Mixed memories of the Stallion Drive Inn eatery on North Lamar

Reader Gary Vliet asks of our Answered Answered project: “In the 1970s there was a great restaurant on North Lamar, the Stallion. Could you give a little history and when and why it closed?”

Night view of Stallion Drive Inn Restaurant and parking lot as photographed by Neal Douglass in 1950. Contributed by Austin History Center ND-50-235-01

The Stallion Drive Inn Restaurant was located at 5534 Dallas Highway (now North Lamar Boulevard).

We know that the Stallion, which served comfort food such as chicken fried steak, veal cutlets, hamburgers, malts and liver and onions, went back at least as far as 1950. That’s because of a fine Neal Douglass photo taken Oct. 4, 1950. It was part of a strip of highway businesses — the Chief Drive-In Theater, which opened in 1947, road houses, diners, etc. — that served the new suburbs or Allandale, Crestview and Brentwood, etc.

Austin Answered: You’ve got questions, we’ve got answers.

“It was still open in the mid-1980s (’83-’85),” says beloved broadcaster Fred Cantu, “because I used to join in as Sammy Allred did live radio spots for the Stallion when we did mornings at KTXZ’s ‘All Star Rock & Roll.’”

Don’t yet know exactly when and why it closed. Hold that thought for another column.

Two Facebook pages, “Old Austin Dives, Greasy Spoons, Etc.” and “Dazed and Confused/Keeping Our Austin Memories Alive w/Its Rich History,” regularly feature the Stallion. While some contributors relish memories of certain dishes as well as employees and other guests, others walked away from the Drive Inn perplexed by the food, which included cream gravy poured over salad.

“I never figured out how they got the gravy to be that orange color,” posts Bubba Stark. “Great cheap food, though.”

The atmosphere sounds pure Austin

“I loved the Stallion!” posts Mark Lind. “The most eclectic mix of clientele of any restaurant in old Austin: hippies, bikers, ‘kickers,’ families, etc. Bar downstairs, restaurant upstairs. And a great neon sign.”

“It was good, cheap eating,” posts Frank Tomicek. “Had triple-patties there on many occasions with a three-buck pitcher of Lone Star. I miss that place.”

UPDATE: Fred Cantu’s memories were added to the original post.