Welcome to Ask Eater, a column from Eater Austin where the site’s editors answer specific or baffling restaurant requests from readers. Have a question for us? Submit your questions via email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Ask Eater Question.”
Dear Eater —
What are the best bars that have a discreet exit door in case you need to escape a horrible date, random suitor, and/or obnoxious gathering? I’m talkin’ something not super obvious; an exit door placed near a bathroom or something so you can excuse yourself and run to freedom?
Dear Person After My Own Heart:
As someone who has literally sprinted out of a restaurant to escape an unwanted suitor, I feel your pain. I want you to know I have thought about this question deeply and it has occupied almost as much of my brain as Pecan Square Cafe’s $80 chicken.
Before I answer, a big fat disclaimer is to please use this information responsibly, and as a last resort. Try using your words first (for example, telling them you suddenly feel ill). Don’t screw over that person and definitely don’t screw over a restaurant or bar with a large tab. But, if you truly need to run for the hills, especially if it will make you feel safe, here are some things I’d keep in mind when deciding on a place.
I think the ideal restaurant layout for an easy and unnoticed exit is a place with an indoor building that houses the bathrooms, bar, and/or ordering counter, and a large patio out back that has limited visibility to the surrounding area. That way you can ostensibly “go to the bathroom” or “go get another drink,” slip out the front, and no one is the wiser. But remember that for this strategy to work, you absolutely have to sit on the back patio as opposed to the indoor seating. A few places that come to mind with this kind of layout (that also make for great casual date spot) are all-day cafe Better Half, casual beer and kolache spot Batch Craft Beer and Kolaches, and the east location of vinyl bar Long Play Lounge (which you suggested in a follow-up email to us).
If you have to dine indoors due to weather, etc., you need a restaurant where the restrooms are close to the entrance and removed from the dining room. Two options I can think of here, which would both be a very fancy date, are live-fire restaurant Hestia and Dean’s Italian Steakhouse in the JW Marriott. Dean’s in particular is great because the bathroom is outside the restaurant in the lobby, and therefore completely obscured from view. Also, the pastas are great.
Finally, you could simply opt for a place that’s massive and busy with multiple entrances and hope you could slip out unnoticed. Fareground is an option here, or perhaps a brewery or beer garden like Central Machine Works.
Godspeed, and good luck out there.
Have questions about the Austin dining scene? Send questions via email to email@example.com with the subject line “Ask Eater Question.” Eater will feature the answer to one or more questions each month, providing guidance to the questions that plague Austin diners (be sure to specify a part of town, if relevant). People who write in with questions remain anonymous, so go wild.