This month’s Field Trip led us back to our old stomping grounds, Sixth Street. We hope this guide shows just how fun & unique Amarillo’s thriving portion of Route 66 really is.
Before we get started, I want to take a second and talk about why this 1 mile strip of antique shops, coffee houses, and patio restaurants holds such a special place in my heart.
I graduated college with a BFA in Interior Design in 2008. Prior to Covid, that was on of the worst times to be entering the workforce, especially in that industry. So, I returned to Amarillo in 2009 to pursue an independent design career. Here in the Panhandle however, my options were limited. I was 22 years old without a steady job and no start up income, but I had a big idea and a lot of drive.
Growing up in Amarillo, my family frequented Sixth often. We’d attend their holiday open houses and block parties, and when I was in elementary school, my dad and his childhood friend took a run down gas station and converted it into a restaurant called Sixth Street Station. Today it’s known as Handlebars. I knew that if I was going to start something truly unique in this area, Sixth Street was the place to it. In the summer of ’09 I found an affordable spot for lease located next door to the Golden Light Cafe & Cantina. I quickly got to work on the cosmetic updates and begged my dad for $10,000 to go to market in order to launch my very own shop & design studio. It was called NEST and I’m extremely fond of the years I spent in that historic building crafting & creating. Within those walls is where my passion for promoting local businesses was born. I’d sit behind the register and share out weekly stories from 6th. I shared everything from the background stories of neighboring shop owners to local artisans who I felt everyone needed to know. I appropriately named my little shop blog, From 6th… it obviously stuck.
Needless to say, I get a bit sentimental every time I find myself down there. The mile long stretch between Western and Georgia is technically Amarillo’s only thriving portion of Route 66. Thanks to its rich history and the unique mom and pop businesses it inhabits, the area is unlike anywhere else in the Panhandle. I’d recommend choosing a sunny afternoon to browse the following stops since walking the street is the best way to take in all of the it’s character. If mother nature isn’t on your side, there’s plenty of street parking making it an easy place to pull in and out of multiple stops.
Our first stop for the day was lunch. You can’t go to Sixth Street and not stop in one of Amarillo’s most famous burger joints, The Golden Light Cafe. This hole in the wall has everything you’d hope from a cafe that’s been continuously operated since 1946. Take a seat at the bar or on their parking lot patio, order a cold beer, and order one of their specialties named after a handful of long time regulars. My personal favorite is the Babish Grilled Chicken Sandwich.
Afterwards, let the folks at the nearby coffee shop, the 806 help snap you out of that food coma. I love their espresso so after a quick shot we were reenergized and on our way. Either direction will lead you into the shops and stops we’ve highlighted here.
A couple of weeks ago we gave you the 411 on our favorite local fabric shop, The Muse. The shop sits on the west end of the street and while we previously covered her extensive fabric collection and upholstery services, this shop is so much more than that. Inside you’ll find one of a kind antiques, beautiful artworks & decor, as well as lamps, chandeliers, and pendants.
Head next door into Blue Sage pottery for a glimpse at Kent Harris’ beautiful works, and if you’re a clay fanatic like us, sign up for one of his upcoming evening or weekend classes! You can also view paintings and ceramics by his talented wife, Meagan Harris.
Next, hop across the street and you’ll run into another Collective retailer, Neon Moon. This may be one of our town’s best kept secrets when it comes to bridal registries and name brand items for the home. Browse through room after room of high end glassware, popular candle lines in every scent, and decor for just about everything from your desktop to your kitchen. Neon Moon has a sister store called Two Loons just a block away, but make sure to stop by the other shops in between before meandering down the street.
At this point, you may need a little pick me up and that’s where Blue Crane Bakery comes in. This bakery hits a bit different than all the rest because they specialize in vegan, glutten free, and keto sweets! Grab a treat on the go and then head to the other end of the street. This is where we recommend getting back in the car because there’s a gap in operating businesses for a couple blocks here.
Wait, let’s back up: There’s no way you can talk about Sixth Street or Route 66 without talking about Antiques! While the shops listed above all have their fair share, I’d like to highlight the shops who primarily focus on them. Before you take off down the street, you have make a quick stop at OPJ. This is at the top of my list when sourcing antique furniture; especially cabinets, desks, and tables that remain unpainted. Now you can hop in the car and meander on down to the east end of the street. You’ll want to park between Kentucky and Florida for optimum antique hunting. There are a lot to cover, so I’ll give you a quick run down of where I stop and for what. At Copper Horse you’ll find a wonderful selection of Western Collectibles, Aunt Eeks feels like a curiosity shop and has the best selection of vintage books, Evermore is great for oddities and incomparable when looking for inspiration, and Sixth Street Antique Mall has all 100% authentic antiques from fine jewelry and dishes to unique memorabilia and vintage apparel. Alley Katz is the second largest mall on the street and therefore a great place to treasure hunt for a variety of things throughout their two story shop. This was one of my favorite stops growing up. Pretty sure a lot of the decor in my first apartment came from there too. Last but certainly not least, you’ll end up at the largest stop on the street, The NAT. If you didn’t know already, that’s what I’d been up to between opening (and closing) my first shop and launching the Collective. In 2013 I was looking for a way to grow my business and one morning on my way to work I was shocked to see a for lease sign outside. I didn’t give it a second thought and quickly took on the project. I got the keys to the 20,000sqft pool-turned-ballroom and spent the following four months cleaning and reviving the old gal. While a lot of folks had hopes that it would one day reopen as a venue, I knew that the city saw otherwise. In order to help save the building, I negotiated terms for it to reopen as an antique mall. I owned and operated the historical landmark for 10 years before selling to a new family last February. Even if you’re done shopping at this point, but how could you be, a stop The NAT is well worth it. The structure was originally erected as an open air swimming pool and turned into a dance hall just a few years later. It operated this way off and on until the mid-seventies. The castle-like structure, built by a very well known regional architect named Guy Carlander, is arguably the most iconic building in the Panhandle. It was the location of hundreds of spectacular historical moments. I mean, Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys took on month long shows and later on, Little Richard got arrested for taking his shirt off on stage! Elvis, Louis Armstrong, Roy Orbison, and so many other greats left their mark on Amarillo within that space.
On your way back to the car, you have to make these three last stops. First, drop in and say hello to our third Collective retailer on the street, The Roseberry. This fun & funky little shop is my favorite place to shop for unique gifts, hands down. Second, hit up the super popular record store, High Fidelity for the greatest, but also the latest, vinyl records. They even have a little listening lounge if you still have time to kill. Last, end the day at one of the street’s most lively restaurants, El Bracero’s. You deserve a tasty marg after all that shopping after all!