What Happened to Night Hawk Frozen Dinners?

Anyone who is old Austin will remember Night Hawk Frozen Dinners. They were a collection of chopped steak dinners, the best of which came with tater tops.

I don’t remember for sure if these were around before microwave ovens, but I always cooked mine in the regular oven. There was this little packet of butter sauce that you poured over them when they were done cooking.

They were fantastic. I worked at one of the Night Hawk restaurants (The Steakhouse at Highway 290 and I-35), and I would often eat one before going into work (they were cheaper than than the steaks at the restaurant, even with my employee discount).

You may not realize it, but these are still around. The wife picked up a couple last week, and I had one the other night (the wife was working an overnight at the hospital).

Unfortunately, I was very disappointed. There were instructions for cooking in either a regular or microwave oven. I went for the regular over, but the cooking time was much shorter than I remembered, and the steak was much tougher and didn’t taste as good. I suspect it was at least partially precooked.

Worst of all, the butter sauce pack gone. There was some sort of butter sauce poured on top, but it didn’t taste anywhere near as good.

Anyone know what happened to them?

18 Comments on “What Happened to Night Hawk Frozen Dinners?

  1. Pete

    I used to buy the Night Hawk Dinners also. And I have had a similar experience. The last one I got wasn’t as good as they were long ago.

    I worked as a busboy at the South Congress NightHawk in the late 60’s. I thought those chopped steaks were fantastic. Recently I have been trying to duplicate that taste and I was searching Google when I found your post.

    I was real shy back then, but I got to hang out with the cooks every now and then. They cooked those steaks on a real flame in a big indoor grill. The only thing I know is to put butter on the steak. I do not know what type of meat they used (I’m sure it was top restaurant quality) or what other secrets they used. Those were the best chopped steaks I have ever tasted.

  2. Brian Combs

    The person to go to for info on how the steaks in the restaurants were cooked might be Hoover Alexander of Hoover’s Cooking. I had the chicken and dumplings there a couple of months ago, and it was either the original Nighthawk recipe, or darn close to it.

    He might be willing to reveal some chopped steak secrets after all these years.

  3. Steve

    My question is more about the Nighthawk restaurants. My parents and I would travel to Austin some during the late 50’s and early 60’s. I think I vaguely remember a “steakhouse” located on the east side of I35 traveling south just after you cross the river. It seems like the name was “Irving’s” or something like that or this could probably be the Nighthawk you worked at . . . it’s been a long time. Thanks for any light you can shed on this.

  4. Brian Combs

    I don’t think that was one of the Nighthawks, but my days don’t go back quite that far so I could be wrong.

    The Nighthawk Steakhouse was at I-35 and Highway 290, on the south east corner. It was way north of the river. I think it opened in the 70’s, but I’m not sure. This is the location I worked at.

    The Nighthawk #1 was at Riverside and Congress avenue, just south of the river. It wasn’t far from what you’re talking about, but certainly not on the east side of I-35.

  5. Kwtaylor

    Krogers in Houston has the frozen Dinners still.

  6. Kwtaylor

    I was on here looking for the butter recipe, my parents use to take us to the steak house in the 70’s.

  7. Ginny

    I tried the Night Hawk frozen dinner for the first time last nite and it was THE WORSE TV dinner I’ve ever had. Not only could I not finish it but got sick later. NEVER AGAIN.

  8. Mitzi

    My husband and I are both night workers. I’ve worked the night shift over 20 years and so I eat a lot of frozen dinners. I consider myself somewhere of an expert over which ones are the best and which ones to avoid. Night hawk are by far my favorite. I first discovered them in the 70’s when I was working shift work and a single mom at that time. I don’t remember the butter sauce but the meat is much better than any other meat you can find in any frozen dinners I have found. The potatoes they flavor with cheese and bacon are pretty yummy too. What Ginny said above, she must not eat as many frozen dinners as I’ve had to eat. If you want a really lousy frozen dinner try a banquet.

  9. Steve

    I used to work next store to Night Hawk restaurant at Big Bear Grocery on So. Congress in the 70’s.
    My favorite frozen Night Hawk dinner was the ‘Texas
    Sirloin’ with the hash brown patty and package of
    butter sauce which was excellent. I would add B&N
    baked beans with the meal.
    I wish they would reintroduce that meal.

  10. Brian Combs


    If you’re on Facebook, you should look for the Nighthawkers group. It’s mainly people from the Steakhouse location (290 and I-35), but we welcome any former Nighthawk employees.

  11. wade boteler

    My Dad l o v e d the original Nighthawks frozen dinners, (with the butter sauce packet)…… everyone did. Many years later I found them at a Wal-Mart; or so I thought. There was something very different about them then they disappeared again. I’m at a loss to understand why? Speaking of Wal-Mart, the one I mention used to be my place of employment, in the Deli. The so called, ‘management’, would discontinue some of our best selling items! Things we couldn’t cook fast enough like turkey-legs. They would replace said fast-seller with some cold Calzone thing that nobody bought. I’m sure they had their reasons but does it make good business to eliminate a product that everybody wants???? If the original Nighthawks frozen dinners came back, I’d buy cases of them for fear they might vanish again!!! Bring ’em back the way they were!!!!!!! Please !

  12. Victoria Arel

    Live in Orlando Fl. Where can find Night Hawk dinner with packet ? Try to look for been while! Please help ! Thank you !

  13. Johnny d

    We’re can I buy nighthalk dinners and pay to ship to my home in Illinois?

  14. Tracy Limon

    I loved the Nighthawk chopped steak dinner with the butter packet, the tater tots and the green beans when I was a little kid. Now it just has the chopped stead and tater tots. That butter was the best. I wish I could find a recipe for it.

  15. Sandy

    “What has happened” (re frozen dinners) is that these were always priced higher than most others of the same size, but it was the quality that one came back for. THAT’s what has gone (as others have said), and they are just pricey and disappointing now. Longing for a “Top Chopt Steak” with tater tots like the old days!

  16. Sandy

    Johnny D in IL, you’d be pretty disappointed now. They ain’t what they used to be!

    By the way Brian, all common frozen dinners are FULLY “precooked”. All you’re doing is reheating them to eating temperature, so it’s a big mistake if you overdo it!

  17. Josh

    I’ll tell you what happened: Capitalism happened. Capitalism is based on the concept of unending growth. You have to not only be profitable, but he have to have increased profits every quarter to pay back the capital your investors put into the company and then some. Something has to give: product quality, product amount, or product prices. That’s why everything is getting smaller, worse, and more expensive. Gotta keep that growth going every quarter. Welcome to Capitalism.

  18. Virginia Tate

    Not sure if anyone has checked into it but perhaps the flavor went down when Birdseye purchased the brand? I still eat them on a regular basis. The steak with broccoli and steak with au gratin potatoes are my favorites. I agree the person who said if you want a lousy TV dinner try Banquet. Other than Amy’s, Nighthawk are the only ones I eat. I like to kid myself into thinking they’re a “healthy” choice.

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