Fathom Favorites : Austin Bars + Cafes

1. The Townsend

The Townsend

In the front, it's a classy and elegant bar. In the back, it's one of the best acoustically sound rooms for seeing live bands. Original cocktails from Justin Elliott are on-point! It's a great place to stay from happy hour through closing. Hot chicken is a must.

718 Congress Ave. #100
Austin, TX 78701

2. Half Step

Half Step

This shining gem of a cocktail bar on bustling Rainey Street is the sister restaurant of world-renowned Varnish in Los Angeles. Created by Austin native Chris Bostick, expect a concise list of drinks alongside local bands through the week. While you're in this hood, drop by other classic bungalow bars like Lustre Pearl, Banger's, Icenhauer's, and No Va.

75 1/2 Rainey St.
Austin, TX 78701

3. Small Victory

Small Victory

Tucked away on the second floor of an office building, the bar is local bartender Josh Loving's first solo venture. The meticulous approach to classic cocktails, served in an intimate space, exists outside of time and makes it easy to forget the world's troubles.

108 E. 7th St.
Austin, TX 78701

4. Péché


One of the first classic cocktail bars in Austin and a longtime breeding ground for many of the city's best bartenders. Along with hearty food, Péché easily claims the largest curated liquor selection in town.

208 W. 4th St.
Austin, TX 78701

5. Elizabeth Street Cafe

Elizabeth Street Cafe

By morning it's a Vietnamese coffee house, by night, a cocktail spot (try the Red Dragon with beet-infused sake or coconut milk punch). Fill the belly with a banh mi or spicy noodles.

1501 S. 1st St.
Austin, TX 78704

6. Mean-Eyed Cat

Mean-Eyed Cat

It used to be a chainsaw shop and there are still signs on the wall advertising blades. But don't let that scare you. These days, it's a bar...no, make that a shrine to the late, great Johnny Cash.

1621 W. 5th St.
Austin, TX 78703

7. Curra's Grill

Curra's Grill

The self-anointed Mother of all Mex gets raves for its authentic and remarkably cheap food. But the best thing is the avocado margarita: Yes, an avocado margarita. It's the marriage of good fat and good tequila. Sounds gross, tastes incredible. You have to try it. Then have camarones campeche or enchiladas con chile colorado and die happy.

614 E. Oltorf St.
Austin, TX 78704

8. Dry Creek

Dry Creek

A two-story beer shack atop Mt. Bonnell is the best place to drink suds and listen to Johnny Cash on the jukebox until sundown (when they shut down). It's open seasonally and the telephone doesn't always work, so you'll have to make the drive to scope it out.

4812 Mt. Bonnell Rd.
Austin, TX 78731

9. Butterfly Bar

Butterfly Bar

Three blocks of Manor Road are dense with bars and restaurants, so just spending the evening there will be a mini-getaway. Hidden behind a big wooden wall, the Butterfly Bar is attached to a little theater called The Vortex, and Patrizi's truck is parked outside. Get the cacio e pepe pasta with a coddled egg.

2307 Manor Rd.
Austin, TX 78722

10. The Lost Well

The Lost Well

A beloved downtown punk rock dive bar brought back to life. The also beloved-but-displaced-for-development Dog and Duck British-style pub is now right across the street. And for terrific sandwich and brew, Gourmands is right next door.

2421 Webberville Rd.
Austin, TX 78702

11. Firehouse Lounge

Firehouse Lounge

Across the street from The Driskill, enter the hostel in a circa-1885 fire station and open the library wall to find a hidden lounge and music venue.

605 Brazos St.
Austin, TX 78701

12. Güero's Taco Bar

Güero's Taco Bar

If you're lucky, Della will be working. Say hello and ask for a table outside on the patio for the best people-watching. Order the official drink of Austin, a tasty margarita — frozen, shaken, straight up, any way you like it — and watch the ecletic townfolk go by. Don't miss the chips and salsa bar; you need something to absorb the tequila.

1412 S. Congress Ave.
Austin, TX 78704

13. King Bee

King Bee

A local favorite with one of the best mezcal selections in town, creative pizza, and a neighborhood vibe. The mirrored doors are a tip-off to cocktail bar neighbor Dozen Street.

1906 E. 12th St.
Austin, TX 78702

14. Midnight Cowboy

Midnight Cowboy

A reservations-only speakeasy on "Dirty 6th" has a non-descript door and a buzzer to get you in for tableside cocktailing in little booths where, until a few years ago, massages (ahem) were dispensed.

313 E. 6th St.
Austin, TX 78701

15. Hard Luck Lounge

Hard Luck Lounge

An enclosed beer garden and bar with its own little compound away from it all. Southern food with a global flare from the Lady Luck food truck will help with the hangover.

3526 E. 7th St.
Austin, TX 78702

16. The Aristocrat Lounge

The Aristocrat Lounge

Also referred to by its old name, The Poodle Dog, this dive is dark and filled with regulars playing Skeeball, but offers craft cocktails and a great selection of mezcal. A special cocktail menu goes with Southern delights from Three Little Pigs outside.

6507 Burnet Rd.
Austin, TX 78757

17. Whisler's


Rustic craft cocktail bar downstairs, cozy Oaxacan-style mezcalería upstairs, Paul Qui's East Side King Thai-Kun outside. And live music almost every night.

1816 E. 6th St.
Austin, TX 78702

18. The Liberty

The Liberty

Austin has food truck lots all over town, and there are plenty parked at dive bars. Head straight to the backyard, where everybody is very drunk, having converged for cans of Pearl Snap German Pils and, more dramatically, to line up at Top Chef-winner Paul Qui's East Side King truck for a plate of WTF-good chicken karaage and crowd-favorite deep-fried roasted beets dusted with shichimi and dressed with kewpie mayo.


1618 E. 6th St.
Austin, TX 78702

19. Easy Tiger

Easy Tiger

Bake shop and beer garden, a winning combination. Play table tennis by the creek, and pair your craft beer with a homemade pretzel and beer cheese.

709 E. 6th St.
Austin, TX 78701

20. Jo's


A beloved local institution where you'll find an eclectic mix of artists, techies, musicians, and politicians getting a start to their day with a caffeinated beverage and a breakfast taco. It's also where you'll find the original "I love you so much" mural, so you know it's Instagram-approved. 

1300 S. Congress Ave.
Austin, TX 78704