A long time Austin comfort food diner favorite in East Austin, Arkie's Grill is open for breakfast and lunch Monday through Friday only with daily lunch specials for $6.99 including three sides and rolls. The lunch special selections include down home fare like meat loaf and brown gravy, liver and onions, chicken fried steak, salisbury steak with mushroom gravy, fried chicken, pork roast, catfish and chicken and dumplings. Arkie's Grill has been featured on The Learning Channel's show “Darned Good Diners.”
The Counter Cafe is open from 8 AM to 4 PM with breakfast served all day and is located in the former G&M Steakhouse location. The G&M Steakhouse was a long time Austin institution owned by the irascible Gus Vayas who served breakfasts to local political legend Bob Bullock and countless Texas legislators. Now in place of the old smoke and grease stained walls is a modern, upscale diner with a simple menu based as much as possible on locally sourced, naturally raised, and often organic ingredients.
Hill's Cafe has been an Austin landmark on South Congress Avenue for almost 60 years. When the Goodnight family built the original 20 seat coffee shop next to the Goodnight Motel in 1946, South Congress was then known as the Old San Antonio Highway. The family patriarch, Charles Goodnight, was perhaps the best known rancher in Texas. Charles Goodnight was a cowboy, an Indian fighter, a Texas Ranger, a Confederate solder and in 1866, he and Oliver Loving drove the first herd of cattle northward along what would become known as the Goodnight-Loving Trail. The characters of Woodrow F. Call is based on Charles Goodnight and Augustus McCrae is based on Oliver Loving in Larry McMurtry's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel Lonesome Dove. It was Charles Goodnight that invented the chuckwagon, which was first used on the initial cattle drive in 1866. It was from this chuckwagon that the Charlie Goodnight tradition of fine steaks began at Hills's Cafe that is still carried on today by the current owner and Austin radio personality Bob Cole. Besides steaks, Hill's Cafe is well know for their hamburgers and live music.
Hoover's serves straight up southern-style home cooking including pork ribs, pork chops, chopped steak, chicken and dumplings, smoked Elgin sausage, BBQ chicken, smoked hamburgers and catfish. Meals come with a choice of "House Mate" sides including black eyed peas, creamed spinach, mustard greens, fried okra and mashed potatoes. There is also a daily selection of fresh scratch made pies, cobblers, cakes and Blue Bell Ice Cream. A fifth generation Texan, owner Hoover Alexander got his start working for Harry Akin, the visionary behind the successful Nighthawk Chain of restaurants that opened in the 1930's. Besides the original location on Manor Road, there is a second Hoover's Restaurant in north Austin on Research Boulevard.
Originally opened in 1930s and at its current location since 1951, a visit to Nau's is like stepping into a time tunnel for a trip back to the fifties. With it's orange swivel seats and mint green counters, Nau's received a 2006 preservation award for maintaining Austin's heritage. The menu includes breakfast tacos, omelettes, burgers and grilled sandwiches, made-from-scratch malts, shakes, sundaes and ice cream sodas and to make the experience complete, a good selection of retro candy. Besides being famous for it's soda fountain and hamburgers, former Dallas Cowboy Hollywood Henderson bought a winning $28 million lottery ticket there in 2000.
The Original Hoffbrau Steakhouse is a no frills "greasy spoon" steakhouse located downtown on 6th Street of the kind that hardly exists anymore in Austin. The Hoffbrau serves salad, meat and potatoes swimming in garlic and butter. The Original Hoffbrau has been in business continuously since 1934 at this same location on Sixth Street. The restrooms are located outside in a separate building just as the restaurant was originally built in the 1930's.
The original Threadgill's was opened as a gas station on North Lamar by country music singer and yodeler Kenneth Threadgill in 1933. In that same year, Mr. Threadgill became the proud owner of the first liquor license in Travis County after the repeal of Prohibition and soon Threadgill's Tavern became a favorite spot for traveling musicians since it was open 24 hours for food, drinks, music and a fill-up. In the 1960's local folk musicians and students from the University of Texas became part of the clientele and it was at Threadgill's that then student Janis Joplin began to develop her unique singing style. When Mr. Threadgill decided to close Threadgill's after the death of his wife, Eddie Wilson, owner of the Armadillo World Headquarters, purchased it. The Armadillo closed on New Year's Eve of 1980 and the new Threadgill's, serving Southern style down home cooking, opened on New Year's Eve 1981. In 1996, Threadgill's World Headquarters was opened in south Austin next door to the location of the by-then demolished Armadillo World Headquarters. The theme of the north location is Austin between the 1930's and the 1960's. The south location features the history of the Armadillo and Austin in the 1970's. Both locations feature live music.