Texas classic has new look as revamped Stagecoach Inn opens in Salado

12:00 a.m. Thursday, June 22, 2017 Austin360 Eats
The Tomahawk pork chop is on the menu at the revamped Stagecoach Inn in Salado. Contributed by Cody Graham

A Texas classic has a new look. The Stagecoach Inn in Salado reopened last week following a yearlong renovation from developers Clark Lyda, Austin Pfiester and David Hays and Austin-based La Corsha Hospitality Group (Mattie’s at Green Pastures, Second Bar + Kitchen). Executive chef Justin Holler heads the kitchen, which promises to “stay true to its roots while offering a fresh take on the restaurant’s beloved classics.”

The classic prix fixe menu is available and includes items like 1861 Hushpuppies with malted aioli and chicken-fried steak with garlic mashed potatoes and green beans; an a la carte menu features offerings like deep-fried bacon with onion jam and Texas toast and a Tomahawk pork chop with black-eyed peas.

The property originally opened as the Shady Villa Hotel in 1861 and reportedly has hosted an array of notables that includes Sam Houston, Robert E. Lee, George Custer and Jesse James. Dion and Ruth Van Bibber converted the establishment to the Stagecoach Inn in 1943. The new owners bought the property in 2015 and brought in Austin-based architects Clayton + Little to reimagine the space. Currently, only the new restaurant is operational, but the Stagecoach plans to have its 75 hotel rooms and extra event space ready by next year.

“Stagecoach Inn has been a sacred retreat for locals and travelers, and we’re thrilled to welcome everyone to the renewed and restored restaurant,” said co-developer Clark Lyda. “This project has been such a gratifying experience, and we’re anxious for guests to see how our team has preserved the property’s history while improving its atmosphere of gracious hospitality.”

Looking ahead

When you think lobster rolls, your mind might not immediately jump to Chicago. But the Happy Lobster Truck has proven one of the Windy City’s most popular food trucks, winning the Reader’s Choice award from the Chicago Tribune earlier this year.

The operators have brought the truck to Austin for the past two SouthBites during South by Southwest and enjoyed the experience so much that they are bringing one of their trucks to town permanently.

The Happy Lobster plans to be rolling around town in the first week of July. The truck will serve its existing menu of lobster rolls and lobster grilled cheese and also will introduce new Austin-specific items like Old Bay cheese fries and a fried fish taco. The Austin truck will be run by one of the Happy Lobster’s founders, Neal Bassett.

Why Austin?

“When we were looking to expand, we were looking for a few factors: a place where the weather permitted us to vend year-round and a place that was food truck friendly (essentially the opposite of Chicago),” co-founder Alex Robinson said in an email. “In our trips to Austin the past few years we became comfortable with the city and developed a little bit of a following, so it seemed like the natural choice.”

The Drag

Following the departure of two concepts from celebrity chefs Marc Vetri (Pizzeria Vetri) and Michael Symon (Symon’s Burger Spot), locally-owned Frank (Hot Dogs, Cold Beer) will be moving into Urban Outfitters’ 24Twenty space on the Drag.

Frank will take over the Burger Spot space and introduce a fast-casual version of the gourmet hot dog restaurant that has been on Colorado Street in the Warehouse District since 2009.

Owners said the opening could happen as soon as next month and definitely before the start of the fall semester at the University of Texas.

The menu will include some of Frank’s most popular dishes from downtown (I bet the Jackalope and Pig Vicious make it up town), a roster of specialty items only available at the campus location, game-day specials and an assortment of Texas beer and wine.

“The success of the Frank brand has been due in no small part to our high end-low brow concept. We intend to offer price-approachable and fast options for every guest on the Drag,” co-owner Daniel Northcutt said.

In addition to their new campus location, the Frank owners also recently took over operations at the historic Scholz Garten.

New location

South Austin Mexican staple Polvo’s will open a location in the 360 Condominium tower (310 Nueces St.) downtown later this summer, as first reported by Eater Austin. Owner Oscar “Polvo” Linares says he plans for the restaurant, located in the former Prelog’s space, to initially open at 10 a.m. and serve breakfast, lunch and dinner, but they will consider opening earlier if they see a demand for morning hours. Downtown Polvo’s will feature the same menu as the original on South First Street that Linares opened in December 1997. Linares hopes to open in the last week of August.

View full experience