Category Archives: sandwiches

A Kerbey Lane Café Christmas

This Christmas, I wasn’t able to spend the holiday with my parents, since a) the truck is rattling in a scary way and b) still being new to Austin means the job hunt continues onward (if you just said “What? You mean Shoestring Austin isn’t paying your bills?! How can I help?” you should get in touch regarding our sponsorship and advertising opportunities!). Anyway, this means that the Husbot and I were on our own for the holidays, and not feeling up for making the usual enormous Christmas Feast. As such, we started clicking around online in search of some places that would be open today, December 25, the day of Baby Jesus’ supposed birth.

Kerbey Lane Café, Northwest location (photo via kerbeylanecafe.com)

We found the Kerbey Lane Café, an Austin favorite that has apparently been voted “Best Breakfast” every year since 2005. Nice! Although we haven’t yet taken advantage of their crazy early-bird breakfast special (for a mere $3.45 between 4 and 7 AM, daily), we like the thought of a resto that’s open 24-7 and has a slightly more upscale ambiance than (our admittedly cheesy fave) Denny’s. Inspired by the fact that their Northwest location was open today, we set out in the Truckasaurus to taste the Kerbey Lane Café’s wares.

The Husbot ordered their Cobb Salad, which he’d been salivating over since he noticed it on the web version of the menu. I dithered for a while, trying to decide what would be best, kind of wanting to order a Cobb Salad of my own, or maybe one of their Cobb Sandwiches (basically, a Cobb Salad on bread), but hating that feeling of “copying” a fellow diner. (I like to at least be able to trade a bite or two with my dining companions, to get a better idea about what the rest of the menu is like.) Ultimately, I went with the Chicken Enchiladas Verde, and we also tried the Bloody Mary (he) and Kerbey Kosmo (me) from the drinks menu.

I enjoyed my Kosmo, which was a local twist on the typical Cosmo made with Tito’s Vodka and pomegranate liquor. I had a sip of the Husbot’s Bloody Mary, which was a real kick in the teeth with its spiciness. He thought it was tasty, as he enjoys a good Caesar (or Mary in a pinch).

Annoyingly, when the food arrived I was all the more disappointed in my selection. Should’ve had that Cobb Sandwich! I had a few bites of the Husbot’s big salad, with bleu cheesiness, hard-boiled eggs, bacon, chicken and romaine lettuce galore, and was totally jealous. My enchiladas were okay, but nothing like the spicy authentic Mexican dishes I’ve gotten used to eating here in Austin. I can’t really put my finger on anything I would say was bad about them, but they just weren’t as face-meltingly hot as I like them to be. On the plus side, however, I had room for dessert, which was what I had really wanted to order since we walked in!

Checking out the dessert menu, I noticed they listed cheesecake, and said to inquire with the waiter about daily specials. I asked what the cheesecake of the day was, and our waiter told me it was a peanut-butter and chocolate concoction. Yum! I ordered a slice and offered a few bites to the Husbot, who thought it was “too rich.” (He admits he has lost his taste for desserts since a particularly sweet-toothed ex-girlfriend ruined him with too many breakfast sweets.) I thought it was delicious, although I will also admit to enjoying the pleasures of a straight-up plain cheesecake, which I would be curious to compare it to in the future.

All in all, I would have to say that the Kerbey Lane Café (Northwest location) was a decent spot for lunch, and I’d be interested in giving them another try. The waiter also noted that different locations have different menus, so I’m wondering if perhaps there are other items I might enjoy more than the enchiladas in the future.

ADDRESS: 13435 Highway 183 N. (Northwest location; see website for other locations)
PHONE: (512) 258-7757
ONLINE: kerbeylanecafe.com

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Hut’s Hamburgers

I found Hut’s Hamburgers quite by accident. I was downtown, starving my ass off, and right on 6th Street. Up ahead, a shining beacon: Hut’s Hamburgers! I love me some all-beef patties, so—badda boom, badda bing—I stepped inside and was instantly transported back in time.

Outside of Hut's Hamburgers (photo via hutsfrankandangies.com)

I’m not sure what era, exactly, Hut’s is currently channeling, but the place has been around since 1939, so there’s plenty of memorabilia to gawk at. Penants from all manner of university teams, photos signed by famous sports heros and celebrities, Texas license plates, neon lights, a longhorn steer’s head, and a big woolly buffalo head. While you wait for your food, you’ll likely find yourself wondering where all this stuff came from, how long it’s been there, and what the story behind it all could be.

Inside, Hut's Hamburgers (photo via hutsfrankandangies.com)

But then you’ll get your juicy burger, with all manner of unusual condiments and fixin’s, and all of your concentration will be diverted toward enjoying it to the fullest—while it lasts. Those burgers are often devoured as fast as they’re placed on the table, so be prepared! Plus, they’ll put everything but the kitchen sink on there, if you want it. (Actually, they’ve even got a “Sink Burger” on the menu.) Chili, jalapeños, various cheeses from Swiss to Cheddar to Bleu, mushrooms, guacamole, even pineapple, my friends. Plus all the usual suspects like mustard, mayo, ketchup and (my favorite) delicious salty bacon. God bless America, and Texas for spicing things up!

In my opinion, the best burger on the menu is the “Mr. Blue,” a delightful mix of bleu cheese crumbles with dressing, Swiss cheese, lettuce, bacon and one of Hut’s Texas-bred longhorn-beef patties. Grass-fed, hormone-free, this beef is some of the best, and with these simple but classic toppings, it’s a surefire winner. Another one I’m tempted by is the “Milner’s Mushroom Burger,” with thick, creamy mushroom sauce and grated cheese. And you can’t go wrong with the all-American classics like the “Hut’s Favorite” (mayo, lettuce, tomatoes, bacon and American cheese), “The Dagburger” (double the meat plus mayo, lettuce, tomatoes and American cheese), or the aptly-named “All American Buddy Holly Burger” (mayo, mustard, onions, pickles, lettuce, tomatoes and American cheese).

If you’re feeling wild and crazy, and have somehow wound up at Hut’s without a craving for a juicy burger (are ye MAD?!), the menu also offers all manner of fast-food eats, from hot dogs and grilled cheese to southern-style Po’ Boys, NYC-style Reubens and pure Texas chili. For dinner, there are also plate specials on chicken-fried steaks, fried chicken, meat loaf and catfish on Fridays (the menu states “while supplies last,” which makes me wonder how fast catfish goes in Texas, anyway). Grab a soup and a salad if you’re on a diet, and be sure to save room for dessert, cus they’ve got old-fashioned milkshakes, Coke and root-beer floats, fudge brownies and a Brownie Blitz—one of their fudge brownies blended into a milkshake and topped with whipped cream. Yum!

As far as specials go, this one’s tops: On Wednesdays, from 6-10 PM, Hut’s offers a “happy hour” on all their burgers, where you can get two of the same type for the price of one. Yowza! For vegetarians, you can get the same deal on Monday nights as well (but only on veggie burgers). More good news for vegetarians: All of their veggie burgers are made in-house, fresh, and never frozen.

I’m glad I stopped by, as Hut’s is one of those places I’ll return to again and again, trying something different every time. Plus, it’s a great place to people-watch (especially during the lunchtime rush) or take a trip down memory lane. Although I’m not old enough to remember the 1950s, I do remember going to a similar 1950s-esque joint in Chicago when I was a kid. Portillo’s is now a chain throughout the Chicagoland area, while Hut’s remains at its’ original location, but the vibe at each was the same: good food, good prices, and plenty of atmosphere. Just what I like from my nostalgia-laden fast-food eateries. Dig it!

P.S. Be sure to check out their sister restaurant, the Italian Frank & Angie’s, just behind Hut’s if you’re in the mood for pizza and pasta, or a nice Francis Ford Coppola wine.

ADDRESS: 807 West 6th Street
PHONE: 512-472-0693
ONLINE: hutsfrankandangies.com

Alamo Drafthouse

I knew when I moved to Austin that I had to check out the Alamo Drafthouse movie theaters. The concept is simple: it’s a movie theater that also serves up booze. I’d heard Chicago has a similar concept happening, but Austin’s Alamo blows this out of the water. Not only do they serve alcohol and the standard popcorn and Junior Mints, but they’ve also got a full menu for those who like to take dinner and a movie all at the same location.

Alamo Drafthouse Ritz (photo via Alamo Drafthouse)

Alamo Drafthouse Ritz (photo via Alamo Drafthouse)

At first, you might wonder if all this chowing down and ordering during the films might turn a rowdy crowd loose, with NYC-style yelling at the screen encouraged. Luckily, the rules are simple and spelled out for newbies by groovy waitstaff: write your order on the slip of paper and place it standing up in the designated pocket. The waiter will come by to take and deliver your order silently, and will place a bill on the narrow table to pay before you leave. Warnings from Homestar Runner are also played onscreen to remind the audience to shut the heck up, turn off cell phones, and refrain from rowdy behavior. Sweet!

For those who do like to talk back to the screen, there’s another bonus: the Alamo’s Quote-Alongs and Sing-Alongs. Seen Ferris Bueller’s Day Off so many times you can quote the whole thing from start to finish? Lucky for you, there’s Quote-Along night, where “you’re *required* to yell out your favorite lines, stand up and dance to the best songs from the soundtrack, and play with a series of props that are handpicked for most movies.” For all those who’ve ever seen (and loved) the cult-classic Grandma’s Boy, there’s an upcoming Quote-Along scheduled for December 24. Even if you’re way too baked to drive to the Devil’s house and have a robot vagina, you won’t want to miss this one, Grey Bush.

As the type of person who likes to comment aloud on movies (especially the really bad ones), I’m pretty stoked about the Quote-Alongs, as well as their Weird Wednesdays (where only $1 gets you in) and monthly Dionysium debates (for those who like to get their think on). If you’re a hard-working member of the service industry, you also get a break on Monday-night movies, pizza and pints. Nice!

The menu varies from one Drafthouse to the next (there are four locations in total), but all feature movie-themed menu items such as “The Breakfast Club” (lettuce, tomato, smoked bacon and a fried egg on sourdough with chipotle mayo) and the “Royale With Cheese Burger” (an Angus patty with lettuce, tomato, onions, cheddar cheese, bacon and chipotle mayo). When I hit up the Alamo’s Village location, I tried one of their white wines during a viewing of Where the Wild Things Are. It was kind of surreal to be watching a kid’s book that had been made into a movie for adults whilst drinking wine as a few rugrats got scared to death a few seats over.

The only negative thing I can really say about the Alamo Drafthouse is that if you drink half a bottle of wine while you watch a movie, you’re probably going to have to use the bathroom about halfway through. This isn’t a big deal when you’re watching flicks at home and can just pause the DVD, but it’s a bit annoying to have to sneak out, pee, and come back to your seat. I guess this is probably why most theaters don’t serve alcohol. But then again, they do serve those giant 48-ounce sodas, so what do I know?

All in all, the Alamo Drafthouse is definitely my favorite cinema in Austin, and one of my top hangouts overall. Check it out and bask in one of the ways locals like to Keep Austin Weird.