The Best Bars & Restaurants On Rainey StreetOur favorite restaurants, food trucks, and bars on Rainey Street.
Try explaining Rainey Street to someone who’s never been and they might have a hard time believing it’s real. An adorable, neighborhood-y street, with craftsman houses that are actually bars, string-light covered patios, food trucks, craft cocktails, and a constant stream of people looking to party—it all sounds pretty magical.
And while it’s true that Rainey has become a pretty big tourist destination—and the high rises that keep popping up make all the old bars look like the house from the movie Up, before it took off—there’s still some great food and drinks to be had. Whether you’re a longtime local trying to keep up with the constantly changing neighborhood, or just in town for the weekend, here’s your guide to the best restaurants and bars on Rainey Street.
Restaurants & Food Trucks
When you’ve been out drinking, all tacos are good tacos—or at least that’s what our late night Taco Bell receipts seem to indicate. But after an evening of nothing but Topo Chicos, we’ve confirmed that the tacos at Asador are good at any time of day, and in any state of mind. There are multiple locations in the downtown area—at The Grackle, Las Perlas, and here on Rainey—so the tacos clearly cater to a post-bar clientele. And after you make your way through a few crispy, griddled brisket, carnitas, and grilled chicken tacos, you’ll quickly see why.
At Banger’s, bigger is better. That translates to one of the largest patios in Austin, mimosas served by the liter, and a tap wall with over 200 beers on draft. Saturday afternoons they’re basically pouring enough beer to fill a small swimming pool. This is Bachelor Party Central, but unlike a lot of spots that serve primarily as a venue for rowdy parties, the food is actually good here. Order some classic German drinking foods—like bratwurst and giant pretzels—or forego tradition and grab some poutine and fried cheese curds. Either way, you’ll be leaving with a good time and plenty of fuel for the rest of the night.
There are very few foods that satisfy a drunken palate like a gyro, and our favorite spot on Rainey Street for some late night spit-roasted meat is Fresh Gyro Halal, a tiny food trailer with a footprint about the size of a small vending machine. But instead of dispensing an old bag of potato chips, here you’ll be leaving with a heaping mound of savory gyro meat in a pita, covered in spicy chili and cooling white sauce. You can also get it over rice and eat it with a fork if you want to, but that’s not nearly as much fun.
The high-end New American restaurant Emmer & Rye doesn’t really fit much into Rainey Street’s food and beverage scene (other than its geographical location). The food showcases their in-house fermentation program and local ingredients, and while you can order a la carte, the tasting menu is where you really get to try all that the restaurant is about. This probably isn’t a place where you’d casually stroll in for a snack during a night out, but if there were any restaurant on Rainey Street worth making the trek for, this is it.
Austin is primarily a taco town, and while you can in fact get burritos here, there are none quite like the ones at Bummer Burrito. Unlike the football-sized burritos we’ve all become used to, here they’re slightly smaller. The burritos are very good, especially the Frito Rito (nacho cheese with chili cheese Fritos for crunch) and the Popperito (with jalapeno poppers). While this is pretty much the perfect drunk food for the raucous late night Rainey Street crowd, the trailer also opens at 10am, which is scientifically proven to be the perfect time for a breakfast burrito.
We’re big fans of the O.G. fried chicken sandwich at Spicy Boys, which is dressed with papaya relish, Thai basil ranch, chili-honey sauce, scallions, and crispy shallots. But if the weather isn’t already making you sweat, you can add a little more heat with the Hot Gai. It’s a little spicier and comes with the addition of swiss cheese—a somewhat controversial move in the world of fried chicken sandwiches, but one that we’re fully on-board with.
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Tucked away at the far end of Rainey Street, Salvation Pizza is a safe bet. The giant bar-style pizzas are cheesy and crispy, and they should please everyone in your crowd. There are also plenty of TVs with sports on, especially for big MMA fights. They serve solid renditions of classic bar food like fried mozzarella sticks and chicken wings, and if you want to keep the party going, they run an $11 special for a comically large slice of pizza that comes with a regular-sized pint of beer.
The tiki-ish bar and restaurant Anthem strikes a perfect middle ground between an upscale dinner at Emmer & Rye and Rainey Street’s many food trucks. It’s a great place to start your night with some light bites—like a Hawaiian shrimp ceviche or chilled lo mein noodle salad. But there’s also a late night menu with dishes like brisket rangoons and honey sriracha popcorn chicken to help you soak up that extra shot of Rumple Minze that your friends convinced you to take.
Via 313’s signature Detroit-style pies have become a rectangular staple in the Austin dining scene since they first emerged in 2011, and to this day they still serve the same purpose as they always have—an excellent vessel for soaking up drinks during a night out. It’s thick crusted (but still nice and airy inside), with a thick layer of crispy cheese around the edges where it hits the pan. Orders can take a while when they’re busy, so plan accordingly.
Little Brother feels like a bar that doesn’t want to be on Rainey Street. The drinks diverge from the vodka-and-soda formula that’s more common here—instead focusing on tiki-inspired cocktails and a better-than-decent beer and wine list. There are only about four barstools and a tiny bar that feels like it could pack itself into a tiny home. But, reluctantly or otherwise, Little Brother has become one of our favorite spots on Rainey to grab a coffee and a cocktail and take a breather from the outside world. Sometimes with a burrito from Bummer Burrito that’s right next door.
You can get cocktails at just about any bar on Rainey Street, but if you want some of the best the neighborhood has to offer, you’ll want to make your way to Half Step. Inside it’s a dark and dimly-lit remodeled bungalow, with a large patio outside. There’s a neat little menu of classic and contemporary cocktails, but the bartenders here are good enough to make you just about anything—though ordering anything too labor-intensive during peak hours will probably earn you a (warranted) glare.
Like many other bars on Rainey Street, Lucille is inside an old remodeled bungalow, complete with dark wooden floors, hammocks out back, and a warm, home-y atmosphere across it all. There’s a second bar outside for when things get busy, and a large, dog-friendly patio where you can pet as many pups as time will allow. There’s a solid list of house cocktails, plus a daily Happy Hour that makes this a great starting point if you’re kicking things off early.
There are a lot of places to grab a beer on Rainey Street, but only one spot brews their own: The Stay Put. Walking into the remodeled bungalow feels a little like entering a meal hall at an old camping lodge with rows of semi-communal tables, old wooden floorboards, and a long oak bar counter with a few brass taps. And if you’re there with your dog, there’s a pet-friendly patio out back (plus another bar). The beers are solid—we like the IPA—and they have cocktails on draft if you’re in the mood for something a little stronger.
On a street where bars and restaurants swap out almost as often as we get oil changes, Placeholder Tiki Bar feels like an appropriately named spot. The drinks are pre-batched and served on draft—a ding for hardcore tiki enthusiasts, but probably best-suited for Rainey Street volumes—but they’re boozy, refreshing, and best-enjoyed on a picnic table under a grass hut on their back patio.
Things that feel in-place on Rainey Street: Lime scooters, bachelor/bachelorette parties, DJs. Things that feel out-of-place on Rainey Street: Standard Proof. This is the second outpost of Nashville-based distillery and tasting room, Standard Proof, and it’s located at the far end of Rainey Street at the bottom of an apartment complex. Unlike most of the spots on Rainey Street, Standard Proof is minimalist and spacious inside, with a massive wall displaying all the various whiskey infusions they offer. And while Rainey Street probably isn’t the first place we’re heading for a calm, early evening whiskey flight, the cocktails at Standard Proof are excellent. Combine that with a pretty solid Nashville hot chicken sandwich from the food menu, and you’ve got a great start to a night out.
Clive Bar is one of the longer-standing spots on Rainey, and it’s certainly seen its share of change. What started as a bar in an old remodeled bungalow eventually turned into a bar in an old remodeled bungalow with a shiny modern second and third floor on top. It’s a big space that’s always busy—don’t expect anything fancy drinks-wise here—but it’s also one of the best spots to enjoy your drinks from a high vantage point.
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Stagger Lee is a somewhat nondescript bar in the middle of Rainey Street, but we keep coming back for the friendly staff, the large patio, and the surprisingly good food coming out of Metcalf BBQ in the back. It’s dark and cool inside—making it a welcome escape from the Texas sun if you find yourself here during daylight hours—with leather couches and large wooden tables for hanging out.
Tipsy Alchemist is one of those cocktail bars that features lots of smoke and liquid nitrogen, and half of the drinks come served in quirky vessels like lightbulbs and disco balls. It’s gimmicky and fun, and if you’re willing to shell out a few dollars more than the average price of a cocktail on Rainey Street, you’ll end up with some pretty solid drinks and a good time. It’s also one of the few spots in town where you can sit on a second-story patio and look out over the street below.