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Austin mayor proclaims ‘Chili’s at 45th and Lamar Day’

(NEXSTAR) — On Friday, one local Texas celebrity received a major honor — yes, the fabled Chili’s location at West 45th Street and North Lamar Boulevard got official recognition from Austin Mayor Kirk Watson himself.

“Now, Therefore, I, Kirk Watson, a particular fan of the Santa Fe Salad with grilled chicken and Mayor of the City of Austin, Texas, do hereby proclaim April 5th, 2024 as Chili’s at 45th & Lamar Day,” Mayor Watson said in a Friday announcement at the establishment.

Now if you’re not an Austinite — or someone who spends time online — you may be wondering: “What’s so special about the Chili’s at 45th and North Lamar?” Back in 2022, Nexstar actually did a deep dive on the internet-famous eatery.

The restaurant’s reputation as a meme and now, a bona fide local celebrity, began on Reddit — though Redditors themselves can’t seem to remember when or in which thread it specifically it began, its birthplace is generally agreed to be in the r/Austin subreddit.

While many Reddit threads attempting to find its origin exist, one from seven years ago (yes, the joke has been bubbling for that long), provides a decent grouping of some of the oldest early mentions and possible origins of the meme.

Austin Mayor Kirk P. Watson poses with employees of the Chili’s at 45th Street and North Lamar Boulevard in Austin as part of his proclamation of April 5, 2024 “Chili’s at 45th and Lamar Day.” (Courtesy of the Office of Mayor Kirk Watson)

The thread “Here it is, the origin of 45th and Lamar Chili’s joke” points to several instances, including an 11 year-old Reddit thread when someone answered the location to the question: “What’s your favorite hidden treasure/hole-in-the-wall restaurant in Austin?”

“Chili’s on 45th has the best burgers in town,” said one user.

Another user in a post just a year later (2012) recommends the restaurant to an incoming Austin visitor, saying it has “a real nice ambiance and a good bargain.”

Many Redditors agreed the joke’s original proliferator is a now inactive account by user u/anonymous10101010, whose profile (which hasn’t been updated in eight years) includes several replies promoting the location.

The user even suggested “the booth by the bathrooms at Chili’s, 45th and Lamar” as a spot for a marriage proposal.

For his part, Mayor Watson even shouted out u/anonymous10101010 for their impact, saying in his proclamation: “… Whereas, most, if not all, Austin historians or, at the very least, the historians of Chili’s at 45th & Lamar agree that the location became popularized as a restaurant, live music venue, and even marriage proposal spot with promotional posts from redditor “u/anonymous10101010,” who, while lost to time, served our community well by spreading the joy of this restaurant to so many… “

Watson said he often frequents the restaurant, saying this “renowned gathering spot for University of Texas students and Austin as a whole” embodies the spirit of Austin and its “special kind of weirdness.”


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