Qmmunity’s (Non-Exhaustive) Guide to Local Queer Austin Biz
For anyone looking to start queering up their ATX experience
By James Scott,
9:00AM, Mon. Mar. 6, 2023
You want to live like a queer Austinite, but don’t know where to start? Whether you’re visiting for one of our myriad festivals, just moved into town, or want to make a gay bucket list of ATX delights, here’s a non-exhaustive list of local LGBTQ spots you’ll love.
Cheer Up Charlies
900 Red River | Hours: Thu. & Sun., 5pm-2am, Fri.-Sat., 4pm-2am
Vibe: Neon-lined queer club that packs in live music, drag, and plenty of queer quties, plus: a spacious patio & vegan food trucks.
211 W. Fourth | Hours: Mon.-Wed., 2pm-12mid, Thu.-Sun, 2pm-2am
Vibe: Oldest LGBTQ bar in Austin with all the drag nights you’d ever want, plus: the attached Harry’s Dark Bar boasts go-go dancers, kinky parties.
611/615 Red River | Barbs hours: Wed., 9pm-2am, Tue.,Thu.-Sat., 10pm-2am; Swan Dive hours: Tue., Thu.-Sat. 10pm-2am
Vibe: Sister clubs attached by their backyard serve as hubs for live music, legendary theme nights such as TuezGayz & NowY2K, and monthly ballroom competitions; bring ear-plugs and use Swan Dive’s bathrooms.
Coco Complex aka Coconut Club
310-B Colorado St. | Hours: Wed.-Fri., 9pm-2am, Sat., 1pm-2am, Sun., 5pm-2am
Vibe: Tropical triple-threat nightclub that houses in its walls (and rooftop) a dance music, drag & DJ paradise, plus: Caribbean food via Traphouse inside Coco’s perreo purveyor, Cuatro Gato.
The Iron Bear
301 W. Sixth | Hours: Mon.-Sat., 11am-2am, Sun. 12pm-2am
Vibe: A bar by bears for bears that’s always bumping with leather & gear parties, karaoke, drag, and DJs, plus a buffet of delicious dining options.
Rain on 4th
217 W. Fourth | Hours: Mon.-Thu., 4pm-2am. Fri.-Sun., 3pm-2am
Vibe: Upscale, rainbow lit lounge with classic drag shows all week, go-go boyz heating up the dance floor, and paninis on offer from foodie fave Royal Blue Grocery.
404 Colorado St. | Hours: Wed.-Thu., Sun., 7:30pm-2:15am, Fri.-Sat., 9:30pm-3:30am
Vibe: Largest local gay bar with three stories, six bar counters, and a whole lotta fun including drag, go-go dancers, bottle service, and plenty of room to dance all night.
2401 E. Cesar Chavez | Hours: Wed.-Sun, 11am-6pm
Cuisine: Salty, savory barbecue by LeAnn Mueller & Alison Clem, slow roasted over Texas post oak with sauce offered but not insisted on.
514 Medina St. | Hours: Mon-Thu., 4-9pm, Fri-Sat., 4:30-9:30pm
Cuisine: An izakaya – a casual Japanese bar with yakitori, sushi/sashimi, and other comfort foods – run by head chef & owner/namesake Kazu Fukumoto, who studied at Hiroya Yakitori.
105 Tillery | Hours: Wed. & Thu., 5-9pm, Fri. & Sat., Brunch 10am-2pm, Dinner 5-10pm
Cuisine: Central Mexican dishes featuring fajitas, tacos, & more compliment margaritas with pop diva names (bad girl ri ri, cardi B, queen bey) as well as a weekend brunch bursting with flavor.
Coffee & Dessert
3209 Red River | Hours: Mon.-Fri., 7am-2pm, Sat.-Sun., 9am-2pm
Cuisine: Beloved of UT-Austin attenders, expect toothsome breakfast sandwiches, lunch-perfect salads & wraps, and their signature treat: sweet liege waffles.
Multiple locations | Check website for each locations’ hours
Cuisine: Classic local-coffee-shop-turned-local-chain that’ll give you a quick caffeine infusion so you can better enjoy their various brekkie and lunch offerings, while also admiring the famous lesbian-penned mural “I Love You So Much” at the original SoCo location.
2159 S. Lamar | Hours: Mon.-Sun., 7:30am-4pm
Cuisine: With coffee by married co-owners’ specialty roaster Superthing, your bfast, brunch, or lunch time espresso will be complimented by a menu of hearty café staples mixed with unique baked beauties.
Lick Honest Ice Creams
Multiple locations | Check website for each locations hours
Cuisine: Indulgent ice cream (and a few vegan non-dairy dessert options) made with local ingredients in daring combinations you’d expect from snobby scoopers, instead served with an “honest” hospitality.
Multiple locations | Check website for each locations hours
Cuisine: Everything you’d ever want from a woman-owned, riot-grrrl inspired bakery, offering vegan, gluten-free, and soy-free cupcakes, cream pies, bread, and more that break the stereotype of subtracted snacking meaning subpar sweets.
The Little Gay Shop
828 Airport Blvd. | Hours: Mon, Thu. & Fri., 11am-6pm, Sat., 11am-7pm, Sun., 11am-5pm
Merch: Queer-created products line this small but mighty shopping heaven, from Dolly Parton prints to cute candles, BDSM archival books to gay-made stained glass, and also feature in their frequent pop-up markets.
5501 N. Lamar | Hours: Mon.-Fri., 10am-7pm, Sat., 10am-6pm, Sun., 12-4pm
Merch: OG feminist bookstore with 45 years slinging lit by women, LGBTQ, and POC authors under the big purple overhang, plus cute t-shirts, cards, and other gifties only an arm’s length away.
5330 Menchaca Rd. Ste. D | Hours: Tue.-Sat., 11am-7pm, Sun., 10am-6pm
Merch: Indie bookstore with shelves sorted into genres like LGBTQ romance, sci-fi, and an all too timely reproductive justice shelf, plus a generously sized kids’ section and a cute gray kitty named Stormy napping at the window.
Pop Up Markets
Eastside Pop Up
Modus Operandi: Vintage and kitsch vendors in ever-moving markets tailored toward the trendy but not too spendy shopper, with a fun, upbeat atmosphere curated to uplift local artists.
Modus Operandi: A duo-directed traveling market that vets vintage, handmade, and unique vendors aimed at folks looking for “slowmaker” goods rather than fast capitalism crap.
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