51. Hit Up The Old-School Spots

Good vibes and German brews flow at The Beethoven Halle und Garden. - File Photo
File Photo
Good vibes and German brews flow at The Beethoven Halle und Garden.

Not much has changed since Winnie and Pappy DeWese opened up their little restaurant all those years ago. Tip Top Café (2814 Fredericksburg Rd.) retains the magical charm of yesteryear with knotty pine walls, a brigade of dedicated waitresses and taxidermy décor. Generations of customers have chowed down on chicken-fried steak and onion rings in this little spot that feels like home. Even bleach-tipped foodie Guy Fieri was family for a day in an early season of the Food Network's Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives. The only caveat: with so many loyal customers, you may have to wait – particularly if you hit it up at lunchtime, but like mama always said, the best things are worth waiting for.

Earl Abel's (1201 Austin Hwy.) holds a devoted fan base, too, but with its roomy dining room and banquet room, it's got the space to hold 'em. It wasn't always that way. The first Earl Abel's was a 10-seater on Main Street, opened after the Great Depression left the restaurant's namesake, a once famous silent film organist, jobless. Abel's original location survived countless changes before it was ultimately demolished and moved in 2006 to make way for The Broadway condos. But, luckily for us, the no-longer new Earl Abel's retains the retro charm and humor that made it a San Antonio staple. And the food is still as good. You'll want to save room for dessert here, folks, because the lifelong waitresses will be ready to slice up a piece of any one of their delectable pies. A la mode or straight up, the choice is yours.

After a steady day of eating, there's nothing like cozying up with a cold stein of beer. Home to one of the oldest German singing societies in Texas, The Beethoven Halle und Garden (422 Perieda St.) is the perfect mix of history and old school German kitsch. Tuesday through Saturday, the Club Room opens to the public – the simple bar is the ideal place to lay low like the locals and spy on Tuesday's chorus rehearsals. Things change on First Fridays when crowds flock to the Southtown spot, brought together by beer, wieners and live traditional German tunes.

Be sure to check out the group's annual events, including Gartenkonzert, a German take on Fiesta, Oktoberfest and Kristkindlmarkt, a traditional Christmas outdoor market. One big caveat: cash only.

See the rest of the list.

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