Ate Days a Week

How much more food and music can you ask for in this town around this time and after?

Me? I Like Any Kind of Music (and Food) ...

Central Market

4001 N. Lamar, 206-1000

4477 S. Lamar, 899-4300

Cafe Hours: Sunday-Thursday, 7am-9pm; Friday-Saturday, 7am-10pm

In a town where you can't swing a dead cat without hitting a musician, Central Market's cafes are a place where a substantial portion of the patrons do swing something resembling them. And bears and bunnies and other assorted stuffed animals. These breezy locations belie the smoky, boozy, woozy stereotype of music venues. At the north location, children squeal in delight on the maze of a playscape as parents sip artisan beers or elegant wine amid music. South of the river, kids climb on sculptures of oversized fruit, as parents partake of the fresh, hearty fare of the cafe while enjoying the tunes from an impressive lineup of acts. The early hours of the Friday and Saturday concerts (6:30-9pm) and the absence of a cover charge allow many a parent to indulge their pre- (and post-) baby passion of live music without breaking the bank with babysitting fees and contending with the post-clubbing exhaustion that club-crawling induces and offspring ignore. March acts at the Westgate location include jazz, Western swing, pop, blues, country, and Hawaiian music. At the Lamar location, March brings jazz vocals, Latin pop-folk-jazz, Arabian/Persian, country, and funky jazz and soul to the deck. At both locations, bellies are as full as the ears with the wide variety of entrées, salads, sandwiches, soups, and a special kids menu to satisfy everyone. – B.C.

The Saxon Pub

1320 S. Lamar, 448-2552

Daily, 11am-2am

The Saxon Pub is one of the few places in town that appeals to every age group. They do it by presenting Austin's finest music in a small, relaxed venue and by offering both music and drink at bargain prices. Want to see Ian McLagan of the (Small and otherwise) Faces and the Rolling Stones? Here's the place. Looking for a good way to have your Sundays or Mondays erupt into a party? The Resentments or Bob Schneider pack the house and create good-natured chaos. A careful perusal of the Saxon monthly calendar yields treasures like solo Joe Ely, Omar and the Howlers, and Guy Forsyth. Occasional visitors might wonder why we're bringing up the Saxon in an article about music venues with food, since the place has no kitchen, but I'll let you in on a secret the regulars know about: You can order food into the club from several local restaurants. The easiest is Papa John's Pizza, which offers a discount for Saxon patrons, but other places are happy to oblige, like Austin's Pizza (445-4455), Rockets (482-0621), or the China Wok (445-6466). You can also bring food in. One of our favorite stops is up the street at Taco Cabana for a rotisserie chicken, a perfect complement to the Saxon's ice-cold beers. And one final word to the wise for diners: Either jack up your tip or bus your own table – the waitstaff are working their tails off as it is. – W.M.

Cactus Cafe

23rd & Guadalupe, 475-6515

Monday, 10am-12mid; Tuesday-Wednesday, 10am-1am; Thursday-Friday, 10am-2am; Saturday, 8pm-2am

The Cactus flies below most people's radar, but it's ranked by Billboard as one of fifteen "solidly respected, savvy clubs" nationwide "from which careers can be cut, that work with proven names and new faces." The range of premier national and international musicians that are drawn to play acoustic sets here is staggering, and those who know its secret adore the place. It's located in the southwest corner of the Student Union on the UT campus, and most tickets are sold at the door for the 8:30pm shows. If every single seat is filled, 153 folks can cram inside, but it never seems like that many. All shows are nonsmoking, and they have a full bar that serves great drinks at fair prices (happy hour: 4-7pm, Monday-Friday). There is no food service at night (they have nosh-type goodies during the day), but what those in the know do is come early to get tickets and grab food to go from the area restaurants, to enjoy on the terrace outside, the front steps of the Union, or to eat inside the Union or the Cactus. Madam Mam's (at 26th) is really popular, as is Chipotle (right across the street), Kismet (on 24th), and the Pita Pit (at 20th). The crowds are attentive, the music is always of the highest caliber, the covers are reasonable, the drinks are good, and the musicians love playing there. Combine that with some great grub from any of the above, and you have a night to relish. – M.V.

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