Austin is well known for its vivid nightlife on iconic 6th Street, but these off-the-beaten path dive bars are my top picks for this nocturnal city. The best gems are neighborhood ones with a good dose of history served with each Shiner.
1. Violet Crown Social Club
I have sat at this east Austin gem and made instant friends with the bartender and fellow patrons. The guy next to me even offered me some of his Gardetto's. If heavily poured cocktails and new friends splitting bags of snacks isn't enough to quell what ails you, walk outside and get some of the best pizza in Austin at the Via 313 food truck. This bar is on the east side, on E 6th St., and it's one of the best dive bars in Austin for late night drinks and conversation.
2. Lala's Little Nugget
Venture up to North Austin where it is Christmas every day. Walk inside this quirky hole in the wall and you are thrust into the glow of a flashy Christmas night. This place will certainty warm your heart with its décor and its ability to keep the drinks flowing.
You will leave this bar with a twinkle in your eye and visions of sugar plums in your head.
3. The 04 Lounge
This place is as deliciously divey as it gets. Cheap drinks, colorful locals, and an overall sense of anything goes - what more could you want? There's a pool table in this no-frills neighborhood bar as well, but my favorite thing about this Austin, TX bar is the music: I have sat and listened to Michael Jackson followed by Johnny Cash followed by Snoop Dogg. I thought I might have died and gone to bar heaven.
I didn't, and this place seriously exists!
Ego's is the spot for karaoke and a good time. This karaoke bar is in the parking garage of an office building on South Congress Ave, and it's ideal to sing your heart out or simply relax after a long day. From the drink specials to the jukebox to the video games, Ego's is too fun to pass up.
5. Cheer Up Charlie's
At Cheer Up Charlie's, there's always live music playing and their happy hour goes until eight. Along with being a great music venue, they are one of the best bars for specialty drinks, and I suggest the Kale Lime Gingerita. It's delicious, boozy, and makes you feel healthy ... kinda.
Be sure to get a vegan bacon cheeseburger from their food truck, Arlo's, it rivals the real thing.
6. C-Boys Heart & Soul
Named after Louis Charles "C-Boy" Parks, this cocktail bar was created to not only commemorate him and all he did to support live music in Austin, but also to keep the tradition of blues, R&B, and classic soul going strong.
The décor follows suite with a stage on the main floor, a large patio, and an upstairs lounge.
7. Carousel Lounge
This circus-themed bar is an Austin classic with live music every night. The cash bar only sells beer, wine and set-ups for those who want to bring their own hard liquor, so go somewhere else if you're looking for a full bar. This watering hole is the perfect bar for your inner child to throw back a couple cold ones while gleaming at a big pink elephant.
8. Dry Creek Café and Boat Dock
Sip a Shiner Bock and watch the sun set on their dock overlooking the Colorado River. This cash-only dive prides itself on ice cold beer that won't break your bank, a jukebox filled with classic tunes, and hours that will get you home early enough to sleep off your cheap beer and shenanigans.
9. Deep Eddy Cabaret
Originally named Deep Eddy Café, the name was changed to Cabaret because they didn't sell food. The walls are adorned with a vibrant mismatch of collectables and the sign outside has a tornado on it.
This eclectic little gem has been a local favorite Austin dive bar since 1951, and is known for their friendly bartenders and for having one of the best jukeboxes in town.
10. Donn's Depot
Be sure to wear your dancing shoes because this bar features two dance floors that are always poppin' to live music, whether it's a band or Donn the piano man himself.
This place is like a train depot had a baby with an old fashioned Texas saloon, constructed from old train cars the bathroom is an actual caboose.
There's no shortage of bars in Austin, but it's the dive bars that truly make the city what it is today.
This post was originally published on December 29, 2017.