When it comes to drinking, Austin has some of the best bars and restaurants, which are always finding a way to balance casual vibes with quality offerings and distinct aesthetics. While most local bars are set up for long afternoons or nights of hanging out and drinking, a bar crawl is an exceptional way to experience a city, especially one that geeks out about food and drinks the way Austin does.
Here is Eater’s definitive guide on various boozy bar crawls across the city, whether you’re day drinking; looking for a classier, cocktail-based journey; keeping it cheap and frill-free with dive bars; or new to Austin and looking to explore what the city has to offer. Remember, rideshare services are your friends.
For Day Drinking
Austin’s warm weather and sunny patios make for the perfect setting to spend a day with friends and drinks, where you can slowly make your way across the city while taking in some of the most-welcoming patios and casual drinking spots.
Pool Burger: After starting the day off with a dip in the Deep Eddy pool, stop by Pool Burger for some tiki cocktails, good burgers, and a relaxed vibe. (2315 Lake Austin Boulevard, Westfield)
Recommended drink: Frozen Hurricane
Irene’s: Next, Irene’s expansive patio is a great downtown spot for casual cocktails, drafts, and comfort food on the banks of Shoal Creek. (506 West Avenue, Downtown)
Recommended drink: Tequila grapefruit punch
Yellow Jacket Social Club: Find a spot in the shade on Yellow Jacket’s patio, which offers plenty of cheap drinks and snacks and plenty of congregating areas to while away the afternoon away. (1704 East 5th Street, East Austin)
Recommended drink: a can of Austin-brewed beer
Kitty Cohen’s: End the crawl at the retro patio-friendly Kitty Cohen’s, with cocktails that pair perfectly for a leisurely early evening drinking session. (2211 Webberville Road, Central East Austin)
Recommended drink: Kitty Spritz
For Classic Cocktails
Austin’s high-caliber culinary scene extends into the beverage world, where there are stellar cocktail bars found every which way. Take a tour of the best cocktail bars in the city as you make your way on this curated crawl.
The Roosevelt Room: Begin at the classic downtown bar where the sprawling cocktail menu offers a journey through cocktail history, neatly organized by decade. There are daiquiris from the “turn of the century,” Manhattans from the “early years,” and, yes, even cosmopolitans decidedly found under the “dark ages.” (307 West 5th Street, Downtown)
Recommended drink: Cigar Box
Garage: Plan your next stop at the bar hidden inside the Colorado Street garage for one of Austin’s best cocktail programs in a dim vibe and an impressive whiskey selection. (503 Colorado Street, Downtown)
Recommended drink: Indian Paintbrush
Small Victory: Another hard-to-find bar is a service industry-favorite, and serves up masterful cocktails, a small menu of cheese and charcuterie. Small Victory is perfect for both the cocktail connoisseur and those looking to indulge in craft cocktails but doesn’t know where to start. (108 East 7th Street, Downtown)
Recommended drink: Singapore Sling.
Whisler’s: Jump to the east side for the next stop at the bar that offers a very casual setting for cocktails. The current menu is all about summer films, which means the fun Jaws-inspired Open Water cocktail, made with rum, blue curacao, and a giant gummy shark. Plus, mezcal enthusiasts should pop into Mezcalería Tobalá, found above the bar. (1816 East 6th Street, East Austin)
Recommended drink: Old Fashioned
For Dive Bars
Aside from tacos and barbecue, Austin excels in live music, swimming holes, and, most importantly, dive bars. Tour some of the best and most fun dive bars that come through with affordable drinks and dark corners. Recommended drink for all bars below: Keep it simple with a can of local beer. These bars aren’t trying to be fancy, and neither should you.
Deep Eddy Cabaret: Start at one of the originals. Founded in 1951, Deep Eddy seems stuck in the past, in the best way possible. The unassuming bar has maintained its neighborhood joint feel with pool tables, a midday happy hour, and beer by the pitcher. Historically cash-only, the bar has finally made the leap to accept credit cards too. (2315 Lake Austin Boulevard, Westfield)
Mean Eyed Cat: Stop number two is an ode to the late musician Johnny Cash, where paraphernalia dedicated to the Man in Black can be found in every nook and cranny. It manages to stay on just this side of kitschy with affordable drinks, a cozy patio, and decent barbecue from Stubb’s seven days a week. (1621 West 5th Street, West Austin)
Dirty Bill’s: The closest West 6th gets to a true, true dive, Dirty Bill’s is small, loud, cheap, and everything a person could want from a rowdy dive bar in a tiny setting. (511 Rio Grande Street, West Sixth)
Violet Crown Social Club: Next on the list, the East Side lounge has cozy booths, generous pours, frozen drinks, food from one of Austin’s favorite food trucks Chi’lantro, and is perfect for losing a couple hours with friends. (1111 East 6th Street, East Austin)
Hotel Vegas: The Hotel Vegas/Volstead duo is an essential stop on any Austin dive bar adventure, where there are multiple bars, drinks served in plastic cups, and live music every night. Plus, your friends are probably already here. (1502 East 6th Street, East Austin)
Stay Gold: This Cesar Chavez bar excels in everything divey, and is a great spot to end the bar crawl. There are frozen drinks, live music, plenty of patio space, themed trivia nights, tattooed bartenders, and inexpensive booze. (1910 East Cesar Chavez Street, Holly)
New to Austin? Just here for the weekend? Here’s Eater’s suggestion for a bar crawl that will bring you to some of the most distinctively Austin bars, all great jumping off points for exploring the surrounding neighborhoods.
Fareground: The downtown food hall offers the best of both worlds: an all-star food lineup and an easygoing bar full of cocktails (meant to pair well with the various dishes), wines, and beers. The outdoor area offers a nice little sunken oasis from the bustling downtown scene. (111 Congress Avenue, Downtown)
Recommended drink: a glass of sparkling rosé
Firehouse Lounge: Feel like you’re in the know when you step through the bar’s hidden entrance (hint: try the bookcase) into the cocktail bar with a lounge vibe, featuring cocktails and live music. Hang out late enough and you’ll probably run into the bartender who served your drinks earlier in the night. (605 Brazos Street, Downtown)
Recommended drink: Peach Spice
The Jackalope: Kick things up a notch at the next stop. Located in the epicenter of Austin’s answer to Bourbon Street, Dirty Sixth, the Jackalope is the spot to grab a burger, take a couple shots, get a picture on the huge Jackalope statue by the door, lose your friends, find them again, make some new ones, and then head on to the next bar. (404 East 6th Street, Downtown)
Recommended drink: Draft beer and a shot of your choice
Lustre Pearl: While, yes, it’s not the original Lustre Pearl building (that one can be found over on Linden Street), no trip through the city would be complete without a stop on Rainey Street, which offers a bar-hopping experience all in itself. We suggest Lustre Pearl, but any bar along this street of converted houses would serve as a good spot to explore the entertainment district, with live music, affordable drinks, picnic tables, lawn games, and plenty of space for the whole crew. (94 Rainey Street, Downtown)
Recommended drink: Whatever fits best in the koozie you brought