Austin, Texas is by far that state’s most celebrated city for amazing nightlife, and if your idea of a good time includes tipping back a few beers, cocktails or glasses of wine, Austin definitely has you covered. Texas’ state capital is also the entertainment capital of the state, featuring great bars, pubs and lounges in every quarter of the city. From gritty dive bars, to sports clubs to quiet wine lounges, you can always find just the right bar with the type of crowd you are looking for.
In the following article we will highlight a handful of Austin’s great bars, including a description of the characteristics and amenities of each destination and the type of fun to be had at each.
As the name of the first bar on our list may suggest, Barfly’s is the quintessential dive bar, one of the most popular of its kind in the city of Austin. Barfly’s has all the necessary ingredients to qualify as a dive bar: incredibly inexpensive beer and drinks that are generously poured, sparse surroundings, and a mostly blue-collar crowd that certainly knows how to have a good time.
Among the many great characteristics and amenities of Barfly’s are the friendly and amiable bartenders who never forget a regular’s name or drink order; an amazing, internet-powered juke box with every song under the sun; a foosball table, several pinball and arcade-style games; and a wonderful outdoor patio area where the smoking patrons can take a few puffs among friends. The crowd, many of whom are known to roll dice for the honor to buy the next drink, is warm and welcoming to outsiders and always quick with a joke.
Barfly’s has a fully stocked bar and some scrumptious signature cocktails, including their very own concoction known as the Happy Meal—a shot of Jaegermeister dropped into a cold pint of Lonestar Beer.
The Midnight Cowboy is one of the most unique bars in Austin and definitely worth a visit if you happen to be touring the city. Located at 313 E. 6th Street, known familiarly as “Dirty 6th,” the Midnight Cowboy features an air of exclusivity and a Prohibition Era-theme. As such, you won’t find any directions or signs pointing the way to the Midnight Cowboy. Instead you will need to call for a reservation, at which time you will receive directions and a code for the buzzer—which is changed every night.
Once inside the Midnight Cowboy you will find a lush speakeasy-style lounge, with a piano and a horseshoe-shaped bar, as well as comfortable booths and chaises spread throughout. The bartenders at the Midnight Cowboy are some of the best in Austin; and they have been known to mix customer drinks right at their table with the help of a rolling cart and only the finest in fresh ingredients. The Midnight Cowboy can only accommodate about 80 people per night, so be sure to call early in the day for your reservation and code.
The Austin bar known as Shangri-La is a favorite among locals, particularly among students from the nearby university. This comfortable and often eccentric bar is the type of place where customers are known to spend hours each week, as it doubles as both a bar and a place in which friends can catch up with each other. As you might expect from a watering hole that caters to younger drinkers, Shangri-La has several Hi-Def televisions spread across the large bar, where guests can keep up with their favorite teams, several bar-style pool tables, video games and pinball machines, a wide open outdoor patio that can accommodate over a dozen revelers and plenty of other amenities that tend to lure the millennial crowd.
Shangri-La is open seven days a week; and on weekends the joint opens up a second bar to accommodate the large influx of students and out-of-town visitors.
The Library Bar
Don’t let the name of this next pub fool you, the Library Bar is anything but quiet. And when the locals tell their friends they are heading to the “Library,” there is never any doubt where they are actually going. Like the Shangri-La, the Library Bar caters mostly to the collegiate crowd, and is especially fun on weekend nights. Here beer flows from over 20 taps, pouring both domestic and imported brews, including a great selection of local craft beer. Beer and drink prices are reasonable to match the budget of these starving students, and with several pool tables, the place is always whirring with conversation and the sound of billiard balls crashing into each other. This is definitely a comfortable place for a date night or for just hanging out with friends.
Yellow Jacket Social Club
Located at 1704 E. 5th Street, the Yellow Jacket Social Club is a rustic bar with a warm and welcoming vibe and straight-to-the point, no frill drinks that are always poured generously. Its interior is essentially a modern version of an Old-West saloon, with plenty of wood beneath and overhead, reclaimed timbers, railroad spikes and steel, and swinging wooden doors. The bar attracts people of all ages, mostly the blue-collar crowd, who can still be found wearing their uniforms after a hard day’s work.
The full bar is stocked with all the regular booze that’s been enjoyed for years throughout Texas, and a great selection of domestic and imported beer. The Yellow Jacket Social Club also serves a great menu of food and snacks, and we recommend their mouth-watering Cuban sandwich…you won’t be sorry.
Dog and Duck Pub
The Dog and Duck Pub is a British-style pub that would make all Englanders feel right at home. Serving up some of the best drought pints in Austin, the bar is always hopping with excitement and great conversation. The long and fully-stocked bar is located at the front end of the room, while pool tables, dartboards and a great jukebox grace the back end. Live music is played about once a month on the small bandstand area, and the food, styled after genuine British pub grub, is simply to die for.