spotlight on LOCAL
spotlight on LOCAL
Kerbey Lane Cafe
“We not only serve people.
Nothing says breakfast in Austin like a stack of big, fluffy pancakes
We have created a family.”
(and maybe a side of chips and queso) from Kerbey Lane Cafe. Since opening its first location in a small house on Kerbey Lane in 1980, this family-owned-and-operated restaurant—known for its scratch-
— ALMA ALCOCER
made comfort food—has become a city legend. Although grabbing brunch with friends at this beloved restaurant looks a little different these days, all eight of Kerbey Lane’s Austin-area locations have re-opened their dining rooms and patios and are eager to welcome the community back through their doors. In place of the free-standing bottles that normally line the tables, diners will receive individually packaged syrups, butters and
El Alma Cafe
other condiments as well as QR codes instead of menus. While most Kerbey Lane favorites remain on the menu, some dishes that are
Like live music, the University of Texas Longhorns and keeping it
more difficult to source, like fish, have been temporarily removed.
weird, Tex-Mex is one of the things that Austin is best known for.
The chefs, however, have introduced a new lemon poppyseed
And El Alma Cafe on Barton Springs Road is a local favorite known
pancake special and are exploring a tempting summer menu.
for the fresh take it brings to this Austin mainstay. Founded by Alma Alcocer in 2011, El Alma is described by Alcocer as a “passion project”
Guests will also see servers wearing masks and shouldn’t be alarmed
that reflects both her culinary training in fine dining and the foods
if they hear a timer go off during the course of their meal. All
she grew up eating as a child in Mexico City. Now, regulars and new
Kerbey Lane locations have an hourly timer that signals to staff
customers alike can enjoy this exquisite cuisine in the restaurant’s
it’s time to sanitize frequently touched surfaces. Social distancing
inviting indoor dining room or on their beautiful outdoor patio
decals, designed to help keep guests at least six feet apart, have been
placed in heavily trafficked areas, like host/hostess stands, outside of restrooms and on the sidewalks outside where guests have been
“I think the biggest impact for us as a restaurant has been the rules
known to wait hours for a table. “Reserved” signs are also used to mark
that we’ve had to implement for our customers and the amount
empty tables for further social distancing measures.
of things that we have had to say no to,” Alcocer says. “It’s been a
For those who prefer enjoying Kerbey Lane from the comfort of home,
learning experience.” One of the biggest transformations returning
the restaurant recently rolled out a new online ordering platform and
customers will notice is the removal of tables from the dining room,
has an exclusive partnership with Favor, which makes ordering and
eliminating customers’ “normal spots.” Alcocer remains positive,
however, as many guests have expressed excitement at the restaurant’s
As far as the menu goes, guests can expect a somewhat pared back
re-opening despite the change. The small dining room remains a
version of the restaurant’s previous offerings and to view menus via
“great place for people to come and have a full meal,” she adds.
QR codes on their mobile devices. Although some favorites have
In many ways, this restaurant with its homey, down-to-earth atmosphere and extensive menu filled with rich, comforting dishes, embodies the spirit of Austin. Despite some changes, Kerbey Lane is
been removed (even Alcocer’s), like the nopalito and vegetarian
adapting and innovating and showing Austin that it will continue to
chili relleno, Alcocer reassures patrons that they will return to the menu
provide for the community just as it has for the past 40 years.
in due time. For now, the goal is to continue to prepare dishes with ingredients that are harder for customers to access at home, like quail and lamb. And for those who can’t imagine a Tex-Mex dining experience without chips and salsa, not to worry—customers are still given chips and salsa for the table, and provided with entirely new servings when they have emptied their bowls.
PHOTOS BY EL ALMA CAFE PHOTOS BY KERBEY LANE CAFE
42 / EdibleAustin.com
EdibleAustin.com / 43