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Austin’s 8 favorite bars

A photo of Red logo
by Claudia Alarcón
Updated December 15, 2023

Austinites are all about supporting their local watering holes and have a go-to for every occasion, whether it's a special date night or a casual hangout with friends. Luckily, this eclectic and creative city has a bar scene that aims to please.

A James Beard Award winner serves Oaxacan snacks and mezcal at a marble-top bar in South Austin. A funky homage to all things Texan—and the birthplace of the now ubiquitous Ranch Water cocktail—holds court downtown. In East Austin, a divey pub that embodies the city’s signature unfussiness is also home to one of the most dog-friendly patios around.

There’s a drinking place for revelers of all stripes in this quirky Texan town. Read on for a guide to Austin’s best bars to book right now.

A photo of The Roosevelt Room restaurant
4.8 (1205)
$31 to $50
Cocktail Bar
About the restaurant

When you’re seeking an extraordinary bar experience, look no further than this low-lit sexy lounge. The Roosevelt Room has an award-winning program that includes drinks from essential periods in cocktail history alongside innovative signature drinks—bonus points for an innovative alcohol-free selection which includes The Castaway, made with mint, cucumber, cream of coconut, and more. Happy hour happens daily from 4 pm until 7 pm and features discounts on classic cocktails, beer, wine, and bites such as rosemary parmesan popcorn and chicken liver mousse crostini. The luxe atmosphere and attentive service appeal to both large parties and couples on date night, so reservations are highly encouraged.

Top review
Dined on Apr 10, 2024
Delicious cocktails, limited food menu. Cool vibe, tho quite dark. Recommend reservations and you should definitely go!
A photo of El Naranjo - South Lamar restaurant
4.8 (1083)
$31 to $50
Traditional Mexican
South Austin
About the restaurant

At this modern South Austin spot, chef Iliana de la Vega—winner of the 2022 James Beard Award for Best Chef: Texas—serves her widely acclaimed Oaxacan food. Dig into fresh ceviches, empanadas, and not-to-be-missed mole, which takes three days to prepare. The horseshoe-shaped marble-top bar offers a comfortable and casual space for sipping a good selection of mezcals, tequilas, and cocktails (locals love the pineapple mezcaliña, brightened with muddled serranos and basil) in a classy yet convivial atmosphere.

Top review
Dined 5 days ago
Chef Iliana de la Vega is deserving of the 2022 James Beard award. The food at El Naranjo is superb & the service is excellent. Many thanks to the Dustin, the manager of El Naranjo who gave us a guided tour of the artwork after our delicious dinner. Jerry is a wonderful & attentive server.
A photo of Bar Peached restaurant
4.7 (1409)
$30 and under
About the restaurant

Those craving a serene drinking experience come to this Austin favorite, housed in a historic Clarksville bungalow. Bar Peached serves Asian-inspired snacks—banh mi tacos, wasabi salt-dusted edamame, and crispy potatoes with miso chile crema—paired with a fine selection of beer, wine, and signature cocktails, with excellent specials during its daily evening social hour. The covered dog-friendly patio under a heritage oak is a lovely spot to while away an afternoon or evening. Pro tip: go on Wednesday for bulgogi-marinated steak and frites night.

Top review
Dined 6 days ago
The cutest restaurant with lovely decor and delicious food! Went solo but wish I could try everything on the menu. Staff was amazing and so friendly!
A photo of Aviary Wine & Kitchen restaurant
4.6 (249)
$31 to $50
Contemporary American
South Austin
About the restaurant

Don’t let the simple façade fool you—this casual South Austin spot boasts one of the most unique and adventurous wine selections in the city, plus craft beer and cider with an emphasis on local offerings. Curated by beverage director Alex Wheatley Bell, the wine list is divided into categories named after famous actors and musicians, including David Bowie (sparkly and bubbly) and Etta James (sultry and smooth). The staff’s knowledge borders on nerdy without being pretentious. The ever-changing farm-to-table menu, which could include fried beets with kimchi mayo and stuffed cabbage with ‘nduja sausage, is as exciting as the wine list.

Top review
Dined on Mar 23, 2024
If you are in Austin, please do not miss eating at this restaurant! Every morsel was spectacularly delicious! Everything was prepared with such care and attention to detail. The staff was warm and attentive. Please go! You won’t be disappointed! You will be delighted!
A photo of Ranch 616 restaurant
4.7 (1449)
$31 to $50
About the restaurant

Ranch 616 is a funky homage to all things Texan and has claimed local favorite status for decades. It also happens to be the birthplace of the now ubiquitous Ranch Water cocktail, a refreshing tequila-lime highball. Other signature drinks include the Fire in the Hole, a hollowed-out fresh jalapeño filled with a potent tequila and fresh lime mix, and some of the best margs in the city—a credential that carries extra weight in Austin. Claim a perch under the giant steel pistol sculpture on the patio and pair the drinks with South Texas-inspired dishes such as quail knots, fried frog legs, and wood-fired steaks.

Top review
Dined 7 days ago
Entertained a group of eight clients,, who loved everything, I'll be back. It was fun, relaxing and not stuffy. Check it out!
A photo of Il Brutto restaurant
4.5 (1441)
$31 to $50
East Austin
About the restaurant

An exclusively Italian wine list and one of the city’s best amari and vermouth programs await at this modern Italian joint. If you’re not sure of where to start, enlist the assistance of general manager Charity Sadoy, who curated the vino selection. Pull up a stool at the bar and let her guide you through a flight, or create a bespoke pre-meal drink. Then dive into a thoughtful food menu that balances local and imported ingredients featuring housemade pastas (including gluten-free options) such as agnolotti with ricotta, Parmesan, and pistachios and pappardelle with lamb ragu.

Top review
Dined 3 days ago
Our new favorite italian restaurant in town. Short but great menu, food was well executed, great wine/drink list, good service, beautiful patio.
A photo of Geraldine’s restaurant
4.6 (2238)
$31 to $50
About the restaurant

Celebs are known to descend on this Hotel Van Zandt venue during SXSW. Geraldine’s has a sprawling space for watching some of the city’s most talented musicians seven days a week. It also draws crowds for thoughtful craft cocktails, local beers, and zero-proof drinks such as Octopus’s Garden, a botanical blend with lime, basil-honey syrup, and cucumber. If you’re feeling peckish, graze from a modern Southern menu that includes buttermilk biscuits with maple-honey butter and grilled Gulf shrimp (also available on the adjacent poolside terrace) and you’ll quickly see why this is one of Austin’s hippest hangouts.

Top review
OpenTable Diner
Dined 4 days ago
Lovely dinner all the food was 10/10 and superb service
A photo of Nido restaurant
4.6 (876)
$50 and over
Contemporary French / American
Bouldin Creek
About the restaurant

Nido is a glamorous urban oasis in The Loren at Lady Bird Lake, a luxe Bouldin Creek hotel that opened in 2022. Begin at the restaurant’s elegant lobby bar, though you’re likely here for the large covered terrace with unmatched river and skyline views. The modern American menu from executive chef Brad McDonald (who hails from MICHELIN-starred spots including Per Se and Noma) is equally impressive, featuring octopus carpaccio, stuffed chicken wings, fresh oysters, and more. Pair the seasonal dishes with one of the many by-the-glass wine options or a craft cocktail such as the Austin ‘04, made with earthy amaro and locally distilled light whiskey, best accompanied by a fiery Bat City sunset.

Top review
Dined 1 day ago
We ate outside, gorgeous view, but couches and chairs too low for comfortable lunch. It was a birthday lunch so being outside was important, but now we know.
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