Artz Rib House
(S-2) 2330 S. Lamar, 442-8283.

Food Served allBeer and Wine Served Never a Cover

The brisket's not the only thing smoking at Artz Rib House; in the seven years since owners Art Blondin and Zenobia Sutton opened up shop on the South side, Artz has become a home away from home for Austin's folk, bluegrass, and songwriter community. Artz features a bit of the old-time acoustics almost every night of the week, with bluegrass jams on Sundays, Bummer Night on Mondays, and a fiddler's jam on Tuedays. Pick your sides, pick your teeth, pick your guitar, or do all three in the cozy confines of Artz Rib House. You're bound to have company. Capacity 75.

(S-22) 2827 S. Congress, 443-4252.

Food Served allNo Smoking Beer and Wine Served Never a Cover

On Saturdays this place is swinging with hot salsa music that packs in what Elizabeth, the manager, says is a "United Nations crowd."

Carlos 'n' Charlie's
(L-6) 5973 Hiline, 266-1683.

Food Served 18+Liquor Served Always a Cover

A thousand and one frat boys can't be wrong!(?) Experience the phenomenon behind the infamous T-shirts. The casual atmosphere is meant to foster nothing but good times, evidenced by their motto, "No shirt, no shoes, no problem." March ushers in their music season, when local Austin rockers can be seen performing five nights a week.

Central Market Cafe
(C-25) 4001 N. Lamar, 206-1000.

Food Served allNo Smoking Beer and Wine Served Never a Cover

The capital city takes its food just as seriously as its music, and on Central Market's outdoor wooden stage, built specifically for live music just outside the high-end supermarket's food court, they meet in perfect harmony. Summer nights out on the deck, relaxing with an iced tea and some of the best pizza in town, make Central Market hard to beat compared to a smoky nightclub. Lots of local children seem to be getting their first exposure to live music here, and given that a recent upgrade in the venue's booking policy is bringing in some notably strong talent, generation next is in good hands.

Dan McKlusky's
(C-6) 10000 Research, 346-0780.

Food Served variesLiquor Served Never a Cover

Located in the Arboretum, Dan McKlusky's has steadily become a popular North Austin destination. With ample parking, it's a convenient way for many newbie Austinites to see popular local swing, jazz, and blues outfits while avoiding the hassles of downtown. With live music Thu-Sat, the place gets hopping on weekends.

Filling Station
(S-11) 801 Barton Springs, 477-1022.

Food Served allLiquor Served Never a Cover

Best known for its burgers -- at three-quarters of a pound it's more like meatloaf on a bun -- the Filling Station has had live music since it opened in 1975. Local blues and roots acts take the stage on weekends and some weekdays, including the new Wednesday night blues jams. The Filling Station has a full bar, a kitchen that stays open late (11pm on weekdays and 1am on weekends), and a parking lot out back.

Flipnotics Coffeespace
(S-4) 1601 Barton Springs, 322-9750.

Food Served allNo Smoking Beer and Wine Served Always a Cover

From the virtuosic fiddling of Erik Hokkanen to the songcraft of Pat McDonald or Jon Dee Graham to the klezmer of Rubinchik's Orkestyr, this south-central coffeehouse offers a comfortable switch from the downtown clubs. Live music has been shoved off their fantastic porch by the local neighborhood noise Nazis, but with music every night until midnight or 1am from Tue-Sat, sandwich/salad-type food items, and a selection of beer and wine, the cozy back room brings you up-close and personal with the evening's artist.

Hilltop Bar & Grill
(L-1) 22308 Hwy 71 W, 264-0318.

Food Served allBeer and Wine Served Always a Cover

The recently renovated Hilltop has yet to reopen the "grill" part of Bar & Grill, but they're still hosting music nearly every night, Tue-Sat. Regulars Rusty Wier, Dale Watson, Paula Nelson, and other acts running the gamut from country to rock to blues bring in an equally varied clientele, including bikers in transit to or from Austin. Every Thursday is open mike night, hosted by house trio Louie Long, Judy Mauldin, and B.B. Morse.

Jake's Waterside
(L-11) 3825 Lake Austin, 477-5253.

Food Served allLiquor Served

From the same folks who brought you Lake Travis' Sam Hill, this new addition to the classy Oyster Landing center on Lake Austin celebrates its grand opening in early March (though it's been open for a couple of months already). The restaurant's separate bar side -- half-inside, half open-air deck -- is where the bands play and the smoke wafts. Jake's mainstay is cover bands; the affluent crowd can dance to the occasional original band like the Nash Hernandez Orchestra as well.

(6th-4) 214 E. Sixth, 479-0474.

Food Served allLiquor Served Never a Cover

Designed to recall les bon temps of Louisiana, from the Jax beer sign to the stuffed gator to the Tabasco bottles scattered prominently around the place, Jazz is a loud and lusty two-story affair that mixes Creole cuisine with toe-tappin' American music. Live bands in the dining room seven days a week, featuring a lineup heavy on jazz, blues, and Dixieland, with an occasional taste of rock, swing, or zydeco thrown in for good measure. Shows run (roughly) from 8pm-midnight. Capacity 300

Jovita's Cantina
(S-17) 1619 S. First, 447-7825.

Food Served allLiquor Served Never a Cover

Named for a famous Hispanic newspaperwoman, Jovita's is part community center, part restaurant, part music venue, and all fun. Honest Tex-Mex, ice cold beer, and Don Walser's sweet yodel wafting out across old South Austin every Tuesday night. Just heavenly.

La Palapa
(C-20) 6640 Hwy 290, 459-8729.

Food Served allLiquor Served Never a Cover

Born in 1984, this highwayside cantina and restaurant features live music Tue-Thu, with karaoke on the weekends. La Palapa hosts a "little bit of everything," from rock & roll to country to Latin jazz to Spanish rock. (Current regulars include No Strings Attached, Pete Benz, and the Big Little Band.) Performers hold forth from a small stage in back, within easy shouting distance of the bar and their signature La Palooza margaritas. Country superstar Rick Trevino got his start here. Capacity 160.

(D-26) 310 Congress, 472-7555.

Food Served allLiquor Served Never a Cover

Every Sunday for the past nine years, Manuel's has been cooking up one of the finest brunches this side of Fonda San Miguel, and sweetening the deal with musical accompaniment by folks like Susanna Sharpe, Paul Glasse, and Tony Campise. Jazz music, huevos motuleños, and a Mexican mimosa (fresh orange juice, champagne, and Cointreau). Could there be a better way to spend a Sunday

Miguel's La Bodega
(D-21) 415 Colorado, 472-2369.

Food Served 21+Liquor Served

Check in on Miguel's on a slow night and things look cool and sophisticated: The high ceilings, tile bars, and wrought iron furniture give the Latin-themed restaurant a look of international elegance. Come by on a weekend, however, and you'll find Miguel's a decidedly hotter place, host to some of Austin's most hip-swivelin' salsa, merengue, and flamenco. Live music Tue-Sat all told, with laid-back dinner shows during the week and late-night salsa and merengue dances from Thursday on. Two left feet? Come early for dance lessons on Wednesdays

Pato's Tacos
(E-15) 1400 E. 38 1/2, 476-4247.

Food Served allBeer and Wine Served Never a Cover

Music at this rambling taqueria is usually played on the back patio, whose tin roof, sloping brick floor, and residual Christmas lights are as casual as the crowds that gather there. Pato's features a mix of live music most nights of the week, from funk to country, plus a happy hour show on Fridays and karaoke on Saturdays. Not too loud, not too late -- this is a neighborhood joint, after all -- proprietor Roldan Ramirez calls his place a launching pad for upstart Austin bands, and he has 12 years' worth of stories to prove it.

The Pier
(L-9) 1703 River Hills, 327-4562.

Food Served allLiquor Served

The Pier on Lake Austin is difficult to find for a reason: It was founded during Prohibition as a lakeside speakeasy; when lookouts spotted The Man coming to raid the place, they sent word to toss the hooch in the water. Today, half the patrons arrive by car and the other half by boat to enjoy the (legal) 'ritas, American and Mexican menu, and live reggae, rock, country, and blues Thu-Sat nights. After being closed for the winter for renovations, the Pier reopens this weekend; they'll reinstate the live music in mid-March.

Rhythm House
(UT-18) 624 W. 34th, 458-4411.

Food Served allNo Smoking Liquor Served Never a Cover

What was a shabby frat boy hole-up two short years ago is now a quaint little Tapas bar that exudes extreme class. Few would expect that just one block off the busy Drag, one can find this brand of restaurant with picture-perfect clientele, interior decorating à la Pottery Barn, and smooth outdoor acoustic performances seven nights a week from 8-10pm.

Ruta Maya Coffee House
(D-15) 218 W. Fourth, 472-9637.

Food Served allBeer and Wine Served Never a Cover

Except for the constant smell of dark-roasted Guatemalan coffee and at least a few quiet folks with their noses buried in books, you never really know what to expect at Ruta Maya. Live music happens Tue-Sat, ranging from singer-songwriters to electronic music to special one-off performances by bands in town for bigger gigs (as happened last year with Brown and Fenner from Barenaked Ladies). There's rarely a cover, there's usually some empanada or sandwich-type food available, and now they even have beer!

Sam Hill
(L-4) 16405 Clara Van Trail Point, 266-8534.

Food Served allLiquor Served Never a Cover

The floating bar and deck of this Fifties formica-themed lakeside restaurant has live rock, blues, and danceable jazz bands six nights a week during summer; during the lake's down-season, they continue the tunes, though only on Friday and Saturday nights.

(S-16) 1600 S. Congress, 447-5375.

Food Served allLiquor Served Never a Cover

The music scene at this Caribbean B&G had an earnest enough start. Shortly after their 1997 opening, the Killer Bees -- inspired by Shaggy's jerk chicken -- started the tradition of live music accompanying the dining experience. Now you can catch reggae, rock, hip-hop, and blues just about every night, playing for tips and tasty Island treats. There's Open Mike Mondays for singer-songwriters, new talent Tuesdays for the relatively unknown, and a free-form lineup all other nights.

Spider House
(UT-17) 2908 Fruth, 480-9562.

Food Served allNo Smoking Beer and Wine Served Never a Cover

Four to five nights a week, any musical style imaginable can be seen on the stage of this popular coffeehouse's lush and dreamy Garden of Eden. For the year that Spider House has been offering live music, students, neighbors, and devoted fans alike pack the open air tables and covered decks to capacity 100+ to hear everything from the exotic to the traditional. With the addition of an outdoor bar, it's a Central Austin alternative to downtown lounging -- but my, the crowd is much lovelier!

Stubb's BBQ
(D-32) 801 Red River, 480-8341.

Food Served allLiquor Served

See feature

(C-18) 6416 N. Lamar, 451-5440.

Food Served allNo Smoking Liquor Served Never a Cover

In operation as some combination of gas station, bar, or restaurant since 1933, this venerable venue became a place for musically inclined UT students to jam in the Sixties, the most notable being Janis Joplin. Today, Threadgill's is a landmark for good Southern cooking and the Sittin' & Singin' & Supper sessions on Wednesday nights, once hosted by Jimmie Dale Gilmore and now by fiddle/guitar master Champ Hood. Surprise guests are no surprise.

Threadgill's Saloon
(S-12) 301 W. Riverside, 472-9304.

Food Served allNo Smoking Liquor Served Never a Cover

It's appropriate that Austin's most famous live music venue, the Armadillo World Headquarters, was reincarnated as this town's favorite supper hall. Eddie Wilson, founder of both legacies, bless you, your chicken-fried steak, and your mustache. And what began at the North Lamar Threadgill's as supper sessions featuring Champ Hood and Jimmie Dale Gilmore has blossomed into five nights a week of live local music at the Threadgill's World Headquarters on Riverside. With current residencies by Don Walser and Dale Watson and never a cover, Threadgill's only needs a few more seats in that back red room to start hosting Armadillo crowd-pleasers like Commander Cody.

Waterloo Ice House 38th
(C-24) 1106 W. 38th, 451-5245.

Food Served allNo Smoking Beer and Wine Served Always a Cover

Waterloo Ice House 6th
(D-4) Sixth & Lamar, 472-5400.

Food Served allNo Smoking Beer and Wine Served Always a Cover

Since the Eighties, local country, folk, and rock groups have been playing while friends, family, weary shoppers, and commuters stop in and enjoy beers and burgers. The vibe is always laid-back, spacious, and quintessentially Austin. Bands play most every weekend for tips and occasionally for a minimal, self-imposed cover charge. Food service stops when music begins to cut back on the noise factor.