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The Best Bars For Escaping SXSW

PHOTO: Jordan Haro

Every year, around the second week of March, the floodgates of South By Southwest open, and every single music person/media person/tech person/PR person/hustler in the country suddenly descends upon our city.

You either fall into the camp of the descenders or the descended upon. But it doesn’t matter. If you’re a human being in Austin during SXSW, you’re going to feel the need to get the f*ck out at some point or another. And not just to the same bar that every other attendee is using as an escape valve. You need actual distance. You need alcohol. And you need a place where “networking” is considered a bad word. Here are the best bars in Austin to escape SXSW.


Rio Rita

1308 E 6th St

An East 6th jewel that’s too grimey for most people who come to SXSW for “the scene.” Rio Rita’s cocktails are some of the best in town, and mostly under $10. Their patio is killer as well. If you’re feeling bold, try their Dublin Pickup, which is a cocktail involving cold brew and whiskey, and the palomas are great on a hot day. The day this place becomes discovered by the wrong people is the day we leave town.

Casino Southside Lounge

1502 W Ben White Blvd

A dive bar on an access road of Highway 290 that feels like a classed up drug front and/or strip club (to be clear, there aren’t any naked people - but it feels like there should be). The bartenders are incredibly nice, and there’s a yuppie force field at the front door prohibiting all people with fancy jeans from entering the premise.

Photo: Jordan Haro


5420 Airport Blvd

This dive is made for the bar-goer who gives the least amount of shts. Come ready to play pool and pound some shots. If not, get the fck out. This is as no- frills as no-frills gets.

Draught House Pub & Brewery

4112 Medical Pkwy

This is the beer bar to bring your dad, philosophy professor, or your friends to enjoy conversation over one of the best rotating tap selections in town. If you're around on a Saturday, come enjoy their free bratwursts.

Photo: Jordan Haro

Radio Coffee & Beer

4208 Manchaca Rd

This Southside haven of friendly vibes, breakfast tacos (courtesy of Veracruz All Natural), cold brew coffee, and beer is a prime spot for launching your next LLC, or for an unpretentious date hang with that cool chick you met last night. This place is best used for an escape during the day - it gets more crowded at night.

Gourmands Neighborhood Pub

2316 Webberville Rd

An Eastside bar where everybody knows your name. Aside from their friendliness, they pride themselves on their terrible food (i.e. their famous gut-wrenching soup in a bread bowl).

Photo: Jordan Haro

St Roch's Bar

515 Pedernales St

A loosely Louisiana-minded biker bar fighting the good fight between some terrible apartment buildings. Bad location = better chance of not seeing anyone you don't want to talk to.

Deep Eddy Cabaret

2315 Lake Austin Blvd

Similar to Barfly’s, but on a smaller scale. This Christmas light-covered dive looks like a pool hall where rich men go to drink away the sadness surrounding their miserable marriage before making the drive home to their mini-mansions. If you’re not a cynic, you might think it looks like a set from Friday Night Lights.

Photo: Jordan Haro

Crown & Anchor Pub

2911 San Jacinto Blvd

A campus favorite, this is a place where students will come to pound a pitcher of beer and attempt to do their lit homework. It’s nothing special - all the better for your under the radar needs. They happen to serve a great burger too.

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