Midnight Cowboy (West 6th) – in the midst of the West 6th craziness, this under the radar cocktail spot requires reservations and only accepts parties under 8 people for up to two hours.
6th Street (West 6th), 512-843-2715
Parkside (West 6th)
Launderette (East Austin) – Located in a former laundromat, the food and drink are on point. Don’t miss the Birthday Cake Ice Cream Sandwich for dessert or their unique cocktails.
Whistler’s (East 6th) – Whisler’s offers more than first meets the eye. The small, intimate indoor bar gives patrons a chance to discuss their likes and dislikes for the perfect cocktail suggestion or custom cocktail, and the outdoor patio makes this a spot to occupy all night long. But don’t forget to head upstairs, because that’s where they keep the Oaxacan-style mezcalería, which pours one of the best selections in town.
Nickel City* (East Austin) – The newest member on this list, Nickel City opened in the summer of 2017 and quickly found a loyal following. Take a seat at the retro bar for a serious lesson in whiskey and brandy—they’ve got lots. Don’t ask for the cocktail menu, though, as there isn’t one. In fact, they avoid the term “cocktail” entirely, and simply call everything a “mixed drink,” offering up classics and originals using house made ingredients. The most incredible thing at Nickel City? The affordability. They’re proud to report that they don’t have a drink on the menu for which you’ll shell out more than a Hamilton.
Half Step* (Rainey Street) – This cocktail haunt believes in keeping it small—both the length of the cocktail list and the bar itself. The cozy bar encourages patrons to spend their time outside at the picnic tables or playing cornhole under bistro lights. The cocktail list is small but mighty, and features fresh ingredients and drinks that appeal to novices and pros alike. It’s the kind of menu not often seen from a bar with an outhouse… For all that, you can thank Half Step owner, Chris Bostick, formerly of The Varnish in Los Angeles—itself a great bar.
Small Victory* (Downtown) – This Downtown bar’s unsuspecting entrance gives you the idea that you’re walking into an overly curated hipster speakeasy. Luckily, the bar shies away from that and offers a respite from the antics happening a block away on 6th St. Small Victory keeps things high-brow with their custom ice program, but on the whole delivers well made cocktails and prides itself on delivering the perfect Martini, customized just the way you like it.
Las Perlas Mezcaleria* (West 6th) – Las Perlas Mezcaleria is the outpost for the LA concept that claims to be the country’s first true mezcal bar. Just a stone’s throw from East 6th Street, there’s a vibe that beckons agave lovers to sit back, relax, and enjoy a few glasses. The decor is brighter than expected in a mezcaleria thanks to an elaborate bookcase holding backlit bottles ripe for the sipping. Since mezcal is a slightly misunderstood spirit, they offer memberships to their Mezcal Collective, which offers monthly tastings for members.
Weather Up* – Take a seat at this vintage-inspired NY offshoot bar housed in a two-story house—inside at the gorgeous, copper top bar or outside on the spacious patio packed with metal lawn furniture. The cocktails at this unique haunt bring together new age spirits and old school classics. Weather Up’satmosphere and cocktail list are reflected perfectly by the bar’s penchant for showing Wes Anderson flicks on their movie nights.
The Townsend* (Downtown) – Another one of Austin’s downtown cocktail spots, this upscale bar is housed in a historic building that dates back to 1875. With a renovation that included a visit from an acoustician, the bar has a luxe feel and a performance space that features live music. Since one of the co-creators of NYC’s Employees Only has a hand in the Townsend, you know their cocktails and service will be on point. Expect classics alongside signature options to enjoy with their bar snacks during happy hour and late night alike.
Seven Grand* (Downtown) – Courtesy of the same hospitality group behind Las Perlas is this very impressive whiskey den. With 400-plus bottles, it’s a haven for bourbon, scotch, Irish, and everything else drinkers. But for those just starting their love affair with whiskey, Seven Grand offers the Whiskey Society program, which allows members to participate in exclusive tastings and visits with brand ambassadors. In case you don’t want to just sip straight spirits all night long, Seven Grand has a full bar for making plenty of whiskey (and not-whiskey) cocktails.
Garage Cocktail Bar* – We’ll say it… this is a hard spot to find. Tucked into a location that was once a small valet office in a parking garage, you’ll now find craft cocktails and a surprisingly haute cocktail list offering “custom,” “vintage,” and “refurbished” categories, because, you know, it’s in a garage. Since there are only 15 seats in the whole place, you can expect attention from the bartenders who will direct you to the perfect tipple, and with great efficiency.
Geraldine’s (Rainey Street) – On the top floor of the new Kimpton Hotel, this beautiful restaurant’s offerings are unique and delightful. The view is delightful, too!
G’Raj Mahal Cafe* (Rainey Street) – holy cow (get it?) … this place is awesome. It’s BYOB and it’s outdoors. Place your order for their Indian food at the food truck and it’ll be delivered to your table.
Perla’s* (South Congress) – this is a fancy-ish seafood stop. You’ll get distracted by the multiple fish tanks if you’re ADD like I am. Order extra hushpuppies and try to sit on the patio if possible.
South Congress Cafe* (South Congress) – they boast that they have the “best bloody mary in America”, and I’ll agree that it’s not bad. This is a great brunch spot, but be prepared for a short wait.
HopDoddy Burger Bar* (South Congress) – YUMMY burgers but the line is always pretty long. Get there late or early for your meal for less of a line. (Don’t miss the adult milkshakes!)
RESTAURANT SUGGESTIONS FROM LOCAL FRIENDS
Homeslice (South Congress) – An Austin staple. Good pizza (margherita is my favorite) It’s a smaller place but they have a togo place right next door. You can get slices and walk around S Congress if you wanted to.
Annie’s Cafe (Downtown) – French restaurant, a little pricier and yummy fancy drinks.
Backspace (Downtown) – Super yummy wood fired pizza. Very small and intimate, I wouldn’t go with a big group, but you can usually get a seat at the bar
Frank (Downtown) – this hot dog shop is anything but run-of-the-mill. Make sure you order the Chili Cheese Waffle Fries to go with your wiener.
Moonshine (Downtown) – Southern style “fancy” food but decently priced. Super yummy but usually crowded on weekends. Would be good for a nicer lunch.
Lamberts BBQ (Downtown) – don’t let the whole BBQ part of the name fool you … this place is fancy. Avoid their Old Fashioned with St. Germain, but make sure you eat all the things.
Searsucker (Downtown) – this is a laid-back hipster spot if I’ve ever seen one.
Coffee Bean* (various locations) – Because we don’t have one in Dallas anymore … Get the Ultimate Blended Hazelnut.
Wholy Bagel (South of downtown) – Best bagels I’ve had in Austin– guys from NYC, good for breakfast!
Taco Deli (3 locations: south, central, and north) – Delicious tacos … and the BEST tacos in Austin, hands down. Casual and only open for lunch.
Vivo’s ( 2 locations: central and north) – Their slogan is “better than sex Tex Mex” and they give every woman a rose after the meal. They have creative margaritas like cucumber and hibiscus (and they have flowers in them!) There is usually a wait though but it’s worth it.
Trudy’s (3 locations: south, central, and north) – Not the best Mexican food, but the best Mex Mart!
Clay Pit (Near the UT campus) – My favorite Indian food place in Austin (and my Indian coworkers favorite). It can get pretty crowded.
Sazon (South Lamar) – Interior Mexican, not fancy but delicious.
Hey Cupcake (Various locations, the original is on South Lamar) – this place has some of my favorite cupcakes anywhere. Its first location was an Airstream with a rotating cupcake on top. Don’t miss the frosting shots and the Michael Jackson
Polvo’s (South 1st) – Interior mexican food- definitely more of a dive but delicious food, salsa, and strong margaritas!