Austin, Texas – Shady Grove



Restaurant: Shady Grove
Cuisine: American/Southwestern/Tex-Mex
Last visited: July 26, 2010
Location: Austin, Texas (South Lamar)
Address: 1624 Barton Springs Rd
Price Range:$10USD or less

1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!

Food: 4.5
Service: 3
Ambiance: 5
Overall: 4.5
Additional comments:

  • Since 1992
  • Attracts families/hippies/hipsters
  • Authentically Austin
  • American and Southwestern food
  • Award winning hippie sandwich
  • Comfort food, big portions
  • Casual, fun, laid back
  • Local favourite
  • Popular any time of day
  • Great for drinks and relaxing
  • Large outdoor award winning patio
  • Live music every Thursday
  • Kid friendly
  • Family friendly
  • Budget friendly
  • Vegetarian options
  • Free parking

**Recommendations: Hippie Sandwich, Green Chile Black Bean Burrito and the Chili Cheese Fries with lime cilantro Ranch salad dressing on the side. Apparently the Tortilla Fried Queso Catfish is good, but I didn’t try it.

Shady Grove located not far from downtown in Austin, Texas and it’s authentically Austin. Austin is a city notorious for being “weird”, random, and very hippie and that’s exactly what Shady Grove restaurant represents. Shady Grove was built under a large pecan grove so you can literally sit outside the “Shady Grove” and sip on their popular margaritas (that’s the thing to do here). There’s no rush here and people look like they’ve been sitting there for hours, which they most likely have. It only opened in 1992 and it has quickly become a local favourite for all ages. Many say it’s “the best of Austin” and if you’re looking for an Austin experience than this is a good place to visit.

The ambiance is definitely part of the experience with it’s large outdoor patio that can probably seat 100’s. Every Thursday they have live music so there’s an emphasis on the Austin music scene, lifestyle and love for the outdoors. The restaurant also has a starlight theatre and on special nights they will show Western classics, old movies and other random films. It really showcases true Austin spirit and it’s a great casual hangout for large groups, families or even just relaxing with friends.

The inside dining are is just as large and it’s more suitable for families and older demographics… you can tell just by the photos I took. shady Grove is loved by the young and the old-er and it’s busy any time of the day. It’s not only the ambiance that makes the Shady Grove a favourite, but the food is actually very good too. What you’ll find it big portions of classic Tex-Mex comfort food at a very reasonable price. There’s also some great vegetarian options for the local “hippies” and the award winning Hippie Sandwich is not to be missed. The food isn’t outstanding, but it’s better than I expected and it’s definitely worth the price. I did appreciate the atmosphere more because it’s great for people watching, but most of the food I tried didn’t let me down either.

On the table:

Frito Pie2/6

  • A bag of Fritos® topped with Airstream Chili, onions, cheddar & jack cheese and jalapeños $2.99 (I think?)
  • This was recommended by a local so I had high expectations. I was expecting an a savoury meat pie with a crust made from Frito chips and topped with more chips. I though it was going to be like a potato chip casserole, but it wasn’t.
  • It was Frito corn chips topped with their in house chili and some veggies and cheese. It was basically nachos topped with chili for me, but way saltier since Frito chips are very salty as is. It was quite whatever for me, although the chili is quite good. You have to eat it with a spoon though because the topping are bigger than the chips.

It was actually served in the Frito bag and I guess it’s a popular Tex-Mex junk food that they really like in the South?

**Chili Cheese Fries – 3/6 (with my tasty twist they’re 5/6)

  • Topped with Airstream Chili, queso and jalapeños $4.99 (I think?)
  • This was also recommended by the same local so maybe he just likes these flavours. This is a very popular item here though. It’s the exact same as the Frito Pie, except it’s fries instead of chips and there’s added queso cheese, which is that melted orange cheese that you see at movie theatres.
  • The fries are better than the Frito Pie because the chips were just too salty and I felt slightly ripped off for what it was.
  • The chili is their famous sirloin chili made with 10 spicy peppers and it’s available as a main. I would order it too because it was very good with very tender and soft sirloin chunks that taste like meatloaf. It’s mixed with stewed tomatoes, beans and onions too. It’s very slightly spicy, delicious in flavour and made for nice saucy fries.

Lime cilantro Ranch salad dressing that is fantastic with the chili cheese fries!

  • Tasty Twist: I actually started dipping the fries in the lime cilantro Ranch dressing I ordered for the salad and it was AMAZING! The whole table started doing the same thing and we loved it. the cilantro Ranch dressing tastes like a Ranch flavoured sour cream so make sure you order it with the fries. It was awesome!

**Hippie Sandwich6/6

  • Grilled eggplant, over-roasted bell peppers, zucchini, mushrooms, arugula, tomato & mozzarella cheese, served on our famous Hippie bread with pesto mayonnaise $6.19
  • Make it a Hippie Chick – with Thai grilled chicken breast $7.59
  • This is their award-wining sandwich, a local favourite and one of the most popular items on the menu that comes highly recommended. This was my favourite hands down.
  • The Hippie Bread is baked fresh and delivered daily so it’s not made in house. It was a regular whole wheat sub with oats and poppy seeds on top so I don’t know why it’s such a big deal. It just tasted like a fresh dinner roll and I liked that it was easy to chew and not that thick, but it was just regular bread at the same time so I don’t know why it’s “famous”… it also could have been more toasted.

  • It wasn’t the bread, but the ingredients that made me fall in love with this delicious sandwich.
  • They load it with tender veggies and the ingredients are all so fresh. It’s one of the best vegetarian sandwich I’ve had and it would have been even better in a panini. That’s what it reminded me of actually. It had a big slice of ooey gooey melted mozzarella and the veggies were so juicy and the perfect ratio of each. Every bite was as good as the next and the Pesto mayonnaise really stood out and was the star of the sandwich for me.
  • It wasn’t greasy, but it was a very hearty vegetarian sandwich, so even meat eaters will like it.
  • I liked this sandwich even more than the pork sandwich from Foodhead’s, which is another Austin favourite for gourmet sandwiches.

Open Faced Turkey Sandwich Plate4/6

  • Daily special – Half an open faced turkey sandwich and a side salad $6.99
  • This isn’t on the menu, but they do offer another standard turkey sandwich.
  • The turkey here is fresh oven roasted turkey breast and it wasn’t dry which surprised me! It was so tender and almost like juicy ham.
  • The sandwich was served on the same hot dog bun that tasted like garlic bread and it was extra toasted again so it never got soggy.
  • The turkey is topped with gravy that tastes like bechamel sauce. It’s creamy and savoury but not meaty tasting or cheesy.
  • There’s also creamy buttery mashed potatoes underneath the sauce and it was perfect!
  • Another job well done on classic comfort food and it was like Thanksgiving all over again. This was honestly delicious and not too salty. I could have used some cranberry sauce or a fruit compote on the side though.

Bacon Cheeseburger2/6

  • A local favourite with bacon and cheddar $6.99 + fries $.95 (The photo only shows half the order because we asked them to split it since it was being shared)
  • All the burgers are made with half a pound of fresh ground certified Angus beef and served fresh & hot with lettuce, tomatoes, pickles and onions.
  • All burgers are cooked medium well unless otherwise specified.
  • Shady Grove burgers are supposed to be award-winning and famous, but I found them very regular. In fact, I’m really surprised to discover that all burgers are cooked medium well because this burger was well done to the point of being dry.
  • The burger patty itself was homemade and I guess it had potential, but I couldn’t tell since this one was overcooked.

Bad Chili dog4/6

  • Foot-long, 1/2 pound, 100% beef hot dog grilled on an open flame and served with classic yellow mustard and onions $5.19 Add cheese $.79
  • The hot dog itself was overpowered by their famous homemade 10 spice chili. I didn’t mind because I like their chili and would order it alone. It’s very tender and soft sirloin beef in the chili and I bet it’s the meat leftover from their meatloaf they offer at dinner. I don’t care though because it’s still very good, decently spicy and flavorful. There’s also beans and big chunks of stewed tomatoes in the mix and it was almost like a sloppy joe hot dog.
  • This is definitely a knife and fork hot dog and it’s an ooey gooey mess covered with chili, lots of cheese and crunchy raw onions.
  • It served on a bread that tasted like garlic bread and it’s very toasted and crispy so that it never gets soggy even underneath those saucy toppings.
  • It was a delicious chili dog and perfect comfort food… or hangover food… for dirt cheap too.

**Green Chile Black Bean Burrito5/6

  • Your choice of chicken or brisket with black beans & jalapeños, topped with Monterey Jack cheese, sour cream and green chile sauce. Served with a side of green chile rice & pico de gallo $7.99
  • This was another excellent house favourite and recommended item. Just like the chili dog it was the definition of Tex-Mex comfort food at it’s best.
  • It’s a massive burrito that’s soaking in green chili sauce and topped with more sauce and more cheese. The green chile sauce is made in house with green chilies, onions and garlic and it’s quite mild with a smoky flavour.

  • The burrito is more Mexican than I thought it would be and it’s stuffed with lots of brisket that actually tastes like pulled pork. It’s very flavourful and tender beef that was very juicy.I think it was actually stuffed with Barbacoa which is a slow roasted Mexican beef dish that results in exactly what is in this burrito. I actually tried Barbacoa stackers at Jack Allen’s Kitchen also in Austin, but I wanted to try the authentic version and I think this could have been it… not authentic, but still closer to it I would assume. Whatever it was, it was delicious.
  • I was also surprised to see more meat than beans in the burrito and I liked that there were no fillers. Totally a bargain at $7.99 too.
  • It was just a delicious messy burrito that was heavy and super saucy. It was awesome and I’m actually craving it thinking back to it, and I wasn’t before.

Chicken Fried Steak

  • A Texas tradition, 6 oz of certified Angus sirloin, topped with country gravy $9.79
  • Topped with Hatch Green Chile Sauce & Monterey Jack Cheese $9.99
  • Dinners are served with a side salad and your choice of baked potato, twice-baked jalapeño potato, mashed potatoes, french fries or green chile rice, unless otherwise specified.
  • This is on their dinner menu, but you can order it for lunch, although it will tie you down for the day for sure.

  • I put a Jalapeno on the mashed potatoes to show just how big this country fried steak is. This is the biggest country fried steak I’ve seen – but it is Texas, so I should expect it.
  • This is truly a Texas comfort food or hangover lunch or late night munchie or just a good old fashioned hearty meal.
  • The steak was huge and it was fried very crispy with lots of breading. The meat was soft and tender and quite juicy, but parts of it were also dry so it was a bit inconsistent with every bite. The dryness didn’t bother me though because there was enough gravy to cover it.
  • The gravy was the same that was on the turkey sandwich and it tastes like bechamel sauce or a rue made of flour and lots of butter and cream. There’s no meat flavour, but it’s still good and nicely seasoned with salt and black pepper that I could taste.
  • The mashed potatoes are awesome here! I noticed how good they were on the open faced turkey sandwich so I was glad to have them alone as well. They’re velvety smooth and very creamy yet fluffy as well. They’re extremely buttery with it’s bright yellow colour and it was the perfect side to the country fried steak.


  • They do offer a selection of desserts like homemade cobblers and Austin’s favourite Blue Bell ice cream, but my dessert was the awesome Texas Sized Chocolate Covered Donut from Round Rock Donuts – it was the plan all along to eat it after lunch, so I passed on dessert at Shady Grove.


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