Austin Bars & Nightlife
Bars & Nightlife neighborhood
Blue Owl Brewing
2400 E. Cesar Chavez St., Holly
The house-brewed beer at Blue Owl is sour—in the best way—due to their signature all-natural fermentation process, fittingly called sour-mashing, which results in lower acidity content and a tart, hoppy taste. (Staff on hand can provide you with a tasting guide to start, or opt for their $15 self-guided tasting tour.) Along with the unique texture/flavor medley of their distinctive brews, the bar itself is an elevated experience compared to your typical brewery: It is lofty, whitewashed, and fun.
90 Rainey St., Rainey
This vibrant concept space is best known for its’ bold architecture, which features a dance floor inside of stacked shipping containers. If you need a break from the—sometimes overheated—dance floor, there’s always an airy outdoor portion that overlooks the party (which is great for conversations). The founder, local entrepreneur Bridget Dunlap, is largely credited with reinvigorating the street.
Garage Cocktail Bar
503 Colorado St., Downtown
Tucked inside a parking garage at the corner of Sixth and Colorado, this bar usually takes a few extra minutes to find. The interior is surprisingly sleek, and the craft cocktails are artfully designed with small plates to match. Order a signature cocktail, starting with the Indian Paintbrush.
200 Lavaca St., Downtown
This four-room bar is located inside the W Austin Hotel. It's a music-focused spot, that mixes trendy and cozy: Plush, red velvet couches face a brightly lit bar, while a fireplace, flanked by bookshelves and desk lamps, roars in another room. Check their calendar to see what's currently on (they bring in DJ's and local bands regularly), and definitely come here if you're in town for Austin City Limits.
77 Rainey St., Rainey
The back patio at Lucille’s is outfitted in twinkling lights—which makes it totally magical. Also on the patio: They’ve converted a former garage into a second bar, where people perch at the open windows. The interior is designed to be reminiscent of the 1920’s without trying too hard; the menu is expertly curated and highlights local, handcrafted liquor (and beer).
208 W. 4th St., Downtown
This pre-Prohibition-style, New Orleans-inspired craft cocktail bar is a great option for drinks and light dinner. Though it began as Austin’s first absinthe bar (the infamous green liqueur was legalized in the U.S. in 2007), their dinner menu, curated by executive chef John Lichtenberger, is worth a trip, too. The riffs on French standards like duck confit, bouillabaisse, and escargots are beloved, as are their only-in-Texas specialties, like Texas wild boar with polenta, braised short ribs with duck-fat mashed potatoes, and lamb bourguignon sourced from a nearby ranch. As for the cocktails, the go-tos (besides absinthe, of course) are gin, whiskey, vodka, and rum concoctions—some original, like the Fig Manhattan (rye, sweet vermouth, house cherry vanilla bitters, fig foam), some reinterpretations of tried-and-true favorites, like Sazerac (a New Orleans classic).
801 Red River, Downtown
Stubb’s is famous for its barbecue, but maybe even more famous for the live music performances that happen (almost) nightly. Legends like Joan Jett, Willie Nelson, and The Killers are among the many that have entertained here. Be sure to buy tickets in advance for the concerts, as they are likely to sell out early. On Sunday mornings, there’s a live gospel music brunch with a make-your-own Bloody Mary bar.
86 Rainey St., Rainey
The Blackheart Bar is in an 1889 Victorian house on Rainey Street. The backyard area, which is decorated in strings of light, is a popular hangout spot—locals perch on the large picnic tables and even bring their dogs along. The bar is dominated by a large selection of whiskey, but the Moscow Mule is also well-loved, as is the near-nightly live music. You can sometimes see two bands in a night—one inside, one outside—which is a lot for a tiny bar, but draws a very fun dancing crowd.
301 Lavaca St., Downtown
Beer aficionados will appreciate the vast on-tap selection at The Gingerman, as well as their casual outdoor beer garden. Other locations have sprung up around the country but The Gingerman has been a fixture in Austin since 1994 (although their current location is a block from the original).
The Side Bar
602 E. 7th St., Downtown
Located a block off of Austin's somewhat infamous "Dirty Sixth" (aka East Sixth Street), which is packed with rowdy nightlife, The Side Bar's crowd still skews young, but it's a decidedly more low-key, sit-down-and-chat destination. A favorite Austin dive bar, locals come to play pool, listen to the jukebox, and hang on the outdoor patio.
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