Of the string of casual and kitschy restaurants that line Barton Springs Road, we recommend Shady Grove, a supremely laid-back Austin institution. You dine outside, on a patio under the shade of a grove of pecan trees, and maybe listen to some live music or catch an old flick (there’s inside dining too, but that would seem to defeat most of the point of The Grove).
Food is a Southwest version of what has come to be known “comfort food.” There are drippy hot dogs and burgers buried under chili and cheese, Frito pie with chili and, if you like, just a straight bowl of that Airstream chili made with ten kinds of peppers and topped with cheese, onions, and jalapenos. You can get a very good chicken fried steak here, and some fine-looking catfish. Perhaps the Grove’s signature dish is the Hippie Sandwich (and Hippie Chick): an assortment of grilled vegetables and cheese garnished with pesto mayo and served on whole-grain bread (the Chick adds a Thai grilled chicken breast). It’s really quite good!
The food is mostly very satisfying, but this is not the place to be searching for the best examples of this or that dish, or to expect snappy, correct service. You are here for the entire Austin package; if you’re visiting Austin and are seeking to pick up some of that unique Austin mellow vibe, the Shady Grove would be a good place to start.1624 Barton Springs Road Austin TX 78704 512-474-9991 Shady Grove’s Website Shady Grove on Facebook