When Matt Cisneros was a boy, he knew exactly where he could find his grandfather, Rudy “Cisco” Cisneros. The namesake of Cisco’s Restaurant Bakery & Bar, Cisco had a favorite table where he talked to people from all over East Austin and beyond.
“Going into those doors, you had to turn around to get to those tables,” says Matt Cisneros. “But knowing he was there, holding court, is one of the coolest memories I can think of.”
Cisco’s exact opening date is often disputed, with some accounts stating 1943, others claiming 1955. Either way, it’s an old-school joint. In 2017, alongside his friend Will Bridges, Matt Cisneros purchased the restaurant from his uncle Clovis, who had inherited it from Cisco, making the restaurant one of the few remaining places in East Austin that can claim a long, multi-generational history. with the city.
It’s no secret that East Austin has changed a lot over the years – one only has to look back at most accounts of the city’s history to see a clear history of segregation and gentrification. In 1928, Koch and Fowler’s city plan sought to create a “black district”, specifically blocking off much of East Austin and a few other areas as the only places black people could access key public services. It’s no coincidence that these areas had the weakest zoning restrictions in the city. When the practice of redlining (where federal benefits are denied to certain neighborhoods primarily based on racial criteria) became widespread in the 1930s, those areas that were now predominantly black and Latina saw the opportunities even more limited with fewer financial investments. And now, with rising rental prices and East Austin’s new status as a national hotspot destination, more and more places of East Austin’s original vibrant culture have closed their doors. Classics like the tex-mex joint El Azteca, open since 1963, have closed in recent years.
So places like Cisco, now in its third generation of family ownership, are all the more special. “We have people here who have worked here since I was a few years old,” Cisneros says. “In the same way, people have their bar at home. Cisco is that restaurant at home. It’s very traditional like that.
As Latinx Heritage Month approaches, we want to highlight some Latinx places in East Austin that have a long history with the city, as well as some newer places that are beginning their story while paying homage to what has come before.
Also, in light of the catastrophic and ongoing damage inflicted by Hurricane Fiona in Puerto Rico, consider donating to the country during this time of need and widespread power outages. Ways to help include donating to national nonprofits, such as the Hispanic Federation, or following local groups Puerto Rican Educational Support and Advocacy Organization (PROESA) at the University of Texas. for more information.