Unfortunately, I’m often a rather useless source of information because I live about twenty miles north of Austin, in Round Rock.
I don’t do much bar-hopping or listening to live music downtown (the two favored activities for many Austin visitors) because I have a family and a tourism startup to run….although I’d kill to hear blues guitarist Gary Clark, Jr. at Antone’s sometime.
My bar recommendation is old school – like, 1886 old school – the bar at the Driskill Hotel.
When you walk in, you’ll know that you ain’t in Toledo. You are most definitely in Texas.
There is no doubt that this is a hotel built by a cattle baron; it hosts inaugural balls for governors and it’s where LBJ met Lady Bird for breakfast on their first date.
The cozy bar is full of Western artworks (including my favorite, a small bronze sculpture of a runaway horse called “The Widow-Maker”) cowhide sofas and things made out of cattle horns, but no snotty attitudes or attempts to be all hipper-than-thou.
There is a low Asshole Factor. People are there to tuck themselves into corners amongst the cowhide, schmooze and relax. People are not there to order ditzy drinks with umbrellas or stupid names. People are not there to be able to say that they hang out in some place that “conjures images of Las Vegas and Palm Springs in the early 60′s” because, hey, they’re visiting Austin, not (blargh) Vegas.
If local flavor, lots of hideaway corners and some over-the-top interior decoration are some of the reasons why you go to a bar, you’d love the Driskill.
What’s a favorite place in your town that you recommend to visitors?