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Sep 20, 2012 03:43 PM

Sad News - Blue collar Arkie's lost to yet another hipster joint

Gone forever are the green beans - coming soon are haricots verts. Tartar sauce will be replaced by aioli.
Since first opening in 1948, Arkie's Grill has served hearty fare to an enthusiastic blue collar clientele. But good is never good enough in the new East Austin.

And so it goes as the ravenous restaurateurs behind East Austin Showroom, Hillside Farmacy and the monthly prix fixe Supper Friends dinner club devour another bit of East Austin history. The new owners are describing their vision as "classy Texas comfort food" in an obvious slap in the face to Arkie's 65 years spent defining what Texas comfort food really was. I find it funny that they are stating that they plan to "pay homage" to the original restaurant by flying their designer out to Los Angeles to study the mid-century modern architecture found on the west Coast. A trip through the historic towns spread all over central Texas apparently never crossed their minds.

I'm going to miss Arkie's and especially it's wonderful, lovable waitstaff. I expect their usual Texas friendly greeting of "Hello! How y'all been doing?" to be soon replaced by an indifferent "Do you have a reservation?"

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  1. Just another piece of the real Austin being gobbled up by the "machine". Instead of the Californification it is the Portlandification.

    6 Replies
    1. re: singlemalt

      This isn't a case of an old place losing its lease so a hipster joint could move in. The owners sold the diner. It's not Californication of Portlandification, it's capitalism. I don't see anything wrong with what happened.

      1. re: The Tres Leches

        Quite honestly, if it was the owners decision to sell, I don't either. People get old and want to stop working just like I did. I was so sad to see Howard's Nursery go but a member of the family told me it was a good thing. Just a part of life but I still get pissed when I think of the Las Manitas situation and how long it took for that hotel to get off its ass.

          1. re: singlemalt

            Yeah, I ate at Arkie's once a month or so for years. While I'm disappointed to see it go, I'm glad that the long time owners were able to sell when they wanted/needed to, and at least the building isn't going to be yet another Check Cashing or Pawn Shop.

            1. re: Alan Sudo

              True. It could be destined to be a Burger King instead of something that hopefully will be special-to-Austin.

              1. re: sweet100s

                Yeah, but what I always say "you can't argue with a Whopper Jr."

      2. In 2050, mid-century modern architecture will be seen as paying homage to Austin in this decade.

        1. Sounds like Arkie's got an offer to sell and they took it. The place really isn't worth much as far as land, building, and fixtures, IMO. And it's not a posh area of town. They could easily build in plenty of spots around there for not much more. Arkie didn't have to sell, so you can't really cry foul. I wouldn't buy a failing restaurant and agree to keep it as is.


          1. Yeah, classy texas comfort food, I may "get it", but how deceptive if not a tad insulting, if I may agree with the cynical tone. I haven't been to East Side Showroom, but if this joint ends up charging me 50 dollars for some wannabe herbed up mashers with a maple glazed pork steak and aloof service akin to experiences at Hillside, then no thanks. We did lose a gem of a diner. I guess I'll have to save all my future diner needs for Dahlia up in Liberty Hill. Great folks, great food, authentic, and not too many beards (couldn't resist).

            2 Replies
            1. re: slowcoooked

              Looks like I need to make the drive up to Dahlia.

              1. re: Alan Sudo

                Indeed you do. The 'Chef put up a pic o' the day on his site not long ago as did I when we had a short little thread going here recently. The tea, the food, the deserts (esp the roll your eyes back freaking good coconut Mars bar pie concoction called OMGoodness pie), the back stage / patio / playground, and the wait staff there are fantastic. I don't think we top that home cooking anywhere in Austin. Not really even close. Our server told us they use family recipes that have been passed down for ages. And those mashed potatoes..... I haven't been for breakfast, but the CFS, mashers, okra plate I had was outstanding. Next time I'd probably get the fresh snapped green beans over the decent but forgettable spinach.

            2. Aioli and haricots vert are hipster foods?

              1 Reply
              1. re: twyst

                hipster: a person who is unusually aware of and interested in new and unconventional patterns.

                Aioli and haricots vert in and of themselves aren't hipster, but as used by these restauranteurs they practically define the term.

                Arkie's Menu: Meatloaf
                Supper Friends: Petit Meatloaf Sliders on Hawaiian Roll with Creole Onion Relish & Queso Oaxaca

                Arkie's Menu: Chicken and Dumplings
                Supper Friends: Lobster, Macaroni & Three Cheese Gratinee with Buttery Panko Crust and Snipped Chives

                Arkie's Menu: Chicken Fried Steak with Cream Gravy
                Supper Friends: "Chicken-Fried" Beef Tenderloin with Crispy Onions and Chimay Mustard Country Gravy

                Arkie's Sides: Mashed Potatoes...Turnip Greens...Sliced Tomatoes...Black Eyed Peas
                Supper Friends: Tres Leches Mashed Potatoes...Deviled Eggs topped with Praline Bacon...Aged Cheddar and Jalapeno-Red Onion Marmalade on Homemade Cracker

                Arkie's Dessert: Assorted Pie
                Supper Friends: Petit Coconut Cream Tart with Ginger-Pineapple Coulis
                ...Polenta Pineapple Upside Cake with Strawberry Sauce & Pecan Praline Semifreddo