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Diners Drive-Ins or Dives in Austin?

I'm a big fan of the show "Diners Drive-Ins and Dives" with Guy Fieri on Food Network. I've been trying to think of places in Austin that fit the spirit of that show. As for Diners, I haven't been to any true "diners" in Austin, or any place diner-esque that comes to mind. Drive-ins? Top Notch is the only one I can think of in that category, and I've not been as excited about Top Notch as others have been (haven't tried the fried chicken yet, though). Is Dirty's a drive-in? I've only eaten inside, but I did enjoy it. And I know we have "dives", but none are coming to mind.

Where would you send Guy Fieri in Austin for a big ol' plate of DD&D food?

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  1. Unfortunately, you are a little late. The Frisco Shop (The last of the Nighthawk chain of restaurants) closed its doors this past week. While they are moving to a larger space, much of the charm came from the old style building.

    Hofbrau on 6th would qualify as a dive. I suppose you could also count Casino El Camino as a dive.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Homero

      what!? the frisco shop is closed? no! i promised to take some pals there on our burger, barbecue and bats tour of texas in september.

      1. re: cookingwithmonkey

        They are reopening I think next month

        1. re: moosy

          Don't worry - five minutes ago, I passed by the old Curra's. They were hanging the Frisco sign out front. As I passed by Burnet/Koenig, they've already demo'ed the building on the corner. Old Frisco is next in line.....

    2. I think that the cafe at Dart Bowl might qualify as a dive; also, Casino el Camino?

        1. Dan's Hamburgers is a dive. Dartbowl Cafe definitely qualifies.

          Dunno if a Chinese food place operating out of a old burger shack counts as a potential dive, but that's what Wok'n'Roll is.

          Top Notch, Hill-bert's Hamburgers are drive-ins.

          1 Reply
          1. re: KPeff

            Wok'n'Roll is a total dive. It looks like it should be condemned from the outside.

          2. Pupusas at El Zunzal off of E. 7th St., & about a gazillion other cool-ass funky ethnic dives over there and abouts.

            1. He's at Maria's Taco Express. showing now 10-10:30 Eastern 5/19

              5 Replies
              1. re: crewsweeper

                I saw that! I had no idea how timely my post would be. It was the first time I'd seen an Austin joint on DD&Ds, and it sounds like we'll be seeing Green Mesquite as well. I love seeing Austin establishments represented on TV.

                1. re: crewsweeper

                  I saw Maria's Taco Express on DDD last night and I gotta say the depiction made it seem great. Homemade tortillas, attractive spices and sauces, and while I usually like al pastor off a rotisserie spit their marinated and grilled version looked tasty. Is Maria's worth a stop my next trip into town?

                  1. re: nosh

                    Back when they used to be in the trailer/shack, yes. I didn't see the DDD, so I don't know if he was at the new place or not. If he was, then I'd sadly have to say no.

                    When they moved the quality went down and the crowds went way too big. Now you have to wait, on average, a half hour in line and then another half hour for tacos. I used to love the pastor with tons of their homemade chimichurri sauce, but the last three times I went they were pretty dry and flavorless. You can buy her sauce (which I do all the time - I could bathe in this stuff) at Whole Foods. Skip the trip to the shack and just pick yourself up a jar of the sauce.

                    1. re: amysuehere

                      Have to agree about the wait. Hubby is disabled (walks with 2 canes) and we had to leave. There was no way he could stand that long.

                      1. re: Nakhash

                        you've got to call it in! they've always quoted 10 mins, and it's always hot even if it takes you longer than 10 to get there. if you call it in, you can just walk right up to the register, pay, and then eat it there if you want. we did this many a sunday morning when we lived on Bluebonnet, breakfast tacos w/in 10 mins. as for the homemade tortillas, i don't think so. unless they've started doing that in the last couple months, i don't think they've ever had homemade tortillas. love the migas tacos and the al pastor (or any kind of) GORDITAS!!!

                2. In the 'Dive' category, I can't think of any place more suitable than Sam's BBQ. If the dining room doesn't convince you, ask to use the bathroom. Just the walk back there is like walking the plank.


                    1. I just started working over on East Ceasar Chavez and Arkie's Grill would certainly qualify as a diner (and a dive). 4 classic waitresses right out of the dictionary. A wide hole in the wall looking into the kitchen from the 8-seat counter (additional table seating for 100), and a really mixed bag of white and blue collar workers along with civil servants (several un-uniformed police officers). 6-8 daily hot plate specials - the usual classics, plus a decent, resonably priced line-up of burgers, fried, chicken, fish, and salads. Great onion rings, FWIW. The place has been there since 1946, and doesn't look like it's changed much. I'll be eating there more often.


                      1. What about the aptly named Austin Diner? I've had a few breakfasts there that were pretty good... well-prepared eggs, nice thick-cut bacon, toast, etc. It's got a good diner vibe.

                        1. I like the show-I have it set up on my DVR to record new shows. I will have to look for the Austin ones. I think it's good publicity for a place, even if we don't agree with the places that they go to. They probably don't mind the intrusion. I'd love to be there while they do a show just to see the process. There is a lot that goes into putting on a show. Although, if I wasn't expecting it, I probably would sing a different tune...

                          The show does highlight the locally owned, so that, to me is awesome. The only problem I have is Guy's new gig pimping TGIF. Kind of hypocritical (doesn't he own restaurants?)

                          Speaking of DDD-has anyone been to Mac & Ernie's in Tarpley that they profiled? Chicken fried lamb chops sound intriguing.

                          For Austin locations, I think a trip to Top Notch would be warranted. I love the place.

                          1. I would have to agree, the Hoffbrau for a good cheap steak.

                            If I'm on the east side, I go to Don Juan's 'Juan in a Million'. The best carne guisada in town!!!

                            And if you've never had a 'PUFFY TACO', go to Vivo's (an upscale dive). They are delicious!!!