Everything, including football season, is decidedly bigger in Texas. In Austin, gameday fever takes on epic heights thanks to the University of Texas, set in the city’s buzzy downtown. When UT’s beloved Longhorns kick off their season on September 3, many fans will ditch their couches for TV screens at an array of lively bars and restaurants, which include everything from an airy downtown rooftop to a historic German-influenced dive.
Though many spots serve up that faithful beer and wings combo, others pair brews and specialty cocktails with Irish pub grub, spicy Southwestern snacks, and New York-style pizza to fuel the fun. Here is OpenTable’s guide to Austin’s 12 best spots for watching football this fall—so book‘em (horns).
Upstairs at Caroline (Downtown)
Cozy vibes await at the rooftop bar at the popular Caroline restaurant in downtown Austin. The spot offers a mix of indoor and outdoor seating on benches, couches, and round tables. Enjoy football games here alongside a rotating list of specials served 4 pm to 7 pm daily, such as $2 tacos on Tuesdays, and $7 draft cocktails on Thursdays. The latter includes options such as hasta la guava, featuring Champagne, lychee, and guava juice and tipsy tamarind that’s made with pear vodka, tamarind syrup, and sparkling water.
B.D. Riley’s Irish Pub at Mueller (Mueller)
For game day action that comes with a side of delicious pub grub—fish and chips, shepherd’s pie—look no further than B.D Riley’s. This spacious bar has two 65-inch screens indoors along with three outdoor screens and plenty of seating. During gametime on weekends, and for Monday night football, check out the $5.25 drink specials that include bloody marys and 20-ounce pints of select beers. Free parking at the McBee District garage around the corner is an added perk.
Those scouting out a more low-key gameday hangout—Haymaker does not identify as a sports bar—should head to this charming gastropub. Poutine, the Canadian fries and gravy dish, is a highlight here as are the sandwiches such as a roast beef option, a croque monsieur, and a bratwurst sandwich with fresh sauerkraut and caramelized onions. There’s plenty of traditional gameday fare on hand too, such as the chicken wings and spinach artichoke dip. Wash it down with a large selection of craft beers and rotating drink specials including $4 frozen margaritas on Fridays and $4 mimosas on Sundays. TVs are spread throughout the space and there’s plenty of indoor and outdoor seating.
Indulge in both game and people-watching at the always bustling Corner (which gets bonus points for being dog friendly), a centrally situated bar at the J.W. Marriott Austin. Pick from an array of indoor and outdoor TVs; the restaurant’s patio, right on Congress and 2nd, is especially large and lined with ample lounge chairs and tables lending a vibe that’s almost clubby. In true Texas style—the bar is named after one of the points on the Lone Star, after all—the cocktails are always ice cold and the plates, which include shrimp and grits, braised short rib nachos, and four types of tacos, are especially hearty.
Toss Pizzeria & Pub-South 1st (Downtown)
New York-style pizzas and playful cocktails create a relaxed atmosphere at Toss Pizzeria & Pub. TV screens line the walls both inside and out, where customers can choose from pies such as a Texas barbecue brisket and pulled pork carbonara and pair them with drinks like the watermelon press with vodka, basil leaves and watermelon juice, and the loco margarita with pineapple juice and jalapeño-infused tequila. Toss serves $3 mimosas everyday and popular bar snacks such as garlic knots, waffle fries, and chicken wings with a slew of sauce options including a sweet and spicy sambal glaze and a bacon and ranch rub.
Doc B’s Restaurant + Bar – Austin (North Central)
This mini chain—which also has locations in Illinois and Florida—is a stylish and roomy hangout for all your sporting needs. The Austin outpost features leather booths and barstools indoors, and wooden tables outside, plus plenty of TVs for optimal game day viewing. Doc B’s menu leans fancy—think chimichurri steak and grilled California artichokes—but there’s also plenty of traditional comfort food including the cheeseburger and teriyaki chicken wings. The extensive bar menu spotlights a range of red and white wines, and cocktails such as the internal affair, which comes with tequila, jalapeños, and pineapple juice.
Scholz Garten (Downtown)
One of the city’s favorite destinations for football games also happens to be the oldest restaurant and bar in Texas. Scholz Garten, which has been going strong in one form or another since 1866 serves a popular mix of German beers and foods. Grab a hefeweizen or a dunkel and pair it with Scholz’s giant Bavarian pretzel, wienerschnitzel or currywurst. From 3 pm to 5 pm on Wednesdays through Fridays, the beer garden offers up a selection of appetizers, cocktails, and draught beers for $5. There’s plenty of seating both inside and out—not to mention the bar’s own bowling alley if you’re feeling extra competitive.
This elegant Southern bistro is located inside Hotel Ella, a charming boutique retreat with ties to the University of Texas. Football, which is screened at the adjoining Parlor Bar, can be enjoyed with the restaurant’s stellar plates such as wild boar dumplings and a wagyu beef burger, served on an artisanal sesame bun from nearby Dō Bakery. Reserve well in advance of home game weekends to partake in some decidedly swanky tailgating with drink specials featuring made-in-Texas vodka.
The Tavern (Downtown)
The Tavern, which opened for business in 1916 (its former avatars include a steakhouse and speakeasy) is an inextricable part of Austin’s bar scene. Fun fact: it was one of the first establishments in the city to offer air conditioning. These days, the German-influenced dive, complete with a large, dog-friendly deck, also stands out for its high-def TVs. There are over 30 screens to choose from and if you don’t see your game, the bartenders are known to accommodate requests. To all that, add a prolific beer menu and delicious pub fare—face off with a ghost pepper hot sauce-laced burger, or tackle a grass-fed patty layered with four slices of melted cheese.
Trace – W – Austin (Downtown)
The screened porch at this sleek 2nd Street District hotel bar at the W Austin, which gazes out onto a lush patio, is also equipped with a giant projector wall for showing games. Trace typically rolls out a special drinks lineup for football season, with themed cocktails such as the hail bloody mary, made with locally distilled small-batch vodka and the aptly named longhorn, a mix of lemon vodka and pilsner. Pair your sips with snacks like pulled pork tacos and roasted street corn.
Hays City Store (Driftwood)
In the early 1980s, Hays City Store, a short drive from South Austin, was a gas station slash convenience store. Thanks to a 2017 transformation led by owners Travis and Tamra Tindol, the bar and restaurant—known for Hill Country comfort food—now features an additional section lined with plenty of bar and cocktail seating, five TVs, a wood-fired pizza oven, and 40 brews on tap. If beer’s not your MVP, there are various margaritas in flavors such as strawberry, watermelon, and jalapeño cucumber. Note that Hays doesn’t take same-day reservations after 2 pm.
Stella San Jac (Downtown)
If you’re hoping to catch a football game but would rather skip the rowdy revelers, step into this chic refuge on the ground floor of the Westin Austin Downtown. Stella San Jac’s modern Southern menu, which includes bar bites such as deviled eggs, biscuits with honey butter, and lamb meatballs, is an all-rounder—the restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch from Friday through Sunday. Sit by the action-packed open kitchen, which promises a view that’s almost as exciting as what’s unfolding on the TV screens.
Tried them all? Check out other options here.