Casual dining with family-friendly atmosphere

Before the intersection of RR 2222 and RR 620 N. saw the nearby developments of H-E-B, residential areas and other retail establishments, there was the Boat House Grill, a down-home eatery that owner Tracy Collins opened in 1999.

"Business has been good, but we've seen a lot of changes," Collins said. "H-E-B wasn't up here. This area has just grown a bunch."

Collins opened the diner 14 years ago after attending college with a different mission in mind.

"I grew up in the restaurant business and then went to college, but I thought I was going to do something else," Collins said. "I decided that I just really liked [the business] and didn't want to work a 9-to-5 job."

The restaurant works on a fast-casual concept, as all orders are placed up front at the counter. When each customer's order is ready, restaurant staff pages the customer over the loudspeaker to indicate the order is complete.

It is this method of service that has made the restaurant and its employees form great relationships with regular customers, Collins said.

"We probably know half of our customers, so that's a big thing for us," she said. "Especially since we call out everyone's name, the gals really get to know people."

Boat House Grill serves grilled and fried food that includes shrimp, catfish, burgers, sandwiches, dinner plates, salads, chili and Frito pie.

Similar to its name, the Boat House Grill adheres to a laid-back lake atmosphere with picnic tables, painted wooden signs and lake memorabilia hanging on the walls.

The restaurant sees its biggest crowds at night and on the weekend, and during good weather. Its outdoor patio—which seats about 130 people—helps the restaurant serve a larger-than-normal crowd, Collins said. The indoor dining area seats only 28.

"We're best known for our catfish and burgers," Collins said.

She said during Lent season, Fridays are really busy for the restaurant, adding that Good Friday is the busiest day of the year.

Three years ago, Collins built an adjacent playground for children whose families came to the diner.

She took an active interest in appealing to families after her own child became a kindergartner at a nearby school, and she began offering children's specials as well as musical concerts.

"We get a lot of families at night—probably about 60 percent to 70 percent of our business at night are families," Collins said, adding that Boat House Grill began a six-week series on April 12 featuring a children's performer on Thursdays for child-themed concerts. Children eat free on Wednesdays.

Boat House Grill also offers music for adults, too—every Friday and Saturday the outdoor stage is home to music acts from 6–9 p.m.

On the menu

The diner features a variety of down-home favorites, ranging from catfish, burgers, fried shrimp and more.

  • Frito pie: Fritos layered with Grandma's Immortal Chili, grated cheese and onion ($5.99)
  • Catfish toes: A basket full of thin-breaded crispy catfish slices and served with lemons and tartar sauce ($6.49)
  • Hippie burger: A vegetable-and-grain patty served on a toasted bun with mustard, lettuce, tomato, pickle and onions ($6.99)
  • Chicken-fried steak dinner: Hand-breaded beef cutlet served with cream gravy, mashed potatoes, salad and Texas toast ($9.49)

Special programming

Owner Tracy Collins identified her customer base early on and now offers music on the weekends as well as special children's programming.

  • Weekend concerts: Boat House Grill hosts live music on its outdoor stage every Friday and Saturday from 6–9 p.m.
  • Children's programming: The diner's six-week-long series of Thursday night children's concerts began April 12. It runs from 6–8 p.m. Additional performers—including bands made up of children themselves—also occasionally take the stage.

Boat House Grill, 6812 N. RR 620, 249-5200,

  • Sun.–Thu. 11 a.m.–9 p.m.
  • Fri.–Sat. 11 a.m.–9:30 p.m.