Top Notch in Austin, Texas
Last May, I was thrilled to have an excuse to experience this fun place in North Austin.
The 4-part sign itself, was worth a visit. At the bottom, I spotted important info, including...Curb Service! A little higher, I saw the word CHARCOAL, with little flames beneath! Further up, I'd admired colorful letters spelling, TOP NOTCH. They were surround by lightbulbs. All was topped with a burger! Too bad the burger wasn't spinning!
The reason we stopped, was actually to purchase a t-shirt and hat for our son. Scott lives in California now and misses his Austin days.
Words on the shirt reminded us, that Top Notch turned 50 last year. That is actually pretty darn young.
Beer & Burgers
If we hadn't needed to do some shopping, we could have enjoyed carhop services outside. But it was fun peek inside the homey place.
We ordered burgers off the illuminated menu and studied the Lone Star chandelier, above! Beer at a fast food place?
There was lots to look at and watch, as we waited on the order. We could enjoy the decor around the window. Longhorns and longhorn art!
We also could watch the cooking through the glass. Top Notch isn't your typical fast food joint. They cook on a charcoal grill, just like the sign said.
There were other decorated walls, with curious goodies to study. I'm sure there's a story behind the coach & horses, displayed on the shelf.
The display was too high up for me to get a good look. But it looked old and appealed to my love of antiques and miniature things. I wish I could have bought that instead of a t-shirt.
Dazed & Confused
There was a glass case dedicated to movies that have featured Top Notch. I guess the props are from the film, "Dazed and Confused"? Not sure. I'm confused. And maybe the term film, is too classy for the 1993 cult movie.
I'm afraid I have never seen the classic, starring Matthew McConaughey.
Actually, McConaughey didn't star in the movie. He was a film student at UT, when he landed a bit part.
I haven't seen the movie, but I've seen the classic clip, where M.M. pulls into Top Notch and speaks in his distinct voice, "Aright Alright Alright..."
This image from the scene amuses me. Matthew looks nothing like the Oscar winning actor we all know. He does however look very much like my hubby, Don... in the 1970's.
The celebrity I really wanted to meet was Mr. Mike Fresch. Here he is, grilling our burgers on the indoor charcoal grill, beneath an awesome set of giant utensils.
I spoke only briefly with Mr. Fresch and he was incredibly friendly and also very busy. He's been working over this grill for 27 years. He's earned lots of fans and respect. Mr. F. was given a trip to Vegas for his 20th anniversary!
The dining room looked like it hadn't changed much since Ray and Frances Stanish opened the place, in 1971.
I graduated from high school in 1975, so I know the Dazed and Confused/Top Notch Era, well.
But some parts of the restaurant felt even older. The photo booth may not have been 50 years old, but the idea of teens and photo booths, made me nostalgic.
The skinny little bathroom doors, looked like they could have gone back to the sixties. Very possible. Before Top Notch opened, there was another restaurant in this building. From 1963 to 1971, Burkhart's Motor Dining, was under this roof. I couldn't dig up any photos.
By the time Mike had finished our burgers, I had pondered enough to realize I'd failed to order all the proper things. I took the steaming bags happily, but wished that I'd ordered onion rings and fried pies... and fried chicken!
When I stepped outside, I saw a white van delivering poultry. Evidently fried chicken is one of the best foods served at Top Notch. Or was that van, just a customer getting curb service?
We raced home with our food and didn't waste a second, jumping in! Almost forgot to snap a photo.
This pic is hardly giving my burger meal the spotlight it deserves. But I loved the charcoal burger with all the cheese and fixings. My fries were not limp, even after the drive. And my cold soda tasted extra fine, in my waxy-woodgrain cup!
What a top notch fast food adventure!
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The Dining Blog
This is a blog about Dining Adventures. Sometimes, I talk about food. Below, you can read how this started.
On July 4th 2011, I set a goal to try 50 culturally diverse restaurants in one year! (I knew that was possible, living in the Houston area) I spent the year pulling in friends and family to join me, on some unusual dining adventures. I met some curious people, tried some scary foods and explored places and cultures I never would have otherwise. Even though I met my goal, I learned too much to end my adventures in dining. I have continued blogging about memorable dining adventures of all kinds, near and far... and all the discoveries and funny things I've learned along the way!
Locations and types of dining adventures, are listed further down.