Travel: January 2007 Archives

One of the highlights of a July 2004 trip to Texas was an unexpected late-night excursion to a renowned San Antonio coffehouse and restaurant. We had stayed at Sea World until near closing, having spent most of our second day there at the water park. The kids wanted ice cream, and I promised we'd stop somewhere on the way back to the hotel downtown.

Only we didn't find anywhere on the way back to the hotel. No Braum's or Baskin-Robbins, no Village Inn or Denny's, and no frozen custard stand.

Then I remembered a place I'd driven past on a late-night grocery run a couple of days before. Even though it was after 10, it was still open. The place had beautiful mid-century neon, and it sat at a bend in the old highway like a lighthouse on a point.

(Flickr photo by bravophoto.)

So we headed north from downtown and made our way into Earl Abel's Restaurant. The interior was dark and woody. There was the requisite counter, behind which stood the lighted pie case and the kitchen window. It seemed like a bit of late '50s Hollywood had been plopped down in the middle of Texas.

We ordered pie and chocolate cake and ice cream. The ice cream was served in tall metal parfait cups with long spoons. My daughter, then not quite four, exhausted from a day in the sun and water, and a bit chilled by the air conditioning, fell asleep in her mom's arms. My son, then almost eight, had a fun chat with our waiter, who was a middle school science teacher working there while taking summer graduate school classes nearby. He had a special interest in insects.

That was one of our favorite memories from our trip, so I was sad to learn that the place was to be demolished for a condominium. That happened last summer.

But the neon was saved, and a new Earl Abel's is now open on Austin Highway in San Antonio. New ownership, but the same cool decor and the same recipes. Here's a link to a sketch of the new restaurant, and here's a picture of the neon from the side of the old building now mounted on the new site.

(Flickr photo by copazetic.)

I hope they make a go of it.

Here's a flickr search that will turn up a bunch of photos of Earl Abel's, both old and new.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Travel category from January 2007.

Travel: December 2006 is the previous archive.

Travel: March 2007 is the next archive.

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