When the Stanish family opened Top Notch in 1971, Richard Linklater was a snot nosed kid growing up in Houston Texas over two decades away from making Dazed and Confused, the film that followed Slacker’s putting Austin’s profligate lifestyle of sleeping all day, smoking weed and eating tacos….lots of tacos-on the national map.
Dazed and Confused also put Top Notch on that same map with Matthew McConaughey’s pivotal scene providing a rallying point for cinephiles to this day, almost 20 years later. Walking into the burger shop not much appears to have changed since James Stanish, the owner, passed back in 2008. Dead at 50 years of age, Mr. Stanish was such a diligent worker that his family elected to sell the iconic restaurant for fear that they would not be able to carry on his high standards.
“We would need five people to replace him,” said his sister, Joan Tucker.
Normally when new owners come in to a restaurant, no matter how revered, the first thing they do is begin implementing changes.
Not so at Top Notch. I order the same burger I always get; the Little Leaguer, it’s $3.34. Certainly a reasonable price for a hamburger in this modern Austin.
More important though is the flavor. A good crust from the charcoal fire that the patty cooks on defines this burger. It’s the closest thing you can get in Austin to building a Kingsford fire in the back yard and making it yourself.
The boys sitting one booth over are on vacation from Missouri. They’re excited to be eating at Top Notch after seeing Dazed and Confused when they were in high school.
“Does Matthew McConaughey hang out here?”
“All the time son. We probably just missed him.”
7525 Burnet Rd
Hours of Operation
Daily: 11 am – 10 pm