Your Neighborhood Expert
Historic Rainey Street District: Vibrant character in the heart of downtown
There are so many great places to live in Austin that it helps to have an expert on your side. The Neighborhood Guide presented by Kuper Sotheby's International Realty gives you insider access from the agents who live and work there, providing in-the-know info about your possible new community.
On any given day, you’ll probably find real estate agent Lesley Taylor at Little Brother in the Historic Rainey Street District.
“They pull a mean shot of espresso and make the perfect cortados,” she says. “They serve beverages only and you can get some tasty stiff drinks, too — after you've had your coffee.”
It’s just one of the many reasons Taylor loves the downtown neighborhood, which sits right on the shores of Lady Bird Lake and boasts a vibrant nightlife scene with historic bungalows that have transformed into cozy bars and live music venues.
Having been a downtown Austin resident for 20 years, she’s intimately knowledgeable about the city’s urban core and is passionate about uncovering local hidden gems and neighborhood haunts.
And her sales speak for themselves; she has recently had more sales on record in the Historic Rainey Street District than any other agent in Austin.
When she’s not working, Taylor might be traveling the world — or marching at the Capitol for women’s rights and criminal justice.
She also sits on the advisory council at the Neil Cochran House Museum and is a trained and certified doula. Everyone who knows her agrees that she has first-class knowledge of SEC football and Champagne and is every bit a foodie.
Taylor offered up a few of her personal favorites about life in Historic Rainey Street District. Here's her guide to the area:
Where to eat & drink
In addition to Little Brother, Taylor recommends Half Step for drinks. It has a modern take on classic cocktails, all served across a cozy indoor space and a large outdoor patio with live music on many nights.
For dinner, this foodie points everyone in the direction of Emmer & Rye, where the menu changes daily and focuses on seasonal and local cuisine. But true to the restaurant's name, you can always expect that heirloom grains will be milled fresh for house-made pastas, breads, and desserts.
Where to play
“You're right on the Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail,” laughs Taylor. “Get moving!”
What to see
The Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center has incredible programming and events.
Also consider heading to Geraldine’s at Hotel Van Zandt. It is named after the famed guinea fowl that once roamed Rainey Street, and offers a bat's-eye-view of Lady Bird Lake and the downtown skyline. Plus, their stage boasts live music and uniquely Austin experiences ranging from jazz brunch to local songwriter showcases.
Where to live
“The Historic Rainey Street District has some of the best condominium high-rises downtown Austin has to offer,” says Taylor. “In a few short years, it will also house the tallest building in Texas: a new tower being built along Waller Creek, aptly named The Waterline.” The Waterline will be 74 stories and exceed the current tallest tower in Texas (in Houston) by 20 feet.
“In the coming years, this downtown pocket will feel even more metropolitan — think Chicago or NYC — especially as the residential projects underway deliver to market,” adds Taylor. “Nowhere else in downtown do you have residences along the water's edge without having to cross a major thoroughfare to access the lake and hike and bike trail.”