Photo courtesy of Maggie
It’s 2 A.M. on a Friday night. You’ve been out carousing and suddenly there are six hours between you and your first-dinner. Before you know it, your stomach is demanding an unanticipated pit stop. What do you do?
If you happen to be an amateur, you end up eating that stale slice of pizza in the back of your refrigerator, failing to notice in your hazy desperation that it’s acquired a few extra toppings during it’s repose next to the overdue milk carton.
The Professional, on the other hand, knows about Austin’s small but select group of 24-hour joints and masterfully guides her posse towards a safe and (loosely speaking) nutritional after-party and a hangover-free Saturday morning.
Here to help you become “The Professional” is our guide to Austin’s 24/7 Diners:
3704 Kerbey Lane
An Austin classic—legend has it that Kerbey Lane Café and its twin sister Magnolia Café were born out of the splintering of the trifecta that created The Omelettry, yet another classic breakfast spot. With the most extensive menu you can find at 2 A.M., Kirby Lane has become more like a full-scale restaurant than a diner, offering the standard fare of Tex-Mex and American food as well as some more upscale choices. You can even find a pecan-encrusted trout here, if that’s what you’re looking for.
The original Kerbey Lane, quaintly located at 3704 Kerbey Lane, has a distinctly superior atmosphere compared to its other locations at 12602 Research Blvd, 2700 S. Lamar Blvd. (South Austin) and 2606 Guadalupe, but this is more of a side-note when you’re cruising around in the middle of the night. However, the location near campus does tend to get a bit rowdy at times.
1920 S. Congress and 2304 Lake Austin Blvd.
Magnolia feels very similar to Kerbey Lane. The cushy booths, the wood paneling and the classic breakfast menu. The two restaurants even having competing signature queso recipes—there is an ongoing debate whether “Kerbey Qeuso” or “Mag-Mud” is superior, I go back and forth. Overall, Magnolia’s menu is a bit more basic than Kerbey Lane’s and a bit hardier. Everyone seems to have personal reasons for gravitating towards one or the other.
618 W Sixth St No one has made the 24-hour experience more central to their image than Katz’s, whose slogan actually is “Katz’s never closes.” This probably has to do with their attempt to recreate a New York ambiance in the heart of Downtown Austin, and everyone knows that New York is “the city that never sleeps.” But Katz’s Deli is more than a clever gimmick; their sandwiches—especially the gigantic Reuben— are among the best in the city. This is also a good place to get your hands on the ever-elusive potato pancake or a bagel with lox. [WE KANT BELIEVE IT BUT KATZ’S KLOSED!]
3101 N IH 35
A cross between the traditional “diner” and a hipster dive, Star Seeds is actually bit of a throwback with its narrow interior, booths, counter seating and checkered floor. Here you will find precisely what you expect: an assortment of American breakfast staples, tacos and burgers. The staff here is known for having “character.” This apparently means different things to different people.
6th and Lamar
The newest addition to Austin’s 24/7 club, 24 Diner is a more polished, upscale experience than its competition. They boast “chef inspired comfort food,” which led me to expect something between a gourmet breakfast and regular diner fare. The reality turned out to be a bit more intriguing, including treats like the unexpectedly tasty “Chicken and Waffles.” If you make it to 24 Diner you will get less grease and your egg-sandwich can be served upon a croissant. A much needed addition to the scene.
So next time you’re out there in the twilight hours, make the right decision. And let me know if you know of any other 24-hour eateries.