Hole in the Wall has been the go-to watering hole since Texan reporters could smoke cigarettes in the basement.
Conveniently on the edge of campus at the intersection of Dean Keeton and Guadalupe streets, the grungy dive bar serves as a music venue for Americana folk rockers and drink hangout for students and locals.
But two weeks ago, Hole in the Wall upped their ante, debuting a new restaurant add-on to their back patio. While the front doors to Hole in the Wall’s main room are locked until drinking hours and remains 21 and up, the side gates open at 7 a.m. to all ages and leads up to a bare, yet relaxed, restaurant space.
Serving all-day breakfast beginning at 7 a.m and also lunch and dinner at 11 a.m., the new addition is complete with a full bar and a menu of greasy hangover food. The restaurant bar even serves “hangover brunch” on Saturday and Sunday. If there’s one thing Hole in the Wall understands, it’s the old “dog on the hair” saying and that college students want greasy food pre- and post-drunk tomfoolery.
There are Texas breakfast standards such as the chicken fried steak and eggs and the prime ribs and eggs. The menu proves pretty eclectic, including fancier and heartier options such as the crawfish omelet with provolone cheese and the jalapeño garlic grit bowl with eggs and the choice of either sausage, chorizo or hamburger patty.
A tasty choice is The Redneck Benedict with chorizo. On a bed of extra fluffy biscuit, melted cheddar cheese and sausage gravy smothers eggs and a thick patty of in-house sausage. The blandness of the warm, runny yolk and creamy, white gravy nicely mellows out the spicy chorizo. The best parts of the plate are by far the flavorful sausage and thick layer of heavenly biscuit.
For lunch, the restaurant bar offers daily special lunch plates for $7 each, in addition to a variety of burgers and sandwiches. Standouts include Tuesday’s beef tips over rice with smothered cabbage and fried okra and Thursday’s smothered pork chop with sweet potatoes and southern greens. The platters of Southern comforts can be heavy for an afternoon meal and are more ideal for dinner; like the breakfast, the plates are served all day, or until they are all gone.
Safe but still delicious lunch picks are the Carolina Cheese Steak and the Hole Burger. The Hole Burger is like most burgers; it comes with mayonnaise, mustard, lettuce, tomato, onion and pickles, but caramelized onions, grilled peppers, mushrooms, jalapeños, bacon and more can be added for a small fee. Though the meat patty is on the thinner side, what makes the burger good are the freshly made buns. With a hint of sweetness, the warm breads are at a good medium between softness and toasted.
It is usually hard to mess up a burger or a cheese steak, but Hole in the Wall outdid itself with its Carolina Cheese Steak. The slow-cooked pork delicately pulls apart and is aromatic from the hickory smoke of live oak. Topped with pimento cheese, grilled onions and peppers, the pulled pork is a delicious, heart attack-prone plate. Though definitely tasty — mainly because of the oozes of melted cheese — both sandwiches definitely live up to the restaurant bar’s marketing mantra of “proudly clogging arteries since 2011.”
Bar bite favorites, such as the tater tots with spicy bacon salt and crispy fried pickles, are also on the cheap menu. All items are less than $7 and portions are Texas-sized.
With the add-on restaurant, the back patio no longer has an open flow and it is worrisome that the all-ages aspect of the restaurant could destroy Hole in the Wall’s established energy. Though the food at Hole in the Wall’s add-on is surprisingly delicious for what is considered bar food, what has made the unique joint a local favorite — aside from its friendly bartenders and blares of bluesy-jazzy music sets — is its low key atmosphere. The open outdoor patio is just the cherry on top.
Printed on Friday, October 14, 2011 as: Hole in the Wall now fixes hangovers, hungers