The Austin History Center boasts a serious wealth of restaurant menus in their archives. In honor of Classics Week, every day will feature a tour of some of their most interesting holdings. First up: straight-up beautifully designed menus from long-gone restaurants. Mid-century Austin offered less dining variety than now, though there was a classic Chinese restaurant, and, oh yes, lots of steak.
Lung's Chinese Kitchen
Lung's was one of Austin's first Chinese restaurants, run first by Sam and then Joe Lung, Jr. It was located at 1128 Red River until 1974, where Serrano's is now.
There's not much to find about this very Texan restaurant, located near the intersection of 7th and Congress. There seems to be no relation between it and the Hutto Texan Cafe.
Another stylish mid-century menu for a restaurant on "picturesque Lamar Boulevard." The steaks all range between a dollar and $2.25 for a porterhouse.
The Tally Ho was also located near 7th and Congress. Here's a few details on the restaurant from an interview in The Chronicle with musician Rusty Weir:
Truth be told, the 56-year-old performer has lived in Austin only since he was six days old. The only son of Dorsey and Owana Wier, Rusty comes from strapping Texas German stock. His father owned the Tally Ho Restaurant at Seventh and Congress.
"When I was 3, I'd ride my stick horse through the restaurant between the tables while the pianist played 'The William Tell Overture.'" Relates Wier. "Been a ham ever since." It delighted the patrons and was Wier's first lesson in entertaining.
Besides the Tally Ho, Dorsey Otto Wier ("a good German name") was proprietor of the Plantation restaurant near UT, as well as "a coupla hotels in Houston. That was daddy. He ran hotels and restaurants and read books on farming."
La Tapatia occupied the space later taken over by Nuevo Leon, and now standing vacant awaiting condoification (maybe). The menu cover is empty, but it sure is striking. Here's a matchbook from the restaurant, and Tony's appears to be one of the early tortilla factory pioneers.
The Palomino Club
According to Michael Cocoran, the Palomino Club was located at 3405 Guadalupe. Overall, it's striking how many mid-century Austin restaurants embraced a Western theme. Like America's enthusiasm for Western movies, Austin's hunger for cowboy restaurants has seriously faded with time.
Many of these menus are from the Niles-Graham-Pease collection. Eater has attempted to track down copyright holders.