The Little Longhorn Saloon is a timeless Austin institution, a dive bar that can trace its history back to a 1940s-era conversion into a bar after stints as farmhouse, gas station and restaurant. The Austin dive bar’s original owner, Dick Setliff, passed away in 1982, leaving the Little Longhorn Saloon to mainstay Ginny Kalmback in his will. Ginny’s face can still be seen framed behind the bar in addition to partner Dale Watson who came on board and eventually took over ownership in 2013 when Ginny retired. Ownership has since passed to Terry & David Genoa, but Ginny’s time presiding over the dive is still remembered fondly by regulars.
Outside, cinder blocks, license plates and a mosaic of stone comprise the Austin dive bar’s structure. The building resembles a church complete with steeple and might as well be viewed that way given the crowds that congregate every Sunday for a very different reason than mass. The Little Longhorn Saloon is famous for many things, but one of them is Chicken Bingo, a game of chance where participants by a ticket for a square in the chicken’s cage, hoping that the chicken will do its business on their plot. The event takes place every Sunday, running through a handful of rounds with special early seating for kids and seniors.
Outside of livestock-related parking lot events, the Austin dive bar lives up to its self-proclaimed statures as “the honkiest tonkiest beer joint in town” with a live music schedule that runs six nights a week (the bar is closed with Monday) with anywhere from two to three bands each evening. The space is small, meaning live music nights call for cramped quarters and a makeshift dance floor that can otherwise be referred to as any unoccupied piece of real estate. Shows are often livestreamed, as they were during the COVID-19 pandemic to help keep the Little Longhorn Saloon afloat.