The neighborhoods of East & West Riverside have long been referred to as Uptown. I’m here to tell you they aren’t. These two sections of town have a large intermingling of renters and homeowners. There are renters in these areas that have been in the same house for 10+ years. There are young families moving in, there are crazy cat ladies, there are older folks who have owned homes here before you were even thought of. You might be familiar with neighbors dog’s name before you know theirs. Riverside is very social, so be prepared to say hello a few times while walking down the street.
My friend & Riverside resident, Patrick Healy, agreed to show me 3 places in his ‘hood that he loves. Let’s go on his tour!
Patrick had me meet him at Pho Cam Ly first. Before he even got there, I wolfed down down some tofu and avocado spring rolls. Clearly, things were going well already. When I asked him why did we come here first, his response was, “It’s our neighborhood Vietnamese joint with reasonable prices.” Reasonable prices was an understatement. Between his large bowl of bun, my banh mi, and those spring rolls, I spent under $30 for lunch. I wish I had taken some pics of the food, but I was real hungry and went to town on it. My banh mi bread was just the right amount of crunchy without slicing the top of my mouth, The tofu was a little underwhelming, but nothing sriracha couldn’t help.
Next on Patrick’s list was Cherry Espresso Bar. Once a firehouse, it is now the home to this adorable coffeeshop. Walking in the door there, I already knew a few folks mingling about. I’m not a coffee drinker, but they have a reputation for having some of the best in town. My tour guide loves it, not only for it’s delicious taste, but for having a local shop in walking distance of his house. I can only vouch for their iced tea, and it was perfection – which is always on the stronger side for me. We wandered to their patio on the side of the building and got lost in conversation for a while and enjoyed the shade the canopies brought us.
Before we ventured to the next location, Patrick nodded his head over to Wisner Dog Park & Playground (which is right across the street from Cherry) and said “After you get coffee, you can bring your dogs to the park.”
The last stop on Patrick’s tour was Magic Box Toys. They have been playthings in this neighborhood for 22 years. The reason he picked this place was that they “don’t sell cheaply made items. Everything is going to last longer and it’s a higher quality.” He was not lying about that claim.
Once you step foot into this toy store, you immediately become a kid again. I wanted EVERYTHING!!! They had magnetic blocks (I’ve never even heard of that before), dress up clothes, wooden board games, bouncy balls, dinosaurs – they had it all! I managed to get out of there with only one board game and a set of adorable mini stamps. (Not for me sadly.) I am wondering if they allow adults to have birthday parties there…
I thanked Patrick for a great tour and he mentioned he regretted doing this during the work day so that we couldn’t go on a pub crawl. Stay tuned for the Riverside evening version, y’all!