ATXGuide

The Best Places To Drink Wine In Austin

Restaurants and bars with great wine lists.

The Best Places To Drink Wine In Austin guide image

photo credit: Holly Dirks

It’s not hard to find wine—it’s there on just about every menu in the city. But sometimes you end up with a cloudy glass of Barefoot masquerading as actual wine. Finding good wine, on the other hand, can be a bit tricky. And that’s where we come in. All of the spots in this guide have great wine lists and helpful staff to help guide your wine journey. From expansive patios with natural wine, to intimate converted apartment bars, these are the best places in Austin to drink wine. 

THE SPOTS

photo credit: Richard Casteel

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Birdie's

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Birdie’s is a newish natural wine bar and restaurant on East 12th Street that’s 90% patio. They don’t take reservations. which means there are sometimes long lines, but you can order a glass of wine (or two) to keep you company while you wait. We’re big fans of the pasta here, but we also like to go to Birdie’s when we want to try new and fun wines. There’s around a dozen wines available by the glass ranging from $13-$16, with a wide variety that includes skin contact orange wines, sparkling pinot noir from Austria, and Basque ​​Txakolinas—and they all work surprisingly well when the weather hits the triple digits. The bottle list is pretty long, and to show that they don’t take it all too seriously, they give their wines one-word descriptions of the wine like “zippy,” “sassy,” “precise,” “punk rock,” “uncomplicated,” and “cheeky,”


There aren’t many places in Austin where you can simultaneously order customizable tinned fish boards, sit on a sunny patio drinking some natural wine, and leave with a few cuts of 80-day dry-aged steak on your way out. Salt & Time Wine, a dedicated wine shop just two doors down from the original butcher shop and restaurant, is that place. Grab a glass to enjoy at the shop—it’s a very relaxed place, and is never over-crowded—or a bottle for later. And if you’re just dipping into the world of natural wine, they have a lot of bottles in the $20-30 range, making this place a very accessible entryway. 


The original Bufalina in East Austin was the OG trailblazer in Austin for natural wine, and their second location, Bufalina Due in Brentwood, continues to carry the grape-infused torch. Like moths to a light, we are drawn here for the Neapolitan-style pizza and one of the city’s most interesting wine selections. You’ll find wines from all over, including cult French producers and new-school Texan wineries. Maybe they’ll even change your mind about California chardonnay. The staff here is just as likely to chat with you about everything from the new Catalonian wine they’re into, to the merits of Jimmy Buffet. Occasionally they’ll have special (if pricey) Coravin pours. 


photo credit: Raphael Brion

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Asti Trattoria

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True to the spirit of an unfussy Italian trattoria, the menu at Asti Trattoria in Hyde Park is short and focused, with pastas that are made in house, seasonally-minded, and somehow always al dente. There’s also a nice patio that offers some fun people-watching while you’re enjoying a wine you’ll try and fail to remember the name of later. The wine list is unsurprisingly all-Italian and runs quite deep. There’s a good selection of lambruscos, barolos, and chiantis that would probably work pretty well on the shaded patio paired with either the fungi pizza or the rigatoni amatriciana. There’s also a good amount of affordable by the glass options clocking in at $10-$14, and a generous Happy Hour with $6 house wines.


Aviary Wine Kitchen, near Oltorf and Lamar, is bright and modern, but still feels equally accommodating to t-shirts or button-downs. It also has one of our favorite by-the-glass selections. You’ll find an excellent menu of reds, whites, and oranges from around the world (including a few local ones), plus a few Coravin pours (more premium stuff by the half-glass). Bottles aren’t as cheap as other spots on this guide, but the overwhelming majority are still under $60. But we do love how they’re organized under celebrity categories. Want something rich, round, and lush? Try the Notorious B.I.G. section. Or maybe something odd and funky (Frank Zappa), or bright and lively (Robin Williams)? If you’re hungry, the staff will help pair your pick with dishes ranging from more classic wine pairings—crudos, burratas, and tartares—to some more inventive ones, like pork jowl steaks and fried ajitama eggs. 


LoLo is a natural wine bar and shop located on East 6th, right next to Hotel Vegas and Volstead Lounge—so it can be a zoo around there on weekends. But their laid-back atmosphere, excellent wine list, and mid-century Parisian lamps lining the bar make this spot an escape worth elbowing your way through a crowd of rowdy concert-goers. It’s relaxed and accessible—glasses start at $10 and bottles start in the $30s. You can also grab a few small bites while you’re there. Our favorite is the baguette and butter. You can probably guess what comes on the plate, but it’s made with Easy Tiger bread and some of the best butter we’ve ever had. 


Nixta’s high-low aspect is perfectly Austin: while it might be a scrappy counter-service  operation, the food and drink here are more like what you’d find at a blockbuster restaurant. It’s an excellent place to eat some stellar tacos on a spacious outdoor patio full of colorful picnic tables with Selena blasting on the speakers. There’s also a covered outdoor bar where you can drink interesting low-intervention natural wines from places like Texas, California, France, Spain, and Mexico. Like the food menu, the wine list is short and focused, usually consisting of a single pet nat, red, white, orange, rose, and red wine that are available by the glass or by the bottle. The glassware are these short stemmed cheerfully chonky wine glasses, just perfect for picnic table hangs. Nixta also hosts a monthly wine club event that highlights different winemakers—usually alongside food—that often sell out.


Apt 115 feels like you’ve stumbled into someone’s home. They’re located at the bottom of an apartment complex, in a cozy, remodeled studio—an oddly-fitting fact, given their focus is on small producers and low-intervention wines (but not exclusively). You could just as easily arrive dressed up for a nice date night, or pop in for a quick drink after work to enjoy something from their rotating selection of 10 wines by the glass, or a list that spans over 400 bottles from across six continents. If you’re just here for a glass or two, there are small bites, like baguettes, charcuterie, and cheese. Or you can make a full night of it and opt for a full tasting menu with an optional wine pairing. 


If a hip New York City cafe spent time in Paris, you’d get June’s All Day, a neighborhood cafe and wine bar on a bustling corner of South Congress. The food here is excellent—a somewhat French-American influenced mix of crudos, salads, and pastas—and the wines are expertly-curated. Neither of those should come as a huge surprise considering this spot is from the same folks that brought Austin Jeffrey’s, Clark’s, Perla’s, and more. The inside is a welcome escape from the busyness of South Congress outside, but we like to lean into it by grabbing a table on the sidewalk outside for some people watching. 


You’ll have to choose between two great options for an experience at Lenoir: the modern farmhouse, or the large outdoor wine garden shaded by oak trees. Both are cozy and intimate, and offer full access to a very well-curated list of mostly natural wines, with plenty of options by the glass or bottle. And while you can certainly come for the wine alone, you’d be doing yourself no favors by skipping out on the menu of “hot weather foods” (translation: light and fresh), that we’ve found pair nicely with Austin’s 13 months of summer. They also have one of our favorite Happy Hours in town—with half-off bottles in the wine garden from 5-6pm, every day that they’re open. 


The Meteor on South Congress is a one-stop shop if you’re on your way to a pizza-and-wine cyclist meetup at a park. The equal parts cafe, wine bar, and pizzeria (which also doubles as a bike shop), is a great casual spot to pop in for a glass and some tinned fish, even if you’re not here for an oddly-specific event. The focus here is on natural wines that won’t break the bank, with plenty of bottles falling in the $25-$35 range. If you’d rather hang out in your living room with your cat and enjoy some wine in peace (why are you still reading this guide?), they also have a wine subscription service. 


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