10 Old Austin Restaurants You Can’t Miss

10 Old Austin Restaurants You Can’t Miss

1.  El Patio - El Patio is one of the oldest Restaurants in Austin.  Opened in 1954 by the Joseph Family, El Patio has been the host of many a meal celebrating birthdays, anniversaries, ends of the semester, and a pre-game ritual for Texas Longhorn Football games.  Head over to the still in operation original location on Guadalupe in Austin, grab yourself a margarita, order Jaime’s Queso and some Bean and Cheese Nachos for an appetizer, and then top it off with the David’s Special for your entree - two delicious and warm open faced tacos followed by enchiladas with rice and beans.  Not to be unmentioned are the tortilla chips El Patio offers - they are the best you’ll ever have.  If you want to feel like an old Austinite, ask for some crackers to go with their delicious salsa…that’s the original way to do it.  I’d say the best way too, except their chips are so damn good.




2.  Dirty Martin’s Place - Another delicious spot on Guadalupe, Dirty’s has been around since 1926.  Good to satisfy many a craving, you absolutely must get one of their signature chocolate or vanilla milkshakes to start, and then get an OT Special from the burger menu complimented by some hot tater tots or(AND) onion rings.  Like El Patio, Dirty’s is one of those places you never know who you’ll run into.  It may be friends, family, professors, coaches, or even a governor.  If you’ve been around Austin and The University of Texas long enough, you learn that Dirty’s has, what my Professor and Mentor, John Sibley Bulter called: “The best damn burger in the state”.




3.  Cisco’s Restaurant - Cisco’s is just a damn fine restaurant.  When you don’t know what you’re craving, your craving Cisco’s.  Delicious for breakfast, delicious for lunch, delicious for dinner.  I enjoy their breakfast in particular and getting a dish with a Tex-Mex flair - a Migas plate or even just a classic American breakfast and throwing in some chorizo or refried beans can be just what the doctor ordered on a Sunday morning.  When you move to the later meals of the day, you can’t go wrong with anything on the menu - sticking with Tex Mex and getting some tacos and enchiladas, or transitioning over to the T-bone for a meal that is unequivocally Austin, Texan.




4.  Matt’s El Rancho - If somebody comes in to visit and we only get one meal with them, our go to is absolutely Matt’s El Rancho.  Matt’s is unequivocally and incomparably the restaurant most indicative of Austin.  It’s packed and loud with the conversations of good people - locals, natives, and those who wish they were one of the two.  There will be a wait which gives you a chance to start out at the bar with either a Knockout Martini or a Cactus Pryor (frozen prickly pear) Margarita.  When you’re table is ready, you’ll pass sizzling fajitas, a plethora of delicious looking taco and enchilada plates, and giant bowls of what you think is Queso, and you’d be almost right.  What it really is, is Bob Armstrong.  Queso with guacamole, taco meat, and the legend of chips dipped for decades prior all come together to bring you the best appetizer you’ll ever have.  For dinner, I recommend the chicken floutas with verde sauce, or Tacos Al Carbon “the old way”.  If you’ve got one meal to have, get the Tacos al Carbon, if you’ve got two, add in the flautas.  Savor each bite, enjoy every sip, and soak in the melting pot that is Matt’s Famous El Rancho.




5.  Top Notch Hamburgers - When you step through the doors into Top Notch, you’re immediately thrown back into the great coming of age cinema of the 70’s and 80’s.  Rightly so, we might add, as Top Notch had some screen time in the classic film, Dazed and Confused.  There’s people who say Austin has better burgers, and maybe on paper or in the financials, they’re right.  But what many don’t understand is the secret ingredient that makes an already really, REALLY, good burger great, is nostalgia.  The smell of the char-grilled patties coupled with the sizzle of fresh ones getting thrown on dances with a sip of a vanilla milkshake and the salty aroma of fried chicken.  Some memorabilia and pictures on the wall from Top Notch’s storied history make for a warm and inviting environment.  My suggested menu to get a taste of everything?  Order a Burger the way you like it, a vanilla milkshake, some French fries or(and) tater tots, and add a chicken leg a la carte (Top Notch has some of the best damn fried chicken and Austin and I’ll shout that from the mountaintops).  Not to be forgotten - when you get your ketchup, sprinkle a healthy bit of pepper on top of it.  My dad taught me that and my pappy taught him that.  The only place we do it is Top Notch, but damn if it doesn’t add a little something to those first dipped French fries.




6.  Texas Chili Parlor - If you’re not getting your “Bowl of Red” at least once a quarter, you’re really not doing yourself any favors, and are borderline disrespecting Austin.  Texas Chili Parlor is as warm an environment as their chili.  Generations have frequented the Chili Parlor, and will for decades to come.  At the very least, pick a cold day in the winter and walk in to the warming charm of an old Austin haunt, the coldness of a Lone Star, and the gentle spice of Austin’s best chili.




7.  Dan’s Hamburgers - Another burger joint, but this one is actually on here for another reason - Dan’s Hamburgers has some of the best breakfast in Austin.  It’s simple.  You walk in, sit down, order a coffee and a water.  :The breakfast menu isn’t necessarily extensive, but it is deliberate.  It’s got what you need.  I go as classic as you can and order the Number 2 -  3 eggs scrambled which come out with fluffy perfection, a side of bacon that is the perfect crispness, hash browns that are blessed with the salt and grease of a hard working griddle, and some Texas Toast.  Service is fast and friendly.  You could do worse than to start you’re Saturday and Sunday morning off with breakfast at Dan’s Hamburgers.




8.  Hyde Park BBQ - As a Freshman in College, I split time between the University of Texas and Austin Community College taking classes.  The first week of class, my dad told me to walk down the hill from ACC and meet him at Hyde Park BBQ.  I ate my fair share of barbecue, but this was not a spot I had previously had.  Needless to say, after that first time, I was hooked.  There’s no signature dish, and it’s a relatively small building, but the barbecue is damn good.  A chopped beef sandwich with a Dr. Pepper and a bag of Fritos became a weekly occurrence for me, and many weeks, my Dad.  It’s an affordable spot with delicious brisket (the ribs and sausage would make an appearance on occasion as well and we’re equally as exquisite) and when you get a taste, you’ll understand why it’s been in Austin for decades.




9.  Enchiladas Y Mas - Y mas as those of us with our “frequent flyer card” call it, is absolutely incredible.  We go at least once a month (often once a week) and have since I was in 6th or 7th grade…I’m 28 now.  That’s a lot of time to evaluate a restaurant’s food, and let me tell you, this one has got some of the best.  Start out with a frozen margarita (you’ll start feeling it about halfway into your first), order a queso with a side of kids chicken tenders - just trust me and do it - then order some enchiladas, naturally, and a combo fajita platter.  Enjoy the heck out of every bite and be sure to shake the hands of the friendly waitstaff who will remember you every time - Miguel, Alejandro, and Israel are my amigos that have been there since my family started going years ago.




10.  Catfish Parlour - While the original Catfish Parlour has since closed for a well earned and well deserved retirement by the owner, Dave Kerbow, one of his son’s continues the legacy just up the road in Georgetown, Texas.  Every recipe and flavor tastes the exact same.  For the BEST HUSHPUPPIES IN THE WORLD, and some of, if not the Best Catfish in the world, you need to get your ass to Catfish Parlour.  You just thought you’d had good hushpuppies until you get your hands on some of these.



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