When New Orleans native Ryan Marks bought Quacks Maplewood a couple years ago he inherited a huge mess.
The cafe was broken.
I love ramshackle, old, beat up joints, but they have to have a certain charm, however rugged that may be.
Quacks was charm free.
The patio was gross with old, rickety chairs featuring nails poking out everywhere, a few tiny, resolutely uncomfortable pic nic tables and sightings of racoons that exhibited all signs of being rabid or perhaps suffering from distemper.
I felt like I was taking my life in my hands trying to hang out there.
One afternoon a plus sized gal sat down at one of the pic nic table and a giant rending crash followed sending her plummeting to earth.
Thankfully she was good natured, hollering "look at what my fat ass has gone and done now!" We shared a laugh as I helped scrape her up off the gravel.
The turnaround has been remarkable.
I spot Kevin Jackson in the kitchen one day and things start to look up. A veteran of Shaggy's Caribbean and The Woodland I know this man to have his bona fides in order in the kitchen.
The burger is a beauty here. A quarter pound or so of fresh ground, hand patted beef is served with whatever toppings you may desire, in this instance mayonnaise, mustard, pickles, onions and tomatoes. Everything has the glow of good quality. The patty has been cooked on an extremely hot flat top giving a good char to the exterior. The bun is of the sweet variety which is not my preference but it eats nicely. Fries are hand cut, double dipped and stand among the finest in town. Price is right at $ 6.50
Depending on who's working you may get friendly engaging service or the kind that comes with a sneer. It's a roll of the dice.
The crowd skews towards dogs, children and their enthusiasts.
Mr Marks has made great strides in the improvement of his cafe, the wheels are turning slowly but with a talented chef in the kitchen it will be interesting to chart his progress.
1400 E 38th 1/2 St
Hours of Operation
Mon - Fri
Sat - Sun
8am - Midnight
All best hamburger in Austin coverage here