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Where to Drink in Austin While Avoiding the SXSW Crowds

Take cover with booze

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Drinking is as necessary as eating during South by Southwest (SXSW) craziness, and no Austinite wants to walk into a bar full of badge-wearing people shilling their start-up, film, or band, when all you want is to throw back a familiar cocktail or beer and pretend nothing out of the ordinary is happening. Get away from all of that noise and drink up with Eater’s updated guide to the best bars not participating in the festival.

Find sweet relief (and an extensive beer list) at Black Star Co-op Pub & Brewery in Crestview, opt to stay south at patio haven The Little Darlin’, or embrace the casual and familiar vibes of Nickel City. From dives to pubs to wine bars, there’s something for everyone.

Looking to avoid SXSW with food? Eater has you covered over here. For other drinking needs, scope out Austin’s essential cocktail maps, hot new ones, iconic drinks, and places for margaritas. If you are SXSWing, check out the rest of Eater’s coverage for more dining and drinking ideas.

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The Aristocrat Lounge

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Dive-ish bar entrepreneur Randall Stockton transformed former The Poodle Dog Lounge into a neighborhood-friendly bar in Brentwood with food from Three Little Pigs in tow. There are kegged and frozen cocktails but none of the accompanying pretension.

Black Star Co-op Pub & Brewery

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This Crestview cooperatively owned pub pours a fine selection of craft beers, both from its own brewers and across the country.

The Tigress

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This small North Loop cocktail bar gives new meaning to "attention to detail" when it comes to craft cocktails and beers. Every pour is precise, every pint perfection.

The Tigress
The Tigress
The Tigress/Facebook

Workhorse Bar

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North Loop spot Workhorse Bar has a tap wall crammed with affordably priced craft beers, plus super cheap well drinks and well-made cocktail classics. Go for a margarita, stay for a brew you’ve never heard of before.

Workhorse Bar
Workhorse Bar
Workhorse Bar/Facebook

Drink.Well

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The craft cocktails at the North Loop bar are poured by knowledgeable bartenders who love to talk about their process. Beware: it is a small bar that fills up quickly, but it's a great place to bring a small group of friends.

Drink.Well
Drink.Well
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Barfly's

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Now is the time to drink at North Austin dive bars. Might as well start with the best one.

Crown & Anchor Pub

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SXSW thankfully (or not so thankfully) overlaps with spring break for University of Texas students, it doesn’t mean you should avoid the north campus bar for a beer on the patio and/or a game of darts inside.

Crown & Anchor
Crown & Anchor
Crown & Anchor/Facebook

The Butterfly Bar

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The Butterfly Bar at the Vortex Theater on Manor features a dark cozy interior, but the real draw is the outdoor beer garden, perfect for sunset drinks. Bonus: one of the city’s best Italian trucks, Patrizi’s, is parked on the patio.

Nickel City

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The friendly Central East Austin neighborhood bar offers something for everyone.

Nickel City
Nickel City
Robert J. Lerma/EATX

Apt 115

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Take the time to explore many many wines at the East Seventh Street wine bar.

St Roch's Bar

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East Austin bar St. Roch’s caters explicitly to locals during SXSW, and the bar is just far enough down East Sixth not to get completely slammed by the hordes.

St Roch’s
St Roch’s
St Roch’s/Facebook

Winebelly

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This South Austin tapas neighborhood mainstay nimbly masters both affordable food and drink offerings. Fill up on tapas and make your way through the wide range of wines.

Frazier's

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The East Riverside bar is the perfect new dive to hole up with food and drinks. It’s even from a co-owner of famed Austin honky-tonk White Horse.

Bender Bar & Grill

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No-nonsense sports haven Bender Bar features cheap drinks and solid service with a neighborhood feel.

The Little Darlin'

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Family-friendly and super casual, The Little Darlin’ has a great patio and cheap drink specials deep in south Austin.

The Aristocrat Lounge

Dive-ish bar entrepreneur Randall Stockton transformed former The Poodle Dog Lounge into a neighborhood-friendly bar in Brentwood with food from Three Little Pigs in tow. There are kegged and frozen cocktails but none of the accompanying pretension.

Black Star Co-op Pub & Brewery

This Crestview cooperatively owned pub pours a fine selection of craft beers, both from its own brewers and across the country.

The Tigress

This small North Loop cocktail bar gives new meaning to "attention to detail" when it comes to craft cocktails and beers. Every pour is precise, every pint perfection.

The Tigress
The Tigress
The Tigress/Facebook

Workhorse Bar

North Loop spot Workhorse Bar has a tap wall crammed with affordably priced craft beers, plus super cheap well drinks and well-made cocktail classics. Go for a margarita, stay for a brew you’ve never heard of before.

Workhorse Bar
Workhorse Bar
Workhorse Bar/Facebook

Drink.Well

The craft cocktails at the North Loop bar are poured by knowledgeable bartenders who love to talk about their process. Beware: it is a small bar that fills up quickly, but it's a great place to bring a small group of friends.

Drink.Well
Drink.Well
Drink.Well [Official]

Barfly's

Now is the time to drink at North Austin dive bars. Might as well start with the best one.

Crown & Anchor Pub

SXSW thankfully (or not so thankfully) overlaps with spring break for University of Texas students, it doesn’t mean you should avoid the north campus bar for a beer on the patio and/or a game of darts inside.

Crown & Anchor
Crown & Anchor
Crown & Anchor/Facebook

The Butterfly Bar

The Butterfly Bar at the Vortex Theater on Manor features a dark cozy interior, but the real draw is the outdoor beer garden, perfect for sunset drinks. Bonus: one of the city’s best Italian trucks, Patrizi’s, is parked on the patio.

Nickel City

The friendly Central East Austin neighborhood bar offers something for everyone.

Nickel City
Nickel City
Robert J. Lerma/EATX

Apt 115

Take the time to explore many many wines at the East Seventh Street wine bar.

St Roch's Bar

East Austin bar St. Roch’s caters explicitly to locals during SXSW, and the bar is just far enough down East Sixth not to get completely slammed by the hordes.

St Roch’s
St Roch’s
St Roch’s/Facebook

Winebelly

This South Austin tapas neighborhood mainstay nimbly masters both affordable food and drink offerings. Fill up on tapas and make your way through the wide range of wines.

Frazier's

The East Riverside bar is the perfect new dive to hole up with food and drinks. It’s even from a co-owner of famed Austin honky-tonk White Horse.

Bender Bar & Grill

No-nonsense sports haven Bender Bar features cheap drinks and solid service with a neighborhood feel.

The Little Darlin'

Family-friendly and super casual, The Little Darlin’ has a great patio and cheap drink specials deep in south Austin.

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