No-frills, cheap and unconventional, dive bars are essential to the character of Austin. Check out our picks for the best haunts in town for drinking brews, chatting with locals and basking in the spirit of the city.Less
Named after a Johnny Cash tune, Mean Eyed Cat is an endearing joint with a sense of humor. With tributes to the I Walk the Line singer all over its walls, a pet-friendly outdoor patio, plenty of parties and live music events and Metcalf BBQ serving hearty meats next door, this bar has it all. Be sure to try the Mean Marg, a spicy take on the classic cocktail.
Nickel City is an award-winning stomping ground on the east side, known for its signature feel-good vibes. Guests can spend hours here enjoying the phenomenal drinks and satisfying their food cravings at the Delray Cafe trailer, which serves up delicious comfort meals like sliders and wings. We recommend Nickel City’s refreshing Frozen Irish Coffee on those especially hot Texas days.
A year-round Christmas-themed bar, Lala’s is a cozy and festive tavern nestled in the Crestview neighborhood. Since its opening in 1972, Lala’s has gifted bar-goers an everlasting holiday season with ubiquitous decorations, including Santa and reindeer perched on the roof, retro memorabilia on the walls and a fully decorated Christmas tree. Visitors are invited to take in some added cheer with their Christmas cocktails, including the Grandma’s Boozy Eggnog and Buddy’s Elf Fashioned.
Founded in 1951, Deep Eddy Cabaret is one of Austin’s oldest and most cherished watering holes. With a location near the lake, this rowdy spot is known for its friendly crowds and vintage decorations. Deep Eddy is also home to a pool table and jukebox, plus a number of TVs playing the best games.
Part music venue, part cocktail lounge and part dive bar, The Volstead is an East 6th gem located next to its sister bar, Hotel Vegas. A lively and creative destination, patrons can expect crowded nights for live music, DJ sets, karaoke, trivia, pop-up markets, drag brunches and mingling with new friends in the spacious back patio.
A North Loop neighborhood favorite, Workhorse is a more low-key haunt, filled with regulars of all ages and backgrounds. Situated amongst a slew of funky vintage shops, come spend a day in the area and stay for the cold beers and incredible burgers at Workhorse. The back patio is both smoker-friendly and dog-friendly.
Donn’s Depot is a honky tonk, piano bar, dance hall and unique gathering place that has served Austinites for over 50 years. Donn himself, who’s been with the business since the beginning, still gets behind the piano at least once a week! There is no shortage of energy at this funky joint, which is frequented by regulars who are actually from Austin.
Visit this South Austin neighborhood watering hole for a welcoming atmosphere. The beautiful and large yard area is a haven for drinking, bites, live music, games and tons of free and children-friendly events. Standonts on the menu include the Bloody Mary and Mac & Cheese.
One of the oldest bars on the constantly evolving East 6th Street, The Liberty remains a source of casual comfort for locals. Catering to a varied patronage, this treasured haunt invites visitors to hang around the pool table, bar or outdoor picnic tables for a chill time with their drinking buddies. In addition to the top-notch beer and cocktails, customers can order from the top-notch East Side King food truck for a taste of Asian fusion cuisine.
Barfly’s is a classic dive bar — a great and unpretentious place to unwind after a long day. All are welcome to relax in the laid-back, dark and gritty atmosphere, where bartenders are serving up a collection of amazingly priced beer and wine. Plus, there’s punk music on the jukebox, arcade games and pool tables. Smokers can also let loose on the patio.