Red is weeping today as The Frisco on Burnet Road in Austin will be closing up shop on July 29. From his early days, Red always enjoyed many a Fabulous Frisco burger with plump fresh cut fries and a dinner salad with 1000 Island with his family and later while sitting at the counter at the iconic spot in North Austin. And he even enjoyed the occasional splurge of a slice of banana cream pie. Red was fond of one waitress in particular who always asked him “Do you use ketchup?” To which Red always wanted to reply that he not only used ketchup – he abused it. In recent years, Red almost always stopped at The Frisco when he was in town even after it moved a mile or so up Burnet Road.
The Frisco was the last of the Night Hawk chain of restaurants. The Night Hawk was started in 1931 by Harry Akin, a former Austin mayor, on S. Congress. A second location near the UT Campus on The Drag was opened in 1933. Other locations were in San Antonio and Austin. Akin was a pioneer in desegregation and his restaurants were among the first in Texas to break the color barrier and serve all people. His restaurants were also largely staffed by women and minorities.
Red is inconsolable.
From the Annals of Hamburgers – In 1999, Whataburger opened “Whataburger by the Bay” in Corpus Christi. The restaurant is a tribute to founder Harmon Dobson featuring – not surprisingly – views of Corpus Christi Bay and and a life-size bronze statue of Dobson by the entrance. Dobson began in 1950 with a humble stand located on Ayers Street in Corpus Christi. Dobson was killed in a plane crash in 1967 but his family continued the business. Whataburger now has more than 700 locations from Arizona to Florida. Red still remembers the first time his Dad took him to a Whataburger in Victoria. Dad had long talked about what a great hamburger they served and Red was pleased to confirm those reports for himself.
The greatest cafeteria in Texas was destroyed Monday night when a blaze consumed the Cleburne Cafeteria on Bissonnet Street. The Houston landmark was almost entirely gutted by the blaze. The CC was celebrating its 75th anniversary this year. The CC had been rebuilt after a fire destroyed the previous structure in 1990. The CC – notorious for accepting only cash and checks – has been run by the Mickelis family since its inception and the walls were decorated with the art work of founder Nick Mickelis. George Mickelis, son of the founder, was distraught over the loss of his father’s artwork – much more than the loss of the cafeteria itself. But it appears that a few of the paintings may have survived the blaze. The loss will be felt throughout the community and especially among its loyal patrons who packed the restaurant at lunch and on Sunday afternoons. Mickelis vows to rebuild again. Red will be back for the grand re-opening.
Photo from KPRC.
Jessica Hamilton of the Houston Chronicle gives her opinions as to the “most Texan” restaurants in the Lone Star State. Her unimaginative No. 1 is the Big Texan Steakhouse in Amarillo famous for its 72 oz. steak challenge. Red was pleased to see that Mary’s in Strawn – a place frequented by Red y familia – was on the list. If you are driving I-20 between Abilene and Fort Worth and have a hankering for some fresh fried frog legs, Mary’s is your place. Make the short detour north to Strawn, but expect a wait on Friday or Saturday night and remarkably cold beer.
The Dallas Morning News reports that the Taco Universe is Expanding. Along with Red’s waistline.
From Dallas to Fort Worth, you’ll find more taquerias than ever serving righteous Mexican street tacos. Then there are the restaurants and food trucks that tuck Asian fusion fillings into tortillas. Velvet Taco’s tikka chicken taco, Good 2 Go Taco’s Thai Juan On, and Ssahm BBQ’s Korean tacos are among the mavericks with a following. In between these extremes are Mexican chefs and disciples of Mexican regional cuisine who tweak classic tacos with gourmet ingredients.
Gabriel DeLeon, chef-owner of Mi Dia From Scratch in Grapevine, adds gourmet specials to his stable of traditional tacos.
“The street taco craze started a few years ago. From my standpoint, it got boring. Chicken tinga, al pastor, fried fish — everyone has these traditional tacos, even food trucks and gas stations,” he says. “Chefs are trying to elevate tacos. An upscale environment is suited for upscale tacos.”
Red always thought that the Texas Restaurant Association had the best slogan/motto ever created. Well, because eating out is in fact usually fun. Or at least it was when eating out was not something that you did every day and was something of a special treat. The slogan was apparently first used by the National Restaurant Association in 1947 and later used by the TRA from 1956 onwards. It does seem to have faded from use.
Well Austin has taken the TRA mantra to heart. When Red was recently in Austin, there appeared to be a restaurant every 75 feet. Red has been unable to get a fix on exactly how many restaurants there are in Austin, but the number seems to be extraordinary. Driving down lower South Lamar alone, Red counted over 50 restaurants in what used to be essentially a dry gulch. In order to sustain the number of dining establishments observed, everyone in Austin must eat out at least 7 times a week. Is eating out still fun?
Red happened to be in the Capital City this weekend and took his family to eat at Red’s of all places. When offered a seat on the patio, the hostess neglected to inform Red that it was the designated “Dog Area.” Red knows that his general dislike of the canine species puts him at odds with much of the civilized world on either a domesticated animal or culinary basis. And if people want to eat with their dogs – or eat their dogs for that matter – Red is perfectly okay with that. But a restaurant should not assume that Red is okay having his spinach salad while a Black Lab is sticking his ass in the air and farting in Red’s general direction. Red gets that people love their dogs, but that doesn’t mean I have to. All I want is informed choice. If you are going to seat someone in a mixed-species kennel at least give them chance to opt out and wait for a table where the only annoying creatures are the wait staff.