The Ix Art Park is basically my favorite place in Charlottesville. The fundraising for the art park coincided with my first year here and I remember looking at the plans and feeling so grateful that a community space like that could arise in this small town. Over the past five years I have only fallen deeper in love with the murals, sculptures, events and businesses that have blossomed there. My kiddo adores the free ranging she can do in the outdoor portion of Ix and our family made it to nearly all of the Free Fall concert series Saturday evenings this year, but this post is really about three excellent indoor spots to enjoy Ix during the cold months ahead.
Brazos Tacos recently celebrated the first anniversary of the changing table in one of their Either/Or bathrooms, deserving of kudos on several fronts. Other than the changing table, there’s a stack of kids’ books for borrowing, and wee toddler-sized table with chairs in primary colors. Their guac and creamy black beans were some of my daughter’s first solid foods and it just so happens - since we used to live within walking distance - that Brazos was the first place I nursed in public. Their kids’ menu is sweet, simple and to the point, but there are also endless delicious possibilities for adults including margaritas. Coming from California, “queso,” was not part of my Mexican food experience before this setting, but I can hardly go there without ordering it now, I love it that much. I’ve come around on Tex Mex. Pro tip: order ahead via their website or by calling the Taco Phone to avoid the lunch rush line!
Sweethaus is a bit controversial as its sugary goodness may not be everyone’s idea of a healthy snack, but they always have gluten-free options and I swear I order carrot cake there just because there’s a vegetable. For many months I got away with going there to play and have a coffee without even purchasing a cupcake, but my wee one is now in love with them and I can hardly blame her. A mini cupcake for around $1 and a decaf Americano for mama is totally worth it for their adorable play area, whether your kiddo is crawling or running around. We don’t have stairs in our apartment and Matilde enjoys practicing climbing up and down to the cute lofted sitting area, where I’ve also attended a lovely gathering of mamas who all peered down on our kiddos happily playing below. Head’s up: a dozen or two mixed mini cupcakes will impress folks at any gathering.
Three Notch’d is a recent addition to the Ix space and the build-out is remarkable. The night we were there for dinner there were several parties including balloons and lots of revelry - while the noise level was above my comfort zone, my kiddo had so much fun playing in their kids’ area where there were crayons, books, toys galore and lots of playmates. The children’s menu hummus platter served us as an appetizer (since Matilde was mainly into playing rather than eating) and they could stand to have smaller spoons if they’re going to serve apple sauce to toddlers, but we would happily go back...if friends invited us!