7 Reasons To Discover Buzzworthy Downtown Abilene
Toss axes like a Viking hero. Savor an enticing plethora of flavors on an indulgent food tour. Dance the night away at an energetic nightclub or enjoy the upscale ambiance of a chic bar as you sip on craft cocktails.
This is what a typical day could look like when you visit Abilene’s hip and happening downtown area, where you’ll come across a host of one-of-a-kind restaurants and trendy bars, breweries, and clubs.
Much of the action is centered in and around the vibrant South of Downtown Abilene (SoDA) District, but there’s plenty to discover throughout the downtown area. All this youthful exuberance is perfectly balanced by The Key City’s small-town charm, offering the best of both worlds when you’re looking for an escape from the big city. Here’s why you should come experience it all for yourself.
The Culinary Scene Cooks Up Plenty of Surprises
What’s an essential part of any night out? Great conversation paired with even better food, of course. If you’re craving mouthwatering eats, from sizzling steaks to perfect slices of pizza, downtown Abilene is the place to be. Get a true taste of the Lone Star State at the Beehive Restaurant & Saloon, one of Texas’ best steakhouses that was started by two brothers from Iran. Start with an order of escargot or homemade beer battered fried vegetables, then tuck into a hearty cut of filet mignon, rib eye, or New York strip steak. Beehive Restaurant also has such staples as chicken fried steak, cheeseburgers and hamburgers, and an array of succulent seafood entrees.
For an upscale take on your favorite kind of comfort food, roll into Cypress Street Station. Exposed brick walls provide a rustic backdrop for an exceptional dining experience. Stop by for some fish and chips, homemade meatloaf, or pulled pork covered with mac and cheese during lunch, or bring your appetite for pork chops, steaks, quail, or even a pizza for dinner. With a long list of red and white wines from around the world, as well as an extensive craft beer and cocktail selection, Cypress Street Station is the kind of spot you can hang out all night. Meanwhile, Vagabond Pizza serves oh-so crispy wood-fired pizzas along with a selection of craft beer from local and nationwide brewers. Order your favorite kind of pie, but make sure to leave some space for a decadent cookie sandwich.
These are just a few of the many uniquely Abilene restaurants you can try out while you’re here. To savor the downtown area’s dining scene, book your spot on the Abilene Food Tour. This 2.5-hour walking adventure takes you to some of the town’s top restaurants, giving you the chance to experience it all at once. Come hungry, as there’s plenty of delicious food to sample.
Axe Throwing is On the Menu
Plant your feet and point your elbows toward the bullseye. A short distance away, a large target beckons you to give it your best shot. No, you’re not throwing darts in a crowded bar. Instead, you’re tossing axes at the Abilene Axe Company. Bring your friends and vie for bragging rights as you take turns throwing axes as if you were rolling balls at a bowling alley. Whether you stay for an hour or an entire afternoon, you’ll spend your time doing something you don’t get to do every day. Walk ins are welcome, but the best way to ensure you have a spot is to make an advance reservation. Not only will you not have to wait, but you’ll save a few bucks too.
Unique Live Music Venues Abound
Any good night out will probably include some music, and downtown Abilene has the kind of venues that showcase some of the area’s best performers. Set in the historic Crain Crankshaft building, The Stairs Club is a lively dance hall with a stage that stands in front of an expansive dance floor. Tap your toes and swing your hips along to the beat of the music, then take a break by getting something to drink from the full bar before taking a breather on the long, cushioned benches. If you’re looking to dance the night away to beats spun by DJs, get yourself to the high-energy Sky Luxury Lounge.
Spend any time on the southern end of Abilene’s downtown area and you’ll probably see the towering white walls of the Texas Mill & Elevator Company building. Today, this provides an eye-catching backdrop for The Mill Wine Bar & Event Venue. Order something from the long list of reds and whites, including some on tap, or a pint of craft beer from Texas and beyond as you relish the evening air and live music on the verdant outdoor patio. No matter what kind of vibe you’re looking for, you’ll find it here in Downtown Abilene.
Funky Bars & Breweries Offer Perfect Hangout Spots
When you’re in the mood to tip back a few drinks, Downtown Abilene is where you’ll want to be. That’s especially true if you prefer to drink local. Experience terrific views at Grain Theory, located on the second floor of the Motis Building. This indoor/outdoor brewery, coffee bar, and kitchen doesn't shy away from twists on tradition and unique ingredients.
Even if you aren’t a beer drinker, you’ll come across more hip spots to hang out at than you can fit into one trip. Start at Amendment 21, where specialty cocktails and a long list of beers are idyllically matched with the bar’s sophisticated atmosphere. To get the most out of The Hallows, visit in the morning and at night. Kick things off with a craft coffee in the morning, then visit the cocktail bar to try mixologist-created drinks made with freshly squeezed juices and in-house syrup. Nearby, cigar aficionados will want to stop by locals' favorite hangout, The Leaf, where they can peruse and smell the fine products in the walk-in humidor. Stay awhile and have a cup of joe.
A Historic Local Candy Shop Serves Up the Sweets
Delightfully crunchy almonds covered in milk chocolate. Creamy peanut butter fudge. Old-fashioned pralines. These are among the many mouthwatering candies handcrafted at Candies by Vletas, an Abilene institution for sugary sweets since 1912. Started by Greek immigrant brothers George and Nick Vletas, the candy shop offers crave-worthy confections crafted with recipes handed down from one generation to the next. From dipped fruits and brittles to pralines and nuts enrobed in dark, milk, and white chocolate, Candies by Vletas makes something for every kind of sweet tooth.
Whether you’re a chocolate lover or you’re searching for something to snack on, Candies by Vletas has treats you won’t find anywhere else.
You Can Get Your Own Custom Cowboy Hat
Downtown Abilene may be a cosmopolitan place, but you don’t need to go far to hear its Texas twang. One of the best ways you can leave with a souvenir worthy of the Lone Star State is by getting your own custom cowboy hat from 5D Custom Hats & Leather. The process is as easy as can be. It all starts with a precise measurement of your head’s size and shape that’s used to make your own unique fit. Then you can select a range of bands and colors, from the near-white bone and steel gray to burgundy and forest green. Along with color, you can also select the shape and cut of the hat, depending on if you’re looking the perfect complement to a formal outfit or something a bit more casual. From wide-brimmed cowboy hats to fedoras, 5D Custom Hats & Leather can do it all.
The standard turnaround time on creating a hat is about six weeks, so you can come back to the store to pick it up or you can have it shipped to you. If you want something to take with you now, you might just find something on the wall in the color and size you want. Even if you aren’t in the market for a hat, 5D Custom Hats & Leather makes any kind of leather good you can think of short of a saddle. Custom cell phone holders, belts, wallets, and purses are just a few of the things they can make, so get creative and you can leave with something truly your own.
Whether you’re looking for a lively night out or to uncover some of The Key City’s unique spots, head to Downtown Abilene and the SoDA District.