Other 24/7s We Love
By Kate Thornberry, Fri., March 5, 2010
2304 Lake Austin Blvd., 478-8645
1920 S. Congress, 445-0000
Always busy, Magnolia Cafe consistently turns out fresh, well-made food. The prices are quite reasonable, and the staff is efficient and hardworking. The menu is extensive and includes every imaginable breakfast item, a good deal of Tex-Mex, salads, hot and cold signature sandwiches, burgers, soups, appetizers, desserts, and popular daily specials. Also, there are far more vegetarian options than are usually found in an all-night diner. The aesthetic is very counterculture-friendly, with local art on the walls and (usually loud) music playing, and your server is likely to be tattooed and/or pierced. Both Magnolia locations are extremely popular; during South by Southwest, the wait can be epic.
Star Seeds Cafewww.starseedscafe.com
3101 N. I-35, 478-7101
Star Seeds Cafe used to simply be the all-night diner attached to the Stars Inn Motel; then it was discovered by musicians and clubgoers and became a popular late-night hipster destination. In recent years it has severed its business connection to the motel and become a stand-alone restaurant. Part of Star Seeds' charm has always been its lack of pretension: It is unapologetically a greasy spoon. Service is usually prompt but can be very slow when the restaurant gets slammed. The menu is classic diner and features salads, sandwiches, burgers, a handful of entrées (including Frito pie), and breakfast. With 28 different breakfast items, breakfast is Star Seeds' strong suit. The omelets are tasty, the breakfast tacos are enormous, and the coffee is excellent.
2001 E. MLK, 478-4700
This attractive new coffeehouse is one of the most recent additions to the 24-hour roster. Clean and well-lighted, with attractive seating and free wi-fi, Bennu is comfortable and chic. Primarily a coffeehouse, the menu features all the popular espresso drinks, as well as French-press coffee, designer mochas, and loose-leaf teas. Most of the food items for sale at Bennu are made elsewhere but are from some of Austin's best-known providers: pizza slices from Hoboken Pie, bagels from Hot Jumbo Bagel, and salads from Fricano's Deli. Sandwiches and wraps are provided by the Green Cart, a wide array of baked goods is supplied by Russell's Bakery, and between the hours of 6:30 and 10:30am, Torchy's Tacos brings the breakfast tacos.
618 W. Sixth, 472-2037
Opened in 1979. Katz's brought New York-style deli sandwiches to Austin. In 1983 the restaurant became a 24-hour, late-night phenomenon and has remained a popular Sixth Street destination ever since. The menu is extensive and features classic delicatessen sandwiches and traditional Jewish kosher-style cuisine such as stuffed cabbage, chopped chicken liver, Reuben sandwiches, Hebrew National hot dogs, bagels, blintzes, potato pancakes, and matzo balls. You will also find regional favorites like chicken quesadillas and fried pickles with ranch dressing, as well as standard late-night fare such as burgers and chicken wings. Katz's also boasts a full bar and does a lively brunch business on weekends.
La Mexicana Bakerywww.la-mexicana-bakery.com
1924 S. First, 443-6369
This large, family-owned, 24-hour Mexican bakery branched out into standard South Texas Mexican fare a few years ago. Although the atmosphere is fluorescent, plastic, and unnervingly like a bus station, the cuisine is handmade and fresh – so much so that La Mexicana is becoming a late-night favorite. The menu features carnitas, barbacoa, tacos, migas, tortas, enchiladas, and combo plates, all for taco-trailer prices, with the added benefit of getting to eat sitting down indoors. In addition to the warm-off-the-griddle tortillas, the bakery supplies a dizzying assortment of Mexican pastries and cakes.