Austin Dive Bar Guide

Keeping Austin Boozy

Keeping the city weird is one thing, keeping it well-stocked with dusty dive bars is another (so far so good)
Painted Lady Lounge - Detroit Dive Bar - Interior
Deep Eddy Cabaret / Austin

Few cities have seen the kind of relentless growth that Austin has experienced over the past decade or two, the influx of new residents rapidly shifting the landscape of eating, drinking and living in the city. Underneath that growth is the “real” Austin if it can be called that, a network of city originals that very much includes the city’s dive bars.

The Little Longhorn Saloon is one such dive, a location that has operated as a bar of some description since World War II and home to a Sunday ritual involving a chicken, a sequence of numbers and wagering on the location of a particular bodily function. Huge crowds are drawn but there’s more to the Austin dive bar than livestock wagering, including a potent live music scene in a building that may as well be the dive bar chapel of the city.

North of the city, Lala’s Little Nugget follows in the grand tradition of Christmas-themed dive bars, complete with Santa sleigh on the bar’s roof and a few miles worth of tinsel. In the same part of the city, Buddy’s Place hits the opposite end of the spectrum, a no-nonsense interior with a profound devotion to John Wayne.

These types of gems can be found throughout Austin, an important counterpoint to some of the redevelopment that can be seen throughout the city.

Dive Bar Map

Our Austin Dive Bar Recommendations

While we’ve done our fair share of drinking, we haven’t yet hit every Austin Dive Bar. The recommendations below are sorted into tiers to help guide your choices depending on how much time you have to explore Austin. Where we’ve reviewed a location, a score is given.

SFG Reviews

We’ve been lucky enough to visit the locations below in Austin. Each location includes a full review and SFG score to help you decide on how to prioritize your travels.

Deep Eddy Cabaret

SFG Rating: 10 out of 10
Order a mini with a straight face to really start the day right.

Donn's Depot

SFG Rating: 10 out of 10
Impossible to put into words, holiday decorations or not.

Ego's Lounge

SFG Rating: 9 out of 10
Behind the gas station, under the office, nothing but dive bar perfection.

The Hole in the Wall

SFG Rating: 9 out of 10
Witness the wild difference between a day drink and a packed show.

Buddy's Place

SFG Rating: 9 out of 10
Nothing says dive bar like blacked out windows and spray paint John Wayne.

Sam's Town Point

SFG Rating: 9 out of 10
Don't be swayed by the occasional cover charge, the experience inside is worth the outlay.

Lala's Little Nugget

SFG Rating: 8 out of 10
There's a comfort in Christmas decorations with no responsibility for putting them up.

Giddy Ups

SFG Rating: 7 out of 10
60 years of honkytonk and open mic nights have created robust community here.

Casino South Side

SFG Rating: 7 out of 10
A slice of Austin's 6th Street without bachelorette parties or police barricades.

SFG Recommendations

We have not yet been lucky enough to visit the Austin options below, but research, word of mouth and reader submissions have led us to recommend these must-visit options.

Barfly's

No live music, no cocktail menu, purely divey.
Google Map

C Hunt's Ice House

Chester Hunt's meat processing plant turned dive bar.
Google Map

Little Longhorn Saloon

What better combo than beer, chickens and a friendly wager?
Google Map

Sahara Lounge

Live music and an oasis vibe in a building dating to 1962.
Google Map

Other Options

Below you’ll find the truly deep cuts, gems in waiting that we have not yet been able to visit. Let us know if you find a particularly potent destination.

Carousel Lounge

1110 E 52nd St
Austin, TX 78723
Google Map

Casino El Camino

517 E 6th St
Austin, TX 78701
Google Map

Dirty Bill's

511 Rio Grande St
Austin, TX 78701
Google Map

G&S Lounge

2420 S 1st St
Austin, TX 78704
Google Map

Hideout Pub

12164 TX-1 Loop
Austin, TX 78758
Google Map

La Perla

1512 E 6th St
Austin, TX 78702
Google Map

Mean Eyed Cat

1621 W 5th St
Austin, TX 78703
Google Map

Nickel City

1133 E 11th St
Austin, TX 78702
Google Map

Shangri-La

1016 E 6th St
Austin, TX 78702
Google Map

Skylark Lounge

2039 Airport Blvd
Austin, TX 78722
Google Map

The 04 Lounge

3808 S Congress Ave
Austin, TX 78704
Google Map

The Grand

4631 Airport Blvd
Austin, TX 78751
Google Map

The Lost Well

The Lost Well
Google Map

The Side Bar

602 E 7th St
Austin, TX 78701
Google Map

What Did We Miss?

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