6801 Burnet Rd
Austin, TX 78757
Every now and again, I stumble upon a real gem of a place. I’m not saying that I’m Columbus when discovering eateries, but sometimes there are places that have been around for eons and just haven’t made it onto the tourist/cool/media lists. In fact, my badass dining companion April (of Hoovers fame) worked right around the corner from this particular spot, yet still had never been.
When these places bleep onto my radar, I am then faced with another conundrum – do I in fact share the secret, or selfishly keep it all to myself? While only a handful of people know about my favourite tiny dive bar in Austin, I decided I was happy let y’all in on the awesomeness of The Frisco, because the love for this place should truly be shared.
The Frisco first opened in 1953 as part of the legendary Night Hawk restaurant chain, and continues the legacy today. Put simply, it’s an all-American diner, but the real deal. No hipsters, no modern snooty cuisine interpretations, no cheesy “retro diner” decor. Just an actual diner, serving unpretentious, quality, all-American fare.
Along with burgers, pies, a grill section and all the usual suspects, The Frisco remains true to its diner roots by also serving version of simple, classic home cooked meals for when you don’t want to cook at home. Think meatloaf, pork chops, chicken fried steak, grilled salmon, steak and eggs, egg salad sandwich. Nothing is too old fashioned for this menu…and it’s a fabulous time warp.
We started with the fried green tomatoes, encased in a golden cornmeal crust. Now remember, the secret to a great fried green tomato is not to eat it before it cools to a non-mouth searing temperature! These beauties were wonderfully tart on the inside, cooled by a side of creamy ranch.
I ordered the classic Frisco burger, with lettuce, cheese, special relish, and secret sauce on their special toasted bun with a side of french fries (though onion rings are an option). And of course, there was an extra addition of bacon… This meatwich falls into the category of a “one hander” burger (like Dan’s, Sandy’s etc) but that’s the type I prefer than a two handed behemoth that is too heavy on the pattie.
A burger like this doesn’t leave you wishing you had four extra stomachs in order to digest your meal. It’s flavoursome, delicious, appropriately portioned and hits right in the food comfort zone. Booyah!
So ordinarily, I would be expecting dessert in a place like this to be mass produced and ordered through a food wholesale company (a la Marie Callenders), smeared with Cool Whip, stuffed with impossibly jellied fillings and tasting much as though it was produced in a lab, not a kitchen. Or the sweet pendulum may swing entirely the other way, with a pricey pastry produced by a professional patissier (a la Taff Mayberry).
When we ordered the peach pie (which incredibly is made without the addition sugar, to allow the fruit to do it’s thing), I think both April and I expected a reheated, more-gelatin-than-fruit filled, flacid-pastry-topped wedge of 3 day old pie. Not because of anything The Frisco had done, but purely because conditioning and experience had taught us that this was the type of thing one receives as “pie” in a diner.
What we were in fact served, for the meagre price of $4.05, was the best pie I’ve ever eaten. Ripe peaches beneath buttery, flaky pastry, crowned with a ball of vanilla bean-flecked ice cream.
You should go to The Frisco. You will go to the Frisco and love your experience. And you’ll probably be back many, many times to work your way through the menu.
If you see me there, let’s share some pie, ok?!