Sixth Street East of Congress is Austin’s party central. Shot bars, dance clubs, beer joints, and more shot bars are the featured attractions, and thousands of students and twentysomethings revel in the debauchery each weekend.
This is where the cast of MTV’s Real World Austin spent most of their time, so that’s the kind of crowd you’ll find. As an added bonus, the streets are closed to cars on most weekends, allowing revelers to stumble between bars and jabber with their brand new BFFs.
Like the nearby Warehouse District, Sixth Street West of Congress (a much smaller area) draws an older crowd that prefers a neat pour of Scotch over a dollar shot of schnapps. Ten years ago this depressing part of downtown was filled with used car lots and auto repair shops, now it’s in the shadow of condo towers and company headquarters.
East of Congress
One of the premier spots for soaking up the whole scene is the rooftop patio at Iron Cactus (606 Trinity St., 512/472-9240, www.ironcactus.com). Their spectacular top-shelf margaritas taste even better on the balcony on a perfect spring evening.
For a genuine sense of the Sixth Street party atmosphere, check out Spill (212 E. Sixth St., 512/320-8005) a big dance club for the Long Island Iced Tea crowd. The music isn’t always trendy, but it’s definitely danceable. Guys take note: There’s a dress code, so leave the shorts and flip-flops at home.
And if you absolutely insist on doing a body shot where the Real Worlders once held court, stagger to the zoos known as The Chugging Monkey (219 E. Sixth St., 512/476-5015, www.thechugginmonkey.com) and The Dizzy Rooster (306 E. Sixth St., 512/236-1667, www.dizzyrooster.com).
Those looking for a comparatively mellower Sixth Street venue are still in luck. Several bars cater to Austin’s laid-back alternative clientele, content to kick back on a patio with tequila on the rocks or a pale ale while the jukebox cranks out Johnny Cash and Interpol.
The best of the bunch is Lovejoy’s (604 Neches St., 512/477-1268), a comfy, tattoo-ey, left-of-center brew pub just a half-block from the frenzy of Sixth Street activity. Order a Samson’s cask ale and snag a seat on one of the pieces of vintage (ragged old) furniture for an authentic experience.
Another alternative venue drawing an eclectic crowd is Casino el Camino (517 E. Sixth St., 512/469-9330, www.casinoelcamino.net). Don’t be too frightened by the graphic S&M scenes painted on the wall or the dungeon décor—even goths like to occasionally whoop it up. Be sure to sample one of Casino’s enormous and immensely flavorful burgers (split one with a pal and expect a 20-minute wait) while Clash tunes from the jukebox drown out a Stanley Kubrick movie.
Just a couple blocks away is Club DeVille (900 Red River St., 512/457-0900), a semi-swanky, super-loungey cocktail bar. Arrive before 11 to grab a prime spot on the big patio beneath the limestone cliff wall. The drinks are strong, the music is perfectly nostalgic, and the scene is always hoppin’—an ideal recipe for a night on the town in Austin.
West of Congress
One of the more established and inviting taverns on the street is Opal Divines Freehouse (700 W. Sixth St., 512/477-3308, www.opaldivines.com). Named for the owner’s grandmother, this English-style pub has a magnificent double-decker patio among the towering oak trees and features an impressive Scotch bar on the second floor. Beer lovers will froth over the amazing ale options, and the pub grub—particularly the cracked-pepper fries—is way above average.
Venture across the street for the lively singles scene at Molotov Lounge (719 W. Sixth St., 512/499-0600, www.molotovlounge.com). The Russian theme will compel you to order a vodka drink, which you can keep chilled on the portion of the bar made of ice. Other cool bar features include retractable front doors and a swanky rooftop patio.
Mother Egan’s Irish Pub (715 W. Sixth St., 512/478-7747, www.motheregansirishpub.com) is a block down the street, and, not surprisingly, is an ideal spot to kick back and enjoy a pint of Guinness. A large outdoor patio hosts live music during the week, and anyone seriously nostalgic for the homeland can order corned beef and cabbage or shepherd’s pie.
© Andy Rhodes from Moon Texas, 6th Edition