There are two Threadgill’s locations in my world, the original cafe on North Lamar and the Barton Springs location that was super convenient to a certain trailer park, back in the day.
Despite much chatter to the contrary, I never dated, did, or whatever with any of the help at Threadgills. The original location was famous for early musical discoveries, helping put Austin on the map as a Musical Mecca.
But it was the south location, at a turning point for my career, where two things occurred. I developed a following and used to meet clients there in the afternoon, and I developed an appreciation of Southern/Home-cooked styles of food. Then, too, there were certain items like “Texas Cavier,” black–eyed peas, peppers, and so forth, as a local delicacy, unmatched culinary explorations in the mundane.
Last time I looked, the favorite menu item was gone, too bad, nothing would beat walking in on a hot afternoon and asking for an orgy. It was a dozen vegetable choices on a plate, with free refills until full. Maybe a dozen out three–dozen — or more — southern delicacy, comfort–food selections. Greens, collard greens, fried okra, San Antonio squash, yellow squash, green beans, and rolls. Yeasty goodness, and both regular plus Jalapeño cornbread squares, gratis. In the summer, when in season? Fried Green Tomatoes.
My own, wee Scorpio mum — she’s claiming vegetarian now — loved the green beans. She still raves about them. I loved the collard green and cornbread. The green beans she loved so much? Big ole chunk of ham and ham bone floating in the pot — why they were so good.
Ask the French cooks, one must respect the pig.
The south Threadgills location was built spitting distance from another Austin icon, the Armadillo. Legendary event center, musical venue, and now, more a myth than reality.
I live in Texas. Myth never lets harsh reality interfere.
When the south location opened, just a I was getting comfortable in that trailer park? I remember there was a patio, of sorts, with a bar, kind of open air. Originally, it was the smoking area. Times and mores have changed. But the bar was a counter, of sorts, and I ate there, a time or two, and the place was stuck in time.
As such, Threadgills, either one, can qualify as a diner within the structure of this definition.
It’s been some years since I last rolled through the old, south location, now as much a part of the Austin backdrop as anything else, I’d suggest. The yard around the place eventually became another Austin stage.
The connection, and it carries forward to Far West Texas, El Paso to be precise, was the then patriarch of the Threadgill’s family, and his step–daughter, who was an actress playing in Xena Warrior Goddess as the side-kick, Gabriel.
Stuck in a certain motel in El Paso, year after year, on Sunday nights, after a working weekend, burnt–out, fried from a sumptuous El Paso repast, I’d slouch in front of the TV and watch whatever was on the TV at the hotel.
12 channels. 10 of them were Xena reruns, half of them in Spanish and one in Korean, I think. More than two dozen years on the road? Portions of my memory might be fuzzy.
Threadgills, either location, qualifies as a classic diner, although, I can’t say — for sure — if it still applies, but in my mind, sure, it can’t have changed that much.