Clarksville/West End Austin Neighborhood
As downtown Austin marches West, the Clarksville neighborhood just North of West Sixth Street and East of MoPac has managed to maintain its intimacy. Thanks to its historic roots, Clarksville has been protected from growth, but the adjacent West End area with its anchor in the so-called Central Design District at Lamar and Sixth means local Austin residents get the best of both worlds -- a taste of urban living in a quiet, old neighborhood.
In the 1860s Texas Gov. Elisha Pease sold some of his plantation in the area to slaves who built homes there. A decade later Charles Clark, a freed slave, started the community named in his honor. Eventually, as Austin grew at the turn of the century, the area was developed and the old plantation became part of the city. One of the last Clarksville residents descended from the freed slaves died just a few years ago. Now, the area is favored by young families, professionals looking for a quiet place to live and some of Austin's creative residents who enjoy the lower rents some small apartments in the area offer.
In keeping with Clarksville's quiet atmosphere, the small commercial center on West Lynn Street has a village-like feel. At Nau's Drugstore, the soda fountain looks much as it has for decades and the milkshakes are still made the same way. One of the premier places to eat in Austin, Jeffrey's, is in the heart of Clarksville and its understated design and eclectic menu is quintessential Austin. While Jeffrey's does wonderful things with Texas game and seafood, neighboring Cosmic Cafe, formerly West Lynn Cafe, caters to Austin's vegetarian taste buds.
Many residents choose to shop at the neighborhood Fresh Plus store, although Whole Foods' landmark store is just a few blocks East at Lamar and Sixth. There are nearby dry cleaners and a garden center in the neighborhood, also.
Other foodie favorites include legendary Sweetish Hill Bakery, just a couple of blocks West of Lamar, favored for breakfast coffee and pastry, wonderful lunchtime sandwiches and special holiday pastries. Portabla on Sixth and Cipollina on West Lynn offer take-out food for dinner and picnics, and Wiggy's Liquors on Sixth is the Austin neighborhood favorite for wine and cigars. Longtime Austin favorites, Z-Tejas, Cafe Josie and Castle Hill Cafe are popular cafes in the neighborhood.
The daily witticism posted on the big sidewalk message board at the funky El Arroyo restaurant on Fifth Street is a neighborhood fixture, but new shops and cafes along Fifth and Sixth are bringing a new sophistication to the area. A growing number of galleries are choosing to locate in the Clarksville neighborhood, also, and one of Austin's best Latin-American import stores, El Interior, is on West Lynn Street.
The hilly neighborhood makes for great evening walks and there are two small neighborhood parks -- Clarksville Park and West Austin Park -- and both have summer wading pools. For runners and cyclists, Shoal Creek hike and bike trail is a few blocks to the Northeast and, of course, Zilker Park is just a few blocks South.
One note about Clarksville/West End: Some of the same vibe can be found across MoPac and along Lake Austin Boulevard, but we have included this Western area along the boulevard, West of MoPac, in our Tarrytown neighborhood overview because the local businesses there view Tarrytown as their customer base.
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