Full disclosure: We’ve never been here, a bar that’s the
consensus choice for drinkers who want a great view. And we’ve never been here,
a bar that’s the consensus choice for First Daughters looking to get busted for
underage boozing. But we’ve enjoyed our visits to the following five
places, and we would gladly recommend them to our friends. To paraphrase golf
pro Harvey Penick, if you read Paste
you’re our friend. So please enjoy, and save us a seat at the bar.
1) The Broken Spoke—Picture the scene: Christmas Eve in Austin.
You pull on your best (OK, your only)
embroidered Western shirt. Your wife wears cowboy boots. Asleep At The Wheel
provides the evening’s entertainment. The clientele is not necessarily old, just older. Locals, it seems. Men, for example, who know how to dance well enough
to sweep your cowboy-booted wife onto the dance floor. But hey, at least people
are dancing, which is more than you can say for most indie-rock clubs. There’s
not a lot of hipster pretense in here at the Broken Spoke. The vibe is utterly
down-to-earth. In a hand-written sign on the cash register are four glorious
words: “We got egg nog."
2) Alamo Draft House—The platonic ideal for movie theaters, the
Alamo serves excellent food, shows movies you actually want to see and—oh
yeah—offers in-seat drink service.
3) Continental Club—One of the few bars in America where a
bartender has ever talked us into buying a cheaper shot, the Continental Club is the perfect
cross-pollination of Austin’s indie-rock and honky-tonk culture. Bonus: It’s
down on South Congress, which feels like less of a zoo than Sixth Street, but
it’s still walkable from downtown.
4) Driskill Hotel bar—This exclusive downtown hotel may be out of
your price range—we’ve certainly never stayed there—but that shouldn’t stop you
from heading upstairs and dropping by the discreet bar for relief
from SXSW mayhem.
5) Café Magnolia—We don’t remember what we drank here, probably
water or coffee (it was late—so, so late), so maybe this puppy shouldn’t even
be on the list. It is, after all, a 24-hour diner and not a bar. But
c’mon—you’re gonna need something to
wash down those gingerbread pancakes.