Rounding up the Austin steak house scene

Hoffbrau (Photo By John Anderson)


613 W. Sixth, 472-0822

Lunch: Monday-Friday, 11am-2pm; Dinner: Monday-Saturday, 5-9pm

It's unassuming, to say the least, almost lost on the so-trendy West Sixth Street strip. The Hoffbrau is a funky vestige of Austin from the days before we had much of a city here. Reminiscent of any small Texas town, housed in a former feed store, and a venerable institution since 1934, the Hoffbrau keeps it all about as basic as it can get. Steak, potatoes, beer, and absolutely no fuss. That's it. Most of the staff has worked there for decades, and the sweet, attentive waitresses are straight from central casting.

These days (unlike the past when the choices were wider), the kitchen serves up only two cuts of steak, a tasty T-bone ($16) and a rather chewy top sirloin ($15.50). Both are pan-fried, plopped on a large platter, swimming in juices, and accompanied by a stack of soft, sliced white bread and a plate of deep-fried, quartered russet potatoes. The available sides are your basic chopped iceberg-lettuce salad with garlic dressing ($2.50) and a big stack of deliciously crispy, fat onion rings ($4). Various wedges of pie for dessert.

But I'm not sure that the generations of loyal clientele come here for the food, particularly. It's more about straddling a scarred picnic bench, sucking on a cold beer on a hot Texas night, and reaching for dimly remembered, long-gone roots from when life in Austin was as simple as the Hoffbrau menu.

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