24 Diner is not the first restaurant to occupy the storefront located next to the historic Waterloo Records. But it is offering a unique twist on the twenty-four hour diner that is worth checking out. 24 Diner has become one of my go-to restaurants downtown. There is never a long wait for a table and there is a wide enough variety of items on the menu that everyone can find something they want. My latest visit was with my girlfriend and my friend, Nathan, who came down from Dallas for a weekend in Austin.
24 Diner describes itself as “Farm-to-table American comfort food” and they live up to the claim. Over the counter/bar seating are menu boards identifying which farm each piece of produce comes from. The decor is an original feast for the eyes. It is a modern take on the 50’s diner with a mixture of booths, elevated tables with tall stools, and counter service. Large modern lighting fills the high ceilings and large front windows face Bookpeople and (diagonally) Whole Food’s flagship Lamar store which allows for very good people watching.
The food, like the decor, are mostly modern takes on diner classics with breakfast served twenty-four hours a day. Half of the time I get their famous chicken and waffles. The chicken is always juicy, tender with a thin yet crispy coating. The batter is sweet and I would not be surprised if it was a variation of the waffle batter. The waffles are light and fluffy, ready to absorb as much syrup as you can give it. But the dish really shines when you have a bite of waffle and chicken at the same time. The flavors mix so perfectly, it’s really a must have.
My girlfriend got a grilled cheese with avocado, bacon and tomato with macaroni and cheese as a side to just make it as decadent as possible. I can understand why this would be comfort food for someone. The saltiness of the bacon, the acidity of the tomatoes, the smooth avocado and the sharp cheese created a wonderful blend. The bread for the sandwich was pretty hearty for white bread and was thick cut and toasted to perfection. The macaroni and cheese was rich, creamy and out of this world.
Nathan, always the wild man, got the Game Burger. A mixture of antelope and wild boar served on a bun with grilled onions, bacon and brown deli-style mustard. This burger is amazing. Just enough gaminess to let you know it isn’t your average burger but not so much that it was off-putting. The meat is juicy and tender and the bun is soft but toasted so it has just a light crunch when you bite into it. This just might be my new go-to item.
Nathan, trying to avoid an entirely gluttonous weekend, ordered a side salad but I can attest from past experience that the french fries are as delicious as you would expect.
There is probably no term more overused than “modern-twist” in the culinary world. Usually it’s used instead of just saying “weird” and rarely does it mean “good”. This is not true of 24 Diner. It is a great place to get a casual, well-priced meal with friends. The chefs enjoy playing with the idea of a modern diner within the farm-to-table ethos and the food shows (and tastes) it.