It’s not Austin City Limits or any of the bars on downtown’s main drags. Right now, it’s the booming East Side.
On the far side of Interstate 35 in East Austin, a new neighborhood has sprouted—and with it our pick for the greatest live music experience in the city.
Head over to the East Side early (it’s a 10-minute cab ride from downtown if you don’t want to elect a designated driver) to grab some food. Paul Qui is unofficial Austin culinary royalty, and his aptly named food truck, East Side King, is parked in the Liberty Bar’s backyard. Qui’s signature is high-minded comfort food— beef tongue buns and beet fries—that goes perfectly with a canned beer from the bar’s extensive list of international brews.
From there, it’s a two-minute walk down Sixth Street to the main draw: White Horse Tavern. A honky-tonk with a city crowd, it’s the only place we know where Texans do-si-do in cowboy boots, skinny jeans, and Obama tees to old Conway Twitty and Johnny Cash songs.
On Saturdays, instructors give classes on how to do the two-step, and most nights, you can catch three acts back to back. Every night, though, you’ll find the doors open. It’s seven rounds a week of honest-to-god great country performers playing their hearts out.
This appeared in the March/April 2015 issue. Photo of White Horse Tavern by Matthew Johnson.