For a long, long time, there was only one “6th Street” in Austin. And it was Dirty. But that’s no longer the case. Over the past few years, East 6th and the surrounding area has become the coolest place to drink in town. Whether or not you get excited about what’s new and hot, there’s no denying that there’s a high concentration of awesome bars around here.
So whether you’re finally ready to move on from your Dirty 6th routine, or you’re visiting Austin for the first time and want to know where the “cool people” drink, here are our favorite bars on around the East Side.
Hidden under a bunch of trees in front of some train tracks on a side street, you’d probably never know Yellow Jacket Social Club was here. This divey spot isn’t just a great place for a low-key hang in the shade - they serve a surprisingly great brunch, with out-of-this-world shrimp and grits. Get the frozen mimosas if you’re looking to start the day off right.
Between ladies night, the snow cone truck out front, yoga-brunch (do with that information what you will), and a big back patio - Craftsman knows what the people want. We like to start out here for cocktails, then head next door to Stay Gold for live music - but this place is really an all-around good choice for any kind of night.
This is the kind of place you can only find in Austin: a casual, easy spot to catch some actually-excellent live music (they have it every night, typically with no cover), plus an awesome outdoor patio + food truck situation. A perfect weeknight hangout spot, especially for a first date/getting-to-know-you type of situation.
The all-Mezcal bar upstairs is the reason you should check out Whislers, but the spacious patio downstairs and the option to snag some Thai Kun from the truck will definitely keep you there for a while. Ideal for starting off an East 6th night, but no one in your group will complain if you end up shutting down the place either.
Keeping it highly casual, Violet Crown’s outdoor seating area and divey inside area is where you meet up with your friends to simultaneously complain about your job and try to remember why you have one. Also, the fact that Via 313 is posted up in the front makes it that much harder to say no to Wednesday night beers.
Fancy-ish cocktails, plus an eclectic space. Rio Rita’s is where you tell your former coworker/childhood friend you haven’t seen in a while/person you swiped right on last night to meet you to “grab a drink.” There are enough snacks in case the meetup goes well, but with a casual enough vibe that you can make for a quick exit if necessary.
Not from Austin? Hosting an out-of-town friend? Generally looking for a fun night but don’t have a real agenda in mind? All are excellent reasons to come to White Horse, where it’s pretty impossible not to have a good time. It’s always crowded, and filled with all kinds of people - older Austin hippies, young tech people who just moved from San Francisco, former fratstars, and definite weirdos. That melting pot crowd, plus the always-solid live music, plus the actual honky tonk dancing that goes down, all make White Horse one of the best places to spend a night in Austin.
If your ideal Friday night involves sweatpants and red wine on the couch, stay far away from Eastern. This dive hosts a weekly “F*ck me Fck me Fridays,” which is essentially a sweaty, packed hip hop dance party. If that sounds like something you’d be intrigued by, go ahead and follow your instinct because it’s a great time. And if it’s not a Friday, you should still keep this place on your radar for cheap drinks made even cheaper at happy hour.
If you don’t mind a cover charge, Hotel Vegas is a good place to come if you’re looking for something a little rowdier (bordering on sh*tshow material). Loud live music (usually up and coming bands) inside, big scene on the back patio outside.
The sister bar to Hotel Vegas, Volstead is another great choice for a Friday night dance party. The backyard, which it shares with Hotel Vegas, is great for catching up with an old friend (or throwing your own party - just keep in mind the place fills up quick).
Even people that never go out on the East Side have been out at Shangri-La. It was one of the original East Side bars, and is still one of the most popular. Cheap drinks, a huge (dog-friendly) patio that’s good for making new friends, and a happy hour until 9pm all this an easy choice for weeknights or a first stop on a weekend crawl.
Weather Up is where you do date night right on the east side. The spot might look like a kind of shabby house from the outside, but the inside is all beautiful design and good vibes. Fancy drinks, solid food, an excellent string light-covered backyard, and a special but still unpretentious environment are all reasons why this place is where you go to seal the deal.