7 Classic Bars in the Capital City

With Austin growing at such a rapid rate, it can be hard to keep track of the increasing number of new hot spots. Fortunately, if there's ever a struggle over deciding where to go for the night, the city still has some classic hangouts. Ever reliable, these bars always serve up cold drinks in warm atmospheres.
Our new Beverage Issue just hit the stands, and to celebrate we've compiled a list of seven bars that are staples in this city. Some of these businesses haven't changed since the '70s, while others popped up in the last decade. Either way, we are glad they're here for those nights you just want to hang out and have a drink.


1. Donn's Depot

donn 1
Photography by Nathan Beels

Based in a former train depot, this piano bar keeps the drinks simple and the music danceable. Founded by owner Donn Adelman over 40 years ago, Donn's features a popcorn machine, two dance floors and an array of longtime Austinites and new residents.


2. Ginny's Little Longhorn Saloon

Photography by Whitney Arostegui

An essential stop on the Burnet Road Crawl, Ginny's is known for its Sunday night Chicken Shit Bingo. The bar draws visitors from around the globe to place bets on this iconic game, and the accompanying drinks aren't bad either. Top that off with a chili dog buffet, and you have an Austin icon.


3. Midnight Cowboy

cowboy 2
Photography by Marshall Wright

One of the younger stops in the group, Midnight Cowboy manages to maintain an old feel. This low-key spot is located in what was formerly a questionable Oriental Modeling Agency, but now the building houses a fantastic cocktail menu. All you have to do is make a reservation and ring the right buzzer... easy, right?


4. Lala's Little Nugget

lala 2
Photography by Whitney Arostegui

It's Christmas year-round at Lala's Little Nugget, ever since Frances Lala opened the bar in 1972. Known for its colorful string lights, wide jukebox selection and tasty Bloody Marys, this little nugget maintains generations of customers due to its great atmosphere.


5. Making a Mockery

Photography by Alison Narro

Though this story features more beverages than bars, it deserves a mention for those looking to a non-alcoholic evening out on the town. Jessica Saners, co-owner of popular bars Backbeat and Drink. Well. explains why shrubs make for a fabulous mocktail. Read on to find other bars in the area that serve variations of this drink.


6. The Side Bar

side bar
Photograph courtesy of The Side Bar

At Side Bar, the cocktails are strong, the bartenders are quick and the vodka is often infused with local flavors. This staple of Red River serves all types of crowds, who come in for a relaxing break from the often wild atmosphere of Sixth Street. 


7. Buddy's Place

Photography by Whitney Arostegui

The final stop on the Burnet Road Crawl, Buddy's Place has the best country jukebox in Austin, according to owner Jackie Smith. This bar is a perfect dive to stop in and play some pool at, and if you come often, you might be lucky enough to make it onto Buddy's "Birthday Board."

Compiled by Darby Kendall