Austin Landmarks on the Menu

Ski Shores Waterfront Cafe

2905 Pearce Rd., 346-5915
www.skishores.com
Tuesday-Thursday, 11:30am-8pm; Friday, 11:30am-9pm; Saturday, noon-9pm; Sunday, noon-8pm (weather permitting)

Ski Shores is a timeless place, ramshackle in that summer-holiday way that triggers ease and relaxation. Though it can be (and often is) reached by car or motorcycle, Ski Shores is a restaurant geared toward water traffic, a place where hungry water-skiers and boaters can pull in and tie up when exercise has famished them. Wooden tables face Lake Austin from several tin-roofed decks, and more are scattered along the dock and beneath the magnificent, enormous cypress and oak trees.

When Marion Fowler opened Ski Shores in 1954, it was with an eye to providing a concession stand for the guests at the nearby Lake Austin Greenshores Summer Vacation Cot­tages. Throughout the Sixties and Seventies, Ski Shores continued serving as a lakeside concession stand and boat launch, as well as providing one of the few sandy beaches on Lake Austin. Starting in the late Eighties, a series of respected Austin music businessmen saw Ski Shores' potential to be a destination in itself, and a stage was added along with an expanded menu. In 1997, George Levy took over the management of the cafe, and over the last decade, he has managed to cement Ski Shores' place as both a substantial business and one of Austin's many icons.

Levy envisaged Ski Shores as a family-oriented business, more sought out for its food than for alcohol. Consequently, he decided to "out-fresh" the competition, cutting and slicing fresh vegetables and meats twice daily and making everything to order. Ski Shores' signature burgers, the Border Burger (cheese, grilled onions, jalapeños, and guacamole) and the Scooter Burger (nearly a pound of meat, cheese, and jalapeños), are enormous as well as delicious and come with either fries or handmade onion rings. The catfish baskets are topflight, and their pizzas are made with fresh dough, imported cheeses, and sauces prepared from scratch. Friday and Saturday nights, the stage boasts some of the biggest names in Austin songwriting, including Stephen Doster and Will Sexton, the music echoing out over the water and the cool lakeside breeze coming back in.

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