by Garrett Heath
One advantage of keeping a food blog is that I’ve traveled all over the city looking for the best enchiladas, hamburgers and chilaquiles. I’ve rambled around town and have become familiar with many of the back roads and side streets in San Antonio. When it was time to look for a house to move in with Mandy, my wife, we were drawn towards Mahncke Park near the city center.
Mahncke Park is on the other side of Broadway from Brackenridge Park. You’ve probably passed by the bust of Ludwig Mahncke on Broadway and wondered, “Who is that guy?” as you were driving toward downtown. Answer: Mahncke was the first Parks Commissioner of San Antonio. The neighborhood has a mix of houses built between the 1920s and 1950s, and while it might be in the 78209 area code, Mahncke Park is very different from Alamo Heights.
The neighborhood is unassuming in the sense that there are few grandiose mansions (save a couple on the Funston and Parland strip). Most are smaller bungalows painted in interesting colors. My favorites are the houses that have a bright trim that pops with the rest of the house. One neighbor is an artist who has different sculptures in her front yard along with hand painted tiles her friends made for her birthday.
While I have been a fan of the neighborhood, I wasn’t initially sold on moving into my bright yellow house, an American Foursquare. There wasn’t any central air conditioning and the house only had one bathroom with just a bathtub (yes, we’ve since converted it to be a shower)! Mandy persisted, and I am glad she did. I’ve fallen in love with our house, built in the 1920s, with its original hardwood floors and tall ceilings. The tradeoffs that I made to move from the Northside to Mahncke Park have been worth it.
Our street is a mix of people, some have lived there many years, others are newcomers. In an era where people often don’t know who they are living next to, our neighbors welcomed us with open arms (not to mention champagne and strawberries!). The neighborhood is home to young and old and it’s always interesting to see the cultures converge.
There is a neighborhood association that actively meets and puts out an informative printed monthly newsletter as well as a vibrant Facebook group of folks who post information and nearby deals in addition to serving as a digital neighborhood watch. Being a food blogger, I’m in heaven to be within walking distance of a variety of mom-and-pop restaurants. There are many yet to explore along the Broadway corridor. One that has become a breakfast taco staple is Cachito de Mexico.
Their chilaquiles taco hits the spot with a spicy green salsa. Being close to Central Market has been both a blessing (their ice cream section has inspired me to try a different flavor each week) and a curse (when I see the total on the receipt, I long for a “normal” HEB). Growing up, I peddled everywhere, be it to school, a friend’s house, the local record store or Dairy Queen (if you haven’t noticed, I love ice cream). Getting a car changed everything – my hometown of Lubbock, Texas, wasn’t exactly bike friendly and I found that it was easier just to drive. My love of riding a bike has been rekindled since moving to the neighborhood.
There are plenty of things that are accessible by bike from Mahncke Park. From my house, I can easily get to Brackenridge and ride along the trails or to the San Antonio Zoo, the Pearl Brewery for the farmer’s market or a Friday night movie, the San Pedro Springs to take a dip in the pool, the Botanical Gardens to get a chance to walk in natural beauty, downtown to go to my office at Geekdom, catch an exhibit at the San Antonio Museum of Art or attend worship services at Travis Park UMC.
Getting to cruise through the neighborhood and city has let me rediscover a form of exercise that I not only enjoy, but also one that has a good amount of utility. Even though I have been here for a short amount of time, there is a noticeable pulse in Mahncke Park. People are out and about and there is always someone walking or biking by our house on their way to work or just for fun. Rundown houses are being fixed up and people are breathing new life into the neighborhood. I am looking forward to get to know Mahncke Park even more. It’s is not just where I live, but a neighborhood that I love.
Garrett Heath blogs for Rackspace, is the guy behind An Average Joe in San Antonio and enjoys working on things at Geekdom. He loves San Antonio, especially eating at mom and pop Mexican food restaurants. Find him on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Google+.