Austin, Texas – Shoal Creek Saloon

Restaurant: Shoal Creek Saloon
Cuisine: BBQ/Cajun/Creole/Southwestern/Southern/Soul/Pub food
Last visited: July 20, 2010
Location: Austin, Texas (Downtown)
Address: 909 N Lamar Blvd
Price Range:$10-20USD

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

Food: 2.5
Service: 3
Ambiance: 2
Overall: 2.5
Additional comments:

  • 15+ years
  • Local hang out
  • Pub/Bar/Saloon
  • Louisiana cuisine
  • Specializes in Cajun/Creole dishes
  • Soul food/Southwestern
  • Hearty Southern comfort food
  • Big portions
  • Daily lunch/dinner specials
  • 1/2 price appetizers 3-7pm Mon-Fri
  • Great for beer/sports fans
  • Full service bar
  • Shuffle board
  • Creek side patio

**Recommendations: Cajun Gumbo, “Austin’s Best Pork Chop”, deep fried catfish, deep fried crawfish

When I see real animal heads mounted on the wall as part of restaurant decor – I am confident that I was having an authentic Texas experience.

Shoal Creek Saloon is probably one of Austin, Texas’s oldest and most iconic restaurants. The building advertises “Southern Louisiana Cooking” and it looked like a place for a true Texas experience. Of course being from Vancouver, BC this is exactly what I was looking for. It looks like a real authentic saloon and hearing from locals it’s been around for ages and is a local favourite. Austin is famous for being a “weird” town as much as it’s known as a college town, however the customers at Shoal Creek Saloon are part of the older generation locals and also predominantly men.

So dead animals hanging on the wall is somewhat intimidating, but entering into the saloon part of the restaurant which was a packed man’s/cowboy club where everyone looks like they own a gun was more intense. The place also advertises “colored tv” so keep in mind the demographic and what ambiance to expect. Shoal Creek Saloon is split up in 2 parts, the saloon/pub/bar and then the restaurant. Considering our age, gender, attire and nationality, we were totally out of place and decided to sit on the restaurant side… which was completely empty.

Cajun food originates from Louisiana, USA and it’s a mix of French, Native American, Canadian and African cuisine and is perceived to be very spicy. This could be my only post for Cajun/Creole food unless I make it down to Louisiana some day. I’m not going to claim to be an expert in this type of cuisine because I live in Vancouver and have nothing to compare it to. So in terms of authentic Cajun food, I really have no idea. If you’re looking to watch a sports game with a beer in hand and want some good, but not great hearty Southern Cajun comfort food served in big portions at a cheap price, then yes this is for you. It’s decent pub food, but I wouldn’t go just for the food. This wasn’t quite the authentic Texas experience I was looking for, but luckily I hit up Smoky Mo’s BBQSalt Lick Bar-B-Que, and Smitty’s Market which delivered everything I wanted and more!

On the table:

**Cajun Gumbo – 3/6

  • Smoked duck, chicken and sausage in a dark roux, served over rice with French bread. Cup $6.49USD / Bowl $10.49USD
  • This is their specialty and it’s advertised all over the building so I had to try it. It’s not the 1st time I’ve tried gumbo, but it’s probably the furthest South I’ve been to try it.
  • Gumbo is a stew and it’s total comfort food. It’s very rich, hearty and smoky in flavour. The soup is made with lots of meat fat drippings so it’s rich, but not oily and there’s almost a creamy texture with no dairy.

  • There was tons of meat, little rice, and it’s definitely a meat lover’s soup that will fill you up. It was full of lean shredded duck meat and lots of super soft sausage chunks, but not much chicken. There’s also a few diced celery, green peppers, onions and black beans in the mix. It’s not spicy, but just very smoky tasting and not much other flavours going on.

Austin’s Best Pork Chop – 2.5/6

  • Served with homemade mashed potatoes, cream pepper gravy and green beans $9.49USD
  • All day Tuesday & Wednesday special for $9.49USD
  • They call it “Austin’s Best Pork Chop” and I think it’s due to the size, but not necessarily the taste. The sides were better, but just not visually pleasing.
  • It was massive! Everything is really bigger in Texas! It was like the massive chicken fried steak at Shady Grove, the massive grilled New York Strip Steak at Jack Allen’s Kitchen or the massive Texas-Sized Donut from Round Rock Donuts. All of these things were enough to feed a family of 4, but it was intended for 1.

  • The pork chop had a tasty dry rub, but the quality was very mediocre and it was quite dry and chewy. The rub was flavorful but it needed sauce for moistness.
  • The beans are delicious and sauteed in bacon so they’re nice and salty.
  • The mashed potatoes looked so fake, but they were actually excellent! It was creamy, buttery and topped with creamy peppery gravy that was like country fried steak sauce… which it probably was. I needed that sauce to finish the pork chop as well.
  • A good pork chop in Vancouver that’s almost equally as big, but way tastier is from McLean’s Restaurant, Bar & Custom Deli.

Seafood Plate Combo – 2.5/6

  • Choose from fried catfish, fried shrimp, fried oyster & fried crawfish. Plates include coleslaw, beans and hushpuppies.
  • Choose 2: $11.79USD Choose 3: $14.29USD All 4: $16.29USD
  • Wednesday special for $8.29USD
  • We chose deep fried catfish and fried shrimp. Yes, it’s a lot of deep-fried, but the South really knows how to deep fry the best!
  • There were only 2 shrimps and they were very battered and crispy, but I could barely taste the shrimp.
  • The hushpuppies were not good at all and deep fried to the point of being hard golf balls.

  • The catfish was the best. I don’t know how they deep fry it so well. It’s super crunchy and crispy and has a cornmeal batter. It tastes like fish and chips and it was slightly fishy tasting, but not in a bad way. I liked these!
  • Jack Allen’s Kitchen also does a great deep fried catfish.
  • Thank goodness for the slaw, because the deep fried plate is a bit much since everything is so heavily battered.

  • Pinto Beans – the combo was served with a side of beans which was very mediocre and just smokey in flavour. I could have done without it.

Crawfish Salad – 3/6

  • Lightly battered crawfish tails served on green leaf lettuce with tomatoes, cucumbers, shredded carrots, purple cabbage, onion and cheddar cheese. Served with your choice of dressing. Small $8.49USD / Large $10.49USD
  • This was a small and there was a mound of crawfish! Crawfish is super popular in the south. Each one was perfectly battered with a salty cornmeal crust and fried to perfection. It was super crunchy again and the taste is in between a lobster and shrimp. I like them!

Garden Leaf Salad – 2/6

  • Green leaf salad with tomatoes, cucumbers, shredded carrots, purple cabbage and onion. Small $5.49 / Large $7.99
  • Add grilled marinated chicken breast, boiled shrimp or grilled tuna steak for additional $3
  • Again, this was a small and it came with a mound of chicken! Seriously a bargain for how much chicken they give with $3.
  • This salad was a regular salad and the chicken was a bit dry but it had a nice blackened Cajun rub. It wasn’t spicy and had nice flavour, but it was just overcooked.


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