So as I may have mentioned before, we made the most of my little trip to Austin. Rachael made sure I didn’t miss any of Austin’s nightlife either. We went to so many places, things are starting to run together in my terrible memory, but I thing I have it sorted out for you here. Oh and please pardon my exceptionally bad pictures… it was dark most of the time and we were in a hurry with so many places to go!
When we arrived at 6th Street late on Friday night, we really only had maybe an hour before the bars closed. When you’re trying to see as much as possible, the 2am shut down is a bit of a downer when you are used to 4am, not matter how little you stay out that late normally. Anyway we walked from one end to the other of the historic downtown part of 6th Street. They close the street on Friday nights, so everyone is just walking around from bar to bar having a good time. Most of the bars had open roof tops and patios that everyone was hanging out on. If they didn’t have a roof, all the windows and doors at the street were open. It kind of reminded me of a couple areas in Montreal and somewhere else I can’t seem to remember. The general feel of the area reminded me of summer events like Music on Main in Bozeman when they shut down Main Street. Except it was barely March and I needed about the same amount of clothing I would in the summer in Bozeman at night. One thing I didn’t like about it so much was you could tell we were close to the university. There were a lot of younger high school kids hanging out on the streets, which just made me feel old, but then so did all the college kids in the bars. Just because I am old is maybe not really a reason to hate on it.
I loved Rainey Street, it was by far my favorite area. I had heard that it was the place to go for a drink via several blogs. I loved the idea of old houses being converted into bars, or restaurants or just some other purpose that a house layout typically does not suit. We started at one end and Rachael made sure we stopped in at every bar along the way, except the White House, because it was “like going to frat party.”
We started with the original bar, Lustre & Pearl, which was my favorite. They didn’t do much to fix the place up, or they carefully stripped it down. The interiors it looks like someone moved out 50 years ago and no repairs have been made since and it was awesome. I liked that all the walls remained and there were separate little rooms to wander in and out of. One had a Foosball table where I beat Rachael, one had a fireplace and disco ball and the room in the back had the bar. There was also a huge backyard for people to hang out in and a bar out there. The old chandelier in the entry was pretty awesome too. This is the kind of preservation I like.
Our next stop was at Bar 96 across the street. This place was more a sports bar with an open plan and much nicer finishes. It had a large back area with a deck and a screen set up at the back of the yard so they could play whatever game was on. The bar was located in side right when you walked in but had a window section on the side of the house too. On the back wall people were playing this game where you have a hook in the wall and a hoop on a string. The point is to stand back several feet and swing the hoop to get caught on the hook. I have no patience for such things. There are some games where I can see being able to do it after trying awhile, and those that I see just getting really frustrated with, this would be the latter. Before we could leave, we had to go into the photobooth which was a total fail. It doesn’t show you if you are in the frame or not and you don’t push a button to take the pictures it automatically does it. See the proof above.
We headed over to Clive Bar for our next drink. This bar was packed and I don’t think I ever when into the actual interior of the house, we entered on the side porch and just headed to the back deck that had a huge overhang above. In the back yard is this little shed that Rachael said she had never been able to get inside of, it was always packed. We headed there first, walked right in and sat down at the bar. This eightish foot by twelveish foot shed was called Bar Illegal, dedicated to a specific goddess who I now forget. The only drink you could order was mescal, a cousin of tequilas. You had a $9, $12 or $17 option. The bar tender explained to us that since we had never tried it before we should first sip it straight and then if we wanted more order one of their mixed drinks, so that is exactly what we did. It was interesting, it didn’t sting like tequila and tasted better too. The interior of the little concrete block bar was pretty interesting. On one side you had a stair going to nowhere with some old photos on top, on the pitched ceiling a tapestry of the half naked goddess, I assume, with a bunch of bunnies, and candles flickering where the only light I recall. This ended up being my second favorite place. After two drinks at the tiny bar we decided to let someone else in and went up to the back deck. Interesting side note, these first three bars are all owned by the same person.
The last bar we stopped and actually spent some time in was Blackheart. Despite the tight bar area, I really liked this place as well. They had delicious cocktails and I liked the living room seating area adjacent to the bar. It was just a normal bar in house and it wasn’t too packed or too quiet. In all reality, it would probably become my favorite spot on Rainey Street if I actually went there regularly. We didn’t spend time in the backyard much, it was getting cold, but like all the bars on the street, it was huge.
We were running out of time if we were going to check out East Austin, so we breezed through the Icenhauers, it was pretty quiet anyway, the design was nice. Very modern. We missed Javelina, Bangers and Bungalow. We headed back up the street to find a cab to East Austin and ended up in a pedi cab. The pedicabs amaze me. It’s a bunch of hipsters that are working for tips. I mean they have a suggested tip price per person, but you could just not tip them if you wanted and be a horrible person. I never take pedi cabs in the city, I feel bad asking someone to pedal me around when I can pedal myself around and I know how much work that takes. Plus, they mostly only hang around tourist areas in New York and are kind of annoying. In Austin it seems they exist to take you from bar area to bar area which is kinda of cool, but if you actually tip them per person what they ask, which you probably should, it’s way more expensive than an actual cab. Anyway, I probably annoyed the hell out of our driver cause I kept asking questions, but he got us to our next neighborhood.
Rachael’s favorite bar is White Horse. It’s a big kinda dive bar. Maybe my memory is starting to fail me of that night, but I remember they had a tall wooden fence around the exterior, including the parking area, that made me think of corral. So anyway Rachael was excited to go there for the music. They have live music most weekends and it’s suppose to be really good. Unfortunately what we found was not so good, at least in our opinion. It was some sort of weird head banging band. I have promised Rachael that we will go back when I am there for Austin City Limits so that it can live up to it’s great expectations.
We left there and headed down to Rio Rita. It was pretty late by the time we got there and we were all pretty hungry, so we ended up getting cookies while we waited for the cab we called. It was a really cute place that is coffee shop by day and bar by night, definitely a place I could see hanging out.
West 6th Street
So really, this is another part of 6th Street that is in a newer area, obviously on the west end. Sunday afternoon and evening is Sunday Funday in this area. Bars had drink specials and deejays are getting people to dance. As usual, most of the the bars in this area have large out door areas where everyone hangs out, until the too hot summer arrives, I assume. We ran walked along a couple bars, walked up to checked out the rooftops at a few bars just because, before we ended up at Rachael’s usual spot Kung Fu and met up with her friends. It was packed and pretty fun. Both the interior and exterior patio were packed.
After a drink or two and in an attempt to ditch some unwanted company, we headed to the bar that is suppose to be like a bar in Brooklyn called Dirty Bill’s. It is long and narrow and dark and Bushwick Bill was randomly preformed a few songs while we were there. I guess he’s making a comeback. I don’t know if I would say that the bar is a typical Brooklyn bar, but it did make me think of some of the dive bars I’ve been to, walls cluttered with random stuff, dark and a bit dirty. There was no exterior space, which was the norm in Brooklyn, but I think that is changing pretty rapidly, they better add a back garden space if they want to keep up.
We circled back to Kung Fu, but didn’t see anything [one] too interesting so we headed down the street to The Dogwood. They had a huge open courtyard and a deejay in the back who was playing some pretty good tunes. Rachael tried to get me to play the hook on the wall game, but I clearly lack the patience for such games. Totally failed. She hooked it with little effort. We were starting to get tired and a bit hungry so we headed out to our last stop, Haddingtons. I won’t bore you with the details again, you can read about it in my previous post, but I will say once again, their cocktails are delicious and the bartenders are very nice!
Whew! That was another long one. Who knew you could fit so much into one weekend and I’m not even finished. I hope that doesn’t scare you away!