Part One: Hyde and Go Seek

Liliana Hall and Anna-Kay Reeves

Hyde Park has a reputation for being quaint and quirky. With an eclectic assortment of small businesses from bakeries to restaurants to a theatre, Hyde Park lives up to the hype.

The neighborhood’s historic streets are full of nooks and crannies to explore, but knowing where to start can be a challenge. Here is your guide to “the musts” in one of Austin’s
oldest neighborhoods.

“Hyde Park is one of the few self-sustaining neighborhoods in the city,” said John Silberberg, co-owner of Mother’s Cafe, a vegetarian restaurant located in the heart of the neighborhood at Duval and 43rd street.

According to Silberberg, with coffee shops, bars, restaurants, a grocery store and even a specialty cheese shop, Hyde Park residents can find anything they need without stepping outside the neighborhood, which extends from 38th and 51st streets and Guadalupe to Interstate Highway 35.

“Mother’s opened in 1980, and we have always been supported by the locals,” Silberberg said. “It’s really validating because in the restaurant business, you put your head down to get through the day while trying to do it right and make people happy.”

Around the corner at 43rd and Avenue H, Quack’s 43rd Street Bakery now resides in Hyde Park after debuting on the Drag in 1983. Stop by Quack’s for anything from coffee to pastries. Stephen Presler grew up in Hyde Park and attended UT in 1960. According to Presler, who’s watched Hyde Park grow over the last 60 years, the neighborhood has stayed constant in the midst of Austin’s rapid growth.

“It hasn’t changed much,” Presler said. “Change can get carried away and eventually leads
to downfall.”

The heart of Hyde Park consists of Fresh Plus Grocery, where locals can walk a few blocks to find everyday staples, organic produce and craft beer. Next door, Asti Trattoria serves up Italian classics in a retro dinner setting. With limited seating, the community style dining experience reflects the intimate and friendly vibes of
the neighborhood.

Further up the street, Dolce Vita is an espresso bar featuring an extensive wine and beer menu.

Tony Vela, a Dallas resident who’s made trips to Austin for nearly 45 years, spent most of his childhood in Austin when it was truly weird.

“Back in the day, you did your thing (and) respected everyone, and wonderful grassroots enterprises sprang from that culture,” Vela said. “Today, I see a very myopic vision in Austin, one of development with the obvious disinvestment of the neighborhoods for economic gain. Not the Austin mentality of the past. We didn’t need to keep Austin weird, we just were.”

As Dolce Vita prepares to close its doors indefinitely, Vela said he hopes the new owners can manage to maintain the culture of the neighborhood as Dolce Vita managed to do for 26 years.

The establishments that make up Hyde Park have remained intertwined in the locals’ lives for decades. Presler said he hopes as taxes rise, the attitude of the neighborhood stays the same.

“It is a part of our daily routine,” Presler said. “Every morning you go (get) coffee, trade gossip and read the newspaper. You have a community, and that is important to the happiness of people and the business. Change in any of these establishments would lead to unhappiness.”