Austin Diner rocks it for breakfast

Austin DinerIt’s cute. It’s kitschy. And it’s another diner here in Austin!

Those we’re my thoughts when we walked in the Austin Diner over the weekend. I immediately fell in love with the collections of vintage mixers and other kitchen ware from the 50’s and 60’s.

classic mixers

Then the waitress came over, and welcomed us to this adorable place. She was friendly — and once we told her it was our first visit, she her smile got even bigger. We felt like guests, instead of just customers!

The menu was just as inviting. Lots of delicious choices for our breakfast — and even after we had made our choices, we kept looking at the options for a later lunch or dinner visit, if the food was good.

Austin Diner insideIt wasn’t long until that “if the food was good” turned into “Oh yeah, the food is good!” I ordered Migas — my favorite food in Austin. And I wasn’t disappointed! The mixture was delicious, and it was topped with just enough queso.

Others in our group opted for pancakes, eggs, sausages and other breakfast classics. And by the time we left, every plate on the table was empty.  In fact, we were already talking about coming back again for the next weekend brunch. The diner has lots of vegetarian choices, in addition to classic diner food like chicken and dumplings. It’s a great choice for families, too. There’s a very limited, partial menu online, but the complete menu has a lot more choices.

I’m still in search of that real 24-hour diner somewhere in the Austin area (gotta know I can fill my eggs, potato and toast craving at 2 a.m.!), but the daytime diners I’m finding, like Austin Diner, are doing a good job of filling the void at breakfast time.

My inner diner lover is happy!

breakfastOne of my favorite parts of living in Pennsylvania was the diners. Those wonderful, comfortable,  friendly eateries where you can get eggs and biscuits at any hour, and the regulars are seriously there almost every day.

Austin is short on classic diners,  but I keep finding worthy substitutes,  thanks to locals who share my taste for real grits and ice box pie. Today,  I added another top contender to my list….Frisco’s on Burnett.

I opted for eggs, grits and biscuits,  my daughter chose migas, her friend ordered biscuits and gravy, and my hubby went for meatloaf.  And not one of us regretted our choices!

Not fancy, but good diner food never is. We finished the meal with their award-winning coconut cream pie and chocolate cake, while words like “amazing” and “yummy” were bantered around.

Coconut Cream Pie at Frisco

Service was personal, welcoming and fast. But there was no sense that they were trying to hurry us through our meal…in fact, the manager spent some time at our table chatting, and giving us the history of this Austin landmark restaurant. It’s a story well worth checking out, especially in these days of here-today-gone-tomorrow restaurants.

No it’s not open 24 hours like my fave northeastern diners. But for now, it’s a diner experience I’m very happy to repeat sometime soon.

Frisco

Classic Diner Fare Plus Friendly Faces Equals Jim’s

Jims Restaurant

Diners are a special kind of place.

Head to a chain restaurant, and you’ll probably see new faces each time. And the menu? Well, count on trendy dishes that might not be available the next time you stop by. But diners are different. They’re the places you go for a waitress who knows exactly what you order to drink, and has it at your table before you open the menu. And while specials may come and go, the standards are always there. Best of all, the faces you see at the tables (and especially at the counter) are familiar ones.

Jim’s Restaurant is one of those diners. When I went for breakfast this morning, there was a table of older men solving the problems of the world over eggs, bacon and coffee. I met a chimney sweep named Charles after I commented on his awesome top hat. And a man at the counter handed me half of his newspaper, so I would have something to read while I waited for my food.

The food at Jim’s is reliably good, with standard diner choices like eggs, potatoes and toast, meatloaf and burgers, plus Austin favorites like migas and breakfast tacos No micro-servings or tasting menus.  Just good food in large portions.

Not only is it a friendly place to grab a quick meal or a cup of coffee, Jim’s is one of those classic business stories you seldom see now in these days of heavy-handed zoning and licensing. The restaurants got started back in 1941 when G. Jim Hasslocher opened a bike rental business. Recognizing that his customers were often hungry after their ride, he added burgers to his stand. That lead to a drive-in which eventually became Jim’s Restaurants.

Now how can you pass up a restaurant with a back-story like that?