Where to Grab a Drink in Austin Right Now

From swank rooftops and underground speakeasies to lovable dives.

As you’ve probably already heard from every major news source, random Uber drivers, and distant relatives at family functions, Austin is undergoing a kind of rapid growth spurt akin to teenagers the summer before ninth grade. Recent reports estimate that the metro gains 184 newcomers daily—or, to put it in terms of six packs of Lone Stars, that’s over 1100 beers being snatched off the shelves of H.E.B. in a single 24-hour period. It’s fortunate then, that there’s more than enough exceptional watering holes here for Austinites to pull up a bar stool at—whether your vibe is dark and divey, bright and bougie, or, perhaps, yuletide festive. In an effort to help you achieve the optimal buzz, we’ve created the ultimate list of the best Austin bars currently pouring greatness into the city. Hopefully, it’ll help you remember that, no matter how congested the traffic on 1-35 becomes, there’s still plenty of reasons to raise a glass to our fair city.

Lala's Little Nugget
Courtesy of Lala’s Little Nugget

After the sweltering Texas summer, the idea of winter weather feels like a cool, refreshing breeze (literally). And, while they may not be able to physically change the atmospheric conditions, this Christmas-all-year-round outpost can certainly transport you into a December-mindset. This place has it all: stockings hanging from the ceiling, the leg lamp from A Christmas Story, a velvet Christmas-themed Elvis painting, and Santa memorabilia up the wazoo. Even though the weather outside might be frightful(ly hot), the Reindeer Water, made with tequila, triple sec, lime juice, and rain water, is sure to make you feel delightful.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating.

Garage
Garage cocktails | Photo by Julie Cope

Garage

Downtown

Austin’s top speakeasy takes the hidden bar theme to a whole new level—that is, to the lower-level of a real-life car park. While finding the spot is an experience within itself (hint: look for the teal and yellow neon sign), those who appreciate the fine craft of cocktail-making will discover libation gold. The candlelit vibes are complemented by drinks with a depth of flavor that is equally swoon-worthy. Try the Seven Day Weekend, a popular mix of mezcal, Ancho Reyes, grapefruit, lime, and honey-ginger sure to put you in a Saturday mindset any given weekday.
How to book: Reserve via Resy.
 

Available for Reservations

Cheer Up Charlie's

Financial District

After a long quarantine absence, one of Austin’s most beloved places to drink and play is back in action, bringing as much optimism and joy as its name implies. Pop in Thursdays through Sundays to catch some of the best tracks in the city. From DJs blasting ‘90s country-pop to Beyoncé tribute bands, you’ll want to wear your most comfortable shoes so you can easily break it down on both the inside and outside dance floors. However, even those without TikTok-worthy moves can find something to love beneath this spot’s large neon lights—take the kale-spiked lime margarita, for instance, which we give you full permission to count among your daily veggie quotient.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating.

P6
P6 at The LINE Austin | Photo by Chase Daniel

There’s a breezy feeling you get as soon as you walk off the elevator and into the LINE Austin’s sixth floor cocktail lounge. Maybe it's due to the windswept pink banners decorating the ceiling, couches you can sink into comfortably, or the unbeatable views of the Colorado River as it runs under the South Congress Bridge. Or, it could just be their drinks. Case and point? The Wild Side, a combo of sotol, basil syrup, lime, cucumber, and basil seeds that drinks just as refreshing as the space itself.
How to book: Reserve via OpenTable.

Available for Reservations

Yellow Jacket Social Club

East Fifth Street

Need somewhere to bring friends from out of town, catch up with the crew after a long hangout absence, or venture out on a first date? Yellow Jacket is the perfect place for these activities and so much more. Its sheer adaptability is one reason for its massive popularity among those that call the city home. The patio, lined with picnic benches and shaded by trees, is about as authentically Austin as it gets—which definitely calls for a round of Lone Stars alongside one of their classic Frito pies.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating.

Armadillo Den

Ford Oaks

If your main complaint about the average bar is that there’s just never enough room, drop everything, grab your cornhole gear, and head to Armadillo Den. Located in South Austin, the vast property has space for it all: live music, food trucks, every yard game under the sun, and even an off-leash dog park so Fido can join in on the fun. After working up a sweat, cool off with a draft cocktail like the Southside Sipper, with watermelon juice, lime, mint, and your choice of alcohol (we vote tequila—it’s always the best/worst choice).
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating.

Zanzibar
Zanzibar | Photo Courtesy of Zanzibar

Zanzibar

Downtown

You would not be wrong to feel like you’ve stepped into a tropical version of a mid-century Rat Pack haunt when you emerge onto this colorful rooftop bar. Beyond the vast collection of greenery, rattan chairs, and tiki tipples (complete with tiny umbrellas), it also boasts one of the best sunset views over Downtown imaginable. It’s simultaneously an ideal place to bring visitors from out of town and an enjoyable destination for lifelong Austenites—because, when the Mai Tais are as good as these, everyone wins.
How to book: Reserve via OpenTable.

Available for Reservations
LoLo
LoLo Wine | Photo by Julia Keim

LoLo Wine

East Sixth Street

Don’t let Schitt’s Creek color your view of natural wine forever. A recent addition to the scene, LoLo is here to prove that organic vino can be just as tasty as the mainstream stuff (and get you just as topsy-turvy as Moira Rose after a couple commercial takes). From the vibrant patio and shady tree decked out with disco balls to an awesome staff filled with nuanced knowledge, being here truly feels like an intimate escape from the rest of East Austin. The only thing that could make it any better? Adding one of their flourless chocolate tortes to your order.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating.

For those looking to recreate the biergarten experience of Oktoberfest in Munich, nothing beats an evening out at Easy Tiger. There are currently three locations—one up North, one down South, and one on the East side—all of them spacious enough to accommodate your whole extended crew along one of many long picnic tables. And with a menu featuring both unique American craft beers and house-baked pretzels the size of a high school lunch tray, it’s truly a gluten-fiend’s dream.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating.

If you’re seeking quality non-alcoholic options or simply in the mood to double-fist an espresso and a shot of tequila, check out this cheery oasis’ pink picnic table-laden patio. Operating as a cafe and coffee shop during the day, it transforms into a lively spot for cocktails and grub come evening. Start with the Waiting for Coffman, a perfect blend of booze and housemade cold brew, alongside an order of cauliflower tots, which are so tasty you’re bound to forget the myriad ways cauliflower has been slowly replacing all our beloved carbs.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating.

The Roosevelt Room
The Roosevelt Room | Photo by Eric Medsker

Bar hop through the centuries at the Roosevelt Room, where delicious craft cocktails are categorized by era. Sip a Clover Club, a Prohibition-era favorite made with gin, raspberries, and lychee, while soaking up the sleek Gatsby-esque digs complete with warm lighting and dark velvet booths. This is where you bring the serious mixologist in your life for a celebratory night—the delicate bottles of atomizers and bitters lining the top of the marble bar are certain to captivate the senses from the jump.
How to book: Reserve via OpenTable.

Available for Reservations

Kitty Cohen's

Webberville

If you’re looking for a 1970s-inspired paradise festooned with portraits of Burt Reynolds, look no further than Kitty Cohen’s retro patio. Centered around a decorative mini-pool, the outdoor area provides the perfect backdrop for splitting a big bowl of gin- and Prosecco-spiked Key Party punch with friends—served, of course, from a vintage glass bowl and poured into a matching set of handled cups. Frosés and Aperol spritzes are equally enticing, especially while lounging beneath the green umbrella-stewn canopy.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating.

Rustic Tap

West Sixth

Even if your knowledge of the musical genre is limited to Dolly Parton’s greatest hits, it won’t stop you from falling in love with this country-western bar. Huge TV screens and tailgate-style chairs ensure gameday bliss, and as a proud hub for transplanted Louisianans, things get reliably rowdy whenever the Saints or Tigers hit the field. Regardless of pigskin preferences, however, everyone can get into the Cajun spirit with an order of Shrimp Po-Boys along with a signature Mexican Martini. Be sure as well to mosey on over to their website to check out the live music schedule, which they have every night of the week—well, that is, unless football is on.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating.

Kinda Tropical

East Seventh

Those who’ve never been to Kinda Tropical might initially pass right by it—the gritty exterior stands as an homage to the property’s former life as a gas station. Give it a closer glance, though, and you’ll be pleased to discover a gem of an open-air patio tucked away out back. In tune with the laid-back Texas vibes, standout cocktails include a mezcal paloma and the Paint it Black margarita, dyed jet black with activated charcoal. Vegan-friendly eats like Cuban yucca fries and a Jackfruit-based BBQ sandwich seal the deal.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating.

Stashed behind a long wall of ivy greenery like a secret garden amid the hustle and bustle of South Congress, the Courtyard Lounge at the Hotel San José is a verifiable breath of fresh air. It might be surrounded by hotel bungalows and a pool of glistening blue water, but rest assured that the lounge is a space all its own—a staycation without the extra hassle of finding someone to watch your pets, if you will. The team’s famous for their take on the michelada, where the classic combination of tomato juice, spice, and beer arrives tempered with a hit of briney soy sauce. Pair one with Japanese-inflected togarashi popcorn for a revitalizing East-meets-West combo.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating.

It’s amazing that Frazier’s Long & Low only opened about a few years ago, considering the deep sense of nostalgia that takes over the minute you stumble through the door. With wood-paneled walls and broad leather booths—not to mention shuffleboard, pool tables, and killer jukebox—it’s the kind of neighborhood dive where everybody knows your name. Get the full experience during weekend brunch, where you can order the aptly-named Fuckit Bucket, a mix of chicken tenders, pancakes with hot honey and syrup, breakfast corn dogs, and either a bottle or champagne or a bucket of beer to wash it all down.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating.

Haymaker

Cherrywood

If you’re looking for a quality sports bar, Haymaker has your back. TVs and large projection screens cover the space like wallpaper, broadcasting everything from football to international soccer to horse-racing. Other attractions include a ridiculous number of beers on tap (40!) plus a roster of gameday-appropriate comforts like poutine, Italian hoagies, and patty melts. And if you want to bring your dog to help cheer on your team, hit the pet-friendly patio, complete with its own set of flatscreens so you never have to miss a touchdown. Pro tip: Check their website to see which daily drink special will be running before you visit.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating.

the Little Darlin'

South Austin

Follow the bright blue neon arrow off of the road to The Little Darlin’, an unpretentious dive sporting a huge back patio bordered by string-lit trees. Any night of the week, you can find folks perched in oversized Adirondack chairs or posted up on porch swings, blissfully knocking back beers to a soundtrack of classic rock and soul hits. It’s equally fitting for a date, large group hang, or a lazy afternoon of basking in the sun solo. Don’t sleep on the food either—for such a low-key place, the bites, namely the carnitas sliders, punch far above their weight.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating.

Drinks Lounge

East Cesar Chavez

Impress your pool shark friends with a trip to Drinks Lounge, a haven for those who like their beers with a side of a break shot. Even if you have less-than-stellar hand-eye coordination, a live DJ spinning serious jams and an open-floor concept connecting the bar to an outdoor patio make it just as compelling. While they keep their cocktail menu fresh by changing it from season to season, the margaritas remains a popular choice for all the right reasons.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating.

A city institution since 1951, Deep Eddy Cabaret is basically “Keep Austin Weird” come to life. A true throwback to a time before music festivals and tech bros, expect no frills here—which is, honestly, a huge part of this joint’s timeless appeal. Settle in with a few 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 neighboring Pool Burger, and squeeze in a dip at nearby Deep Eddy Municipal Pool before or after for an idyllic Austin day.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating.

Nickel City

East Eleventh

If your version of heaven is a dive bar with an Elvira pinball machine and tiki cocktails—because, of course it is—head to this East 11th Street standout. There, you can order Painkillers based on your desired potency or just say “screw it” and request a full scorpion bowl of their exceptional Zombie. Accompany it all with some classic bar bites like sliders, wings, and Coney dogs from the onsite Delray Cafe. Regardless of which poison you pick, Nickel City has such a genuine, chilled-out atmosphere, you’re guaranteed to come back for seconds.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating.

Lustre Pearl

Rainey Street

Lustre Pearl is the OG of all the house bars lining Rainey Street’s day-drinking mecca and any loyal patron knows full well why it’s stood the test of time when so many others have faltered. In addition to challenging your crew to a game of cornhole, you can sip on an Asher Skye, a margarita with serrano-infused tequila, while watching the various citizens of Austin strut by with dogs in tow from the vantage point of their outdoor patio. What more could you want from a Sunday Funday?
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating.

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

Central Machine Works

East Cesar Chavez

Thirsty 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 fresh on tap. For those less hop-inclined, there are amazing cocktails like frozen espresso martinis to sip on while kicking back in the massive indoor-outdoor space (it used to be a factory for making airplane parts). The brewery is also known for hosting fun weekend events, so be sure to check their website for upcoming live music, yoga, and other community-friendly shindigs.
How to book: Reserve via OpenTable.

Available for Reservations
Molly Moltzen is a contributor for Thrillist.