Austin, Texas Restaurant Review - Waterloo Ice House
Last week, I reviewed EZ's on Lamar. This week, I focus on Waterloo Ice House. Well, actually my wife decided to write this review for me. My wife and kids visited two of the six locations, 1106 W. 38th St. and 8600 Burnet Rd. She helped me write this review, so that you could know whether it was worth a visit.
1106 W. 38th St.
Located at the Corner of 38th and Medical Parkway, this Austin tradition's slogan is, "Serving great food since the hippies showed up." My wife took two of our kids while she was out and about, my eight year old son and our toddler daughter. Here's her review:
After parking in the lot behind the restaurant (the lot is accessible from both 38th and Medical), we walked around to the front to find a storefront with a rustic feel. Neon signs, rusted hardware, and weathered wood add to the "ice house" theme. After opening the creaky door, we stepped into an enclosed porch eating area. The patina of wear on the wooden floor boards, ceiling fans, ketchup bottles on the tables, and black-and-white photos on the walls set the "ice house" mood. Vintage signs and beer signs decorated the walls.
When we walked into the restaurant, the lady at the counter told us to just grab a menu and order at the counter. We ordered, and then served ourselves from the drink machines. This is very casual dining: you serve your own drink, get your own silverware, and find your own table.
We noticed a TV up on the wall, above the 50's diner-style booths. Slow rock music played in the background. Most people were wearing jeans, khakis, and jackets. Not a place for business lunches, but more for hanging out for a casual meal with friends.. Most of the clientele consisted of young hipsters, small family groups, and classic Austinites.
Our order was ready in about 10-15 minutes. I was glad, because our baby was starting to get a bit grumpy by that time, and it was good to have something to feed her. My son, had the grilled cheese sandwich and fries with a drink and dessert included for $4.75, and I had the Waterloo Salad for $7.95.
My son was a little short on fries, but maybe the cook was trying to control the portions to what a smaller child would eat (our son is a big guy, for an eight year old). He said the grilled cheese sandwich, made with American cheese, was good.
The Waterloo salad had lettuce, chopped pecans, granny smith apples, bacon crumbles, blue cheese crumbles, and chicken chunks. It had a "homemade apple cider vinaigrette" that was a little oily. Overall, it was pretty good and fairly filling, but I probably wouldn't order it again.
As a side note, you can find many different permutations of this salad, frequently called "Pecan-Crusted Chicken Salad," all over town. I usually prefer it without the bleu cheese crumbles, because they can be a bit too tart. Many versions call for "craisins," which are dried cranberries. The Waterloo version had regular grilled chicken, no cranberries or oranges, so I think it could have used some more tartness to make the unique flavor of this salad, which is sort of a "sweet and sour" experience.
I tried my son's fries, and they were pretty good. They looked hand-cut, and still had the peel on, for that "homemade" feel.
I saw a mom nearby who also had a baby, about the same age as ours. I asked if she came here to eat frequently, and she said, "Yes." She mentioned that when she was pregnant, she simply craved their fish tacos all the time, and so had to be a regular customer. She fed her baby some baby food while our little one munched on a fry.
As we left, I noticed the blackboard on the wall with info about the live music. We'll have to come back some time without the kids and check out some of the artists.
8600 Burnet Rd.
My wife took all three of our children to this location after a visit to the dentist for my son, and she wrote the following:
This location had many more people who appeared to be having business lunches, and were dressed in business attire. It's located more on the north side of town, whereas the 38th street location is more central.
The rusty Coke sign outside says, "old ice house." (Well, I guess it also said, "Coke.") When you walk in, there's a long bar on the left side of the restaurant where you place your order. To your right are the tables and wooden chairs. The floor is aged wood and concrete. The walls were decorated with beer signs and other vintage signs. The exposed ductwork and wide-screen TV add to the casual, hanging-out ambiance. Classic rock played in the background while business people and their friends were chatting and eating.
I decided to order the Chicken Ranch Tacos, which is two tacos of chicken cubes, bacon strips, lettuce, and pico de gallo, with sweet, spicy ranch dressing and salsa on the side. I didn't use the salsa, but the tacos were still pretty spicy, but not too spicy. The creamy sauce was nice with the vegetables and chicken; it made them juicy and tasty. I can see how they would be fairly light fare, if you left off the dressing and bacon.
On the side, I had the black beans, which didn't have a lot of seasoning, and the Mexican rice, which was typical Mexican rice.
My son and daughter (8 and 6) had the chicken strips with fries, and the grilled cheese sandwich with fries, respectively. At first, my son refused to eat, because his mouth was numb from the preceding dentist visit. I finally convinced him that eating would move his mouth around more, which would help the medicine and numbness wear off faster.
The kids seemed to like their food, which was followed by the dessert included with the kids' meal: vanilla ice cream, which can be served with or without chocolate syrup and whipped cream on top. I opted for no chocolate syrup, since I do the laundry for the family.
The seemingly street-wise staff seemed to love our baby, and many of them came over to make silly faces at her, to see if they could make her laugh. Clearly, kids are welcome here. They had plenty of high chairs, and a respectable children's menu.
The serve-yourself drink station, has sodas, coffee, and juice. The blackboard said, "Monday Night Football, 25 cent hot wings. Happy Hour M-F 4-7 PM, 75 cent chips & salsa, 25 cent hot wings, $2 select appetizers, cheap beer."
It was a casual, uneventful meal, which I think is what they aim to serve at the Waterloo Ice House. Check it out.
The Lamar and Burnet Road Waterloo locations feature live music several nights a week, and it's FREE!
Their menu features appetizers, salads, soups, potatoes, burgers, platters (which is traditional diner fare such as chicken fried steak, turkey meatloaf, and chopped steak), chicken sandwiches, tacos, and kids' meals. The kids' menu selections are: burger, grilled cheese sandwich with american cheese, chicken tenders, mini corn dogs, and PB&J.
For more details on their hours, musical performers, locations, menu, and employment opportunities, see their website: