There are many perfectly legitimate reasons to be drinking during the daytime, especially in Austin. 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)
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)
Workhorse Bar. Beloved North Loop neighborhood bar Workhorse opens at 11 a.m. with great burgers, fried pickles, and unbelievably cheap, strong drinks. Try a margarita if you dare, or stick to their tap wall if you actually need to get work done. (100 North Loop Boulevard East, North Loop)
Bouldin Creek Cafe. At the friendly neighborhood vegetarian spot, drinks are cheap (even before happy hour, which runs from 3 to 6 p.m. on weekdays) 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 First Street, Bouldin Creek)
Considerations: Ideally, you would like a place conducive to 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’ll probably have to mingle with the daywalkers for a while as they get their morning coffee. Radio Coffee & Beer (and booze) and Wright Bros. Brew and Brew both open early (7 a.m. and 7:30 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 Menchaca Road, South Austin; Wright Bros. Brew and Brew, 500 San Marcos Street, East Side)
Cherrywood Coffee House. This local coffeeshop with great burgers and breakfast — and a wall of 25 taps — opens at 7 a.m. (1400 East 38th 1/2 Street, Cherrywood)
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, West Austin)
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 half-price martinis and burgers starting at 3 p.m). Don’t have a reservation and there’s a wait? Check Pecan Square Cafe next door for a similar atmosphere with a menu of pastas and pizzas. (1200 West Sixth Street, Clarksville)
Wax Myrtle’s. Prefer mezcal over a martini? Take in the beautiful skyline views from Thompson Hotel’s rooftop Mediterranean restaurant. The menu has lots of larger vegetable dishes, lunch entrees like a chicken torta, and drinks that lean on Mexican and American spirits — like a daiquiri with Mexican rum, lime, pineapple, and habanero. (506 San Jacinto Boulevard, Downtown)
Wu Chow. The downtown staple has a wide selection of Chinese dishes that can accommodate any diet, from vegetable fried rice to the firey Chengdu chili chicken. The full bar specializes in pleasantly tropical drinks. (500 West 5th, West Sixth)
Bartlett’s. For an old-school steak-and-martini lunch, head to the American restaurant in North Shoal Creek. Dishes include a French dip au jus, Caesar salad, smoked pork chop, and prime rib — plus a full bar and comfortable booths. (2408 West Anderson Lane, North Shoal Creek)
Considerations: You want to see the iconic Austin spots... and drink. Why not? You’re actually on vacation.
Recommendations: Nixta Taqueria. Ready to try some excellent tacos from a James Beard Award-winning chef? Head to Nixta for lunch, when there is mercifully a shorter line for chef Edgar Rico’s masterful creations like beet tartare tostada and duck carnitas. Drinks-wise, there are low-intervention wines, ciders, beers, and sake-based cocktails along with fermented beverages like tepache and mesquite tea. (2512 East 12th Street, Chestnut)
Lamberts Downtown Barbecue. You may have heard something about barbecue in this part of the country. 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 Second Street, Downtown)
Hoover’s Cooking. Chef Hoover Alexander did farm-to-table cooking in Austin when that meant actually bringing hogs from the farm down the street to the restaurant. To experience the joy that is Southern food and hospitality — along with a full bar — head to Hoover’s for fantastic chicken fried steak, catfish po’boys, and margaritas. (2002 Manor Road, Blackland)
Fareground. No more arguing over where to eat — Austin’s first food hall has several great restaurants in one place (famed Emmer & Rye’s Henbit, baguettes and chicken from Austin Rotisserie, tacos at Taco Pegaso, dumplings from Little Wu, and falafel from TLV), plus a full bar (that offers daily $4 happy hour starting at 5 p.m.). 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.
Recommendations: Banger’s. You’ve seen the infamous one-liter mimosas. Go get one. (The sausages are great, too.) (81 Rainey Street, Rainey)
Sour Duck Market. From the owners of Odd Duck and Barley Swine, this casual restaurant lets you start with pastries and work your way to a burger...and maybe circle back around to pastries again (they’re very good). Draft cocktails, beer, and wine are on deck, and the expansive patio provides a great place to hang out. (1814 East Martin Luther King Junior Boulevard, Central East Austin)
Uncle Nicky’s. The cafe serves breakfast — and boozy coffee drinks — all day. If you last until 2 p.m., you can get happy hour deals like a $6 spritz, $5 house wine, and a $25 cheese plate and bottle of wine. (4222 Duval Street, Hyde Park; 1123 East 11th Street, Central East Austin)
Taquero Mucho. Nestled among the bars of West Sixth, this all-pink taqueria from Gabriela Bucio has everything you need for Sunday (or Saturday) Funday: large drinks with cheeky names, birria, waffles, and so many cheesy dishes (breakfast quesadilla, choriqueso, taquitos). (508 West Avenue, Downtown)
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 West 35th Street, Bryker Woods)
For more daylight boozy inspiration, check out:
- Happy Hours for Affordable 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
- 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