Waterloo Ice House is a small Austin chain. They have been serving the residents of Austin since 1976 and currently have four locations around Austin. They mostly serve classic American fare, but it is Texas so there are tacos on the menu too. The hours of operation are great, they open early, and stay open relatively late. So if you want a sit down restaurant at an odd time this may be a good option. Beware they do have a full service bar, so taking kids late may not be the most appropriate and may not even be allowed. We went for lunch so we did not have to worry about all of that.
I went to the location on Slaughter Lane. It had both indoor and ‘outdoor’ seating. I say outdoor with quotes because it was more of a covered patio. There were a whole bunch of windows, but it was separated from the inside. It was not too hot out there and there is a great view of the playscape outside. Maybe it is just a Texas thing, but I have found it is really common around here to have playscapes at restaurants. I mean I think it is a great idea, because sometimes eating out is difficult for kids and being able to move is a good alternative to them wiggling around and becoming frustrated, or bothering other guests.
I did not get to check out the decor inside too much since we were sitting on the patio. But what I did see was interesting. They had a whole bunch of canoes hung from the ceiling. It definitely had a feel like we were at a restaurant by a body of water, when in fact we were not. They also have a full wrap around bar that is visible right as you walk in. Despite that it seemed like a very family friendly sort of place.
On the patio they had fans going to keep it cool. The day we went it was not too hot outside so being on the patio was not a problem. I would be interested to see if on a hotter day what it is like out there and if the fans are enough to make it comfortable. They also have tvs around the restaurant playing sports and other programs.
Like most restaurants this one was picked because they offer gluten free food. Story of our gluten free lives right. We have all the power. Just kidding, in my mind it is kind of a burden always being the one to choose food. Anyways…
The menu at Waterloo has a decent amount of options. The way they have it set up is a bit weird though. They made it so you almost have to cross check with the real menu to figure out what you can eat. I mean it is not super difficult, just more of an inconvenience than anything.
Someone ordered chips and salsa for the table. For whatever reason I was being extra careful and asked if the chips were made in house. The waitress said they were not, and that they were not suggested for gluten free customers. This really confused me, as they were normal corn chips. But I had a full day ahead of me and could not risk getting sick. So I stayed away from the chips. My family member also told me the salsa was not that great and that I was not missing out on anything as the chips were a bit stale.
After asking some questions and looking over the menu I decided on the pork tacos without tater tots. It makes more sense to me that the tater tots were not gluten free, you know cross contact and all. The waitress did make me a little nervous though. She asked if I wanted it on a wheat tortilla after I had already asked her multiple questions about the gluten free menu. She caught herself and and was like oh that would not make any sense. So that made me feel a little better. I have never worked as a waitress, but have heard how difficult of a job it can be so I gave her the benefit of the doubt. She also said she would put it in with an allergy notation.
Our food came out and we ate. The food was decent. I had hoped the pork would have had more sauce on it than it did. I would be interested to see how their other food is. There are a lot of great taco places in Austin, and this taco just did not live up to those tacos. It could have just been the taco. Maybe the other food is better.
I definitely did not get sick though. That is the main thing for anyone needing a gluten free diet. I felt completely normal after eating the taco. I would eat here again and try something different before completely saying they are not worth my time. I’ve eaten at enough good places that I really do not care to pay for food that is just good. I can make good food at home for a whole lot cheaper than going out to eat. But hey, that is just me. Also I totally did not pay for this meal, so I should probably not be talking like I did. But I do not think my family or friends should be paying for me to just have decent food either. That is just my opinion though. I imagine giving this place another try and I’ll let you know how it is.
Overall this is a good restaurant. They do offer a gluten free menu with a decent selection of options. It seems extremely kid friendly, and open most hours people normally eat/ are awake. I ate my food and did not have any pain or symptoms of gluten exposure, so that was great. The food in my opinion was good, but I also believe there is better food especially in Austin. With that there is definitely also worse food. Or food that is not safe for those living a gluten free lifestyle. I would eat here again if others wanted to. I feel like that description feels weirdly indecisive. Take it all as you will. And if you decide to eat here and live a gluten free lifestyle let me know what you think.