Beverage Director

The Best Bars in Austin Right Now

You could use a drink.

Deep Eddy Cabaret interior bar
Courtesy of Deep Eddy Cabaret

Hitting the bar scene in Austin is as much of a local tradition as breakfast tacos, BBQ, and overpaying for a hotel room during South by Southwest. The vast selection of places to get your drink on -- from dive bars with pinball machines to plush cocktail lounges to game-day haunts -- is enough to drag even your most reluctant friend away from that couch they’ve been pinned to for months. That's why we've put together a handy guide of COVID restrictions and rules you’ll find at all these currently open, top-notch drinkeries -- we could all use a drink right now.

Easy Tiger Linc

Highland

You may not be able to travel to Munich for Oktoberfest this year, but you can recreate the German Beer Garden experience when drinking at the Easy Tiger Linc. Although Easy Tiger has another location downtown, the outdoor patio at the North-based Linc location is much more spacious, so you can be sure to pack all your friends into one of their many long picnic tables. Also, with both unique American craft beers and a bakery that specializes in pretzels the size of a high-school lunch tray, it could not be more of a gluten-lover’s dream. 
How to order: Patio-seating only with table-side service. Food and drinks also available for delivery and curbside pickup. 

Better Half Coffee & Cocktails

West Fifth

If you want a place with non-alcoholic options as well, or somewhere you can double-fist an espresso and a tequila, check out the pink picnic-table covered patio of Better Half Coffee & Cocktails. Operating as a cafe and coffee shop during the day, this place is also a key spot for some afternoon or evening drinks and grub. Try their Waiting for Coffman, a perfect blend of booze and their cold brew, with a side order of Cauliflower Tots, which are so tasty you will forget the ways cauliflower has been slowly replacing all the carbs you love everywhere you go. 
How to order: Book reservations for their patio online, which has table service. Some walk-ins available during bar hours at night, but space is limited. Food and drinks available for take-out.

The Roosevelt Room
The Roosevelt Room | Photo by Eric Medsker

The Roosevelt Room

Downtown

Bar hop through the centuries at The Roosevelt Room, where the cocktails are literally listed on the menu by era. Sip a Clover Club, a favorite drink during the Prohibition, made with gin, raspberries, and lychees -- all while in an art-deco environment that, with its deep mood lighting and dark velvet cushioned booths, is very Gatsby to begin with. This is where to bring the serious mixologist in your life for a celebratory night, the delicate bottles of atomizers and bitters that line the top of their marble bar are certain to captivate them (and you) from the get-go. 
How to order: Indoor dining only, reservations available online and recommended. To-go cocktails also available for pickup. 

Sagebrush

South Congress

A recent addition to the Austin scene, Sagebrush is one of the only places to currently catch a show in the Live Music Capital. This is possible due to their large backyard outdoor space, which allows for you to take in all the tunes without taking in any COVID risks. Check out their website for more details on who’s playing on what night, so you can decide if you want to listen to Blues or Bluegrass while you have a beer and some gumbo from the Baton Creole cajun food truck parked out front. Head there on Sundays for the Sagebrush Treasure Market, an outdoor socially distanced market with great vintage t-shirts and cowboy boots, among other finds. 
How to order: No reservations accepted, so show up early to pay the door cover and secure your seat for the music. Food available to-go from the Baton Creole food truck. 

Kitty Cohen's

Webberville

If you’re looking for a 1970s-inspired patio paradise, complete with portraits of Burt Reynolds, look no further than Kitty Cohen’s. Their outdoor area, complete with a decorative mini-pool in the center, serves as the perfect landscape to split a big bowl of their gin and Prosecco Key Party punch with friends -- which is, of course, served from a retro glass punch bowl into a matching set of handled cups. Their Froses and Aperol Spritzes are equally on-point for lounging underneath their green-umbrella covered tables. As if that wasn’t groovy enough, Cambodian Soul Food, from Mama Kong’s, is available to eat poolside on Friday and Saturdays.
How to order: Patio-seating only -- no reservation required, masks required for ordering, and cocktails available to-go but must be ordered in person at the bar. 

Rustic Tap

West Sixth

Even if your knowledge of the musical genre is limited to Dolly Parton, it won’t stop you from finding something to love about this country bar. An outdoor oasis in West Austin, its huge screens and tailgate-style chairs ensure you can get your game-day on while there. As a Louisiana bar, they are sure to be rowdy whenever the Saints or LSU are playing but everyone can get into the Cajun spirit by ordering one of their Shrimp Po-Boys along with a Mexican Martini. Be sure as well to mosey on over to their website to check out their live music schedule, which they have every night of the week -- well, that is, unless football is on. 
How to order: Outdoor seating only, table service available. Masks required for guests when not seated. Drinks and food available to-go.

House Wine

Zilker

While many a HomeGoods item may tell you, “Home is where the wine is,” wine bar House Wine could truly be considered the un-cheesy realization of this phrase. Nestled within their cozy patio, you feel like a welcome guest at a favorite relative’s home -- that is, if your relative had an insanely diverse collection of scrumptious wines available to drink. Try one of their themed flights, like “Unusual Whites” or “New Word Reds,” to expose yourself to new flavors you would never have known to order on your own. Add to your order one of their Honey Smoked Salmon boards, with gouda and rosemary crackers, for the ultimate classy accompaniment to your wine.
How to order: Indoor and patio seating available. Walk-ins accepted but they suggest making reservations online though their website if possible and, especially, if visiting during the weekend. Wine, food, and beer also available for delivery and curbside pickup.

Kinda Tropical

East Seventh

Those who’ve never been to Kinda Tropical might initially pass it by -- its outdoor appearance gives it a look of a gas station, which it formally was before opening as a bar in 2017. Give it a closer glance though, and you’ll notice the gem of an outdoor patio tucked in the back of the building. In tune with its easy Texas vibes, Kinda Tropical’s standout cocktails include a Mezcal Paloma and a Paint it Black Margarita, dyed dark with activated charcoal. Vegan-friendly eats, like Cuban Yucca  Fries and a Jackfruit-based BBQ Sandwich, makes sure there is bar food that everyone can enjoy. 
How to order: Patio-seating available, masks required for ordering. Food and drinks also available to-go for pickup. 

Hotel San Jose Bar

South Congress

Tucked behind a long wall of ivy greenery, like a secret garden amongst the hustling street of South Congress, The Courtyard Lounge at the Hotel San José is a place to take a true breather. While it is surrounded by hotel bungalows and a glistening blue water pool, The Courtyard Lounge is a space all its own -- a staycation without the extra hassle of finding someone to watch your pets, if you will. They are famous for their take on the Michelada, where they temper the classic combination of tomato, spices, and beer with soy. Pair it with their Japanese-spiced Togarashi Popcorn to round out a full meeting of Eastern and Western world flavors. 
How to order: Patio-seating available, masks required for guests when they are not seated at a table. Current capacity is limited to 25 people, so be sure to get there early if you would like to be guaranteed a table.

Frazier's Long and Low

East Riverside

It is amazing that Frazier’s Long & Low only opened around a year ago considering the deep sense of nostalgia you’ll feel when you walk through the door. With wood-paneled walls and teak-colored cushioned benches -- not to mention the shuffleboard, pool tables, and killer jukebox -- it is the kind of neighborhood dive bar where everybody knows your name. Get the full experience during their brunch on the weekends, where you can order their famous Fuckit Bucket -- which contains chicken tenders, pancakes with hot honey and syrup, breakfast corndogs, and either a bottle or champagne or a bucket of beer to wash it all down with. 
How to order: Indoor and patio seating available. Masks required for ordering and when not seated. Food and drinks available for takeout. Time limit on pool tables so all can play.

Haymaker

Cherrywood

If you want a sports bar, Haymaker is the place to go -- television and large projection screens cover the space like wallpaper, playing everything from football to international soccer to horse-racing. Adding to that fact that there are a ridiculous number of beers on tap (40!), the game-day comfort food, like poutine, Italian hoagies, and patty melts, are available to order and delicious. If you want to bring your dog to cheer on your team as well, there are even multiple televisions outside on their pet-friendly patio to make sure you never miss a touchdown, goal, or winning thoroughbred. Pro tip: Check their website to figure out which daily drink special will be running before you visit. 
How to order: Indoor and patio seating available. Some reservations available through events@haymakeraustin.com but, otherwise, first-come, first-served. 

Whisler's
Whisler's | Photo by Mark Weatherford for Thrillist

Whisler's

East Austin

This bar is a familiar spot for anyone who frequents Austin’s East side -- the consistently great atmosphere and drinks made it a sure bet on any night. Their cocktails always perfectly run the delicate balance between sweet, bitter, strong, and refreshing. While that means anything on their menu won’t lead you astray, the Tiger’s Tears, which mixes vodka, strawberry, and basil with a striking touch of pepper, serves as a key example of this flavor wizardry at work. And, although their upstairs room, the Mezacaleria Tobala, might be closed due to COVID restrictions, it won’t stop you from sampling their wonderful list of mescals, which might just have the best selection in all of the city. 
How to order: Outdoor seating with table service available, masks required for guests when not seated. Drinks available to go, along with a limited list of bar food.

the Little Darlin'

South Austin

Follow the bright blue neon arrow off of the road to The Little Darlin’ -- an unpretentious dive bar with a huge patio in the back surrounded by string-lit trees. Any night of the week you can find people enjoying a beer, and listening to Classic Rock or Soul hits, while sitting in the huge Adirondack chairs or swinging in the benched hammocks that cover their outdoor space. It is a bar that is equally great to take a date, catch up with family at, or just bask in the breezy sun of an Austin fall all on your own. Don’t sleep on the food either -- for such a laid-back place, the bites, like the Carnitas Sliders, are still incredibly tasty. 
How to order: Outdoor seating available, masks required for ordering inside. Also has a covered patio for those who want to sit outside, but not in the sun.

Péché

Downtown

The sign outside high-end Péché describes their cocktails as “sinful” and, with a menu containing everything from adult milkshakes to absinthe creations, it certainly lives up to this claim. For those looking to experience the drink of the green fairy, but are newbies to its strong taste, we recommended their Absinthe God cocktail -- made with ingredients like homemade almond syrup and egg white, it will help anyone ease into this unique libation. Their French-inspired food, with fresh seafood flown in directly from New York City’s Fulton Fish Market, is just as deliciously decadent as their drinks. 
How to order: Indoor dining only, reservations available online. Mask required for when guests are not seated. Food also available for takeout.

Drinks Lounge

East Cesar Chavez

Impress your pool shark friends by bringing them to Drinks Lounge, a haven for those who like their beers with a side of a break shot. Even if you have less-than-great hand-eye coordination, a live DJ spinning serious jams and an open door concept that connects the bar space with an outdoor patio make it just as good of a pick. While they keep their cocktail menu fresh by changing it from season to season, the margaritas are a popular choice, and a main-stay, for all the right reasons. Roll by for brunch to try their pancake sliders, which are exactly what they sound like -- that is, an egg sandwiched between two sliver dollar griddle cakes. 
How to order: Indoor and outdoor seating available with table service, masks required. Food available for take-out or delivery.

Deep Eddy Cabaret

West Austin

A city institution since 1951, Deep Eddy Cabaret is what “Keep Austin Weird” feels like. A true throwback to a time before the music festivals and tech bros, expect no frills here -- which is, honestly, a huge part of its dive bar appeal. Do expect ice cold beers and a collection of locals willing to reminisce with you about the good ol’ days. Order some chips with guacamole and jalapeño pimento dip from Pool Burger, which is right next door, to snack on while you hang, or take a dip at nearby Deep Eddy Municipal Pool before or after for a full-on classic Austin day. 
How to order: Indoor and patio seating available, masks required for ordering at the bar.

Nickel City

East Eleventh

If your version of heaven is a dive bar with an Elvira pinball machine and tiki cocktails -- because whose isn’t? -- head to East 11th street standout, Nickel City. There, you can order your Painkillers based on the level of strength of rum you want to put in or, just say “screw it,” and get a full scorpion bowl of their exceptional take on a Zombie. Accompany it all with some classic bar bites, like sliders, wings, and Coney dogs, from the Delray Cafe housed in the bar. Regardless of what you choose, Nickel City has such a genuine, laid-back atmosphere, it will be sure to have you coming back for seconds. 
How to order: Limited indoor seating available, masks required for when guests are not at their tables. To-go drinks and food also available for pick-up.

Dirty Bill's

West Austin

Dirty Bill’s, or DB’s as it is better known to most locals, is a still-standing testament to cheap drinks, strong pours, and good times amongst the many overpriced, underwhelming bars that dot West 6th Street. The string lights and papel picados that adorn the ceiling encourage you to get just as lit yourself -- this is for sure the place to not only take shots, but buy a round for the whole bar as well. As for what type of shots you can get, everything from well vodka to fine Japanese whiskey is at your disposal, which you can temper the effects of with food from nearby Rustic Tap. 
How to order: Indoor seating only, masks required for placing orders at the bar.

Lustre Pearl

Rainey Street

Lustre Pearl is the OG of all the house bars that line the day-drinking mecca of Rainey Street and, when visiting there, you can see why it has stood the test of time where so many others have faltered. While their regular hula hoops and cornhole games may be suspended due to COVID restrictions, you can still sip on an Asher Skye, a margarita with serrano infused tequila, and watch the various citizens of Austin strut by the street with dogs in tow on their outdoor patio. After all, what more could you want from a Sunday Funday?
How to order: Indoor and outdoor seating available, masks required for placing orders at the bar.

Central Machine Works
Central Machine Works Brewery and Beer Hall | Photo by Garrett White

Central Machine Works

East Cesar Chavez

For those in the mood for local brews, make your way over to Central Machine Works, where everything from a full-bodied American Lager to a refreshing Pilsner, is homemade and on tap. However, if you are less-hop inclined, there are also amazing cocktails, such as the Frozen Espresso Martini, to sip at while kicking back in an indoor-outdoor space so massive that it used to be a factory making airplane parts. This brewery is also known for hosting fun weekend events -- be sure to check their website to see when there is live music, yoga, or any other social distancing safe shindig going down. 
How to order: Outdoor and indoor seating available, but making reservations online ahead of time is suggested. Masks required for when guests are not seated.

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