An Interview With Jade Place - Matthews Of Hillside Farmacy

An Interview With Jade Place - Matthews Of Hillside Farmacy
Previously a drugstore, Hillside Farmacy has been lovingly restored and transformed into a truly unique restaurant and bar. Inspired by Texas‘ first African American pharmacist, it focuses on classic home-style dishes, from blueberry pancakes with brown butter to house made charcuterie platters. We spoke to Jade Place-Matthews, owner of Hillside Farmacy, to find out more about the history of this special place.
Exterior © Bonnie Jenkins

Your restaurant takes its inspiration from the Hillside drugstore that was located in the same spot in the 1950s. How many of the original interior fittings have you kept, and how important is the history to the atmosphere you cultivate in the restaurant?

By the time we found the building it had been many things barber shop, po-boy restaurant, a dance studio, so unfortunately most of the original fixtures and furniture had been removed. There was only one large cabinet that is now the back bar which was original. The freaky thing is we had already purchased all of the apothecary cabinetry and display cases from Jones drugstore in Elgin, Texas before we had met the Turner family and learned the history. Mrs Turner’s father, Doc Young, was the first African American Pharmacist in Austin, and her job was to work the soda fountain. We installed a new soda system in honor of her which is now used for our seasonal house-made syrups. The reclaimed cabinetry which once held medicines now hold local grocery items. What’s most important to us as far as our atmosphere is that we stay true to honoring the history of the Turners and Doc Young.

Enjoy a good time © Bonnie Jenkins

Do you have any signature dishes you can tell us about?

Our mac and cheese has been a customer favorite since we opened. We use taleggio, an aged white cheddar, from Antonelli’s Cheese Shop with the option to add pancetta, broccoli and a poached farm egg. Our signature drink is our Grapefruit Jalapeño Margarita, with smoked salt & sugar rim, sweet, spicy and so good.

How would you describe your style of food?

Home style new American.

Savory © Bonnie Jenkins

Sweet or savory?


What are the benefits of having a grocery and a restaurant combined together?

We try to use most of the grocery products we sell on our menu such as Emz Jamz, Zhi Tea, Wicked Bee honey and Yellowbird hot sauce. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship with our vendors, a lot of them only sell at farmers’ markets so it’s a great way for our customers to taste their products and have it available for purchase all week long.

Good vibes © Bonnie Jenkins

What makes Hillside unique?

Our love of Austin farms, celebrating clean, good, local food and being housed in a great piece of Austin history. We’ve got incredible staff that is definitely family and definitely unique.

Decoration © Bonnie Jenkins

Where would you advise culture-lovers to visit in Austin?

Get out of the city! As we are approaching the summer months, pack a little picnic or grab some breakfast tacos and maybe a few lone stars and head to some water. We are so lucky to be surrounded by amazing natural springs, rivers and lakes.

What does the future hold for Hillside Farmacy?

We hope to evolve and continue to grow. We aren’t trying to create the new and coolest dish, just to keep providing fresh, local food, a welcome place that our customers enjoy, and support as many local farms and ranches as we can.

The Hillside Farmacy is one of the winners of The Culture Trip’s Austin Local Favorite 2016 Award. The Local Favorite badge is awarded to our favorite local towns, restaurants, artists, galleries, and everything in between. We are passionate about showcasing popular local talents on a global scale, so we have cultivated a carefully selected, but growing community.