Like a lot of my favorite restaurants Justine’s exists in an old, broken down part of town where it’s a roll of the dice as to whether your stereo will still be in the dash of the Econoline after your meal.
Over near the burned down Tejano bar, down the road from the brewery and around the corner from the brothel, Justine’s sits; the kind of humble, delicious cafe that every city should rightly have. The little brasserie is fancy enough to make the meal seem special but the owners aren’t like a lot of local loan sharks/restaurateurs that try to squeeze every penny out of your pocketbook as part of the bargain. Eating here is not a once in a blue moon splurge.
Most importantly We’ve had incredible food there.
Start things off with a plate of stinky French cheese, ripe and soft, smeared on good bread, move along to a rare steak with house cut potatoes to soak up the bloody jus, then finish your meal by punching a hole in the top of a creme brûlée.
It’s fashionable to complain about the service at Justine’s, there are plenty Austin eaters who think if they don’t get a blowjob from the waitress she’s not doing her job-but we’ve always fared fine in the hospitality part of the equation. Your ass won’t be kissed but there’s a certain level of competence afoot.
We generally like to sit on the patio but if you venture into the 1930s-era wood-frame house where the dining room is, you can settle into a room with brilliant red walls and an old phonograph playing Charlie Parker or Noord Holland-era Chet Baker.
There’s a nice ambient clatter amongst the soft, yellow lighting and the hardwood floors creak and groan very fetchingly.