This is by no means a comprehensive guide to bars in Austin, unless you trust the opinion of a pregnant gal on nightlife :). We did visit a few bars, and although I can’t comment much on the skills of their mixologists, I can tell you about the ambiance. And if you are interested in eating in Austin, check out this post. I can tell you a lot more about that!
Jo’s Coffee – We got coffee here every am, mostly because it was conveniently located right next to our hotel, the Austin Motel. Warning, tangent: It’s an old motel that has been redone (kind of). It was a great price and a perfect location, plus it has a really cool pool area. I think staying walking distance from the South Congress neighborhood is a must when visiting Austin. Plus, it is steps away from the gorgeous outdoor bar area of the Hotel San Jose, for only 1/4 of the price. Back to the coffee, it was decent, but we are pretty spoiled when it comes to coffee in Santa Cruz, with an abundance of coffee shops specializing in organic fair-trade coffees and with our very own, Verve Coffee Roasters, taking first place in the Southwest Regional Barista Competition (which is kind of a big deal in the coffee world). We didn’t love their coffee, but it was good enough that I didn’t bother seeking out a different coffee shop. The coffee stand itself is really cute, with an outdoor sitting area and live music.
brooke @ Jo’s Coffee
Hotel San Jose – The most perfect place to spend a sunny afternoon. They have a gorgeous patio, where they only serve drinks & popsicles (if they have any). You have to try the tropical sangria made with white wine and tons of fresh fruit – so refreshing!
Hotel Saint Cecilia – Also walking distance from the Austin Motel. I wasn’t as impressed with the outdoor area, as I was with its sister hotels (Hotel San Jose). However, their bar area is beautiful. Super swanky, dark, sultry… A great place for evening cocktails. The grounds itself were also lovely, it is located on a secluded estate in the South Congress neighborhood.
Clive Bar & Rainey Street – We loved this place. We went here after dinner the first night that we were in town. The husband had some drinks, while I sipped on a soda water. The interior & exterior design were beautiful, it had a western feel, but very polished. The outdoor area was really cute and rustic. We didn’t get any good photos since it was so dark in there, but you can see some here. Clive Bar is right off Rainey Street, which is a great little neighborhood off the beaten path to go bar hopping. We just walked around and peeked into the bars. They were all very cool. It’s pretty trippy, old bungalows have been transformed into bars and lounges, but they still look like houses. It feels like you are just walking into someones house. Across from Clive Bar, is an Indian food truck. This is not the type of food truck you are imagining, the setting looks like it is straight out of a Sunset Magazine photo shoot. It was so cute! It was packed at 9PM when we walked by. Seemed like a really fun atmosphere, lots of groups of people sitting outside, enjoying a meal, drinking and chatting. I’ve heard that they have lots of gluten-free options too. Oh and it is bring your own alcohol.
East Side Show Room – I wrote about this place in the dining post, but you can go here for just drinks and live music too. We loved the ambiance, beautifully decorated with a very old timey feel. Feels like you are in a speakeasy or a burlesque cabaret in the 20s (at least how I picture those places would have looked).
Horseshoe Lounge – We actually didn’t make it here, but we really wanted to. We are also kind of suckers for a good dive bar and we are HUGE fans of Slaid Cleaves (he mentions this place in several songs). If you don’t know Slaid (& no he isn’t Gretchen’s bf from Real Housewives of OC), check him out, he is a singer/songwriter/storyteller/country musician from Austin. I think Stephen King’s quote is the best way to describe Slaid’s music, “I’m glad I found Slaid, cause my life would have been poorer without him”. I couldn’t agree more. He wasn’t playing any shows while we are in Austin, but if you catch him, it would be a real treat!
The White Horse – We didn’t make it here either, but I was really intrigued by the descriptions I heard … Honky Tonk meets Hipster. We’ll check it out next time were in town, when I can actually enjoy a cocktail or two!
Threadgill’s – We actually didn’t make it here either. There weren’t many shows going on in Austin while we were in town, since it was immediately after sxsw. The food didn’t look particularly appetizing, but seemed like a fun place to see some live country music in the Southwest.