Austin is full of great bars and pubs. From laid back to velvet rope, you are sure to find tons of great places to drink and socialize in Austin, Texas. So the next time you're looking for some nightlife fun make sure you check out one or more of the many great bars and pugs in Austin, Texas.
Jeffrey’s, opened in 1975 and revamped in 2013, has been named one of the top 10 Best New Restaurants in America by Bon Appétit magazine. It’s some of the finest dining in town and a place many people think of only for special occasions.
But on Mondays they have all night happy hour featuring half price bar food and $2 off each cocktail, beer, and glass of wine. Take advantage of this deal and see why this restaurant has been an Austin institution for decades.
Time: 4:30 p.m. – Close
1204 West Lynn
Austin, Texas 78703
There’s something about dive bars that makes them quite magical. Or rather, it’s the lack of some things. Now, before we dive into this list of Austin’s best, it’s crucial we get a few of these things straight.
First, dive bars are not concept bars. They were not designed to project any predetermined vibes. The interiors aren’t “inspired by” and the drinks aren’t “infused with” anything. The mismatched tables and stools are not ironically so, and there is no such thing as mood lighting (moody maybe).
There is no irony.
Dive bars are just really old bars. Think “B.C.” —Before Cocktails.
In the most respectable sense, they’re cockroaches that have survived Austin’s cataclysmic expansion, often appearing as misfits mashed between neighborhood developments, shiny strip malls, and fancy restaurants. Nonetheless, their musty walls, cranky bartenders, and carpet-clad floors have withstood the test of time.
Dive bars are remarkably unremarkable and that’s what makes them so magical.
So far we’ve covered age and irony, but here are a few more mandatories:
- Where there are dive bars, there are beer-guzzling loyalists, AKA regulars.
- Quarters are the key to operating anything beyond your beer can.
- There is likely a pool table or jukebox, but if nothing else, there’s a TV that plays some type of courtroom drama or Wheel of Fortune.
- The décor is nothing short of plastered Poloroids and handcrafted signs designating where you can and can’t smoke.
- The bar may or may not accept credit cards and may or may not serve liquor.
- There’s a bathroom so dank, no amount of soap can help you.
Now with these qualifications in mind, the following are six of my personal favorites.
Simply put, Donn’s Depot is a bar built out of a train depot from McNeil, Texas. And that train made its last stop on 5th Street over 40 years ago. Anyone who’s been will tell you: This place is something special. It’s not just old; it’s old-timey. It’s carpeted and cozy and strung with Christmas lights. The regulars are rambunctious and some of them have been frequenting the establishment since ’72 (they’re called the “Royalty Table”). There’s a dance floor that floods with people after 9 p.m. and a self-serve popcorn machine. Donn owns the joint and performs weekly on the piano, while his son runs the bar.
This next bar straddles a fine line between appearing oddly unassuming and utterly unoccupied. G&S Lounge is square and brick… and for the record, not vacant. In fact, it’s been up and running for over 25 years. It quietly sits between Warehouse Liquor and that one jail release billboard on South First. If you feel like you’re trespassing onto private property, you’re in the right place. But don’t worry—wonders await you! Come here to drink from the extensive beer collection and play pool or Pac-Man or Pinball or Zoltar. If none of that appeals (and why not?), you can sit out back and chain smoke while you pet the bar dogs. Get on their good side because I’m pretty sure they run the place.
If you find yourself in South Austin, I highly suggest you stop into Giddy Ups. The red-painted wood marks its territory on Manchaca Road right before it dead-ends into Ranch Road 1626. Now the rules get blurry here, call it a saloon, call it a honky tonk, I call it a dive bar. The structure itself has been a bar since the ‘50s but it was reborn as Giddy Ups over 15 years ago. Let’s just say, you don’t come to a joint like this looking to hit the town… a townie maybe. But don’t let “Mom” catch you; it’s Nancy’s bar and she’ll throw you out. This ain’t a barn, after all. That said, this place is rural. Like, tie-your-horse-to-a-post rural. Come play shuffleboard and listen to live music. Or if you’re lucky, you might find yourself in a washer-pitching tournament.
Looking for something less blue collar, more bureaucratic? The Cloak Room has been hiding under Austin’s Capitol grounds since the ‘70s, appropriately buried like many of the rumored political dealings that took place here. This basement bar isn’t just old and “divey,” it’s historic and distinguished—the sort of speakeasy where debates break out over Dewar’s and Dean Martin. But don’t let those classy tunes fool you; this is very much a dive bar. Just look for the massive Polaroid collection that lines the bathroom hallway. Now let’s talk about Bev—magical, mystical Bev. She’s a local legend whose been manning the bar since the ‘90s. I could go on and on about her but people already do. I will say that she’s big on manners. I learned the hard way not to kick my feet up on her chairs. Bev doesn’t have to tell me twice.
If there’s a mother of all dive bars it’s Dry Creek Saloon. This place doesn’t just have regulars; it has generations of regulars. People have been drinking at Dry Creek for decades, ever since it first opened on Mt. Bonnell as a cedar chopper joint in ’53. It’s rickety and old like a tree house or pirate ship. There’s no air conditioning and there’s no liquor. But there is a bartender and her name is Angel. She took over the place once her predecessor, “Crazy Sarah,” passed away at 91. Although rumor has it she still haunts the place. The beer is cheap, the selection is limited and the koozies are communal. Pick your favorite from the pile and escort your beer to the upper deck while you wait for your turn at the pool table, because there’s only one. This place has changed as little as humanly possible over the years, and that deserves some serious respect. The records run until they break and the same goes for the portable fans.
Last but not least, Deep Eddy Cabaret is not only a dive bar but also an Austin tradition since it opened its doors in 1951. It lingers right off of Lake Austin Boulevard, sharing a block with Deep Eddy Pool. If you’ve got a hot summer day to kill, I suggest a Deep Eddy double dip. Follow up a day at the pool with a round of pool. This place smells like cigarettes and sunscreen and is perfectly plastered with hand-rendered instructions outlining where you can and can’t put your beer. Until about eight months ago, this was one of the last-standing cash-only bars in town. But even though they take plastic these days, Deep Eddy will always have a cash-only soul.
So next time you’re itching for a change of scenery, skip the bar scene for one of these beauties instead. Perhaps you’ll walk in, have a beer, and never leave again. That’s been known to happen. Because hanging out at a dive bar is like spending time with an estranged relative. Sure, they’re mostly tired and a bit dysfunctional, but you’ll always get a good story and a cheap buzz.
May the Fourth be with you! Happy Star Wars Day!
Star Bar is making sure you celebrate like a Jedi today. Star Wars films will be playing on both the inside and outside TVs, tap specials will include: Ballast Point Sculpin IPA’s, Avery, and Deschutes; and they’ll even have limited-edition T-shirts!
When: Today, May 4th
Time: 5 p.m.
600 West 6th Street
Austin, TX 78701
A few weeks ago, after I kept hearing great things about their rooftop patio, I went to Backbeat on South Lamar for the first time. I knew I’d be a fan of this place the second I saw the stunning downtown views, but then I tried the cocktails and food and became a devotee.
This is one of those rare places that has everything going for it. It’s not rowdy but it has a lively, fun atmosphere. Today they’re kicking off Happy Hour from 4-6 p.m. and you know I’ll be there. There are three themed nights every week and each one sounds better than the last:
1/2 Priced Oysters (while they last!)
$1 off Seasoned Olives & Nuts
$6 Sherry Cobbler on Tap, Sherry Negroni, $6 Vermouth & Sodas and rotating select on-tap spritz cocktail
Wednesday: Boilermakers & Ballermakers
Four “Beer & Spirits” pairings that will change with product availability
2 “Boilermaker” pairings $6-10 each
2 “Ballermaker” pairings $12-15 each
$2 off Paté Melt or Beet Salad
$6 Whiskey Cocktail on Tap and rotating select tap spritz/soda drinks
Thursday: Wine’d Up for the Weekend
$2 off wines by the glass and 20% of bottles
$2 off Charcuterie/Cheese Boards
$6 Pisco & Seasonal Spritz cocktail on tap
1300 South Lamar Boulevard
Austin, TX 78704
Just west of downtown Austin lies Clarksville, one of the most unique neighborhoods in the entire state of Texas. The area’s rich history began in 1871, when Charles Clark settled here after being freed from slavery. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976.
Now almost frozen in time, Clarksville harkens back to the days of an older Austin, filled with historic homes, quirky restaurants, and mom-and-pop shopping. If you’re looking for the quintessential Austin experience, spend a day exploring this truly walkable neighborhood.
Start your day at Sweetish Hill Bakery, an Austin institution since 1975. Grab a Texas Coffee Traders espresso to enjoy with a cinnamon roll or a schnecken, a traditional German sticky bun. Then take a fresh-baked baguette and a chocolate croissant (or two) to go.
One of Austin’s oldest gallery spaces Artworks, features original paintings, sculptures, glassworks, and more. Head over to the 5,000-square-foot space to take it all in.
Next, stop at Nau’s Enfield Drug, a no-frills soda pop shop that will transport you all the way back to the days when you could grab a flat-top cheeseburger and a chocolate malt in the back of a pharmacy. The prices are a bit higher than they were in 1951, when Nau’s opened, but not by that much.
Walk down to 6th and Lamar to Waterloo Records, open since 1982, when vinyl was still king. This megastore still carries new and special release vinyl records, used classic albums, and a large variety of films, books, shirts, and even toys and trinkets. Whoever said that the record store was dead surely hasn’t been here.
End your day at Jeffrey’s, opened in 1975 and revamped in 2013. It’s been named one of the top 10 Best New Restaurants in America by Bon Appétit magazine. Get there early and sit at the bar for some crispy fried oysters and a Hokkaido Highball, a Japanese twist on the classic cocktail. Stay for dinner, and try one of four cuts of Wagyu beef topped with one of eight different classic toppings, including the ultra-decadent foie gras butter—an amazing way to cap of the day.
Here is one of our favorite Real Estate listings in the neighborhood.
For more information on Austin real estate contact Greg Walling of Moreland Properties
The new standard for happy hour is Central Standard. Yesterday we flirted with a 90-degree temps and it made me want to enjoy Austin’s patios before the blazing summer heat rolls in. Central Standard has recently become my go-to happy hour spot for a few reasons. One, it’s seven days a week. Two, insider secret: South Congress Hotel offers free valet parking. So there’s no more worrying about where to park.
Here are the details on my new favorite happy hour, available at the bar and on the patio:
- $1 off oysters
- $2 off beer and wine
- Half off bubbles by the glass
Time: 3 p.m. – 6 p.m.
1603 South Congress Avenue
Austin, Texas 78704
Central Standard Kitchen & Bar
Deep Eddy began as a simple swimming hole in the Colorado River, but has evolved into one of the most important landmarks in Austin. The concrete pool we know today was built in 1915 when A.J. Eilers bought the land surrounding what is now known as Deep Eddy. It became a swim resort in the 1920s, and was bought by the city of Austin in 1935, becoming a public swimming pool the next year. Spend a day at the pool and in the surrounding neighborhood and you’ll see why this area is one of Austin’s oldest treasures.
Start your day across the street from the pool with breakfast at Magnolia on Lake Austin Boulevard. Get a big plate of the Love Migas—essentially your normal, everyday migas, except smothered in creamy queso. Since you’ll want to wait the requisite 30 minutes before your swim, order another cup of coffee before heading down to the pool.
Change in the historic bathhouses, built during the Great Depression and reconstructed after a mudslide in 1935. Here you’ll start to get a sense of the iconic Austin atmosphere of Deep Eddy, which is the oldest swimming pool in the state of Texas.
Walk on down to the pool. If you have kids in tow, you’ll want to park your blankets over on the right side, where the kiddie pool is easily accessible. If you want to take a dip in the deep end, head left. Here’s where you’ll find college kids sunbathing and old Austin hippies playing acoustic guitars. If aquatic exercise is your thing, the swim lanes at Deep Eddy are immensely popular. Show up early enough to get in a couple laps before the line forms.
Once you’re ready to head out, take a quick detour at the top of the steps for a snack at Jim-Jims. Grab a soft pretzel, or if it’s hot out (it’s always hot out) try a cherry water ice to cool down. You’ll be so glad you did.
Finally, no trip to Deep Eddy is complete without a stop at the adjacent watering hole named for the pool: Deep Eddy Cabaret. Until recently it was a cash-only, beer-only joint, but new ownership has brought the bar into the 21st century, adding payment by plastic and booze, while retaining its idiosyncratic classic Austin charm. Cap off your day with an ice cold Lone Star, or perhaps a Deep Eddy vodka cocktail, as you flip through the old jukebox still filled with country classics from Waylon, Willie, and Merle—God rest his soul.
Here is one of our favorite Real Estate listings in the neighborhood.
For more information on Downtown Austin real estate contact Greg Walling of Moreland Properties
The Infinite Monkey Theorem is an Urban Winery right here in Central Austin. And they have wine slushies! (They had me a “wine slushy” but I’ll continue …) There has never been so many options for random fun on a Tuesday night in one place. Yoga, trivia, and something called Tinder Tuesdays are all happening tonight! Here’s the rundown for each activity. Cheers to wine slushies and exciting Tuesday nights!
Yoga & Wine with Courtney (6:30 – 7:30 p.m.)
- It’s where serenity (yoga) and serenity (wine) come together. Bring your mat, water, and an intention for a 1-hour yoga session with a free glass of wine after class. Peace out little Buddhas! $15.
Trivia with Cat the Mad Catter (7:30 – 8:30 p.m.)
- The one, the only, Cat the Mad Catter will wreck your brain in a fierce competition of the wizziest trivia wizzards. 38% off of Pear Cider Cans. Six person max teams. Each winner receives a free glass of wine!
Tinder Tuesdays (ALL night)
- Tinder Tuesdays means love is in the air! Bring your match to the winery and get a free glass of Texas Rosé from the tap. Must show your kindly bartender your match on your phone.
The Infinite Monkey Theorem Urban Winery
121 Pickle Rd #110
Austin, TX 78704
Image via. https://www.instagram.com/camkisel/
Please consider using Lyft for a safe ride home. Good news: Lyft, the app that gets you rides in minutes, is the official ridesharing partner of 365 Things Austin. Even better news: You get $20 off your first ride.
Here’s how it works:
1. Download the Lyft app
2. Request a ride & go
Austin is famous for a lot of things. Live music, world-class barbecue, and hippies notwithstanding, the city is now a brewery mecca. In the past five years, the craft beer industry has boomed in the Capital City, thanks to a dozen or so very dedicated brewers cropping up in the area. None of them are run-of-the-mill taprooms, and all are worth visiting (because, at the very least … beer). Here are four of our local favorites:
“East on Sixth Street,” reads the Hops & Grain website, “when it ends you’re there.” Sample some of the award-winning drafts from this sustainable brewery, which is thankfully open seven days a week. Constantly evolving, beers like the Green House IPA are made with different hops every month, so you’re not always drinking the same beer. The taproom is humans-only, but the patio outside is a perfect place for a pint with your pup, and make sure to grab a bag of Brew Biscuits to go, made from malted grains left over from the brewing process. Take the tour, where you might get to try something before it’s released.
Try this beer: The One They Call Zoe, an American pale lager
Hours: Mon – Sun: 10 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Tours start at 5 p.m. Tuesdays – Fridays and 1, 3, and 5 p.m. on Saturdays.
Taco Polos, now available in the 365 store.
For a truly unique brewery experience, check out the other taproom on East Sixth, Zilker Brewing Co. Every aspect of the brewing process is on display for visitors at Zilker, as they sit at a custom, handcrafted bar in the center of the room. One of the newer spots in Austin, Zilker is fast becoming an East Side hotspot.
Try this beer: Coffee Milk Stout, a coffee milk stout
Hours: Wed – Thu: 4 – 10 p.m.; Fri: 2 p.m – 12 a.m.; Sat: noon – 12 a.m.; Sun: noon – 8 p.m.
The canned beer revolution in Austin all began at Austin Beerworks. These days it seems like every local beer only comes in cans, but when those curious white, blue, brown, and green cans starting cropping up all over Central Texas in 2011, it was a novel idea. Take a trip to the tap room, where you can sample the beers known as ABW’s core four, though we recommend tasting something from their “exclusives” list, which is where the brewery gets really experimental. Right now, ABW is pouring an IPA made with blood oranges, for example. There’s also a rotating schedule of offerings from some of Austin’s tastiest food trucks, like Evil Weiner and Texas Chili Queens.
Try this beer: Heavy Machinery, a double IPA
Hours: Thu: 5 – 9 p.m.; Fri: 5 – 11 p.m.; Sat – Sun: 1 – 7 p.m.
If you’re willing to go for a bit of a drive, it’s imperative you make it out to Jester King Brewery, a farmhouse brewery on a huge plot that is family (and dog!) friendly. Featuring some truly amazing sour beers, farmhouse ales, and imperial stouts, Jester King is a different experience than the others on this list, but no less important. Also of note: You can purchase to-go bottles of Jester King’s own suds, or from a remarkable list of beers that the brewery distributes. As a bonus, Stanley’s Farmhouse Pizza is located on the property, featuring delicious pizza and pints of some of the best non-Jester King beers available in Texas, like Lone Pint’s incomparable Yellow Rose IPA.
Try this beer: Atrial Rubicite, a barrel-aged sour
Hours: Fri: 4 – 10 p.m.; Sat: noon – 10 p.m; Sun: noon – 9 p.m.
Tours start at 6 p.m. Fridays and 1, 3, and 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.
Rainey Street is a formerly residential neighborhood that has transformed over the last decade into a hotspot for happy hours, late-night drinks, brunch, and dinner. In fact, you can spend an entire Sunday on Rainey Street and only hit a few of the many great spots in the area.
There are several ways to map out a good Sunday Funday on Rainey, but it’s always a safe bet to start at Banger’s for brunch. Wash down biscuits and gravy with one of dozens of local craft brews, from Austin favorites like Austin Beerworks, Live Oak, and Hops & Grain. The bar is also famous for its homemade sausages, best enjoyed at one the outdoor picnic tables.
Banger’s Sausage House (photo by Jason Neff)
Step it up at Blackheart, Rainey’s top cocktail bar, for a few (or more) sips from its massive whiskey list. You’ll find rarities like Black Maple Hill and the entire suite of Pappy Van Winkle bourbons and rye, each of which is better than the next. Kick back inside, where the bar’s interior will make you feel right at home—at your quirky aunt’s upstate cabin.
Next, head over to Craft Pride for some late-afternoon live music. The bar, opened in 2010, is unique in that every beer on its massive tap-wall is both a craft brew and made in Texas. Sip a few pints of Big Bend Hefeweizen and sway in the breeze to the tunes outside. Before you leave, grab a couple of craft beers to-go from the Bottle Shoppe.
G’raj Mahal (photo by Jason Neff)
Now you’ll need some more food to chase that bourbon and beer, so why not head to G’Raj Mahal? One of Rainey’s first spots, G’Raj Mahal opened in 2009 as an Indian food trailer in—what else—a garage, transforming into a brick-and-mortar eatery a little more than four years later. Now serving beer and wine, the spot is a laid-back, delicious restaurant and lounge, where you can end your Sunday with samosas, chicken tikka masala, and a glass of malbec before it’s back to the grind in the morning.
View from condo available in the Rainey Street neighborhood
For more information on Downtown Austin real estate contact Greg Walling of Moreland Properties
Cover photo by Jason Neff for 365 Things Austin
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