Cisco's Restaurant has become a legendary venue in Austin and has a long history of hosting the city and state's most powerful politicians.
A venue of Austin lore, the building that has hosted renowned East Austin eatery Cisco’s Restaurant since at least the 1950s, may receive local historic landmark zoning next week.
Austin’s historic landmark commission will decide if the building, located at 1511 E. Sixth St., meets historic standards as a first order of business in their Monday, Jan. 28 meeting. The potential rezoning of the building would wrap the structure in tight redevelopment regulations and offer one of the city’s only safeguards to by-right demolition. Cisco’s, an emblem of old Austin, sits in a heavily gentrifying area of the city.
Known by many for its migas plate, Cisco’s opened its East Sixth Street location sometime between 1949 and 1955, according to city documents and reports. The restaurant’s backroom is rumored to have been the venue of many deals made by Texas lawmakers and often played host to the city and state’s most powerful politicians. Regular customers have included Lyndon B. Johnson, former Congressman J. J. Pickle, former Texas Gov. John Connally and former Austin Mayor Lester Palmer, according to city documents. Most recently, District 3 Austin City Council Member Pio Renteria held his election night watch party at Cisco’s during December’s runoff against sister Susana Almanza.
Rudy Cisneros, Cisco’s original owner, became a local celebrity and powerbroker himself, and eventually became known as the “Mayor of East Austin,” according to city documents. Politicians seeking East Austin support would first need Cisneros’s support. Although Cisneros died in 1995, his spirit has remained with Cisco’s as his bespectacled face with a cigar pressed between his lips is the icon on the restaurant’s signage.
“He was a dedicated philanthropist whose influence in the city, and particularly the east side, was unrivaled in his time,” a report from the city’s historic preservation staff said.
The 1511 E. Sixth St. building had a long history before Cisco’s, according to city reports. Built in 1914, the space was used initially as a meat market and eventually turned into the venue for two packing companies. The building was a grocery store in the 1940s and then hosted a few taverns until Cisneros took over the space.
No one at Cisco’s was available to comment for this story.
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