It's Worth Getting Sloppy For This Grilled Cheese Taco
La Condesa is the place to go if you're looking for traditional Mexican flavor with modern Austin flair. The menu, offering up handfuls of tortas, taquitos, combos, and a few other staples, is shorter than most, but there's an obvious preference for quality over quantity at this Downtown restaurant. Tacos strewn with red pickled onion, cilantro, and guacamole make the ideal warm-up round before hitting the bar, where tequila and mezcal reign supreme in customizable flights.
Icenhauer's is a casual Rainy Street suds spot, a two-roomed affair given a living-room vibe via wood walls, a chandelier made out of wine glasses, and vintage lime-green/cream-colored furniture. There's an extensive drink menu featuring infused liquors and seasonal drinks. Look out for live music nights and chicken and waffles on Sundays.
Jack Allen's has nightly rotating specials of locally sourced additions to their usual menu, but also make sure you stop by for their brunch, or even just to try a cocktail, like the Cucumber Jalapeño Rita, with Tequila, St. Germain, muddled cucumber, fresh jalapeños, simple syrup, and fresh lime.
Consciously attempting to recreate the European art of mixology that was largely lost in America as a result of Prohibition, Peche is a genuine cocktail paradise, and it's the only place in Austin that you can experience absinthe "in its true form".
Just a few blocks from the mansion where another famous W rested his head as governor, the W's Austin branch has helped define the downtown 2nd St District, serving as a magnet for more youthful out-of-towners. Their WET Bar offers poolside sips and its Living Room Bar and TRACE has a menu that is updated frequently with new cocktails.
This is not your average barbecue joint. Freedman's has a patio and outdoor beer garden that offers a variety of brews on tap as well as a retro soda shop-inspired cocktail list. If you're not a fan of the throwbacks, the $3 tacos, tamales and whiskey of the month happy hour should entice you. Check out this vintage-y, saloon style spot near UT for rollicking night out on the town.