|626 N. Lamar Blvd.
Austin, TX 78703
I have frequently lamented the lack of good little breakfast joints in the Austin area. That’s why it pleases me greatly to give you the scoop on a little jewel at N. Lamar just past Sixth Street called the Counter Café. For years the site of the iconic and undeniably greasy GM Steakhouse, Counter Café is the exact opposite of the former occupant: everything is fresh and there’s not a hint of lard around. And man do they make some breakfast!
I love to start out with the seasonal fruit and Jake’s granola. Get the locally made yogurt and the soymilk to go along. The granola has a crunchy and deeply satisfying flavor and the fruit is locally-sourced whenever possible. Then there’s the always reliable breakfast tacos: a bit pricey at $6.50 for two but well worth it, if just for a taste of their uber-fresh salsas. I like the scrambled eggs, bacon and cheese on a corn tortilla. The beauty of owner Debbie’s (she’s from Fredricksburg) little joint is that the eggs, no matter how you order them, are always delicious. I have several favorites: I like the three eggs over easy with their amazing fresh sausage and their nine-grain toasted bread. Now this is a breakfast with substance and style: not to mention wonderful flavors. And then you have to try the Counter Benedict. This is totally atypical fare for the usual Texas breakfast joint and it’s what separates the Counter Café. The dish begins with two perfectly poached fresh eggs along with seared homemade pastrami. They make a completely decadent hollandaise to accompany along with home fries. This is a serious breakfast item.
Thus far we’ve steered toward the lower-carb offerings but I can hear the murmurs out there: what about the hotcakes? Well Virginia, I’m pleased to report that they are there in abundance! These derive from a house-made batter and can be had with blueberries as well. They arrive dripping with honey butter and maple syrup and are texturally just about perfect: a little crunch and a wonderful balance of flavors round out these cakes.
And for the pièce de résistance, have you ever considered crab cakes and eggs for breakfast? It had never occurred to me until I ventured into the Counter Café on that first, fateful day several years ago. I’ll tell you, this is one interesting dish. The lump crab cakes some with poached eggs and a side of toast, but most importantly, with amazing curried peanut pesto and lemon aioli dipping sauces. This is not only different but puts an entirely new perspective on breakfast as you may have envisioned.
I would be remiss to not point point out that Counter Café is open for lunch as well. Suffice to say, if any of these breakfast stylings appeal to you, you’ll find a way to come back for lunch. They serve from 8am to 4pm daily.