Call us: (210) 822-3358


It was November 1933, when silent film organist Earl Abel opened his first ten-seat restaurant on Main Street. The Great Depression was in full swing and the onset of "talkies" left high paid entertainers jobless. Earl, who had once shared top billing with such celebrities as Rudy Vallee, Charlie Chaplin, and Bing Crosby, was forced to find a new way to support his family. Unable to find work in the theatre, even as an usher, he decided to travel the country in hopes of finding a job.

As fate would have it, he never left San Antonio. Instead, he took what money he'd saved, found a small house on Main Street, filled it with dime store plates and utensils, and opened for business. The rest is history-well, not quite.
The Great Depression was not the ideal time to start a business, especially when you're well known as an organist, not a restaurateur. In fact, the majority of the time, the small diner brought in less than fifty cents a day. That's when Earl realized he was going to have to make some changes and apply all of his skills as an entertainer.

As air conditioning was not yet wide-spread, his first act was to move the restaurant outside, better known as The Garden of Eatin". There it was a cool 85 F compared to the indoor temperature of lOO F. From there he put his showbiz skills to work. For every nickel beer he sold, he'd tell the customers a few jokes and in return he'd get a few more. Pretty soon he'd collected a large repertoire of jokes and stories, which attracted as many customers as the great food.

Times were still tough; however, and Earl was down to his last $100 dollars when Duncan Hines featured the small diner in his book "Adventures In Good Eating." That proved to be the turning point towards success. The restaurant expanded as its popularity grew, with Earl opening six other locations (even one in California). The advent of WWII caused severe labor shortages; however, forcing him to sell the other restaurants and concentrate solely on the Broadway location (built in 1940).
The original restaurant underwent many changes over the years, was eventually demolished in early 2006 and moved to its new location on Austin Highway. However, there are some things that never change. Evidence of Earl's humor can still be found on signs throughout the restaurant and his commitment to quality at an affordable price continues today with many of the same employees that had been with Earl Abel for many years.

We wish to thank the entire Abel family, but especially Earl Abel himself, for bringing this restaurant to San Antonio; and to the city of San Antonio for its continued support. The new owners of Earl Abel's welcome you to the past, to the present, and to the future of this great San Antonio institution.

About us

A San Antonio dining institution for over 78 years, Earl Abel's Restaurant is now at its new location at 1201 Austin Highway in the Earl Abel's serves fresh, home-style foods 7 days a week for breakfast, lunch and dinner. From our extensive breakfast menu including homemade biscuits, omelets and fresh-squeezed orange juice and grapefruit juice, to a stack of Earl Abel's short thins - three slightly sweet pancakes made from scratch, breakfast at Earl Abel's is what you want to wake up to. Heftier appetites may require the full thins, a stack of five
During the week, Earl Abel's is popular as a business meeting place and has many regular customers that dine here daily. The lunch and dinner menu includes daily specials and seafood, steaks, chicken fried steaks, and many other traditional comfort food menu items, all freshly prepared daily. In addition, you will find healthyand new menu items, such as Spinach Salad, Greek Salad with fresh cucumbers, olives and our own special Greek dressing, Wild Mahi Mahi, the new Gyro sandwich on pita bread, and our new 8 oz Angus Burger, Bison Burger and Pueblo Burger, a hot spicy addition to our lineup. And you cannot leave the restaurant without one of our many freshly baked desserts. We also feature Texas beer from Real Ale Brewing Company. As Earl Abel himself said, Eat Here and Diet Home
Share by: