The Best Bars in Austin

From the most design-forward cocktail lounges to a state-of-the-art brewery, from casual patio drinks to hotel bars with style, Austin’s drinking scene is on point. Grab a icy long-neck or a frosty margarita or an of-the-moment cocktail concoction, and taste the Texas spirit.

7020 Easy Wind Dr, Austin, TX 78752, USA
Owned and managed by a cooperative made up of its workers and the community, Black Star Co-op supports fair wages, sources its ingredients from local farms, and elects its governing board democratically. Sound strident? It isn’t: It manages to have a fun, laid-back atmosphere, and offers a range of house-brewed beers (and a few worthy brews brought in from outside the co-op) as well as a food menu that encompasses both healthy and wicked, both bar snacks and full meals.

4160, 242 W 2nd St, Austin, TX 78701, USA
There are a few locations of Jo’s, but the on South Congress has jus the basics from breakfast tacos to their signature i"iced turbo” and Belgium Bomber—more chocolate milk than iced coffee. It’s open until 9pm, so post up all day and get some work done, or stop by for something quick.
1209 E 11th St, Austin, TX 78702, USA
Hillside Farmacy is a farm-to-table restaurant in Austin built around a pharmacy theme. While it may sound odd, the execution is brilliant, with incredible food and wonderfully eclectic design. The restaurant space was formerly the home of a 1920s pharmacy owned by Austin‘s first African-American pharmacist. The decor features authentic apothecary items (from a different 1920s drugstore)—a vintage collection of medicine bottles, antique cash registers, tin ceilings, and wooden cabinets. But it’s the “F” in the deliberately misspelled Farmacy that nods to the emphasis on simple, fresh food. The restaurant works with local food purveyors and regularly changes the menus around the highest-quality seasonal ingredients. Local cheese, homemade pate, artisinal breads and pastries, raw bar, charcuterie are all available here. Dishes include bangers and eggs, buttermilk bisquits and gravy, and bison tartare. Other perks include an old fashioned soda counter and a shaded outdoor patio. If I were a local here, this would definitely be one of my favorite go-to places.
1950 S IH 35 Frontage Rd, Austin, TX 78704, USA
Part Tex-Indian restaurant, part brewpub, part music venue–Whip In is anything but ordinary. This former convenience store-turned-restaurant is where locals go for south Asian food with South Austin moods. This quirky stomping ground offers comfort food and a of 72 taps of curated, quality beer. Its house-made brand, Kamala Brewing, develops beers and ales that are specifically designed to complement the menu. Not a beer lover? Whip In has an exceptional wine menu too. All this combined live music and indie movie events make it a perfect hangout for travelers seeking an authentic Austin vibe. Image courtesy of Whip In.
1411 E 7th St, Austin, TX 78702, USA
Takoba Austin is a great East Austin hangout spot for brunch, dinner or simply drinks. A covered outdoor patio is perfect on a cool afternoon. Try the Michelada, which comes in a salt and lime-rimmed frosty mug, filled with tomato juice, tabasco and Mexican beer. Perfect with combo with chips, salsa and tacos. The verde de aguacate salsa is also worth trying—a mix of creamy avocado, jalapeño, tomatillo, onion & cilantro.
114 Linden St, Austin, TX 78702, USA
Lustre Pearl had me immediately upon entry, with the neon sign above the fireplace reading ‘ici tout est bon’ (here, all is good). The space is hugely appealing, especially the exterior with ping pong tables and rocking chairs galore. With bars both inside and out, it can accommodate a large crowd under those Hill Country stars. It’s in the heart of downtown and walking distance from the famed Sixth street. Make sure to have the Pearl on your list for your Austin sundowner hour.
4729 Burnet Rd, Austin, TX 78756, USA
Nothing accompanies a great pizza pie like a perfectly brewed pint of beer, and the folks over at Pinthouse Brewery have mastered this combo. The beer tanks lining the entrance will lure you in, while the smell of the perfect pizza, baked with fresh ingredients and creative combinations will have you running to the counter to place your order. Yes, there are also amazing salads and desserts, so leave some space for a some greens and a whole lot of sweetness.
1305 W Oltorf St, Austin, TX 78704, USA
ABGB carries some “Always” beers—which you will always find being poured here—and other “Sometimes” beers, which will come and go with the seasons, the fashion, and the whims of the bar staff. The menu, too, varies according to the mood of Chef Tim Stevens, and the meat and produce available from the restaurant’s local sources. You can trust that the foods pair nicely with the beers, too. Stevens leans heavily into beer-friendly pizzas, sandwiches, and shared plates. His deviled egg recipe, lifted from his grandmother’s kitchen, is the stuff of legend.
13187 Fitzhugh Road
The independent beer scene in Austin has exploded. Jester King Brewery, a 20-mile drive from downtown, takes advantage of the ample space and a pastoral setting at the edge of the Hill Country. The farmhouse brewery provides ample outdoor seating and space to roam while you sip through a stunning roster of naturally fermented ales, sours, saisons, and other frothy treats. There is also an on-site restaurant, giving you some much-needed sustenance to pair with your beverage.
4515 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78745, USA
“Everyone from the late blues musician Stevie Ray Vaughan to the Butthole Surfers has played at the Continental Club. Musicians who do big gigs in Austin like to play small shows here afterward,” says Liz Lambert.
11310 Domain Dr, Austin, TX 78758, USA
All things old-school are revered at this new North Austin bar, restaurant, and play spot—from bowling and shuffleboard to deviled eggs and spiked punch (the latter in a bowl, as the venue’s name suggests). It might sound like your grandparents’ idea of a fun Saturday night, but the local touches and “gastro-diner” menu make it fresh—think locally sourced chicken and waffles with chipotle pecan sorghum syrup. No self-respecting Austin bar would neglect to stock Texas microbrews, and you can order an Ugly Pug or a 1st Street Blonde and they’ll bring you a draft beer. Despite the arcade games and kid-friendly menu (assuming your kid enjoys waffles topped with cherry-thyme compote), it becomes all date-night couples and cocktail-sipping groups after dark. They open early for breakfast and serve late into the night, should you work up an appetite playing Donkey Kong.
More from AFAR
Sign up for our newsletter
Join more than a million of the world’s best travelers. Subscribe to the Daily Wander newsletter.
AFAR Journeys
Journeys: Europe
Journeys: Europe
Journeys: Europe
Journeys: Europe