Hot Block: West Loop

 In Culture, Guide

This month, our editor takes on the second side of this vibrant strip.


When we brainstorm potential neighborhoods to feature on this page every month, there are a few criteria to which we hold each contender: First, the area should be pedestrian-friendly. Second, it’s nice if the area has at least one or two new, buzzy developments. Finally—and this one is much harder to quantify, but is the most important—the neighborhood should have an inherent energy—something you feel when you visit that compels you to continue to explore. The Loop exceeds all of these and is the standard by which other emerging ‘hoods strive to model their own growth. Because The Loop is so chock-full of places to visit, I first ventured here in November 2009 and focused on the area that lies east of Skinker Blvd.; this month, I went west and checked out the best of the rest.

Walking around The Loop is like being front row at the ultimate street fashion show. Look around and you’ll spot the most amazing shoes, sunglasses, hairstyles, accessories—you name it. I’m always inspired to shop, which is good because The Loop has dozens of stores. Tantrum, for example has party dresses galore from lines like Kenzie Girl and BB Dakota. I love that their buyers understand the trends and bring them into the store at decent prices—nothing is over $100!

At the far end of The Loop are Craft Alliance and COCA, two nonprofit organizations that both provide many opportunities to create and view art. This month, I recommend checking out Craft Alliance’s Emerging Artists exhibition featuring the work of 40 local students and up-and-coming artists. This summer at COCA, take a class in culinary or visual arts. If observing is more your style, COCA showcases works from national and regional artists in their Millstone Gallery. In September, COCA’s fall show features the stunning photos of a personal favorite of mine, Michael Eastman.

New to The Loop, Cheese-ology offers a multitude of delicious takes on everyone’s favorite comfort food, macaroni and cheese. Cheese-ology offers over a dozen varieties, such as the 4-Cheese or the ever-popular Classic. My pick is the Sante Fe (a city just miles from my birthplace), which combines Chihuahua and Monterey Jack cheeses with grilled chicken, a corn and black bean salsa and bold Southwest spices. Heaven!

Since the day my older sister came home with a small tattoo on her ankle, I’ve always wanted some ink myself. Ten years later, here I am, still sans tattoo. My sister now has two and even my mother has a whimsical butterfly emblazoned on her shoulder blade. So every time I walk past Iron Age Tattoo, I peek in to see if today is the day I will have the courage to etch something permanent onto my body. I chicken out every time, but the visits are still well worth it. One look through the book featuring photos of previous works of body art, and I’m making mental notes on what my own masterpiece would look like. Someday.



661_342.jpgIron Age Tattoo

662_342.jpgCraft Alliance

663_342.jpgIron Age Tattoo


Photo credit: Photos courtesy of the locations.

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