Restaurant Review: New on Burnet Road

A basket of new dining establishments serving everyday eats to everyday folks

Before MoPac was built, Burnet Road was a highway connecting northwest Austin to Burnet County. In those days, cars motored by, stopping only for gas or an occasional bite at Top Notch. Flash forward to 2011, and Burnet Road cuts through what we now call Central Austin and is the primary business corridor for surrounding residential neighborhoods. The Burnet Road commercial landscape is rapidly shifting, and in recent years, a new crop of restaurants have helped to revitalize segments to meet urban core needs. What's happening isn't necessarily destination dining; rather, Burnet Road's new eateries are unfussy establishments catering to families and folks for everyday eats. Just in the past year, Burnet Road has become home to a number of trailers turned brick-and-mortar businesses, as well as some welcome new faces in Austin's food scene. Here's a look at some of the newer establishments that are reshaping Burnet Road.

Cutie Pies

7329 Burnet Rd., 452-PIES
Jaynie Buckingham of Cutie Pies
Jaynie Buckingham of Cutie Pies (Photo by John Anderson)

The mint-green interior of this cheerful cafe space evokes Grandma's 1950s kitchen, which is what pie trailer queen Jaynie Buckingham is going for with her new Cutie Pies home. Here you will find all your childhood (and your mother's childhood) favorites – the lacy buttermilk pie, puckery lemon meringue, and a mixed-berry crumble that tastes like a sleepy summer afternoon. At her new Burnet Road home, Buckingham is also experimenting with savory chicken pot pies and quiches, so don't skip an opportunity to visit for lunch. Buckingham has mastered the art of crisp crust, and each individually sized pie is always fresh-tasting, never soggy. Lemon squares, Rice Crispies squares, and chocolate chip cookies are also now on the menu.

Dickey's Barbecue Pit

5350 Burnet Rd. #1, 467-6653
Dickey's Barbecue Pit
Dickey's Barbecue Pit (Photo by John Anderson)

I know Dallas natives who get sentimental when anyone mentions Dickey's Barbecue. Dickey's has been a venerable presence on the Dallas barbecue scene for nearly 70 years. Best known for brisket and ribs, Dickey's nonetheless offers a satisfying variety of meats, from pulled pork to sausage and smoked chicken. The meats are serviceable, though when weighed against other Central Texas choices, not memorable. Dickey's sells a variety of sides, including fried okra, onion rings, and macaroni and cheese, in addition to the usual suspects. These days Dickey's is a franchise operation with stores in almost 40 states. But this doesn't mean the business has forgotten its humble roots: Each store still smokes its own meat overnight in a wood-burning convection smoker, and brisket, ribs, and sausage are sliced to order.

Monkey Nest Coffee

5353 Burnet Rd., 505-8033
Monkey Nest Coffee
Monkey Nest Coffee (Photo by John Anderson)

Across the street from Dickey's, Monkey Nest is developing its own loyal following. The tasteful corporate-style decor of glass subway tile, dark wood, and comfortable, matching leather chairs belies the coffeehouse's homespun roots. Owner Koros Derakhshani was tired of spending all his money at Starbucks, so he decided to open his own coffee shop offering all Fair Trade and organic coffees at reasonable prices. Monkey Nest has been an instant hit with neighborhood residents. Mornings offer breakfast tacos from Elsi's and pastries from local bakeries. Don't miss the vegan doughnuts from Red Rabbit Cooperative Bakery paired with Monkey Nest's signature Spiced Monkey Mocha (grated cinnamon and cayenne in a mocha latte). For an afternoon pick-me-up, try a cafe glace – espresso enhanced with a scoop of Tèo gelato. The cafe also offers a tempting variety of sandwiches made on fresh bread, and in a nod to the owner's Iranian roots, also stocks Persian tea scented with cardamom and orange blossoms.

Lucky J's Chicken & Waffles

5035 Burnet Rd., 524-2917

Lucky J's owner Jason Umlas has done his best turning a dark and unappealing snack shop space into a cute, quirky, and permanent home for his chicken-and-waffles trailer business. Walls are painted red and yellow to match the iconic trailer's flame design. Tables inside and on the street encourage dining there, but ordering still takes place at a small window that seems more like a mobile confessional than a counter. Chicken-and-waffle combinations are still the mainstay, but the new space also has an expanded menu of sandwiches and breakfast items.

Hat Creek burger Co.

5400 Burnet Rd., 452-2025
Hat Creek Burger Company
Hat Creek Burger Company (Photo by John Anderson)

Although Hat Creek has been flipping burgers at this location for more than a year, it's still a relative newcomer to the brick-and-mortar world. What started as a trailer parked around town quickly found a dedicated following and a permanent home in a former Arby's. The sign was conveniently repurposed with the Hat Creek logo, and the restaurant reopened to adoring fans. The guys at Hat Creek make their own Angus beef patties and spice them just right. The flame-grilled burgers are juicy, substantial, but not so thick you can't get your mouth around them. Hat Creek cuts its own fries, and they're invariably among the best in town. Oh, and did I mention creamy root beer floats and milkshakes made with Blue Bell ice cream?

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Burnet Road, Hat Creek Burger Co., Lucky J's Chicken & Waffles, Cutie Pies, Dickey's Barbecue Pit, Monkey Nest Coffee, barbecue, pies, coffee shop

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