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Rita's Cantina

Bars | Restaurants

The food was forgettable, but not the red wine served in greasy plastic tumblers, nor certainly Rita herself, in her Carmen Miranda fruit-topped hat and muu muu. The chain-link fence looking out onto 6th only added to the mystique.

Country Dinner Theatre Playhouse

Bars | Restaurants

The Country Dinner Playhouse was out past Balcones Research Centre (I live in NZ, and looking on Google Maps makes me think it has a newer name???) on Hwy 1325. Down a hill and cross the railroad tracks, then up the hill - and the theatre was on your right.

In 1972 or so I lived on a 40 acre property just past there, same side of the road. There had been a geodesic dome making construction company there, and they left the skeletons of several domes that made it stand out a bit...

And I worked at the Country Dinner Theatre as a cleaner/dishwasher. At one time there were 4 or 5 of us, then they cut it back to two. We'd get there about 10pm, as the show finished, and bus, wash, setup and drink wine until near dawn. For me, it was just a walk across the field to get home then.

KOKE was just starting to have some great programming back then, and we'd get to listen to Ramblin' Jack Elliot's song about New Orleans just about every night ("Did you ever stand and shiver, just because you were lookin' at a river?")

Joe's Bar on East 1st

Bars | Restaurants

Before 1st Street was Caesar Chavez, there was plain old east first. There were several eastside spots that were already "famous"... that is, known to exist by folks on the west side of town. Places like El Azteca, Hernandez, Cisco's. My favorite was Joe's Bar on east 1st. Joe's was a beer bar with a trailer out back serving food. Cheap, cold beer and fresh tacos are a great combination. My favorite tacos were picadillo: a large tortilla filled with extremely spicy beef and topped with a handfull of french fries right out of the fryer.

Joe's tacos were legendary for their "hotness" due to chiles and spice. So much so, it was sport for the regulars to watch for and ridicule the white boys' melt-down after an order of three. I held my own but a few Lone Star's were needed... I felt that the regular crowd approved of that technique.

The Hobbit Hole


Back when "The Lord of the Rings" had anything nothing more than minimal popularity, let me see now: 1971 or so it would have been, there was a really nice restaurant down near Rio Grande and about 5th St.

I can remember bicycling down there from the University area in the late, late nights for coffee and desserts.

I don't think the place was around all that long - the food business is like that, I guess - but I remember the building as a converted grand old house, lit up brightly in an otherwise dark and quiet neighbourhood.

Mother Nature's Smoothy Shop


Well, smoothies haven't always existed, have they?

Back in the late 60s (I'm remembering either 1969 or 1970?), they were really something new and different, and there was a place somewhere about 16th or 17th, maybe in the San Antonio to Rio Grande area called Mother Nature's Smoothy Shop. I'm sure they sold things other than smoothies, but that was their specialty. I remember it as not much more than a small kitchen and I remember more of the yard than any inside eating place. Anybody remember the place?



Sattva was a collective food serving place - a co-op of sorts, I guess.

It started sometime in early 1975, I think, and was first located in the back of a church hall in the 2100 block of San Antonio. Meals were vegetarian, outrageously cheap, fresh and tasty.

At some point, Sattva moved somewhere further up the Drag, again in some sort of either community or church hall.

Always a friendly atmosphere, and menus often dedicated to particular ethnicities or particular interests of the people who happened to be cooking that day...

Cheap Eats

Restaurants | UT

One thing great about the university area was that it had a ecosystem of food that was matched to the student lifestyle and budget. Here's a brief list that I recall... add in your favorite.

The Egg Roll Stands
- You really didn't want to know the details but these snack bars on wheels were so convenient that they could not be passed up.

The original Trudy's
- It was a ways up the drag but your could count on good food and a bohemian staff. The carne guisada was outstanding.

The Chinese Takeout
- This place was about the size of a modern-day Shortstop burger place. It had a walk-up counter where and picnic tables outside. The most interesting thing was that the staff was 100% middle eastern. Iranian, I think, but they made the best chicken fried rice.

Hansel and Gretel
- This place (now a Trudy's, ironically enough) was one of the meeting places where the cool profs would meet with students for long discussions over pitchers of beer and cold-cuts. It seemed like it was deep in the woods back then.

Alvin Ord's
- Although this was supposd to be a sandwich shop, they served made-to-order breakfast for incredibly low prices. I started many a day there.



Elda's was one of those places that was a legitimate "hidden gem". It was the personal residence of a married couple from Mexico, I think, and they opened their home as a restaurant. The other bonus was that they were open on Friday night until past 2:00am. Cabrito and guacamole, amazingly good. The old man taking your order to the old woman sitting at her dinette table and both of them disappearing to the kitchen to cook it, even better. I can't remember where they were located except it was on the East side on a hill.

The Stallion


Make mine a double with a Shiner. The CFS was good (and cheap) but the Stallion was one of those places that you just wanted to go to. The waitresses stuck in 50's, the kitchen off to the side belching cooking smoke out that vent that you had to drive by, upstairs bar, it was funky but good. N. Lamar was an interesting neighborhood at that time... We've lost a lot of Austin history there.

Casita Jorge's


Ahhh... Jorge's off of Pleasant Valley. Loved the Margaritas. Loved the enchiladas. Loved the whole bohemian Tex-Mex experience.