Drink  |  Lists

The Best Places to Drink in Austin

March 18, 2009  |  7:00am

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. 

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