Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Automobile Alley – Carless Rating #7

Hello everyone! Today I'm going to rate another one of our favorite destinations: Automobile Alley.
Carless Rating: Automobile Alley - 22/25

Automobile Alley was one of the first places I discovered when we first moved here. I needed to get a couple of shirts and ties cleaned for John. I had looked up Fashion Cleaners, which had great reviews, and is located very close to our apartment, so I took a walk up there to drop off his items. After that errand, I didn't have any plans for a bit, so I kept walking up 6th Street until I reached Broadway. I previously had no idea that this area existed, so I was very pleasantly surprised to see what looked like an exciting district to explore! I walked up the street, finding great stores like Plenty Mercantile, and restaurants like Hideaway Pizza, and eventually stopping in at Broadway Wine Merchants to pick up a six-pack of Big Sky Brewing Company beer to take home. That was the real kicker for me; I hadn't seen a place to buy craft beer since we had arrived in OKC, so I was really happy to come across a great selection in a fun location.

I hurried home, and I couldn't wait to tell John about Automobile Alley. As soon as he got home, I insisted that we head right back out to go up there. It turned out to be even better than I'd originally thought. That night, and in subsequent trips, we discovered many of our favorite places that have become fixtures on our weekend adventures. John is a huge Flaming Lips fan, and was totally overjoyed to come across the Womb Gallery. Similarly, I'm a huge cupcake fan, so I was excited to see (and taste) Sara Sara Cupcakes. John found his new favorite cologne and many other great gift items at Shop Good. On a friend's recommendation, we tried Iguana Grill and were blown away by the freshness and quality of their food. We discovered a great little wine bar with a patio called Peloton, tucked away behind Schlegel Bikes. Eventually, we fell in love with the awesome burgers, huge beer selection, and great atmosphere at S&B's Burger Joint, where I swear by the King burger (topped with peanut butter and bacon - I promise, it's delicious).

One of the best things about Automobile Alley is the fact that it is located very close to our apartment, and is therefore super convenient for us to walk to. We can walk straight up 6th Street just a few blocks and be there, which is nice when we want to pop in to Broadway Wine Merchants for a six-pack, or when there's tons of snow and ice everywhere, like there was a few weeks ago, when we were bored and wanted some S&B's burgers and made the wintry trek up there to eat dinner.

We're still making our way through Automobile Alley to try all the food and see all the shops. A great way to discover Automobile Alley is the Shop Hop, which is an open house type event on the third Thursday of each month, when shops and restaurants stay open late and offer samples and freebies, while food trucks serve delicious food outside. We love any event that includes food trucks, and the last time we went, we got to explore even more of Automobile Alley than we usually would. We'll be checking out tomorrow night's Shop Hop from 6-9pm (1/16/2014). And in the future, we're excited to try out Red PrimeSteak, which is a serious contender at this point for our Valentine's Day dinner!

Now, let's rate Automobile Alley!
Automobile Alley is located just under half a mile from our apartment, which would get an A rating for distance.
The walk to Automobile Alley gets a C rating for pedestrian infrastructure. There are good sidewalks, crosswalks, and walk signals on the way, but unfortunately, Broadway itself is lacking in crosswalks and pedestrian signals. If you have to cross as a pedestrian, you have to just take your chances, which is scary and difficult on such a wide road.
Transportation options - Automobile Alley has a good range of transportation options. In addition to the road for cars (it is Automobile Alley, after all), there are nicely kept sidewalks for pedestrians, and the bus runs through the area with Routes 2 and 24, and to a lesser extent, Route 3. As far as bicycles go, there are no bike lanes, which is a drawback, but the road is wide and easily cyclable, and there's a Spokies station at the corner of 10th and Broadway. Automobile Alley gets a B for transportation options.
The land use in Automobile Alley is one of its top assets. A good portion of the district features buildings with commercial units at street level and residential units above, which is a key concept to maintaining density in urban areas. Many of the buildings are repurposed spaces, and the mix of restaurants, shops, and offices provides a nice flow to the area. The walk to the district is lined with various business and government buildings, but they all make good use of the street level space. Automobile Alley gets an A for land use.
Automobile Alley has a wonderful atmosphere; the architecture is unique and the shops and restaurants provide a fantastic local eating and dining experience. Events like the Shop Hop and the (sadly semi-defunct) Gazette Halloween Parade lend an air of tight-knit community to the district. The walk to Automobile Alley has a pleasant atmosphere as well; the area feels safe at any time of day or night. Let's give it an A for atmosphere!
Overall, Automobile Alley gets a 22 out of 25. I'm expecting more great things out of this district! Go check out the Shop Hop tomorrow night (Thursday, 1/16/14) from 6-9pm - if you see us there, make sure to say hello!

If we don't catch you at the Shop Hop, you can see us tonight on OKC Fox 25 news at 9:00pm. We'll be talking about the blog with Wendy Suares!


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