Dirty sixth is often touted as the best place to bar hop and get lost in the vibes of Austin eccentricity. Keep Austin weird turns into the weirdness of a drunk homeless man spitting in your beer and saying he made your drink holy. IT has a high to it and you will get hit on so much that your confidence will soar and then dwindle into the euphoric rut of delicious regret.
So let’s avoid sixth street and talk about where in Austin has delicious cocktails, atmosphere, and no dark alleys.
Once you arrive at Fukumoto and twirl delicious seaweed salad into your mouth to prepare your body for booze you can turn around to see Ah Sing Den, a cocktail parlor that has roots as the original cocktail incubators in the city. The plush couches and dark intimate vibes will make you feel comfort all the way down to your bones. From here you will find high-end delights, such as Suerte and genuine classics like Whisler’s which features a Mezcal bar and the famous food truck East Side King.
East Side Highlights: Several food trucks surrounded by intimate or large cocktail lounges with plenty of unique drinks to whet your spirit. Ramen Tatsuya for feasting or 1606 E 6th food truck part and Whisler’s for cocktails.
Consider Rainey to be the slightly older sexier sister to sixth. Completely legal and all of the fun. Unlike Sixth street, Rainey has a flair of younger crowds that seem as if they’ve discovered their parent’s basement and decided to party without their knowledge, whereas the basement is a quaint street full of architecturally unique designed buildings in two strips flourished with “please, come in” vibes and the parents are the rest of Austin wandering what happened to it’s cool and young and hip patrons. The deal with Rainey is that it’s what sixth street was 25 years ago if it was built in the Florida Keys and every weekend is spring break. Yes, it can be a little much and it’s always a fun trip to go from Clive Bar or Icenhauer’s. There are so many chill places if you want to escape the madness and plenty of bars to stroke the madness.
With the unfortunate demise of Blackheart and all their good brews and raw and fire music that was played in the back of the house, there is still Craft pride which holds the most incredible variety of beer within miles, wide open space in the back with a private pizza truck and the wood designs in-house reminds one of being in a nordic hipster village. One other spot that is too far out not to check out is the Container Bar. Also, a good selection of beers that go down easy while perusing the metallic wonder made almost entirely of shipping containers.
Also on Rainey is Half Step which was recently named one of the top 24 bars in the USA. They use only a handful of ingredients and are dedicated to simplicity.
Rainey Street Highlights: Icenhauers for vibes and Hotel Van Zandt’s Geraldine’s or Emmer & Rye for small incredible bites. Graj Mahal and the food trucks for feasts.
Downtown is still an adventurous maze of entering a bar and suddenly feeling like you are back in another time or another place. Each bar has its own unique vibe and signature drink. Jazz finds life in The Elephant Room, which is in a basement. The Roosevelt Room features classic cocktails in a prohibition bar setting, and The Townsend has one of the best music scenes inside a bar that you can find. Peche is very near Congress and is a favorite of mine as the bartenders climb ladders to reach your absinthe and their happy hour is stellar liquid bliss. If you are looking for vodka with 100 infused flavors you can head over to The Russian House. A shot is even given as a welcome gift, comes with many dishes and can be served with caviar.
Congress Highlights: The Elephant Room for music and Peche for unique absinthe drinks that are occasionally lit on fire.
The Domain is like the clean version of downtown with tons of normal looking people in suits and T-Shirts. You are not going to get a shutdown street with performing artists and topless women, but you do get a chill environment with electric levels of excitement and an Austin level food scene that is only growing. Sway, East Side King, and Cru Food and Wine bar have already opened locations there, as well as Second Bar and Kitchen. All feature incredible food with local sourcing and have alcohol menus that were far more than a side thought. There is Italian food, Thai food, burgers, bowling and even Top Golf at the Domain. Juiceland is opening a location there so you can have a juice shot in between the regulars to detox.
Highlights: Punch Bowl Social for games, Culinary Dropout for food and Lavaca Street bar for beer and seafood.