Where to Watch the Tokyo Olympics in Austin

One nation. One team. Many, many bars.

Armadillo Den | Photo courtesy of Armadillo Den
Armadillo Den | Photo courtesy of Armadillo Den

Just recently, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga announced that there would be no spectators allowed at the 2020 (AKA 2021) Summer Olympics in Tokyo. While that may be a serious bummer to the athletes that worked their whole lives for such a special moment, the past year’s emotional rollercoaster has clearly taught us that sacrificing for the good of the group is always the best move. And, in this case, it actually creates somewhat of a cool opportunity for us statesiders—considering no one’s heading out to catch the games in person, it's more important than ever to get behind Team USA and make our rally cries so loud the athletes representing red, white, and blue will hear it clear across the Pacific. 

Here are some of Austin’s best venues for cheering on Dame Lillard, Megan Rapinoe, Bryson DeChambeau, Simone Biles, Bam Adebayo, Sue Bird, Alex Morgan, and whoever the hell made the artistic swimming squad with a cold one firmly in hand. And for the fifty Texan Olympians doing our state proud on the world stage, Lone Stars on us when you get back, y’all.

Austin Eastciders Barton Springs | Photo courtesy of Austin Eastciders Barton Springs

Austin Eastciders Barton Springs 

Zilker
Even if you haven’t been to Austin Eastsider’s Barton Springs location, you’ve probably already seen the ubiquitous cans of their signature products gracing the shelves of H.E.B., fueling paddle boarders on Lake Austin, or filling the cooler at your last tailgate party. Their actual brick-and-mortar, however, allows you to experience their crisp, complex, and locally made ciders and seltzers in a whimsical atmosphere with enough food options and big screen TVs to make Sam Kerr backflip for joy. You may not be able to bring home your own version of Olympic gold, but, with the release of their special edition Lemon Ginger cider flavor this summer, you can at least drink from a gold-colored can—no athleticism required. 
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating.

Gibson Street Bar | Photo courtesy of Gibson Street Bar

Gibson Street Bar 

South Lamar
While individual athletes might have a shelf-life determined by age, there are certain Olympic cornerstones that have persisted throughout the decades. Take the Opening Ceremony, for example, or the Olympic Village, and, typically, bizarre looking mascots. And in ever-changing Austin, Gibson Street Bar counts among those mainstays, a place that has survived the ebb-and-flow of a booming population while many other South Austin institutions have sadly fallen to the wayside. Considering the always joyous atmosphere, strong pours, fun theme nights (bingo on Wednesdays!), bounty of televisions, and delicious sandwiches by Luke’s Inside Out, we predict this spot’s torch will continue to burn for years to come. 
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating.

Shoal Creek Saloon | Photo courtesy of Shoal Creek Saloon

Shoal Creek Saloon

North Lamar
Tokyo might be a long way from the Big Easy (6,866 miles to be exact), but you can get the best of both worlds at Shoal Creek Saloon throughout this year’s Olympics. Any Saints fan already knows this is the spot to catch a game thanks to 31 TVs and some of the best Cajun cuisine in town. We’re talking fried catfish plates with hushpuppies, red beans and coleslaw, garlic shrimp, and, of course, their signature 16-ounce smoked pork chops, all washed down with one of 60 different beers and hard seltzers in stock. Don’t worry—you’ll only have to watch the 400 meter sprint after chowing down on all this, not run it. 
How to book: Call ​​512-474-0805 to reserve.

Loro Austin
Loro Austin

Loro 

South Lamar 
Sometimes you want all the feels (and big screen options) of a good old fashioned sports bar but more elevated menu options than the standard fried go-tos. Leave the soggy fries and lukewarm mozzarella sticks behind without missing any of the Summer Olympics action at South Austin standout Loro. The food here is the product of the brain trust between Uchi’s Tyson Cole and Franklin Barbecue’s Aaron Franklin—and it shows in everything from the smoked beef brisket with chili gastrique and thai herbs to the insanely snackable candied kettle corn. With TVs both inside the building as well as throughout their fabulously decorated patio, you can catch Katie Ledecky freestyle her way down the lane while swimming in your own meat sweats. 
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating.

Black Sheep Lodge | Photo courtesy of Black Sheep Lodge

Black Sheep Lodge

South Lamar
If you’re the type who can’t watch sports without your competitive streak making an entrance, head to Black Sheep Lodge where you can catch the Olympics while challenging your crew to a few rounds of pool, darts, and shuffleboard. Bar game champions may not receive the eternal glory of winning a medal for their country, but they can claim laurels in the form of one of the space’s famous half-pound burgers and a pint of one of the 26 beers they keep on draft. Adding to the victory dance is the spot’s Red, White & Blue drink special with Western Sons Vodka, a bargain-priced cocktail that gets cheaper and cheaper with every additional Team USA gold medal.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating.

Armadillo Den | Photo courtesy of Armadillo Den

Armadillo Den 

The Hollow at Slaughter Creek 
Living as far south as Slaughter Lane can sometimes make you feel like an incredibly small country’s woefully underfunded Olympic team. Just like the media all too often skips over ragtag underdogs, your friends are always dismissing your ‘hood when choosing a location for day drink hangs. But like a boozy Cinderella story, Armadillo Den has emerged as a frontrunner in drawing the crowds down south every weekend. Not only does it have plenty of space and TVs for you to take in the events, it also boasts a dog park, live music, food trucks, and every bar game under the sun—a winning combination for a good time if we’ve ever heard one. 
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating.

Haymaker | Photo courtesy of Haymaker

Haymaker 

Manor
Haymaker is like the Michael Phelps of the Austin sports bar scene — endlessly popular, a constantly winning experience, and someone you would probably want to share a beer with. And, with 40 beers on tap, you and Mr. Phelps could most likely get buzzed enough for you to even broach the time he was caught with a bong. Not to mention, almost ever corner of the consistently packed inside and outside of this bar is covered with TVs, which allows you to never miss a moment of the games — even if you choose to flex your own muscles by playing some pool or corn hole while watching. Add decedent comfort food, like poutine and croque monsieurs, and you have a time worthy of 23 gold medals.  
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating.

Lavaca Street Bar | Photo courtesy of Lavaca Street Bar

Lavaca Street Bar

Various locations
Golf, which debuted as an official Olympic sport at Rio 2016 and will return to run its second course (get it?) in Tokyo this year, has a lot in common with the many locations of Lavaca Street Bar. For starters, both are perfect for wasting hours chatting with friends over cold ones. And at Lavaca, gameday buckets—AKA five mix-and-match domestic cans and bottles—paired with round-the-bar views of dozens of flat screens, make it an ideal spot to sit back, relax, and debate with your friends whether or not Tiger Woods will be making a sideline appearance. 
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating.

Rustic Tap Beer Garden
Rustic Tap Beer Garden

Rustic Tap 

West 6th Street
Rustic Tap probably already ranks among your top game day destinations during NFL season, so you’ll feel right at home swapping pigskin for checkered leather here come Olympics time. A huge outdoor oasis sitting smack dab amid the hustle-and-bustle of West 6th Street, this popular hideaway is all about the sportsball, complete with deluxe versions of the tailgate-style chairs that takeover DKR Memorial Stadium’s parking lot each Fall. Spread the “Hook ‘Em” love by grabbing one of their Mexican Martinis and rooting for UT alumni Alison Gibson as she goes for the gold in women’s diving. 
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating.

The Park on South Lamar
The Park on South Lamar

The Park 

Various locations
Every Olympic relay team has a closer, the person they can count on to deliver the goods no matter how quickly those Russians seem to be gaining an advantage. And as far as Austin’s sports bars go, The Park gets that job done every damn time. With locations both up north at The Domain and over on South Lamar, you and your geographically divided crew have options, not to mention a full bill of divey favorites like locally sourced chicken wings and spinach artichoke dip—a clutch move after that second pitcher hits the table. They even have weekend brunch for those not wanting to miss out on those early morning start times (we’re looking at you women’s soccer). 
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating or reserve by calling your nearest location.

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Molly Moltzen is a contributor for Thrillist.