It's no secret that the Austin food scene has blown up in recent years, but that doesn't mean there haven't been quality establishments in this town for some time. In Old School Austin, we explore classic restaurants that opened prior to 1975. This week: Hill-Bert's.[Photos: Jasmin Sun / EATX]
To burger stand purists and longtime Austinites, Hill-Bert's is probably considered the last of the old-school hamburger spots. Partly because nothing's really changed since Hilbert Maldonado flipped burgers at North Lamar's Burger Chef back in 1973, but mostly because the restaurant's founder still oversees all day-to-day operations and doesn't plan to retire anytime soon.
Even though the original Hill-Bert's has been replaced by a P. Terry's, the family has since opened three more locations around Austin — all former mission-style Taco Bell shops.
Maldonado is keen to keep things as they are unless they're broken, and that mantra has stuck. He's kept the same open-flame broilers and ice machines since 1973, still offers to deliver burgers to your doorstep, and didn't think to introduce combo meals until just three months ago.
But it looks like keeping things old-school is working just fine — most of Hill-Bert's customers are regulars who know what they want, and most of the time what they want is the double-meat bacon cheeseburger.