There are many perfectly legitimate reasons to be drinking during the daytime, especially in Austin. The recent rise of all-day restaurants has made the dream of an afternoon cocktail much easier to achieve. Maybe you are unemployed, and time is all relative to you anyway. Maybe you’re entertaining clients who expect a three-martini lunch. Maybe you’re here on vacation and want to see the sights and drink the drinks. No matter what your situation and occasion for day-drinking, we have some suggestions for you.
Oh, and please drink responsibly. Water is your friend.
Where to Day Drink if You Are…
Considerations: Your ideal day-drinking locale is a place where you can find cheap drinks, a good meal, and human interaction — or at least free Wi-Fi. Cost is of the utmost importance here. This may be an excursion — you even changed out of your sweatpants! — but let’s not go crazy.
Recommendations: Better Half. Need to work? This bright, modern space serving both coffee and cocktails provides an ideal setting for getting stuff done. The restaurant is known for its crispy cauliflower tots and juicy burgers, plus there’s a cute patio out back for when the weather is nice. 406 Walsh Street, Clarksville
Easy Tiger. A downtown beer garden and bakery by Waller Creek, Easy Tiger is a great spot to hang out over a pretzel and beer cheese. However, what makes the bar and beer garden truly special is the happy hour, from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. on weekdays, which serves drinks like an Old Fashioned or a shandy for $3. If you can’t wait until then, alcohol starts flowing at 11 a.m. 709 East 6th Street, Downtown
Nickel City. A great bar for all occasions, Nickel City’s reasonably priced drinks and friendly atmosphere make it a great place to post up for a while. It starts serving at noon, as does essential greasy food truck Delray Cafe, so get a frozen Irish coffee and some cheese tots and get to work. 1133 East 11th Street, Central East Austin
Bouldin Creek Cafe. At the friendly neighborhood vegetarian spot, drinks are cheap (even before happy hour, which runs from 3 to 7 p.m.) and everything is made from scratch. Plus, breakfast is served all day, for those of you who rise at the crack of noon. 1900 South 1st Street, Bouldin Creek
Considerations: Ideally, you would like a place conducive in continuing your complete avoidance of natural light, to avoid triggering any semblance of circadian rhythms. You need a place that starts serving before your 1 p.m. bedtime.
Recommendations: Unfortunately, since TABC prevents the sale of alcohol before 7 a.m., you’re probably going to have to mingle with the daywalkers for a while as they get their morning coffee. Radio Coffee & Beer (now with booze) and Wright Bros. Brew and Brew both open early (6:30 a.m. and 8 a.m., respectively), with great beer selections, life-saving breakfast tacos (Radio is home to a Veracruz All Natural truck, providing some of the best tacos in Austin), and coffee, if you’re into that. Radio Coffee & Beer, 4208 Manchaca Road, South Austin; Wright Bros. Brew and Brew, 500 San Marcos Street, East Side
Irene’s. Pro: Offers booze starting at 7 a.m., which pairs nicely with its sweet and savory toasts. Con: You’ll have to sit outside until the bar opens at 11 a.m. 506 West Avenue, Downtown
Deep Eddy Cabaret. If you can stay up until noon, this historic dive bar has a pool table, cheap drinks, and a dark, windowless interior conducive to your type of day-drinking. 2315 Lake Austin Boulevard
A Very Important Businessperson
Considerations: Must have martinis. You want a place with impeccable service, stellar food, and an atmosphere that is not too distracting.
Recommendations: Clark’s. Whether you class it up with freshly shucked oysters or get down with one of Austin’s best burgers, this intimate neighborhood spot is sure to impress. It’s known for a great wine list and martinis made with care (note to funemployed people: the restaurant offers up $5 martini specials and half-price burgers starting at 3 p.m). 1200 West 6th Street, Clarksville
Le Politique. This French restaurant in the 2nd Street district makes lunch a fancy affair. There’s an ample raw bar, a well-curated wine list, and plenty of seating. There’s also a bakery next door — try the almond croissant. 110 San Antonio Street, Downtown
Café No Sé. All-day rosé specials? Say no more. The bright decor and creative California-inspired plates at this South Congress spot offer a great atmosphere for a more relaxed meeting. 1603 South Congress Avenue, Travis Heights
Trace at the W Hotel. The downtown hotel’s “lunch on the fly” special — which includes an appetizer, entree, and box of cookies plus valet parking for $13 — is honestly one of the best deals in town and convenient for getting in and out in a hurry. Add in festive drinks from the bar and excellent people watching, and you’ve got a true power lunch. 200 Lavaca Street, Downtown
Considerations: You want to see the iconic Austin spots ... and drink. Why not? You’re actually on vacation.
Recommendations: Lamberts Downtown Barbecue. You may have heard something about the barbecue here. Lambert’s offers some serious brisket and other Texan classics (Frito pie, green chili queso) that you can enjoy, seated, with a full bar and no lines. 401 West 2nd Street, Downtown
Russian House. For something unexpected but still quintessentially Austin, head to this fun, quirky restaurant, where you can start tasting over 100 house-infused vodkas starting at 10 a.m. on weekends (you’ll need to wait until 4 p.m. on weekdays, but it’s worth it). Traditional decor and costumes and cheap Russian delicacies make this a must-visit. 307 East 5th Street, Downtown
Odd Duck. One of Austin’s best restaurants also has a great bargain happy hour. Drink specials start at 2:30 p.m., which include $6 palomas. From 5 to 6:30 p.m., prices are halved for the top section of the menu, which can easily be turned into a meal. The restaurant is also known for its stellar service, so you’ll get a taste of Southern hospitality. 1201 South Lamar Boulevard, Zilker
Fareground. No more arguing over where to eat — Austin’s first food hall has six of the city’s best restaurants in one place (Italian Italic, ranch-to-table Contigo, Henbit from famed Emmer & Rye, popular sushi Ni-Kome, Dai Due Taqueria, and Israeli TLV), plus a full bar. Conveniently located in the middle of downtown, there’s plenty of indoor and outdoor seating, plus a grassy knoll to lounge on. 111 Congress Avenue, Downtown
Keeping Sunday Funday Alive
Considerations: You believe brunch is an all-day marathon. You want delicious food and a steady stream of alcohol that will keep the party going.
Sour Duck Market. From the owners of Odd Duck and Barley Swine, Sour Duck serves one menu all day — meaning, you can have breakfast pizza at 6 p.m. or a burger at 9 a.m. Draft cocktails, beer, and wine are served after 11 a.m., and the expansive patio provides a great place to hang out. 1814 East Martin Luther King Junior Boulevard, Central East Austin
Holy Roller. Since you’re waking up late anyway, stop by this punk rock diner serving all-day breakfast. Chef Callie Speer offers a creative take on brunch, with essential Austin dishes like the migas kolache smothered in queso, a biscuit topped with Stiles Switch brisket, and choco tacos. 509 Rio Grande Street, West Sixth
Pool Burger. Fruity tiki cocktails and creative burgers make this spot by Deep Eddy pool an easy choice for an all-day hangout. Plus, there’s homemade soft serve available in Tahitian vanilla and dark chocolate, perfect for dipping the crinkle-cut fries into. 2315 Lake Austin Boulevard
Taking a Break From the Kids
Considerations: You want someplace darling to get together with friends and bitch about everything over a glass of wine.
Recommendations: The Grove. Let’s face it: This is already your home base. The truly impressive wine menu has been training grounds for more than one sommelier — if your spouse asks about frequent visits, just say you’re doing research. 6317 Bee Cave Road; 800 West Sixth Street; 3001 Ranch to Road 620 South; 11700 Domain Boulevard
Jack Allen’s Kitchen. The bar at the Westlake location of Jack Gilmore’s restaurant has some of the best people-watching in Austin. Jack Allen’s menu is nothing fancy — a variety of margaritas, a killer beef short rib quesadilla, chicken-fried everything — but it’s a great standby. 3600 North Capital of Texas Highway, Westlake
Josephine House. This adorable Clarksville abode and its shaded patio are wonderful places to gab for hours over tasty snacks and chilled wine. 1601 Waterston Avenue, Clarksville
Tiny Boxwoods. The crisp white aesthetic and cool marble countertops give this Houston export an upscale air. Stop in for breakfast, lunch, or an afternoon pick-me-up — and don’t miss those famous cookies. Enjoy drinks on the patio if the weather is nice, 1503 W 35th Street, Bryker Woods
For more daylight boozy inspiration, check out:
- Happy Hours for Cheap Eats and Drinks
- The Eater Austin Cocktail Heatmap
- The Essential Austin Cocktail Bars
- The Essential Guide to Top Austin-Area Brewery Tours and Taprooms
- Austin's Hottest New Brunches
- Austin’s Essential Brunches
- Excellent Margaritas in Austin
- Where to Drink Frozen Booze Right Now
- The Austin Al Fresco Heatmap: Where to Eat Outside Now
- Essential Austin Patios for Outdoor Drinking and Dining
- Where to Drink and Eat on a Roof Right Now in Austin
- Austin Restaurants with Great Views