Day Trips

San Antonio institution serves up comfort food with a capital C

Day Trips
Photo by Gerald E. Mcleod

Earl Abel's restaurant in San Antonio is a local institution that belongs to the entire state. Like so many culinary icons in Texas, it is too often underappreciated and overlooked.

This is American food at its fried best. It would be unfair, but not entirely inaccurate, to say all of the food is fried. From the wavy pattern of the carpet to the saloon-style wooden chairs and black leather booths, this is comfort food with a capital C.

Family and friends have turned this institution into a tradition. Fans of the Belgian waffles and fried chicken took a collective gasp when the Broadway location, opened in 1940, closed in 2006. Fortunately, new owners breathed new life into the family-owned restaurant and moved the furniture and employees to a location a bit north of the original.

Earl Abel started serving food in a downtown diner in 1933. A former silent-film organist, Earl loved show business and brought a little of it to his restaurant. He was known to be a walking encyclopedia of jokes and stories. Many of his witticisms survive on signs around the dining room, like "It's tough to pay $1.25 for a steak, but 50-cent steaks are tougher."

Earl Abel's is at 1201 Austin Highway, east of the McNay Museum. Table service is available 7am to 10pm. To place an order, call 210/822-7333. To see the menu, go to

1,155th in a series. Collect them all. Day Trips, Vol. 2, a book of "Day Trips," is available for $8.95, plus $3.05 for shipping, handling, and tax. Mail to: Day Trips, PO Box 33284, South Austin, TX 78704.

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Earl Abel's, San Antonio, McNay Museum

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