Austin Rocks: Cisco’s Restaurant & Bakery

Breakfast at Cisco's in East Austin TX photo by Sheila Scarborough

Breakfast at Cisco’s in East Austin – I always get the migas.

(Part of the Austin Rocks series of posts by a local about things to do and see in Austin, Texas)

As author Thomas Wolfe said, “You can’t go home again,” and that is certainly true in Austin, Texas, where explosive growth has changed the city’s skyline and population.

That’s especially true in East Austin, where my father was born and raised, and where I used to ride my bike down from the University of Texas campus to visit my grandmother on East 9th Street. She’d make fried chicken and hand me a Budweiser in the un-airconditioned, one-bedroom house that is now a fancy place with extra buildings where her chicken yard used to be. The railyard where my grandfather walked to work is now a bunch of multi-story buildings with shops, restaurants, and condos.

But one Austin institution hasn’t changed much since Rudy Cisneros opened his eatery in 1950 – Cisco’s Restaurant & Bakery on East 6th Street.

Exterior of Cisco's Restaurant in East Austin photo by Sheila Scarborough

There’s a lot going on visually around the exterior of Cisco’s Restaurant. This is only one side of the colorful teal building, constructed in 1914 but with assorted additions since then.

All kinds of people come to Cisco’s (including President Lyndon B. Johnson back in the day) and some of the waitstaff have worked there for decades. After surviving the pandemic thanks to takeout service, Cisco’s is back open for inside dining, seven days a week, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., and yes, they serve adult beverages later in the day.

I’m not a big egg enthusiast, but if they are scrambled with lots of extra ingredients, I’ll eat them. I do make an exception for migas, which are my go-to egg order when I can get them. Migas at Cisco’s are as deliciously described on their menu: “Tortilla chips fried with onions and tomatoes, scrambled in egg and melted cheese. Served with sausage, refried beans, and a side of ranchero sauce.”

Get their biscuits on the side, and say, “Yes” when asked if you want them toasted.

Cisco's in East Austin jukebox photo by Sheila Scarborough

Cisco’s jukebox is a homey touch. Musical offerings include Roy Orbison, Al Green, Patsy Cline, Sir Douglas Quintet, Selena, Howlin’ Wolf, Clifton Chenier, Etta James, Freddy Fender, and of course, Willie Nelson.

I don’t expect towns and cities to always remain frozen in time. Times change, people change. The “new place,” if it lasts long enough and is worthy, could eventually become a touchstone institution in the neighborhood, too.

But right now, it is such a comfort to walk into a place like Cisco’s, scan the menu even though you know you’ll order “the usual,” and enjoy the people-watching and the food. As I wrote only a year after we launched this blog, about an Austin restaurant that is now gone and a big hotel sits where it was, eat like a local (before they tear it down.)

(All photos by the author)

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  1. Kerry Dexter June 18, 2021

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