A garden with your coffee at Cosmic Saltillo

February 24, 2024

For a few years, I’ve been wanting to visit Cosmic, a coffee shop and beer garden in South Austin, mainly for its garden-like landscaping (featured on Central Texas Gardener). But I just haven’t made it down there yet. Then last year, I heard about a new Cosmic — Cosmic Saltillo — in East Austin at 1300 E. 4th Street, and suddenly I was seeing it all over Instagram. Christy Ten Eyck shared photos of the landscape design her firm did there. My sister-in-law posted an Instagram from its outdoor seating. Then my daughter did. I was the last one to see it! My impatience was palpable. Finally, on the day after Christmas, I rounded up a couple of family members for a visit so I could see it for myself.

And yes, it’s completely charming, with that contemporary-rustic Austin vibe and Ten Eyck signatures like vine shading, steel-pipe fountains, and trough-style water features. Here’s the beer garden patio, where folks were basking in the sunshine on the day after Christmas, eating tacos and drinking coffee or having a holiday cocktail or beer. Vines are climbing tall posts and will eventually creep along A-frame wires to shade the space. Outdoor fans are on hand to keep the air moving.

Along one side of the patio, a limestone-edged pond mimics a Hill Country stream. At the opposite end, a head-high steel pipe pours water into a large vessel in the pond.

Waterlilies were still blooming in late December. The red is fake poinsettias set out for Christmas. I wish I had seen the pumpkin display they did last fall — tons of pumpkins.

Under tall trees along the property line, old relic walls with preserved graffiti were left standing to create cozy outdoor rooms, where old-style lawn chairs offer moveable seating around low tables. The rooms overlook the pond.

This is the fascinating part of the Ten Eyck design, as described on their website:

“A once bustling industrial hub, Cosmic Saltillo has brought new life to the abandoned Texaco Depot through a layered approach that artfully melds existing features with the new. The incorporation of reclaimed site materials for paving and water features minimizes project waste while helping to preserve the site’s unique character. Plantings freely spill and climb over built materials, softening the facade and situating visitors amongst nature rather than adjacent to it. A newly constructed stair well and elevator brings visitors up to the roof top where they are lofted into the tree canopy with views west of downtown Austin. Located along the multi-modal Red Line Parkway, the newly accessible grounds invite visitors to explore its many nooks. Consequently, this quirky and lush design scheme has turned this neighborhood relic into a bustling urban garden that will sustainably serve the community for years to come.”

Here’s the pipe fountain from the other end of the pond.

A half-circle counter offers good people-watching under the cover of a rooftop patio.

I like the rounded white lights — like floating river rocks or miniature clouds.

One more view, with the beer garden beyond and the old Texaco walls in the back.

View of downtown Austin from the rooftop patio

Vines are scrambling up wires here too and will hopefully offer shade by summer. Below, silver saw palmetto, bamboo muhly, and asparagus fern fluff out the ground level.

When I visited the restroom, I discovered vibrant cactus wallpaper.

At the entrance/exit path, a contemporary trough fountain runs alongside a metal-mesh screen. Steel pipe scuppers spill water into the trough.

It’s all lovely, and a good reason to hang out on the patio for a while. Which we did, while enjoying tacos and cocktails.

Centro pedestrian paseo

Afterward, we walked down the street to explore the area and found the Centro pedestrian paseo, with a striking brick pattern and string lights overhead. Nudge Design did the landscape design here:

“This development is at the core of Austin’s Satillo District, with the Satillo Metro station immediately to the south. The vibrancy and variations of the nearby landscape are blended with the functional feel of the adjacent railway. The project features a park area that reclaims and transforms a sleepy section of roadway into an active urban space with touches of nature, perfect for markets and celebrations.”

A tile mosaic fills a wall along a rain garden (should have taken pics of that), offering images of cowgirls playing guitar…


…and a man offering a flower to an armadillo! I need to go back and explore this area again soon, taking advantage of these beautiful early spring days.

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Digging Deeper

March 16: Attend the third annual Budding Out Plant Sale & Festival on 3/16 at the John Fairey Garden in Hempstead. Rare and distinctive plants from the garden’s nursery and from select plant vendors will be for sale. Additional offerings include art, ceramics, jewelry, food, music, and presentations. Admission: $5 for members, $10 for non-members, children under 12 free. Hours: 10 am to 4 pm; members get early admission at 9 am (memberships available on day of event).

April 6: Come out to Austin’s Mayfield Park on 4/6 for the Mayfield Park Gardening Symposium & Fundraiser, 8:30 to 11 am. This annual benefit for the park includes a raffle, plant sale, and garden speakers.

Come learn about gardening and design at Garden Spark! I organize in-person talks by inspiring designers, landscape architects, authors, and gardeners a few times a year in Austin. These are limited-attendance events that sell out quickly, so join the Garden Spark email list to be notified in advance; simply click this link and ask to be added. Season 8 kicks off in fall 2024. Stay tuned for more info!

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