Austin’s 6th Street is notoriously rowdy, but you can find grownup respites. Midnight Cowboy, housed in a former brothel, is full of theater. The front door is hard to find, and a martini cart rolls up to your booth for tableside shaking and stirring. Reservations are recommended; the vacancy sign over the entrance is illuminated when walk-ins are occasionally accepted. Head east to Easy Tiger Bake Shop and Beer Garden. Along with 30-plus craft brews on tap—including local suds—dive into Bratwursts and housemade pretzels served with beer cheese.
313 East 6th St., Austin, TX 78701
706 East 6th St., Austin, TX 78701
When this storied honky-tonk opened 50 years ago, it was surrounded by farmland. Today, it’s shadowed by a 385-unit apartment complex where one-bedroom rates start at $1,300 a month. The dance hall has not lost its soul, though, thanks to weekly two-stepping lessons and regular acts from Austin musicians such as Dale Watson. Don’t miss a chance to walk through the museum—it’s just off the bar—where you can see pictures and paraphernalia from legendary acts like Willie Nelson and Bob Wills.
3201 South Lamar Blvd., Austin, TX 78704
The experience at this hole-in-the-wall on Austin’s hip East Side is elevated by an East Side Kings food truck, one of chef Paul Qui’s four mobile kitchens, parked in the backyard. Snag a picnic table, and pair a pint with beet home fries—fried and roasted beets served with kewpie mayo—or curry buns made with housemade peanut butter curry and topped with basil and cilantro.
1618 1/2 East 6th St., Austin, TX 78702
Since opening three years ago, this 2,750-person music venue has seen the likes of Elton John, the Buena Vista Social Club, and Coldplay. It’s also where PBS’s Austin City Limits Live, the country’s longest running music series, is taped.
310 West Willie Nelson Blvd., Austin, TX 78701
If it weren’t for its tagline—Namaste, Y’all—it might be hard to describe this quirky gas station-turned-restaurant (serving Tex-Mex-ified Indian cuisine), performance space (draped in Buddhist prayer flags), and duo of bars (one for beer, one for wine). Stop in for happy hour, 3-7 p.m. every day.
1950 S I H 35, Austin, TX 78704
The Saxon Pub
Twenty-plus years of local love has left this living room-like music venue a little worn, but it’s a must for its homegrown Austin acts like Bob Schneider, who plays regularly on Monday nights when he’s not on tour.
1320 South Lamar Blvd., Austin, TX 78704
The Continental Club
This music venue originally opened in 1957 when South Congress Avenue, now a hip and pedestrian-friendly thoroughfare, was considered the other side of the tracks. Today, seeing a show on its intimate stage with a blue velvet curtain backdrop is a right of passage. Look out for local acts like James McMurtry and Tameca Jones.
1315 South Congress Ave., Austin, TX 78704
Almost all of the bungalows in this historic neighborhood, now a top nightlife destination, are converted into bars and restaurants, and many have sprawling backyards. Bar hopping is the way to go: You’ll find more than 50 Texas brews at Craft Pride; head over to Clive to sample smoky mescals. Along with 100-plus beers on tap at Banger’s you can pad your stomach with hearty poutine or Andouille sausages.