When you think about the “original” Austin, you get nostalgic about the weirdness. South Congress before it was filled with tourists, Toy Joy, naked Matthew McConaughey playing the bongos, and Leslie Cochran (RIP). But as weird as our roots might be, Austin is still a city in Texas - a city with a whole lot of Southern charm. And if you need a reminder of that, you don’t need to go farther than Mattie’s, the restaurant at Green Pastures.
While Mattie’s itself is new, Green Pastures has been around for a very long time. It’s a Victorian mansion in Bouldin Creek that was built in the 1800s, and for the last 70+ years, people from across Austin came here for Easter brunches, wedding receptions, and close encounters with the peacocks who roam the grounds. Green Pastures was a way to experience a traditional side of Austin.
When it closed for construction, we worried that the very real history here would be replaced with vintage-looking stuff from West Elm. But the new Mattie’s at Green Pastures reintroduced itself like Sandy at the carnival in Grease. The building shines a bit brighter and the peacocks walk a bit taller. The rooms within the mansion vary from a pastel-colored bar ideal for drinking milk punch and trying to pull off a sun hat, to a cozy lounge with a fireplace and a big leather sofa perfect for sipping bourbon, to the giant wraparound porch that basically feels like a room, too. At night, the place takes on a more romantic feel, with a live jazz band and twinkling lights. Spend time strolling around the property, noticing the crazy attention to detail, and strategizing how you can possibly move in without them noticing.
If it’s not obvious yet, the food isn’t really what you’re at Mattie’s for. The (pricey) menu is all solid versions of stuff you’ve seen before, like roast chicken and a burger. Their brunch food sticks to its Southern roots, with eggs and grits and brioche French toast. It’s all solid, but when you leave Mattie’s, you’ll be telling friends about the place itself, not anything you ate.
If you want to be surrounded by a rarer form of local history, come to Mattie’s. It’s definitely not weird, but unlike every other new restaurant that seems like it was shipped in from somewhere else, this place actually feels like Austin.
Shrimp and Grits
Grits can go one of two ways. You either have no idea what’s in them because they taste bad, or you have no idea what’s in them because they taste so good. These are the second kind.
If you need to balance your grits and biscuits with something leafy, the kale salad is a little more interesting than the other salad options. It’s packed with ingredients you actually want to eat, like bacon and dates.
The fried-ness of this shareable cauliflower dish definitely cancels out all the health benefits, but it tastes great.
The meats on the menu are all pretty standard, so we’d make the call based on the sides that come with them. The pork chop has a side of succotash, which feels like an appropriately Southern thing to be eating here. Just make sure to add a side of fries for the table.
This thing is a little dry, but that can be remedied with the sauce they bring on the side. Smother it.