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The first time I woke up in my Southtown apartment as the sun was beginning to rise, I remember looking out my window and seeing a glimmer of red stretching across the horizon. The downtown San Antonio skyline was just coming into view, and I remember thinking, “Wow. This is my home.”

For someone who grew up in Houston wondering what it was like to live in San Antonio and someone who had always lived with family or roommates, waking up in my own place in the city I always imagined myself in made me feel like a real adult. 

Where I Live: Southtown by Francisco Solorzano.
Francisco Solorzano took this image of a sunrise when he first moved into his new apartment, and it was the first time he felt that San Antonio was his home. Credit: Courtesy / Francisco Solorzano

When I was growing up, my family’s go-to vacation destination was San Antonio. Whether it was summer break or a long weekend, you would more than likely find us making the drive down for some fun at Fiesta Texas. Then when I graduated from Baylor University, I had the opportunity to join the City Year program in San Antonio.

It was during that two-year program that I fell in love with Southtown. I knew that’s where I wanted to live if I ever got the chance. But when I completed the program, I was offered a teaching position in my hometown.

During the five years I spent teaching in Houston, I always felt that pull back to San Antonio. Last year, I finally made the move back and, though the transition during a pandemic was not ideal, I’m glad I came back.

The Southtown neighborhood is marked with a red pin.
The Southtown neighborhood is marked with a red pin. Credit: Courtesy / Google Maps

In just those five years that I was away, there was tremendous growth, particularly in downtown San Antonio and the surrounding areas. I love that San Antonio has kept up with the big cities, but it still holds on to that intimate, familia feel. I was happy to see old favorites like Halcyon and Hot Joy still thriving and I have since discovered even more to love about Southtown.

Because I live right next to the river, I see people out walking all the time. That encourages me to get out of my bubble and join them for a run. Exploring the neighborhood on foot and bike, I stumbled upon Zweatit Indoor Soccer and Dos Sirenos Brewing, and both have become staples for me. Having access to outdoor spaces like The Friendly Spot and La Tuna has helped me maintain a social life, even during the pandemic.

Where I Live: Southtown by Francisco Solorzano. Photos taken on February 24, 2021.
Francisco Solorzano often runs on the River Walk in Southtown. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

The Blue Star Arts Complex has done a great job of slowly reopening to meet the demand of the community, as has the Guenther House, where I like to go for breakfast on weekends. Their waffles, pancakes, and biscuits are heavenly. And I still enjoy visiting Halcyon to work on lesson plans and stopping by Hot Joy for ramen night or happy hour.

The pool at my apartment complex has remained open, and I’ve met some of my neighbors there. This side of town attracts a lot of young professionals – many of them live in my complex and several others nearby – so it’s been easy to make friends and find my community.

And when I need some time to myself, my apartment is my space to unwind, recharge, and try out some new hobbies. Though I’m now back on campus, when I was teaching remotely, I was grateful to have my own quiet space to work from. Now that I’m driving to work, having easy access to the highway makes it a painless commute – something I’m thankful for having come from Houston where traffic can be a hassle.

Where I Live: Southtown by Francisco Solorzano. Photos taken on February 24, 2021.
Francisco Solorzano stands next to the bridge by The Flats at Big Tex. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

I’ve always enjoyed cooking, so I spend a lot of time in my kitchen. It’s where I work on Mexican recipes I learned from my mother and experiment with cocktails to pair with my meals.

Since moving back, San Antonio has offered me even more than I expected. Even during the pandemic, I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything. I love Southtown’s cool, casual vibe and think it’s the perfect place for young professionals like myself to set off on their own.

Francisco Solorzano

Francisco Solorzano

Francisco Solorzano is a proud Baylor graduate, a longtime fan of being active, and an educator. You can't find him in many places online, but he may be decompressing at brunch or any local happy hour.