59 Best Bars in Austin, Texas

Broken Spoke

South Austin Fodor's choice

This legendary honky-tonk is touted as the last of the true Texas dance halls. If live country music and dancing are your thing, then two-step down to this venerable venue, where Old Austin lives (and dances) on. The classic haunt boasts live music (with world-famous celebrities like Dolly Parton and beloved locals like Dale Watson) and lively crowds almost every night, with or without SXSW.

Cactus Cafe

University of Texas Area Fodor's choice

For an intimate live music experience unmatched by any other venue in Austin, head to this café on the UT campus and get in line for tickets. Texas singer-songwriter legends such as Lyle Lovett, Robert Earl Keen, Patty Griffin, and Austin-renowned Bob Schneider have graced this tiny stage since the 1970s. It doesn't get much better than this.

Cap City Comedy Club

North Austin Fodor's choice

If you find yourself in North Austin, Cap City packs quite a punch with its stand-up comedian lineup. It's been the city's premier spot for stand-up comedy for over 35 years and regularly attracts world-class headliners and sold-out crowds, in addition to heaps of local talent showcased at weekly open-mic nights and at the club's annual "Funniest Person in Austin" contest.

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Deep Eddy Cabaret

West Austin Fodor's choice

Touted as Austin's neighborhood beer joint, this place has a true dive-bar atmosphere, complete with ice-cold brews, pool tables, and a killer jukebox. While not directly in the downtown scene, this music-heavy bar usually hosts a mix of bands during SXSW.

Donn's Depot

West Austin Fodor's choice

A hole-in-the-wall heaven, Donn's dance floor has attracted fans of Texas two-step, waltz, polka, honky-tonk, and swing since 1972. Tucked in an old train car just west of downtown, the Christmas decor–laden interior of this aging Old Austin beauty is as charming as its weekly lineup of local musicians. Don't feel like dancing? Belly up to the bar for some cheap drinks and complimentary popcorn while you watch everyone else groove. 

Elephant Room

Downtown Fodor's choice

Jazz fanatics hold court at this basement locale, named one of the top 10 jazz venues in the United States by the famed trumpeter Wynton Marsalis. A long-standing Austin venue, it's one of the reasons the town lives up to its Live Music Capital status. Though the Elephant's not a festival hot spot, the jazz staple always hosts its share of musicians during SXSW.

Esther's Follies

Sixth Street District Fodor's choice

There's really only one place in downtown Austin known for its rip-roaring comedy shows. Esther's has kept Austin rolling with laughter for more than 25 years. Reservations for their popular, award-winning variety shows are required. 

Hotel San José Courtyard Lounge

South Congress District Fodor's choice

It may be the hippest hotel in town, and the San José is also home to one of the best outdoor bars in the city. On nice days, grab a poolside patio seat and order a reasonably priced bottle of wine and the city-renowned cheese plate. Happy hour is all day on Tuesday. Year-round special events feature local bands, while weekly sets by a varied lineup of DJs can be enjoyed in the lounges. South By San José is one of SXSW's premier yearly events. The hotel, combined with Jo's Coffee, joins forces to showcase a huge variety of music in an outdoor setting throughout SXSW in the heart of South Congress. The event is free for passersby and open throughout the festival. 

Lustre Pearl

Rainey Street District Fodor's choice

This fun Rainey Street favorite within a charming Austin bungalow and attached courtyard is usually filled with patrons hula hooping or playing bar games. Lustre Pearl is one hot ticket during SXSW, always hosting some of the hottest free events and day parties of the festival (make sure to RSVP).

Midnight Cowboy

Sixth Street District Fodor's choice

An evening reservation at this diminutive cocktail club is an absolute must for craft cocktail lovers. The premises formerly housed an Asian massage parlor busted by local law enforcement for running an in-house escort service, and the club perpetuates a measure of mystique with a reservation-only policy and a low-key speakeasy-style entrance. (You have to press the buzzer marked "Harry Craddock" to gain access.) But the tableside cocktails are the main attraction, and for an intimate occasion with a couple of friends this is the perfect place for a nightcap. Reservations are available in two-hour time blocks and each table has a two-drink minimum.


Downtown Fodor's choice

By sheer force, this Red River District establishment is one of the best live music venues in Austin. With a cool, indoor indie-rock space complemented with a killer outdoor stage and the area's only rooftop deck and bar, these guys know how to throw a party. Expect serious jams and strong pours seven nights a week. "The Hawk" bleeds SXSW and hosts a festival within a festival.

Spider House Ballroom

University of Texas Area Fodor's choice

For over 25 years, this near-campus joint established itself as the perfect coffee shop escape for studying sessions or catching up with friends. Recently, the full-service bar and café has consolidated and changed up its array of offerings with its adjacent Ballroom space and transformed more exclusively into a live music and event operation, with weekly lineups of local music, theme parties, movie screenings, and stand-up comedy. Their bar still serves hip crowds of locals who can also dine at the on-site food trucks.


Downtown Fodor's choice

One of the city's most highly touted venues, Stubb's is owned by C3 Presents, which books many of the top shows in Austin (in addition to producing the annual ACL Fest) and also manages an impressive roster of nationally renowned musicians. This massive outdoor venue (and barbecue joint by day) hosts an impressive lineup in downtown's Red River District. It's one of the hottest SXSW tickets in town.

The Continental Club

South Congress District Fodor's choice

This is an authentic Austin original—and one of the city's signature live music hubs, drawing a hard-drinking, music-loving crowd every night of the week. The club hosts a variety of live acts but specializes in country-fused rock, like local favorite James McMurtry. The upstairs gallery maintains an exclusive jazz club vibe. A full spectrum of acts is always hosted here during SXSW.

The Driskill Bar

Sixth Street District Fodor's choice

The old-fashioned bar at the Driskill is where history is made, from heavy-hitter political and business deals made over a handshake to Austin Film elite sketching out their next big idea. (It's also the very spot where future president Lyndon Baines Johnson proposed to his wife, Lady Bird Johnson, in his early political career.) Rich fabrics, dark wood, and cowhide aplenty give this iconic bar a warm and cozy appeal. Patrons enjoy live piano music throughout the week on the classic Steinway, an amiable vibe, and stiff cocktails in true Texas fashion. This historic luxury hotel and hotel bar reside in the epicenter of downtown Austin, so a VIP SXSW scene is definitely on the agenda.

The Liberty

East Austin Fodor's choice

This East Sixth Street dive bar has a huge back-patio space filled with picnic tables. The on-site food truck, the original location of East Side King, is one of the most famous trailers in town. Grab a beer before hitting the town, or end up here for a late-night bite. The Liberty also provides a great place to socialize during SXSW with its hip east-side address.

The Little Longhorn Saloon

North Austin Fodor's choice

Looking for an authentic honky-tonk dive-bar experience? This Burnet Road haunt is an Old Austin favorite, though from the looks of the rather shabby exterior, you may not believe it at first. It's not glamorous, but the beer is cold and the service is friendly. Local music legend Dale Watson often takes the tiny stage here (there's live music every night), and the cast of regulars at this honored saloon is too good to miss. The claim to fame here is the riotous good-times had at the weekly Chicken Sh*t Bingo played every Sunday.

The White Horse

East Austin Fodor's choice

Cowboys, hipsters, and dancing queens mix and mingle with surprising ease at this honky-tonk for the modern age. The on-site food truck, Bomb Tacos, is open every day, live music is onstage every night, and newcomers can take free two-step classes before the main dance floor fills up. 

Tiki Tatsu-Ya

South Austin Fodor's choice

This immersive tiki bar is a melting pot of Asian, Hawaiian, and Polynesian influences that come together to create an adult Disneyland of delights. The drinks don't disappoint, but it's the theater and presentation that steal the show. Order fish-bowl–size drinks that serve four- to six people, try out an exciting cocktail that cues special lights and music when served, or take selfies behind the dry ice of your drink in your own theme booth. 

Austin Beer Garden Brewing Company

South Austin

A community beer garden of sorts—locals call it The ABGB—this collaboration of five friends operates as both a full-scale brewery and a beer grub restaurant and music venue. Throughout the year, they offer a rotating selection of craft beers in a wide variety of styles, including lagers, ales, IPAs, and pilsners. The outdoor backyard is shaded by oak and elm trees and is a perfect backdrop for evening rockabilly gigs featuring local artists. Enjoy crisp pizzas, an assortment of super-stuffed sandwiches, and salads while you sip a few suds.

Aviary Wine & Kitchen

South Austin

Once a delightful home-style shop by day and wine bar by night, the former Aviary Lounge's multipurpose design concept now focuses exclusively on wining and dining. The contemporary decor is still a lovely backdrop here, but the main star is the international wine list. There's rooftop space, too, for when the weather is nice, especially during the weekday happy hour.

Bar 508


It's three places all wrapped up in one—including Pelóns restaurant and Zorro bar—but this is where you’ll find much of the action later in the evening. It’s also a great spot to grab a preshow drink before heading over to Stubb's across the street or the Mohawk just two blocks down. The chic Mexican-inspired lounge has a mirrored ceiling, a cozy fireplace, and a classic bar menu of cocktails and beers, but you also have the luxury of ordering from the full dinner menu from Pelóns without having to leave your seat. Happy hour (5–7 pm) is one of the best in the city, featuring $2 Lone Stars/PBRs, $3 well drinks, $4 wine, and $5 house sangria and margaritas.


One of Red River's hotbeds of music, Beerland serves the punk music scene and brings an eclectic mix of artist to the forefront. Expect a thrashing of sounds and sights most nights of the week, and stay tuned to their lineup for SXSW.

Bouldin Acres

South Austin

This happy haven of food and fun, a "restaurant and drinkery" as it calls itself, has kept up a steady buzz since opening in 2020. There's a fun but fratty vibe here, complete with full-size pickleball courts and lawn games, an area for kids and dogs, a rotating selection of food trucks, and a full bar. Guests can order from the picnic tables on the outdoor Astroturf courtyard via a QR code. Gam-day watch parties attract crowds during UT football season.

Buffalo Billiards

Sixth Street District

If you're looking for the perfect place to sink an eight ball in the corner pocket, visit this lively 6th Street favorite among the UT college crowd. With a floor full of pool tables, the only thing you'll have to worry about is waiting for one to open up. Even when there's a wait, the foosball and air hockey tables can keep you occupied while you sip a cold brew. Being right in the mix on "dirty 6th," this popular bar should host a variety of music over SXSW.

Caffé Medici

University of Texas Area

Cain & Abel's

University of Texas Area

Things are always distinctly "fratty" at this wildly popular local haunt for college students and alumni alike right in the heart of the University of Texas campus. The crowds here on game day aren't for the faint of heart.

Carousel Lounge

North Austin

Opened in 1963, this north Austin haunt is one of the most adored, longest-running bars in the city. The unassuming dive looks like a gritty hole-in-the-wall from the parking lot, but it's a surreal circus inside. You'll find no-frills service amidst all the frills of the decor straight out of a Twin Peaks episode, from pink elephants and clowns to circus tents and fire-breathers. The decor is wild, the drinks are cheap, and the live music is classic honky-tonk. 

Cedar Street Courtyard


This place serves up a good time every night of the week, with live music from national and local bands. People love to catch the Spazmatics—a local '80s cover band—on Wednesday night as the courtyard becomes a playground after dark for revelers. Cedar Street offers one of the top SXSW showcases every year. RSVP and pick up your wristband early to catch a great lineup throughout the festival.

Cheer Up Charlies


This beloved LGBTQ-friendly dive bar and dance club on Red River offers a friendly pour (whether it's a Lone Star beer, biodynamic wine, or kombucha on tap) and serves as a great meetup point thanks to its open back patio and weekly live music and theme dance parties. With its location in the heart of SXSW madness, expect music showcases and music-lovers in droves during festival time.