10 of Austin's Best Bars
Looking for a new place to drink, dance, or eat? We got you.
9:00AM, Sat. Jun. 25, 2022
Whether you’re in the mood to dance the night away, catch up with friends over chili cheese fries, or sip some wine in the fresh air of an outdoor patio, here are some Best of Austin award-winning bars for whatever vibe you’re looking for.
Best Alcohol-Fueled Blast to the Past: Nickel City
Nickel City proves that some pleasures are best kept simple. Voted Best Dive Bar by Austin Chronicle readers in 2022, this retro East Austin bar offers a relaxed drinking experience in comparison to the wildness of Sixth Street. Consider Nickel City for its American-style food truck offerings, ranging from chili cheese fries to Coney dogs, and an expansive drinks menu including local drafts, mixed drinks, boilermakers, and playful limited-run special cocktails like the All My Exes Live in Texas, made with Longbranch Bourbon, Dr Pepper reduction, and Bittercube Cherry Bark Vanilla Bitters. Reader Tyler Lofgren sums it up: “Good vibes and great drinks.”
Best Tropical Oasis: Tiki Tatsu-ya
Austin Chronicle readers voted Tatsu Aikawa’s upscale Tiki bar the best cocktail bar in Austin in 2022. Opened in the fall of 2021, this two-story island-themed paradise pays homage to Tiki culture with a retro menu inspired by the likes of Trader Vic’s and Don the Beachcomber. Says reader Danny Riha, “[Tiki Tatsu-ya] feels like a totally immersive adult Disneyland where you've abandoned the Boredom ship and washed ashore a fantastical mystery island. It’s insane how detail oriented and interactive it is.”
Best New Beer Bar: Burnet Go To
Beer bars – remember those? They were like mainstream news media aggregators of the early 2010s craft beer industry, curating only the most interesting hazy ales and sweet stouts, all under one roof! Now everyone mostly just flocks to the source of the action, the brewery taproom, out of sheer convenience. But Burnet Go To is changing the narrative of exploratory boozing back to the well-constructed beer wall, bringing hard-to-reach lagers and ales by brands like Southern Heights, ABGB, and Family Business all the way to North Austin. They also are keen to show frequent footy matches (with sound!), and they have great interior lighting and an all-day coffee bar to boot.
Best Neighborhood Bar That’s Never Too Crowded: The Aristocrat
Looking for a bar you can bring your mom to? A low-key first date hang? Cheap drinks without sacrificing ambience? A place you're probably not going to see anyone you know on the weekend? Rare is the bar that encompasses all of these moods and more, but the Aristocrat delivers. Off the beaten path in a huge lot on Burnet that housed for almost 50 years the iconic Poodle Dog Lounge, the Aristocrat delivers on impeccable mood lighting, comfy booths, two usually accessible pool tables, ample outdoor seating, and a food truck conveniently parked outside. Devoid of all that makes lesser bars grating – pretension, crowds, no parking – the Aristocrat provides the ineffable vibe that one looks for, arguably, in every dive bar: coziness, fun, an escape.
Best Baby Sister Bar: Little Drinks Lounge
It takes some moxie to open a business smack-dab in the middle of a global pandemic, but co-owners of Eastside hang zone Drinks Lounge teamed up with longtime bar maven Sabrina Brochu to do just that in 2021. The team’s combined decades of experience and determination birthed a winning formula in what they call “Drinks’ little sister,” nestled under the Davis SoCo apartments. Baby sis echoes its sibling’s laid-back vibe but with a twist of girl-gang energy, serving up creative cocktails, affordable brews, and tasty pizzas to a chill crowd of south siders who call it a home away from home.
Best Place to Watch the Game: Haymaker
For a neighborhood pub offering a relaxed atmosphere and live sports coverage, look no further than Haymaker, voted Best Austin Sports Bar by Austin Chronicle readers in 2018, 2019, and 2022. Grab a cold one from their wide range of local beers and chow down on any of their regionally inspired sandwiches. Reader Rebecca Row keeps her Haymaker recommendation short and sweet: “Poutine.”
Best Bar if You’re Feeling Frisky: Cheer Up Charlies
The unofficial center of Austin’s queer community, Cheer Up Charlies is the place Chronicle readers go when they’re feeling amorous, having continuously voted the laid-back Red River club the Best Bar for Singles since 2018 and Best LGBTQIA Club since 2016. From vegan mixed drinks to on-tap kombucha, there’s something for everyone at Cheer Up Charlies. Reader Lani Oglewood says, “No one is ever made to feel uncomfortable here … unless they make someone else uncomfortable.”
Best Excuse to Day-Drink: Loro
What do you get when the minds behind Uchi and Franklin Barbecue join forces? Loro, an Asian smokehouse and bar on par with its famous parent restaurants. Voted Best Happy Hour by readers in 2021 and 2022, Loro invites you to treat yourself to guilty pleasures like sake and brisket tostadas at a not-so-guilty price on weekdays from 2 to 5pm. Reader Sarah Pendley says, “You can’t go wrong with the love child of Aaron Franklin and Tyson Cole.”
Best Booze, Burgers, and Bops: Casino el Camino
Voted Best Jukebox in Austin a whopping 25 times by Chronicle readers, Casino el Camino is a Sixth Street staple not only for its killer music selection but also for its burgers. Indeed, no less than Guy Fieri christened the dive bar as having “the best burger in town.” Unpretentious and enduring, Casino is that rare thing: a bar on Dirty Sixth that locals actually go to. Reader Heather White says it all: “All hail the jukebox king CASINO EL CAMINO!”
Best Natural Wine Hangout: LoLo
Tucked in the previous Gypsy Lounge building nestled next to Hotel Vegas, this Eastside hangout – Austin’s first-ever natural wine bar and bottle shop – has provided ideal informal cool since it opened in early 2020. Pick between a huge outdoor patio and a cozy indoor space, warmed by light wood and glowy globes. Alongside natural and sustainably focused pours, the menu includes beers, spritzes, and sociable snacks like a crusty baguette or tinned fish. Find food pop-ups and frequent DJs, including Kyle Dixon of Survive, spinning in the takeaway bottle corner. A parking lot and occasional celebrity sightings don’t hurt either.