Food & Drink

The Oldest and Most Historic Restaurants in Austin

Published On 06/07/2016 Published On 06/07/2016
Cisco in Austin, TX
Cisco's | Veronica Meewes/Thrillist
The Frisco

The Frisco

Burnet Rd

Opened: 1953
Harry Akin (owner of the Night Hawk chain) established The Frisco in 1953 and was a trailblazer in his business practices. He hired women and minorities in a time when that was not the norm, and he was also the first restaurant owner in Austin to integrate his businesses. Today, The Frisco continues to serve homestyle comfort food; try the Chop’t steak, and finish off your meal with Key lime pie.

Flickr/Michael Cote

Nau's Enfield Drug

Clarkville

Opened: 1951
Located in historic Clarksville, Nau’s is a pleasant reminder of bygone days, having maintained the feel of a small-town malt shop. It also operates as a pharmacy and gift shop. Take a seat at the counter, and order a hand-spun shake or malt and one of its famous burgers... and always add bacon.

Mrs. Johnson's Bakery

Mrs. Johnson's Bakery

Airport Blvd

Opened: 1948
8:45pm: that’s the time Mrs. J’s starts serving donuts each night. Then come the regulars, the tipsy, the night owls, and the early birds, and the cycle repeats itself. This is how it’s been since 1948, although the recipes have recently been overhauled by Freddie Lee -- owner of Michi Ramen -- the nostalgic integrity remains intact. Try a Bavarian cream-filled donut, a kolache, but never skip the O.G. glazed variety.

Sandy's Hamburgers

Barton Springs Rd

Opened: 1946
The kitschy yellow-and-brown building at the intersection of Barton Springs and Riverside has served its mustard- and pickle-heavy burgers and frozen custards to multiple generations... and miraculously, kept its old-school prices. Former Governor Rick Perry is a fan, so there's that.

Hut's Hamburgers

Hut's Hamburgers

West Sixth

Opened: 1939
At Hut’s, nostalgia is served alongside loaded burgers, milkshakes, and yes… those enormous onion rings. Originally located on South Congress, Hut’s moved to West Sixth St in 1969. Its current owners added 20 burgers, named after music legends, to the formerly small menu. We suggest you try the “Arnold’s Best.” We hear it’s Matthew McConaughey’s favorite burger.

Cisco’s

East Sixth

Opened: 1943
Solely a breakfast & lunch spot, Cisco’s has long been the meeting place for Austin’s politically inclined. The restaurant recently went on the market for sale, so whether the Cisco’s brand will remain or be put to rest is unknown. But what we do know is that you should get in there and have the legendary migas breakfast plate.

Flickr/Steve Snodgrass

Hoffbrau Steaks

West Sixth

Opened: 1934
This old-school restaurant opened its doors in 1934 at the same time Prohibition was repealed. Brothers Robert and Tom Hamby started serving cold cuts and keg beer for a nickel, as most people couldn’t afford to eat steak during the Depression. Fast-forward 82 years, the Hoffbrau is still serving huge steaks with a no-frills vibe, and has added classic cocktails to its menu.

The Tavern

The Tavern

West End

Opened: 1933
Erected in 1916 to mimic classic German architecture, The Tavern as we know it now was originally a grocery store (rumored to have operated as a secret speakeasy and brothel!). When Prohibition ended in 1933, The Tavern was born. Today, it boasts 46 HDTVs, cold draft beer, and a menu of classic bar food.

Dirty Martin's

Dirty Martin's

Campus

Opened: 1926
Dirty Martin’s -- originally named Martin’s Kum-Bak -- got its current moniker on account of the original dirt floors. This burger joint has long been a part of campus culture; on any given day, you can find both hardcore regulars and T-shirt & flip flop-clad students eating one of its legendary burgers. Try the best-selling "O.T. Special", a double-meat bacon cheeseburger with mayo, lettuce, and tomato, served with “mmm”-worthy tots.

Scholz Garten

Scholz Garten

Downtown

Opened: 1866
Scholz Garten -- the oldest operating business in Texas -- was founded by Civil War veteran and German immigrant August Scholz in 1866. It was a gathering space for the German immigrant population in Austin at the time, and served traditional German food and beer, both of which can still be found here today. Order the giant Bavarian pretzel, the bratwurst, and potato salad, and wash it down with an ice-cold draft “bier” (our favorite is the Spaten Optimator).

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1. The Frisco 6801 Burnet Rd, Austin, TX 78757 (Allandale)

Located on Burnet Rd, The Frisco is the greasy spoon you've dreamed of -- blue plate specials like smothered steak or corned beef and cabbage find themselves alongside some of the best pies in the business. Homestyle goodness aside, this Austin landmark revolutionized the restaurant business in 1953 when Harry Akin (owner of the Night Hawk chain) refused to discriminate against race and gender when hiring employees.

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2. Nau's Enfield Drug 1115 W Lynn St, Austin, TX 78703 (West Austin)

Located in historic Clarksville, Nau’s is a pleasant reminder of bygone days, having maintained the feel of a small-town malt shop. This diner and old-school drugstore hybrid is the perfect place to grab any timeless, American dish. Be sure to try one of the famous burgers (we recommend the classic cheeseburger) or barbecue, and finish with an extra-thick shake or malt.

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3. Mrs Johnson's Bakery 4909 Airport Blvd, Austin, TX 78751 (Hyde Park)

Established in 1948, Mrs. Johnson's keeps Airport Blvd supplied with fried, sweet goodness by handing out hot, fresh donuts every night around 8:45 pm. although the recipes have recently been overhauled by Freddie Lee -- owner of Michi Ramen -- the nostalgic integrity remains intact. Try a Bavarian cream-filled donut, a kolache, but never skip the O.G. glazed variety.

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4. Sandy’s Hamburgers 603 Barton Springs Rd, Austin, TX 78704 (South Austin)

The kitschy yellow-and-brown building at the intersection of Barton Springs and Riverside has served its mustard- and pickle-heavy burgers and frozen custards to multiple generations... and miraculously, kept its old-school prices. Menu highlights include the double cheeseburger and fries, which can be made infinitely better by pairing it with frozen custard or a root beer float.

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5. Hut's Hamburgers 807 W 6th St, Austin, TX 78703 (Market District)

The fine people at Hut's Hamburgers try to keep a balance of old and new Austin in their style and menu, but the classic burgers are (and will always be) the main draw. Current owners added 20 burgers (all named after music legends) to Hut's original 1939 menu. Now, with more than 30 burger/sandwich options, enormous onion rings, and classic milkshakes, this old-school burger joint is serving great eats with a side of nostalgia.

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6. Cisco's Restaurant & Bakery€Ž 1511 E 6th St, Austin, TX 78702 (Central East)

Classically delicious Mexican breakfast and lunch (and brunch) is served in this Central East, which is often frequented by the politically inclined. Be sure to stop by and try the legendary migas breakfast plate. Plus, Cisco's Restaurant & Bakery€Ž has an enormous mural depicting the owners' family history in the restaurant business, including human-sized chickens and flying pigs.

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7. The Original Hoffbrau Steakhouse 613 W 6th St, Austin, TX 78701

Hoffbrau Steakhouse opened its doors in 1934, just as the Prohibition came to an end, and supplied the thirsty people of Austin keg beer along with cold cuts. Today, this West Sixth restaurant continues to operate as a no frills spot known for its steak, beer, and, now, cocktails. Stop by and try to conquer one of the Texas-size slabs and thick-cut potato wedges.

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8. The Tavern 922 W 12th St, Austin, TX 78703 (Downtown)

These days, venues don’t feel the need to let you know if they do (or don’t) have air conditioning. But the world wasn’t always graced with such luxury, and when Austin’s Tavern -- founded in 1933 -- had an air-cooling system installed, it was so important that The Tavern enshrined “Air Conditioned” in the neon sign that welcomes you to this half-timbered, Tudor haunt. Though it’s rumored to have once been a speakeasy and brothel, today The Tavern is -- perhaps less excitingly -- a local favorite sports bar and hangout spot. The menu of bar fare faves includes appetizers, burgers, hot dogs, sandwiches, salads, and entrees, and we recommend that you try the “Amazing White Wings,” in which the chicken is wrapped with bacon and jalapenos and tossed in wing sauce, the Longhorn Philly Sandwich with thinly sliced rib-eye on a Tavern hoagie, or the steak tacos.

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9. Dirty Martin's Place 2808 Guadalupe St, Austin, TX 78705 (Utwest Campus)

Dirty Martin’s -- originally named Martin’s Kum-Bak -- got its current moniker on account of the original dirt floors. Since 1926, this casual spot has been a Campus staple, enticing the lives of both hardcore regulars and T-shirt & flip flop-clad students eating one of its legendary burgers. Try the best-selling "O.T. Special", a double-meat bacon cheeseburger with mayo, lettuce, and tomato, served with “mmm”-worthy tots.

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10. Scholz Garten 1607 San Jacinto Blvd, Austin, TX 78701 (Downtown)

Scholz Garten is not only a kitschy pregame location for BBQ and beer -- it’s the oldest operating business in Texas. It was founded in 1866 by Civil War veteran and German immigrant, August Scholz, and originally catered only to thirsty Bavarians and Prussians looking for a taste of home and served traditional German food and beer, both of which can still be found here today. Order the giant Bavarian pretzel, the bratwurst, and potato salad, and wash it down with an ice-cold draft “bier” (our favorite is the Spaten Optimator).

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