|1607 San Jacinto
Austin, TX 78701
You know local politicians have been throwing the word iconic around these days (think Las Manitas) with impunity. But the slam-dunk winner on the iconic front has to be Scholz Garten on San Jacinto. This joint was started 144 years ago by German beer lover August Scholz. And through various transitions and changes in ownership it remains alive and kicking today, about as classic an example that we have of a truly Austintatious restaurant.
The common denominator through all these years at Scholz Garten has been the beer: from Germn Pilsners to India Pale Ales. But that’s evolved as well: Shiner Bock and even Bud Lite can be seen on the massive bar. And the owner for the past 14 years, Tom Davis, has evolved the menu as well. The German classics still have a presence but lots of American comfort foods have found their way to the menu as well. And Scholz is all about fun: come down here on a UT football Saturday sometime and you’ll see what I mean.
I doubt August Scholz would have contemplated Mesquite-Smoked Wings as a menu offering but they work for me. Order a dozen of these spicy doodads with just a requisite amount of heat and you’re off and running. Then we transition to a really nice Chicken Fried Chicken: no knife needed and the batter and gravy are spot on. And the accompanying German potato salad is a must order: the perfect complement. And you want to talk Cheeseburgers? Scholz serves up a fine example of this genre. The buns are moist (critical) and the flavors absolutely rock. The accompanying French Fries are just right. Order it medium and then pick your suds. It’s a can’t miss proposition. Another really good example of Scholz comfort cuisine is the Pork Chops. Man, these are crispy and tender and have a flavor rush that will make pork chop lovers ecstatic. On the downside, I’m still not wild about the Jambalaya. The dish is too meat heavy and could use more shrimp and a rounded continuity of taste.
The German food at Scholz, while by no means epicurean, is sturdy and uniformly tasty. The Grilled Bratwurst with spicy mustard makes me wax rhapsodic. These are great brats with that wonderfully aromatic flavor. These are MUST TRY. Likewise the Weinerschitzel, a pounded and lightly-breaded pork loin holds its own. This Bavarian classic is devoid of any gristle or toughness and goes down very easily. To complement the Weinerschnitzel, there is the Jaegerschnitzel, a variation on the theme with the addition of brown gravy and mushroom sauce. The sauces really light up this dish, giving it a wider range of flavor components.
BBQ and beer also go perfectly together and Scholz has not ignored these essential menu ingredients. I like the Four Meat platter with two sides when I am in a carnivorous mood. I’ll take the sausage, sliced beef, chicken and turkey. A liitle BBQ sauce and voila!!!
Scholz Garten may not have won any Escoffier awards but it has endured these past 144 years for one basic reason: they know what their customers like. Somewhere August Scholz is smiling, knowing that his place is in good hands.