How to Explore Mexican Culture in Austin

'Til Death Do Us Part | © Noé Otero / Flickr
'Til Death Do Us Part | © Noé Otero / Flickr
From major street names to cuisine hot spots, the effects of Austin‘s Mexican populace have very much shaped the city’s identity from the start. The Hispanic population within the city grew 64 percent between 2000 and 2010, with the majority of these individuals identifying as Mexican, and the population boom is not showing any signs of slowing down soon. Learn more about the heart and soul of Austin, beyond great Mexican food, with these cultural spots and events.

Mexic-Arte Museum

The Mexic-Arte Museum opened its doors in 1984, and it has continued to showcase work by Mexican, Latin American, and Latino artists ever since. Located in downtown Austin, the nonprofit museum features multiple exhibits, an art store, special events, and a famous mural gracing the outside of the building by Federico Archuleta. Check out “Austin’s Mexico,” an interactive project on the museum’s website, to learn about the role of Mexican Americans in building downtown Austin’s business community.

Voces De Las Perdidas by Adriana Corral © Mexic-Arte Museum

Teatro Vivo

As one of the only bilingual theaters in Texas, Teatro Vivo aims to make theater accessible for more of Austin’s residents by showcasing Latino artists and productions. Each year, they put on at least two bilingual productions, offer auditions to new and experienced actors alike, and seek to invite and engage underserved communities in the theater world. In early 2017, they will expand their bilingual offerings with a trilingual production of Los Moreno –a play performed in English, Spanish, and American Sign Language.
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Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center

Mexican American Cultural Center
Mexican American Cultural Center | © Enrique Jiménez / Flickr
Named after Emma S. Barrientos, an active politician and key founding member of the center, the Mexican American Cultural Center‘s two galleries feature rotating Mexican and Latino artists, and it offers classes and residencies for all ages of Latino artists. If possible, catch one of the center’s signature events focusing on Mexican culture: Viva Mexico in September, the Día de los Muertos celebration in October, and Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz: A Tribute to Mexican Women in April. The organization often collaborates with other arts programs in Austin to keep event costs, exhibits, and parking free for everyone to experience and enjoy.
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Pachanga Presents

Theater, Building, Music Venue
Ximena Sariñana at Pachanga 2015
Ximena Sariñana at Pachanga 2015 | © Pachanga Latino Music Festival
Once a day-long festival, Pachanga Latino Music Festival has evolved into Pachanga Presents, a quarterly concert series bringing Latino artists to the distinguished ACL Live at the Moody Theater venue. Past Mexican acts featured by Pachanga include Julieta Venegas, Los Lobos, Ximena Sariñara, Los Lonely Boys, El Gran Silencio, and Toy Selectah, just to name a few. Pachanga’s Facebook page is also a great resource for finding intermittent shows by Mexican artists around Austin, as they cross-promote and highlight performances taking place at other venues to support the Latino music community.
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Las Piñatas ATX Festival

Eat, swing, and get cultured for a cause at the Las Piñatas ATX Festival. 2016’s festivities took place in October as part of Día de los Muertos and featured art, a picnic, and, of course, loads of locally made piñatas. The event is put on by Latinos in Architecture, a group seeking to strengthen their own communities by bringing together design professionals and giving them a way to get involved. The whole premise of the event is to provide free piñatas and art for the public to enjoy.

Tesoro Trading Company

Travel the world without ever having to leave South Congress by visiting Tesoros Trading Company. Located on one of the busiest streets in Austin, nestled among other unique shops and local restaurants, Tesoros Trading Company features products from more than 20 countries around the world, with a particular emphasis on products from Mexico. From postcards, crosses, and ornaments to jewelry, clay skulls, and pottery, what better way is there to explore Mexican culture than from imported goods handmade by Mexican artisans?

Hungry after all of your exploring? Grab some authentic Tex-Mex and read a brief history of Tex-Mex cuisine to learn how it shaped the state’s – and the nation’s – culinary scene. Learn more about Mexican culture by visiting nearby San Antonio and checking out these top 10 things to do.