Second Helpings: American Cafes

34th Street Cafe

1005 W. 34th, 371-3400 Monday-Friday, 11am-9:30pm; Saturday, 11am-4pm; 6-9:30pm
34th Street Cafe is the perfect setting for a quick, informal lunch in an atmosphere more sophisticated and relaxed than your average deli. The menu features a dozen classic deli sandwiches made with Boar's Head meats and cheeses, salads, Tuscan pizzas with crusts as thin as water biscuits, homemade soups, and daily blue-plate specials. At dinner time, the lighting is softened and the cafe features a delightful casual-fine-dining menu under the direction of chef Sarah McDonald. The cafe kitchen offers full-service catering and also prepares sandwich and dessert trays to order.

Chez Zee

5406 Balcones, 454-2666 Monday-Thursday, 11am-10:30pm; Friday, 11am-12mid; Saturday, 9am-12mid; Sunday, 9am-10pm
Just when we think it's all about the brunch, we reconsider and think it's all about the late-night dining. And all hours in between. Voluptuous, decadent brunch items are served with signature croissants and strawberry butter. Dinner options span a wide range, from pastas to chicken dishes to a variety of salads. Chez Zee also has a beautiful courtyard and private dining room for up to 125 guests for special occasions. Diners take note: One stroll past the groaning dessert case will challenge all resolve to resist temptation.

Kerbey Lane Cafe

various locations
You gotta love this homegrown and well-loved institution. What's not to like in a restaurant that wears its groovy legacy on its sleeve (the source of the great big salads is its own 30-acre farm) without a superiority complex (big juicy burgers are tops, too)? Yummy coffee, Frisbee-sized pancakes, pastas, black beans, etc., etc., etc. All of it served 'round the clock. The original location is housed in two quaint West Austin cottages and has old-Austin charm.
Magnolia Cafe
Magnolia Cafe (Photo By John Anderson)

Magnolia Cafe

1920 S. Congress, 445-0000 24 hours a day, seven days a week 2304 Lake Austin Blvd., 478-8645 24 hours a day, seven days a week
Both Magnolia locations pack 'em in at all hours, and weekend brunch hours can easily result in a 45-minute-to-an-hour wait. Why don't folks throw up their hands and head to Denny's? 'Cause speed can't compete with the quality and ambience of a distinctly Austin nature. With monster omelets and entrées from Tex-Mex to pastas, the menu is wide enough to satisfy all hankerings within a given group of people.

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