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Nau's and the $5.85 cheeseburger

Mike Sutter
The cheeseburger with American cheese and bacon, is also a classic, a fine example of grilled beef on a bun with indulgent toppings.

Jeffrey's isn't the only historical place in Clarksville to appreciate a maxed-out cheeseburger. Across the street from Jeffrey's on West Lynn Street is another and even older Austin icon: the soda fountain at Nau's Enfield Drug.

I thought Nau's would be the perfect cheap counterpoint to the $34 cheeseburger at Jeffrey's, except that the Jeffrey's burger is beyond-category fine and the Nau's burger isn't exactly cheap.

But Jeffrey's does not have a kit with a stick-on mustache for every day of the week (For Sunday? The Hollywood). Nor do they have Swisher Sweets, pocket combs, peacock feathers, prescription drugs and a flexible Felix the Cat. Throw in a pint of Old Harper and you could be Terry the Toad from ‘American Graffiti.'

These are the things Nau's brings to table. What they bring to the soda fountain counter is a large bacon cheeseburger for $5.85. Its sesame-seed bun is toasted, its beef thick and knuckled like the hand that formed it, glued to the top bun by the most American of cheeses: American. And the bacon comes from the same griddle that makes one of the best fried-egg-and-ham sandwiches in town. Have them put the shredded lettuce on the side, or better yet, leave it off entirely. Tomatoes, pickles and onions (extra onions, please) will be your vegetables this afternoon. There are no fries, only chips.

By itself, this bacon cheeseburger is remarkable only for being in such a time-warped place. Luckily, this is a soda fountain, and that means drinkable ice cream. That should help.

Look around the place while you wait for your hand-packed banana malt. The horseshoe-shaped lunch counter, the syrup bays, the aqua-colored shake mixer, all of them could have been lifted right out of the 1950s, which happens to be the decade the place opened. The men (mostly men, save for one woman with a table of kids) seem like they know each other. The malt comes, smooth and thick with that extra kick of syrup and textbook banana flavor. It's $4, and the plastic glass suffocates some of the nostalgia, but they still pour the overflow from the stainless-steel mixing cup.

Nau's Enfield Drug. 1115 West Lynn St. 476-3663. Hours: The soda fountain is open 7:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. Mondays-Fridays. 8 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. Saturdays. 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Sundays.