The 10 Best Bars In Downtown Austin

Photo of Shyla Watson
9 February 2017

Situated on the north bank of the Colorado River, downtown Austin is the business hub of the city. It’s also home to many of Austin’s government buildings, so many people work in the area. Where do all of those people go after a long, hard day at the office? Read our list to discover the best bars in downtown Austin.

Door at Red Room Lounge | ©Ed Hunsinger/Flickr

The Red Room Lounge

Bar, American
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This basement bar may be somewhat rugged and industrial, but it’s also cozy and chic on the inside. The intimate cocktail lounge has comfortable leather couches and booths, paired with just the right shade of red mood lighting. Red Room Lounge not only has one of the finest selections of wine in the Austin area, but they also have numerous sommeliers that know everything there is to know about that wine. Friendly and warm, they will help you find just the right bottle for you, and there is a very wide inventory, both in price and flavor. Share a bottle among friends while snacking on the cheese platter, crab cakes, lobster rolls, and other gourmet appetizers.

Mug Shots

Bar, Pub Grub
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DJ Spinning at Firehouse Lounge
DJ Spinning at Firehouse Lounge | ©MarkScottAustinTX
This (possibly haunted) downtown dive is everything that you could want for a casual hang. There are deals on drinks and food, and the bar has an amazing jukebox with a wide selection. If you prefer, you can belt out your own tunes on Open Mic Mondays. Aside from their supreme beer collection, Mug Shots is most notably known for their photo booth, so go and ahead create your own ‘Mug Shots Memories.’ Enjoy a drink out on the patio or play a game of pool inside – there’s tons of ways to entertain yourself at Mug Shots.

Firehouse Lounge

Bar, Cocktail Bar, Sandwich Shop, Pub Grub, $$$
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Moonshine Patio Bar & Grill
Moonshine Patio Bar & Grill | ©dianaconnolly101
Firehouse Lounge & Hostel sits in what was once an Austin fire station. Though it has been converted into a modern cocktail bar, it still retains much of its historic charm and prominent speakeasy vibe. Also a hostel, the lounge is accessible from a hidden bookshelf entrance, located in the lobby. Guests and outside visitors can step back in time and enjoy Prohibition-era cocktails as well as jazz and blues musical performances. The menu is small, but offers big sandwiches and appetizers for those that are hungry. The best thing about Firehouse is that after a long night, you can rent a room and retire upstairs.

Moonshine Patio Bar & Grill

Bar, Restaurant, Diner, American, Pub Grub, Contemporary, $$$
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Moonshine Grill, Austin
Moonshine Grill, Austin | Steve Snodgrass/Flickr
Moonshine Patio is both a restaurant and a bar.You can enjoy nearly 20 brews of beer, 15 types of bourbon, 13 kinds of whiskey, 5 different scotches, and a variety of tequila, vodka, and gin, and of course, there’s moonshine; try different flavors from places such as Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas. The bartenders are very knowledgeable and friendly, so don’t be afraid to ask for advice on making the right choice. As a restaurant, Moonshine is one step ahead. Instead of offering complimentary bread as a starter, they put delicious, buttery popcorn on the table. Try favorites like the corn dog shrimp, bread pudding, and beer-battered asparagus.

Handle Bar

Bar, North American
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Courtesy of Handlebar

The theme is mustaches, not bicycles, at this Texas establishment. If you don’t have a mustache, you can buy a handlebar style for $1 and put it on your glass or your face! The rooftop is decorated with twinkle lights and a few green plants and trees, creating an intimate ambiance. Both the upstairs and downstairs bars have fun games to keep patrons entertained. Downstairs, play a game of pool, darts, or on pinball machines. On the second floor, there’s a seesaw, rocking horses, corn hole, and giant Jenga. There’s also frequent DJ and live music performances so you sing and dance to your favorite hit songs. Stop by on Sundays for all-day Happy Hour.
Address and Telephone: 121 E. 5th St. Austin, TX, USA

Driskill Bar

Bar, American, Beer, $$$
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Drinks at Austin, TX Bar
Drinks at Austin, TX Bar | ©Broken Piggy Bank
Located in the 4-star downtown hotel The Driskill, the Driskill Bar and Lounge is where class meets traditional Texas. The decor features cowhide couches, mounted longhorns, and cowboy statues paired with statuesque columns and marbled floors. Whether you’re a guest of the hotel or a passerby in the downtown area, stop by for a drink. Sip on a signature cocktail while enjoying a live performance of country and folk music.


Bar, Bistro, Restaurant, Wine Bar, American, $$$
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Easy Tiger
Easy Tiger | ©Nan Palmero
Wink quickly established itself as the trendiest hotspot in the downtown Austin area. Enjoy delicious gourmet food and fine wines in a casual environment. Wink serves fresh seafood items such as scallops and mussels, cured salmon, and more. Dine on tasty lamb chops and duck, or try some of the amazing vegetarian options available. Regardless of what you order, there’s a delicious bottle of wine that will pair with your meal perfectly. Order by the bottle or by the glass, and be sure to ask your waiter for suggestions.

Easy Tiger

Bar, American, German, $$$
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Max’s Wine Dive
Max’s Wine Dive | ©Diane Cordell/Flickr
Easy Tiger is two restaurants in one. Enter to discover both a German bakeshop and beer garden. Snack on house made bread, pretzels, sausages, corned beef, and more. Pop by in the morning for breakfast, grabbing a coffee or tea and delicious pastry, and then return later in the evening for Happy Hour after work. Try their specialty cocktails, whiskey, bourbon, wine, or one of the 33 draft beers available – not to mention, they have a few bottled beers and even a gluten-free option. The patio is a great place to enjoy a drink, as well as host an event; the space is available for private booking. Be sure to ask your server about the coveted mug club.

Max’s Wine Dive

Bar, Restaurant, Wine Bar, Pub Grub, South American, American, Gluten-free, $$$
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Swift’s Attic Interior
Swift’s Attic Interior | ©Dion Hinchcliffe
Max’s is a restaurant and bar that serves delicious, gourmet southern dishes and excellent wines. Fill up on dishes such as their famous Southern fried chicken, shrimp and grits, and classic grilled cheese, and pair it with a red, white, or bubbling wine of your choice. The wine list is extensive and affordable, so you’ll be able to find just what you’re craving, whether it’s a glass or a bottle. Finally, top off the meal with a dessert; try their cherry limeade cheesecake, bread pudding, or one of their dessert wines. This is a great place to come for an early afternoon brunch.

Swift’s Attic

Restaurant, Bar, Cocktail Bar, Gastropub, American, Korean, Fusion, $$$
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Swift's Attic serves Korean, Southern and fusion dishes
Swift's Attic serves Korean, Southern and fusion dishes | Courtesy of Swift's Attic
This funky restaurant and cocktail bar is everything. Swift’s Attic exquisitely melds brick and copper interior with soft, elegant lighting, fun art, and creative seating. Have a plate of their phenomenal, gourmet meals, such as Korean BBQ flank steak, duck wings, venison balls, and more, and then sample their flavorful artisan cocktails; local favorites include the Strawberry Fields Ice Ball, Lindacello, and Build-Your-Own Bloody Mary. Come for brunch and dine on their peanut butter pancakes with a mimosa on the side. Swift’s Attic is a trendy gastropub with great drinks, great food, and an amazing atmosphere.