Austin Nightlife Best Bars
A Party Guide To This Party Town
The Texas coeds let loose on 6th Street in Austin.
When some people hear that word, they tilt their head back and laugh. (For they have been to Austin).
Others get wide-eyed and start to to dial up the airline to book a flight. (They, too, have been to Austin.)
There's more to places to meet people than 6th Street, so keep reading!
Still others start talking fast, saying things like, "South by Southwest!" "Lake Travis!" UT games!"
That's because Austin, Texas is a rockin' party town, and this is a party guide to Austin with a look – through words and pictures – at the nightlife and bars throughout the city.
6th STREET BARS
Action at The Aquarium, one of 6th Street's many lively bars.
The eyes of University of Texas students – and Austin tourists – are on 6th Street.
At first glance, a first-time visitor might assume they were blindfolded and placed on Bourbon Street in New Orleans. The reason being, there are bars on each side of the street for blocks, lined up next to each other like Longhorn football players on the sideline of Texas Memorial Stadium. (But instead of Lucky Dogs and Krystal burgers being consumed after closing time, here it's pizza slices and sausages.)
It's Texas-sized fun for these folks on 6th Street.
But oh, no, it's Austin. And on weekend nights, 6th Street is rocking, happening, as bold as Bevo. There are dive bars, live music bars, sports bars, hangout spots with balconies overlooking the madness below, and even a couple of swanky-looking lounges. There are rarely – if ever – cover charges, so bar hopping is as much of a ritual as tailgating before UT games.
There are more bars than the football team has blue-chip recruits, and it would be easy to simply recommend poking heads into places and leave it at that. But, much like Bourbon Street or any other heavily-populated bar area, some places are better than others.
The action heats up between 10:30-11, and goes crazy beyond even when the bars close at 2 a.m. By this time the street is blocked off to traffic and people wander about for a while, try that pick-up line one last time, look for their lost friends or get in line for a slice.
The scene at The Aquarium, minus a lovely coed on the bar.
The Aquarium is among the most popular spots, if not actually the most popular. There's not much to it, really, a long, narrow dive with ultra-cheap beers. Occasionally, a girl jumps on the bar and dances to the music. This goes great with the $1 bottles of beer on Thursdays. That's right, dollar beers.
That price is hardly exclusive to The Aquarium but it's worth nothing that once when PubClub.com was in there, a guy rolled up to the bar and bought a round with his credit card. There's a $10 minimum, so he had to order 10 beers, which was way more than he needed. So he started passing them out to passers-by, including PubClub (and thank you very much!).
There is an aquarium in the place, set into a wall, but it has neither fish nor water. What this place does have is true college bar scene and UT students ellbow-to-elbow enjoying cheap drinks and lively conversation.
Hey, mom and dad, I spent last night at The Library!
Looking down at students spending time at The Library at UT.
Next door is The Library. Every good college town should have a bar by this name so students can honestly tell their parents, "really, I was at The Library all night!"
This one has books, too. Well, sort of; that's part of the decor on the wall behind the bar. The Library also has $1 beers on Thursdays ($3 on weekends, plus $3 Long Island Teas on Fridays and Saturdays), an active main level and a balcony overlooking the whole thing.
Two places have second-level outdoor patios that are highly popular on nice nights (this can be anything under 95 degrees in Texas), Maggy May's and the Blind Pig Pub. Expect a wait to get upstairs.
The college crowd loves to dance in front of the huge screen at Maggy's.
The balcony of Maggy May's is big enough to hold a lot of fun party people.
One of the most popular places on 6th Street is Maggy May's patio.
Maggy May's has a large balcony and it needs it, for it's as popular at Colt McCoy. (It certainly ranks far ahead of Texas Offensive Coordinator Greg Davis at the moment.) People dance under a huge video screen playing music videoss and others spent thier night mingling on other parts of the roof. Drink, mingle, drink. Repeat. That's Maggy May's.
A few folks prefer the calmer scene downstairs with live music.
The far less popular downstairs area has a band playing in a room off to the side of the courtyard. Here, people sit at tables and a few folks get up and dance. Talk about a contrast to the buzzing activity upstairs. It's like the difference between playing Rice and OU.
People hang over 6th Street at the Blind Pig Pub as if it's Bourbon Street.
This is the weekend party scene on 6th Street at the Blind Pig Pub.
Students go hog wild over the Blind Pig Pub.
Texas used to end its regular season playing border rival Arkansas, whose mascot is the Razorbacks. If the Blind Pig Pub is a some kind of swipe at this swine we are not sure, but people do go hog wild for its rooftop balcony. The Pig is a long and narrow down-and-dirty bar at first glance, much like The Aquarium. But it keeps gong back, back, back, all the way to stairs leading to the previously mentioned balcony.
A more controlled place to observe the shanagans happening below on 6th Street is the third level of the restaurant/bar, Iron Cactus, directly across from the Pig. This is also an escape from the students, for the bar is more for 30+ year olds.
They let girls dance on the bar at the Dizzy Rooster.
Here's why people get dizzy at The Dizzy Rooster.
The above places are, for the most part, casual hanging drinking bars with nothing overly outlandish taking place. Not so at The Dizzy Rooster, which mixes in Mexico Spring Break with 6th Street sillyness. Girls (patrons, not hired dancers) dance on the bar, bartenders pour shots down people's throats and a DJ who must spend his springtimes in South Padre Island or Cancun amps up the fun factor.
PubClub.com got soaked in the place when a bartender joined the girls on the bar and started spraying beer on all the guys below. It was like being in the winning locker room of the World Series! One can certainly be dizzy when they leave this place.
Bikini's is a "sport bar with a view," meaning that it has girls as bartenders and waitresses wearing bikini tops. Beers here are as "expensive" as any place on 6th Street, meaning they start at $4.25, though there are daily specials on different brands, plus shots and mixed drinks.
The number of TVs in the place – including a couple of mega-screens – give the mostly-male patrons something to focus their eyes on other than the girls, at least during football season on Saturdays and Sundays.
It looks like Vegas in Pure, not Austin.
It's a really cool bar at Pure, different from other more basic places on 6th.
Pure is like going to Vegas without leaving 6th Street.
Pure is pure Vegas-style lounge. Without the Vegas lines, velvet rope, massive cover charge and over-priced drinks. In fact, it's like a friendly upscale-style lounge with VIP booths and a rockin' dance floor upstairs.
Bands play on the small stage at The Nickle.
People go to Touche for the Flaming Dr. Peppers. And Cheap drinks and good local bands can both be found at The Thirsty Nickle.
WEST SIXTH STREET
That's not Hook 'em Horns, but at least they're having fun on West 6th St.
For some, the party happen behond 6th Street, but not far, at 6th West.
For those who want to try out something other than the college bars well, then, just Texas two-step it down to one of the other many fine and fun areas of Austin.
West 6th, just two miles from the "other" 6th Street, is a very cool area with more than a half-dozen happening places. All are within a couple of blocks of one another so it's ideal for checking out a few places with just a few paces. This, as well as 4th Street, is primarily where those who have completed their college education go to play.
And here, too, beers are amazingly cheap. Yes, it a bit more dressy than the super-casual 6th Street, but shorts on hot nights are widely acceptable wardrobe.
There's a lot of star-looking people at the Star Bar on West 6th St.
An outstanding place to start is Star Bar. But be warned – it may not be possible to pull one's self out of this place to check out the other spots in the area. It's an upscale-looking lounge with a very casual attitude (and $4 beers) with a deck looking out onto the street and a fairly large patio in the back, separated by an area inside for standing and sitting. The people are in their 30s and up and dress well. You'll see some head-turners in this place.
The Kung Fu Saloon is simple but always crowded with fun party people.
As tempting as that place may be, another place awaits down the side street, Kung Fu Saloon. It's an odd name because the place is not some type of Chinese restaurant that turns into a happening lounge later. Rather, it's a happening lounge with Pac-Man and Space Invaders table video games, Skeet Ball, a small outdoor patio, DJ and $3 drafts, even on weekend nights. The place also has Happy Hour every night until 9:30 when the drafts are just $2, and they are also a deuce all day Sundays.
The crowd living it up at The Dogwood.
This is indeed it – the party spot on West 6th St.
The Dogwood is top dog for fun on 6th Street West.
The lively scene and atmosphere on 6th West Street is at The Dogwood. This place plays fun party music and has a fun, lively crowd to enjoy it. It's mostly an outdoor patio surrounded by a long bar, but there's an inside area with another bar, too. The energy and enthusiasm is prevalent everywhere, so it's not a "stand around and see what happens" kind of place, it's a "move around and make something happen" kind of place. Look for a small line after 11.
Bu wait – there's more! J Black's Feel Good Lounge is a plush lounge with a balcony overlooking 6th West. The Belmont is a nice restaurant with two patios that's known around Austin for its Bloody Marys. That's a big reason a lot of people come here for Sunday brunch.
Where's the beef? At night, Hoffbaru Steaks becomes a bar.
Hoffbaru Steaks is an outdoor bbq of a party – it's one of Austin's most iconic steakhouses – with a live band and a lively atmosphere when the dining is done.
At 4th Street, the places to hit are Fado Irish Pub, 6 Lounge and Lavaca Street Bar on Cedar Street.
AUSTIN ON THE WATER
This is a look at Lake Travis on Memorial Day Weekend.
It may surprise some people to learn that Austin not only has a river running through the city but two lakes within its boundaries. First, there is Lake Travis with its wild and wet summers and three-day weekends of Memorial Day and Labor Day spent largely with boats tied up at Devil's Cove and then onto Carlos 'n Charlie's. Plus, there is the multi-deck Oasis (rebuilt after a fairly recent fire) and its staggered sunset applause.
The deck of the Hula Hut is a hot Austin Happy Hour bar.
Partying – and party barges – are common sights at the Hula Hut.
Much closer to town is Lake Austin. And the place to party here – particular on weekend afternoons and for Friday Happy Hour – is the Hula Hut.
A paradise on a lake, the nautical/tropical-themed Hula Hut has a Tex-Mex restaurant inside and a second restaurant outside by the dam – a couple people have actually been sucked up into the dam and survived (this is a handy piece of information to bring up when conversations begin to stall).
But the party people flock to the bar on the dock. Thatched-roofed tables sit around a thatched-roof bar right on the water, boats pull up, people pile into the bar and the place just rocks. It's a casual conversation scene, not a wild dance club or anything, but is the kind of place where one or two drinks can seamlessly turn into several.
Yes, the Hula Hut is well worth checking out in Austin, and it's only a 15-minute cab ride from 6th Street or the UT campus.
SUNDAY BRUNCH ON 6th STREET
Feeling the need for a little hair of the dog after a big night out on 6th Street? Then head to Beale Street Tavern for its Sunday Brunch. It's $14.95 for an all-you-can eat buffet, but that's not the best part - bloody marys are $5, and mimosas are $1.50 a glass and $7 a carafe. The food consists of eggs, bacon, biscuits, fried chicken and a few other items.
Frankly, it's on a satisfaction level comparable to a win over Oklahoma State rather than A&M. But a win is a win, right? There's likely to be a band playing downstairs in a place that loves the blues and Elvis. Plus, Bikinis is right next door for those who want to catch sports and, well, bikinis, afterward.