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Sep 4, 2008 02:37 AM

Old Restaurants in Austin

Like Tom T.Hall I believe cars,bikes,houses,people and restaurants get better with age.

What are some of your favorite time worn Austin restaurants?

Dirty Martin's Kum-Bak Place,opened 1926, used to be one of my favorite burger joints til they adopted usury as a business practice.$10.50 for Bacon Cheeseburger,Fries and Rootbeer.I still eat here but only when I feel like springing for a special lunch.

Arkie's Grill,opened in 1948 and opens Mon-Fri at the glorious hour of 5:30 am making it a great place to cap your evening or more commonly,a spot to start your day before a long hard slog through the workplace.I love their Fried Chicken and their homemade sausage patties for breafast.

Nau's Enfield Drug has been in it's current location since 1951.It's nice and old timey inside[buy a Big Chief notebook...huge penny candy selection]and some of the ladies who cook and serve you think of LBJ as a young'un.I'm not sure how many soda fountains there are in Austin but I know it's a short list.This is a good one.

Hofbrau Steakhouse opened in 1934.Yeah you can read a newspaper through their steaks but the flavor's right.However,they don't salt the beef in the kitchen, just break your portable sea salt mill out of your backpack and get down tableside.Their French Fried Potatoes are heaven.Crispy outers and mealy inners.These need to be mentioned in the Best French Frys thread somebody started.Don't leave without trying the Garlicky-GARLICKY salad.It's kind of plain but the garlic dressing will pummel you.Plus it's laden with oil.

I know there are plenty more of these old war horses around town.

What is your favorite?

What year did it open?

What do you eat when you go there?

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  1. Can't have this discussion without mentioning Scholz Garten. According to the history page on their website, it's been open since 1866.

    I went once for lunch and had a BBQ plate. It was ok. I would return to try other stuff as I love German food, I just haven't had the chance. Maybe I'll go back soon.

    1 Reply
    1. re: nypb

      I love their french fries - the cheeseburger is pretty good too. I believe on Thursday's in the fall they have the german oompah band, the Wurstband. It's nice to sit out in the biergarten and enjoy the music.

      The same people that have the Scholz's lease own Green Mesquite. So, if you like the BBQ at GM, you'll like it at Scholz's too.

    2. Just a minor point - Arkies is not open on Mondays. I know this the hard way as I often don't bring a lunch on Mondays and the only thing in walking distance is Arkies.

      They may be open on Saturday, though. So far I've found the food kinda so-so, but I'll try the fried chicken.


      1 Reply
      1. re: sqwertz

        So I'm sitting here eating their fried chicken right now and I don't understand the attraction. The batter had nice form - crispy - but no flavor. And inside it's just regular chicken, slightly dry and hard at the breast No seasoning, marinade or brining whatsoever.

        And the side of gravy I got extra is like yellow cornstarch and water. No flavor in here either. Frankly, the gravy is downright atrocious. I'd rather be eating Soylent Green.

        I think I'm giving up on Arkies. Tomorrow I'll walk the other direction and try out Taqueria Jalasciences (sp?).

      2. Gotta be House Park BBQ, boys. When did it open....something like 1948? I get the beef brisket plate, and ask them if they can slice you some of the fatty brisket. They cook it low and slow, so you get nice smoke flavor and the fat is melted buttery goodness. Decent sides, too.

        1 Reply
        1. El Patio on Guadalupe has got to be my favorite of all the old time restaurants that are still in business. I don't know for sure when they opened - sometime in the 50's I think. You just can't beat their old time TexMex enchiladas!

          1. The most interesting thing about this topic is that there is not a single "fine dining" establishment on this board. I've only been in town since 1991, and I'm having a hard time thinking of places that have been there much longer. Jeffreys and Hudson's are close to that old, maybe a little older. I'm guessing that maybe the oldest would be Ruth's Chris (which has changed locations) or maybe the Driskill or the 4 seasons.
            Am I missing something. Anybody?

            5 Replies
              1. re: sighmesigh


                I'd completely forgotten about El Patio when I started this post.I should not admit this but I've never eaten at this icon of Tex-Mex.It's conveniently located which for me is a huge turn off.I've eaten at all the Taco Carts that dot the roadside pastureland down Hwy 812 on the path to Red Rock.I've driven 969 from Austin to Bastrop on the trail of more street[county road?]food but I've never visited the legend.It opened in 1954 which certainly qualifies it as properly weathered.

                Jeffrey's opened in 1975 so it's still a young'un.This is where Raymond Tatum began his climb into stardom, it's narrative has been properly outlined elsewhere.

                Ahhhh Green Pastures.The legend has had her ups and downs since she swung open her doors in the late 1940's but her importance has never wavered.This is the closest thing Austin has to compare to iconic Deep South eateries like Bright Star in Bessemer Alabama or Commanders Palace in New Orleans.When Mary Koock died back in the mid 90's Austin lost one of her great treasure.

                Does anyone remember the lovely forest and pasture just south of the restaurant?Well hold onto that memory because it's being bulldozed for a lovely condo community.


                More density,bigger taxbase.What were some of the other comments
                when the axe finally swung home on Las Manitas?

                This is one of my favorite subjects:Old restaurants.

                Like old taverns or old motorbikes the tales are endless,the lore fascinating[I miss the Mermaid bar on East 6th st].I know there are a bunch more out there that are slipping past us.

                Go eat somewhere old tonight

                1. re: scrumptiouschef

                  I've never been to GP. I totally forgot about it. Would the food be worth a visit. I understand that it is pretty high dollar.

                1. re: TroyTempest

                  Not very old, but old by today's standards. Chez Nous, which isn't really fine dining but very good bistro fare, has been open for 30 some-odd years. It was there when I was in law school 33 years ago, although it was fairly new then.