The Best Bars in Austin, Texas

Home to a flurry of dives and old-school neighborhood hangouts, fancy speakeasies, and approachable wine bars, Austin nightlife truly runs the gamut. We’ve rounded up some of the most dependable mainstays and highly-anticipated openings that showcase the breadth of the city’s imbibing destinations.

Credit: Brian Cole


One of Austin-based NoCo Hospitality’s latest ventures, Estelle’s is an upscale social club featuring multiple bars, a restaurant, and even a flower bodega. Situated at the corner of 4th and Colorado, the swanky space is adorned with vintage furniture, mid-century modern art, and a grand staircase that leads to the second floor. The botanical-themed cocktail menu boasts options like the Rosemary Sloe, plus a slew of seasonal sips.  


Austinites love a speakeasy, so it should come as no surprise that someone thought to open a cocktail bar inside of a parking garage. Hidden in plain sight on Colorado Street, this unassuming spot serves inventive drinks in a converted, midcentury-inspired space. And, remember, kids: don’t drink and drive.

Credit: Brian Cole

Higher Ground

Just blocks from the Texas Capitol stands Higher Ground, a converted landmark space resembling a church. The multi-level club offers elegant, hushed spaces for quiet communion and livelier areas for higher-energy evenings. Stained glass “windows” line the downstairs bar, while the upstairs houses moodier accommodations. French doors give way to a rooftop with vaulted ceilings lined with ivy. There are just seven cocktails, aptly named and crafted in keeping with the Seven Deadly Sins. 

Howard’s Bar

MML Hospitality took over this iconic Mission Revival-style building at the corner of West Sixth Street and Blanco in Old West Austin in 2022, and it metamorphized into two distinct concepts: Rosie’s Wine Bar and Howard’s Bar. Once entry is granted to Howard’s, patrons walk through the velvet rope into a tiny room complete with a massive disco ball and interiors straight from the ‘70s. A hearty bar menu includes smash burgers and hot dogs, plus chips & onion dip with 15g California Royal White Sturgeon Caviar. An abundance of spirits––namely bourbon––can be enjoyed on the rocks; most come for the house draft cocktails like the Lalo Espresso Martini. If Pablo’s the mixologist, he can make nearly anything one desires.


Justly self-dubbed “a good time bar,” Marlow opened in the fall of 2023, quickly gaining its footing as a casual-yet-cool hub amidst the assorted Downtown openings. Co-owners, co-operators, and close friends Mike DeBonville, Wade McElroy, and Joe Schumacher took over the East Sixth structure that formerly housed Edwin’s Sports Bar. DJ sets and culinary pop-ups are hosted in their “living room” with buzzy Austin newcomers (think Elementary and Side Eye Pie). Cocktails are focused primarily on mezcal and bourbon; rum punches are served in large vintage bowls from behind the bar.

Midnight Cowboy

Those who venture inside “Midnight Cowboy Modeling Oriental Massage” won’t find any masseuses. Instead, they’ll uncover an intimate mixology experience. Converted from a brothel masquerading as a massage parlor until 2012, this 15-seat saloon whips up Prohibition-style cocktails.

The Quill Room

Nestled within the Austin Proper Hotel, The Quill Room exudes Old World opulence with a touch of modern elegance. Imbibe and unwind with turn-of-the-century, French-inspired offerings and martinis. From Wednesday to Saturday, an assemblage of events transforms the snug salon.

The Roosevelt Room Austin bar
Credit: Marc Swedner

The Roosevelt Room

Set within downtown Austin’s storied Warehouse District, The Roosevelt Room is one of Austin’s most sought-after reservations. Patrons are seated in cozy leather banquettes or along the bar––a preferable perch to see the expert mixologists at work. Guests are encouraged to share their preferred spirits and flavor profiles to help inform which of the 80+ libations will be most enjoyable.


East 12th has long been overlooked (even somewhat abandoned), but it’s experiencing a renaissance. Trona is a new take on Austin’s possibly over-saturated “speakeasy” scene. From Dreamers & Doers Hospitality Group, the newly-formed collective led by Tatanka Guererro of Cork & Screw, Trona offers a unique late-night experience. Reservations are preferred and can be made by calling their hotline. The venue, inspired by the California town of Trona and the mineral’s influence on design, seamlessly merges modern Japanese and traditional Oaxacan styles. Discerning patrons will know to enter through the side alley; an actual green light gives walk-ins the go-ahead. The curated cocktail menu highlights select tequilas, mezcals, natural wines, and rare Japanese whiskeys.

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