The Where I Live series aims to showcase our diverse city and region by spotlighting its many vibrant neighborhoods. Each week a local resident invites us over and lets us in on what makes their neighborhood special. Have we been to your neighborhood yet? Get in touch to share your story.

Moving into this house in the Monte Viejo neighborhood was like coming home. The familiar faces and places brought back memories of my childhood on the South Side and, though a lot had changed since then, being back felt comforting. After 10 years of apartment living in the medical center, I was happy to have a place to call my own and eager to show my New Yorker husband where I grew up.

What really made it feel like a homecoming is that the people haven’t changed. So many people I grew up around, including my own family, are still here. People here are warm and welcoming. Shopping at my local H-E-B, the older staff and customers call me mija, something I didn’t realize I missed about living on the South Side.

We’ve enjoyed getting to know our neighbors over our six years here. We trust each other to keep an eye on things when we’re out of town and are comfortable enough to ask for help if we need it. One neighbor is an assistant pastor at a Southside church. He’s invited us to visit his church, and we’ve taken him up on it several times. 

For date night, my husband and I like Luna Rosa at Brooks. We’re always looking for good Puerto Rican food, since my husband is Puerto Rican, so it’s nice to have Luna Rosa nearby. Also at Brooks, The Greenline is a beautiful trail that we like to walk, especially with our dog, Bella.

Closer to our house, there’s a taquería that’s changed names so many times, it’s hard to keep up. But after driving by and saying we should check it out sometime for way too long, my husband and I finally went by La Parrilla last Veterans Day. When we sat down and looked over at the next table, we saw our veteran neighbor and his wife out for their own date night. So we chatted a bit and paid for their meal to thank him for his service. It’s nice to have little encounters like that around the neighborhood.

The South Side has definitely seen a restaurant boom in recent years. I was surprised when we heard we’d have a La Gloria location in the neighborhood soon and saw that as signaling a change in the restaurant landscape in this area. 

As much as we love trying new restaurants, I would like to see more shopping options on the South Side. I’d also like to see more housing options, especially for younger professionals who are looking for apartments. I remember when I was looking for my first apartment, there were few options that weren’t income-restricted. If we want to draw younger people to this area, we need more apartments for them. The recent additions at and around Brooks are definitely a good start.

One of the greatest improvements I’ve seen on the South Side that really made it feel like I was coming full circle was the Mission Concepción, which is where I was baptized in the ‘80s and always felt like our local church, now draws people from around the city for services. You never know who you’ll see at Sunday mass. 

And it’s not only there but in other parts of the South Side that you’ll see people from other parts of town and even tourists, which is not something I grew up with. The small parks, where I used to have my birthday parties as a kid have been revitalized and now you’ll see families from all over enjoying them. It makes me proud that people are seeing what a wonderful place the South Side is and that it’s only getting better.