School is back in session, and there’s no better place to get “studious” than School House Pub in East Austin. Located off Manor Road among what seems to be an ever expanding collection of go-to bars and restaurants, School House Pub brings you inside the classroom where food and drinks are always allowed.
The small, but cozy interior is cleverly decorated with schoolbooks, chalkboards and charts galore. Their cocktails are quirkily named (Teacher’s Pet, Intro to Spanish, Extra Credit) and are some of the most reasonably priced in town ($7-9). When you walk in, look up and you’ll be staring at the pub’s flagship school bell hanging from a well-lit tower.
Owners Edgar and Christina Torres graciously had me out to their first anniversary party this month, and I was fortunate to get to sit down and talk with them for awhile. Edgar, an Austin native, is familiar with the surroundings because his parents have owned Mi Madre’s next door for over two decades.
If you look at School House Pub’s taps and where they source most of their ingredients, you’ll see that supporting local is very important to the Torres family. “If it weren’t for people supporting local, we wouldn’t be here and we wouldn’t have all these opportunities,” Christina shared. “It’s really important for us to support local because that’s what got us here.”
They’re no slouches when it comes to the food, either. Both culinary graduates from their time spent in New York, they wanted to take an artisanal approach with their menu. “When you go out, sometimes you’ll see that one thing is great, but not the others,” Edgar said. “We wanted to offer the whole package.” With fairly-priced, popular items such as Chilled Crab Club, Montreal Fries and Mac N’ Cheese with Pancetta and Watercress, School House Pub shows it can hold its own in every area.
It was immediately obvious how passionate both Edgar and Christina are about their business and the local community. “Our family’s been in this neighborhood for 24 years and Austin has grown so much. There’s a lot of love in this,” Christina said. Edgar spoke about seeing the locals literally grow up in the area. “What’s really cool is seeing people I remember that were young going to Mi Madre’s that now have kids of their own and are coming back there and to School House as well.”
Edgar and Christina are candid and inviting, at one point revealing to me their plans to open an intimate rooftop Mezcal bar on the second level of Mi Madre’s in 2015. They take a neighborly approach with their pub, welcoming you into School House as if they were welcoming you into their home. They’re treating the locals like family, giving them good reason to stick around.
Located at 2207 Manor Rd – SchoolHousePub.com
Have you visited School House Pub? What was your experience?