When your favorite country singer talks about “Honky Tonk Heaven,” you better believe they are referencing the Live Music Capital of the World — otherwise known as Austin. However, while joints like the Broken Spoke may have drawn in the Waylons and the Willies to the city, for the great majority of Austinites, nothing beats a Lone Star at the local dive bar. And they exist here in droves, from South Austin pool-side institutions to dives famous for their chicken s*** (we’ll explain, we promise). Grab your swimsuit (get it?) and get ready to dive into some of our favorite, homegrown watering holes below.
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Related: The Best Dim Sum in Austin, TX
Top 4 Dive Bars in Austin
Location: 2001 E Cesar Chavez St, Austin TX 78702
If you get a text from an Austin friend telling you to meet at “drinks,” that’s not just a weird or ironic typo — they, instead, probably mean this East Cesar Chavez local haunt. The backbone of Drinks Lounge consists of two main dive bar staples: records and pool. Music is highly valued here, and not just because there’s usually a DJ rocking the tables with some late night jams. Their new “Drinks Records” program allows you to unload your old vinyl in exchange for bar gift cards. And, with two pool tables, there’s usually no wait time to chalk up and get on the cues here. Just be sure to put some quarters on the table to reserve your spot if you grab a new drink, or you’re liable to end up sitting in their trademark “A**hole Section.”
Go here if: You’re on a first date — challenge your Tinder sweetie to a game of pool. Whoever wins, gets the next round.
Our favorite drink: Their Hot Love, made with ghost pepper-infused tequila, fresh lime, agave, and a tajin rim, satisfies thirsty patrons who want to push their taste buds beyond the usual jalapeño margarita.
Location: 1700 E 6th St, Austin TX 78702
Tucked among the trendy bars of the city’s East Side, the Grackle still rocks the “keep Austin weird” vibe hard, even when all the bars around it are hawking $15 cocktails. Its name itself comes from Texas’ ubiquitous bird, and, just like its winged namesake, it may look like nothing special on the outside, but packs a whole lot of noise on the inside. Here, you will find all the mainstays of a great dive bar — we’re talking a loaded jukebox, rows of darts, and a pool table that probably has seen some epic corner shots since before you were even born. Not everything is old-school Texas though. Their food truck provides great vegan fare that will make you question why you eat meat to begin with.
Go here if: You’re looking for a chill, late-night end to the kind of Happy Hour that turned into dinner and drinks.
Our favorite drink: The Grackle is known for their extensive whiskey list. Anything from that, on the rocks, is a surefire way to gain the respect of your fellow bar patrons.
Deep Eddy Cabaret
Location: 2315 Lake Austin Blvd, Austin TX 78703
There are few more beloved bars within the Austin city limits than Deep Eddy Cabaret. In operation since 1951, it’s not only a neighborhood favorite, but a long-running one at that. No other establishment fits the description of “dive bar” with more accuracy. Prepare for some good ol’ boys ready to regale you with tales from an Austin of yesteryear as you sip on draft-upon-draft of Lone Star. Make a day of it by doing the local trifecta, that is, starting the day with a dip at Deep Eddy Municipal Pool, followed by a bite at Pool Burger, and then sip away the afternoon at the Cabaret. Considering they all share the same parking lot, it’s only a matter of walking a few feet from one to the other.
Go here if: You want an epic Sunday Funday with the crew paired with a dip at Deep Eddy Pool and grub from Pool Burger. It could become your friend group’s new weekend tradition.
Our favorite drink: Considering it is such a traditional Texas bar, you’ve got to stick with the theme when it comes to your beverage choice, meaning it’s Lone Star drafts, or bust.
The Little Longhorn Saloon
Location: 5434 Burnet Rd, Austin TX 78756
Head to North Austin on Sunday for one of Texas’ long-standing traditions — and you better believe we’re not talking about church. The Little Longhorn Saloon, with its white facade and steeple, might certainly look like the usual place many spend the Lord’s Day from the outside, but the ceremony here is decidedly different. The Little Longhorn is famous for “Chicken S*** Bingo,” a name which, well, is pretty self-explanatory. In other words, pick up a bingo card along with your beer and, should the fowl decide to do their business on your number, you could win free drinks or cold, hard cash. That’s not the only attraction to be found behind the Saloon’s doors though; six nights out of seven, you can two-step on the dance floor to live music from one of the great honky-tonk bands that frequent their stage.
Go here if: Your parents are visiting from out of town — they will get a kick out of the authentic Lone Star state atmosphere and the, shall we say, “unique” activities.
Our favorite drink: To bolster your chicken team spirit on a Sunday morning, you should turn to one of the Little Longhorn’s world famous Micheladas, a Mexican favorite made with beer, lime juice, tomato juice, spices, and chili peppers.
Dive bars not enough to quench your thirst? We can send you out to discover Austin’s best margaritas too. Trying both in one night? We won’t judge.
Find Your Next Austin Apartment
Now that you know where to take a dive, why not find your dream apartment nearby? Whether you’re a longtime resident or just moving to Austin, we have the tools to make finding your next apartment a breeze. Our apartment experts know each building like the back of their hand, and can help you find an apartment that checks all of your boxes. Even better, your dedicated agent can access all the rent deals on offer, so you can take advantage of real savings. Sit back, relax, and let the apartment experts do the searching for you. Oh, and did we mention, it’s free?