Food & Drink

These Are Austin's Bad Decision Bars

Published On 01/08/2014 Published On 01/08/2014

The Bad Decision Bar: where "just a drink or two" can lead to "just 14 texts to your ex-girlfriend, one missing shoe, and no remaining dignity". While living in Austin is a phenomenal decision, residing here also means you're likely to make a few questionable ones as well. And there's a good chance these places will be involved.

Trophy Club

Sixth Street
Standing out as a den of dubious choices on Dirty 6th is no easy feat, and Trophy Club takes the, well, the trophy. The cocktails come in pitchers. The tube tops frequently come up on the losing end of battles with the mechanical bull. The bathrooms fall somewhere between "day three music fest Porta Potty" and "poop demon from Dogma". The memories, if formed, last a lifetime.

Mike Cortez


Sixth Street
With dirt cheap canned brews and a dark, ominous vibe that feels like it's straight out of the opening scene of Blade (is blood gonna pour from the ceiling?), Barcelona isn't likely to remind you of that semester abroad in Spain. However, it IS dark enough to remind you that people you make out with in basements don't always look the same above ground.

Side Bar

There're stiff drinks, and then there're the drinks at Side Bar. For real, look up "Sidebar Pour" on Urban Dictionary. Start with a whiskey on the rocks. Finish with 37 Gatorades the next morning.

Mike Cortez

Shakespeare’s Pub

Sixth Street
Hark, what light from yonder window breaks? It's a bunch of frat dudes, and $2 domestics are the sun. Also the sun: $5 cocktail pitchers. If they fail to woo themselves any comely undergrads they may make up for it with some recreational face punching, not unlike the hot-tempered fiery Tybalt.

Lala’s Xmas Bar

The beer is cheap. The old timers aren't even noticing the hipsters admiring their steadfastly dated clothing. The combination of Christmas decorations and '50s jukebox tunes somehow hypnotizes you into forgetting how many drinks you've had. Boxing Day is gonna be rough. 

Kung Fu Saloon

Kung Fu Saloon

Market District
What would happen if adults were allowed recess? This potent combination of arcade games, giant Jenga, and cheap pickle shots (and also much sexier games of freeze tag). The $1 mimosas on Sundays have wrecked plenty of Austin Mondays.

The Landing Strip

Del Valle
There are strip clubs, and then there are strip clubs where you can say to yourself "this is where James Van Der Beek watched Miss Davis strip in Varsity Blues". Table dances are cheap, and there's no cover before 8p, so... oh man who are we kidding? You know you're going to end up here at 2a and leave penniless. 

Mike Cortez


North Loop
You came here just to shoot some pool and enjoy some beers, but then... wait, how long have you been here? Where are the windows? When did your beers start becoming "shots and beers". Why are the walls on the men's bathroom as thin as the denim jackets the patrons are wearing? Why are you still self-conscious about people hearing you pee? Why did you wake up next to an empty box of Mrs. Johnson's donuts? Because, Barfly's.


If it's 2a and you're looking for someone to smash faces with to '80s dance hits, you're going to Barbarella. If you find yourself needing to use the bathroom there, be glad you probably won't recall the inside of it, because it's 2a and you went to Barbarella.

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1. Kung Fu Saloon 510 Rio Grande St, Austin, TX 78701 (Market District)

Kung Fu Saloon has arcade games, skee ball, and life-size Jenga for you to play while you enjoy pickle shots, 24 beers on tap, or a build-your-own bloody Mary bar on Sundays.

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2. Barbarella 615 Red River St, Austin, TX 78701 (Downtown)

With throwback '60s and '70s on Grits and Gravy Thursdays, classic '80s on Friday, and a mix of EDM on Saturdays, Barbarella aims to please fans of every genre with great music, lasers and smoke, and music videos being played on screens right next to the dance floor.

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3. The Trophy Club 310 E 6th St, Austin, TX 78701 (Dirty 6th)

Liquor pitchers, mechanical bull, laser-and-music-filled back room. Repeat.

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4. Barcelona 209 E 6th St, Austin, TX 78701 (Dirty 6th)

Barcelona hosts a serious basement dance party on 6th Street. Expect stiff drinks, loud bass, and a mix of top 40 and EDM to get you in the mood to boogie.

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5. The Side Bar 602 E 7th St, Austin, TX 78701 (Downtown)

The Side Bar is a wonderful product of a classic dive bar formula: cheap, strong drinks + friendly bar staff + great jukebox + pool (+ sometimes Roombas are the ones playing pool).

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6. Shakespeare's Pub 314 E 6th St, Austin, TX 78701 (Dirty 6th)

With specials like $5 liquor pitcher Thursdays and $2 Long Islands and karaoke Tuesdays, Shakespeare's will set you up to star in your own tragic comedy.

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7. Lala's Xmas Bar 2207 Justin Ln, Austin, TX 78757 (Brentwood)

You'll feel like you just entered a warm and fuzzy time warp after walking into Lala's, one where it's always Christmas thanks to plenty of colorful twinkle lights and a jukebox that plays a festive mix of Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole. The classic cocktails here are poured stiff by the super-friendly bartenders, and don't be surprised if a regular approaches you with a joke or a coin trick. Lala's is just that kind of place.

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8. The Landing Strip 745 Bastrop Hwy, Austin, TX 78742

Yes, this is the place where they filmed Miss Davis in Varsity Blues. Become a part of Hollywood history with $10 dances and no cover before 8p, plus $3 you-call-its during happy hour every day.

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9. Barfly's 5420 Airport Blvd, Austin, TX 78751 (Hyde Park)

Founded in 2001, Barfly's is a dive bar with some of the cheapest drinks in all of Austin.



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