-quality pieces, including delicate pendants, statement cuffs and diamond rings.
Mexican cuisine favorites, including tacos, tortas and classic margaritas, fill La Condesa’s menu, but the restaurant gives Tex Mex a new meaning by using locally sourced ingredients. The restaurant works closely with Hill Country farmers to provide fresh and sustainable dishes. Diners can enjoy their meals in the cool lounge-like environment or on the patio.
Get your sweat on with a high-intensity, low-impact, full-body workout. The cycle studio creates a party atmosphere with themed-music classes and lively instructors. RIDE aims to teach its “tribe” to have fun with fitness.
Mercury’s eclectic collection of items – literally, you can find anything from incense and candles, to handmade textiles, to restored furniture – has stood the test of time. It serves as a go-to for gifts and a staple to spice up your home’s décor.
Creativity meets booze at this arts and crafts workshop for adults. The venue hosts various DIY projects, including beaded-wrap bracelets and distressed wood art. Upstairs Circus is a guaranteed fun time for a girls’ night out, date night or for private parties.
This new Asian-Pacific restaurant acts as a tropical escape for Austin’s busy city-dwellers. Co-owner Christian Romero says the cabana-like interior is inspired by his upbringing in Panama, Costa Rica, Honduras and Miami. Romero invited local artist, Mez Data, to further develop his idea of a paradise on Second Street with vibrant murals. And of course, the sushi prepared by Uchi alumni is delicious.
Men can find something for any occasion at this boutique. Not only does League of Rebels sell fine plain-white tees, knitwear and dress shirts, but it also offers tailoring services to provide customized suits or alterations to ready-to-wear pieces.
Jewelry designer and store founder, Mousumi Shaw, draws her inspiration from the photos she takes while traveling internationally. Her various collections share stories of the culture and history surrounding a country.
Locals and visitors have been attracted to this toy store since it opened in 1987. With a collection of nostalgic and quirky products, Toy Joy is not exclusive to children. The store expanded when it moved to its current downtown location in 2013, which now features Yummi Joy candy shop and ice cream parlor next door.