All good things must come to an end, including food blogs for class. If you haven’t guessed it, this will be my last entry for Austin Appetite. As someone who has spent many late nights with friends at diners around Austin, it would be a disservice to have a food blog and not pass along what I’ve learned along the way.

Today I’m comparing the best late-night lurks in Austin, Magnolia Cafe and Kerbey Lane Cafe, with a nod to the infant of the late night family, 24 Diner.

Kerbey Lane

Photo by bill78704 via Flickr Creative Commons.

By all definitions, Kerbey Lane is an icon in Austin. It has been around since 1980, serving up good, local food for decent prices. They also have friendly servers that are worth getting to know, as opposed to most other places.

Kerbey Lane has four locations, but the one on the Drag is definitely one to avoid on late nights. Although it’s convenient so close to campus, it’s not worth putting up with all the drunken folks that stumble in there and the metal music they sometimes play to make sure those folks don’t want to stay long.

If you’re there during the day, order the Basil Pecan Pesto and Penne. It comes with either grilled chicken or portobello mushrooms atop penne pasta, which is prepared with an amazing basil pecan pesto cream sauce. It also comes with the salad or your choice and a roll for only $8.95.

Magnolia Cafe

Photo by CC Chapman via Flickr Creative Commons.

Magnolia Cafe has also been in Austin for a while. They’ve established themselves in two locations, one on Lake Austin Boulevard and another on South Congress, but I’ve definitely favored the latter for both daytime excursions and late-night outings.

The atmosphere is a huge improvement from Kerbey Lane. The music is great on most nights and there are far fewer drunken college students interrupting your meal. Most of the food is cheaper than Kerbey Lane, as well, and they have an extensive breakfast menu.

When you’re there, also check out their chicken quesadillas. I had them for the first time a couple of weeks ago and got hooked. It’s a simple recipe, but only $6.75.

24 Diner

The 24 Diner came to town following the closure of Waterloo Ice House, an icon on the Austin culinary scene. Given the fact that it replaced an icon, it’s hard to measure it favorably, but the overpriced food and mediocre service certainly doesn’t help.

I try to avoid it at all times, given those two reasons and a terrible atmosphere, so I’ll let you check it out for yourself if you’re interested. And yes, I’m a little bitter they closed the Waterloo Ice House for it, but it’s my blog and I can cry if I want to.

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