Jan 14, 2014

A Sixth Street pub crawl, Austin, Texas

If you ever spend any amount of time in Austin, Texas – and you happen to like a few libations and live music (guilty as charged on both counts) – it won’t be long before you find yourself downtown on Sixth Street. 

New Orleans has Bourbon Street, Key West has Duval Street, and Austin has Sixth Street.  Even locals who have their favorite haunts elsewhere in town will eventually wind up here if they’re in the mood for bar hopping – and especially if they’re entertaining out-of-town guests.  Such was the case when my new friend Aaron showed me around Sixth Street one evening while I was in Austin for work. 

And if you've ever been on a good pub crawl, you’ll understand why this blog may ramble a bit.  It’s symbolic of how the night can get away from you.   

We began, with the sun still out, at Shakespeare’s Pub, a good place to just sit, have a good drink and watch the world go by. 

And why not?  With specials like these, you can’t afford not to drink.  For $2, even a well Long Island is the way to go.  After all, I wasn't driving. 

I wonder who sports fan root for around here?
Second stop, Bikinis Sports Bar & Grill, a place that definitely has that college bar vibe.  And why do they call it Bikinis

I’ll let our bartender, Christina, explain. 

I get the impression a lot of University of Texas co-eds make pretty good tips here.

Anyway, moving on to something more traditional and definitely more Irish, we made B.D. Riley’s our third stop.   

One motto of this bar is “Sixth Street for grown-ups.”  It certainly has that pub feel and did draw a slightly more sophisticated group of drunks than Bikinis.  From a drinking standpoint, the main appeal was the draft beer selection, and what better way to sample both something from the other side of the Atlantic and something local than with the three-beer sampler?

These aren't little shot glasses of beer either – you get three 7-ounce pours of your choices from the menu.  If I can still recall clearly, the Kilkenny Irish Cream Ale is on the left (marvelously creamy); the Thirsty Planet Thirsty Goat Amber Ale, a local product, is in the middle; and another Texas craft beer, the Fireman’s #4 Blonde Ale is on the right.  All three were delicious in their own right. 

Aaron approves.
Great recommendations from my friend, Aaron.


After B.D. Riley’s we stretched our legs and walked several blocks west, past the intersection with Congress Avenue and stopped at the Key Bar.

This is my only photographic memory of the Key Bar.  The menu may give away why.  Yes, things start to get a little fuzzy here.  But I know they made a damn fine signature Key Margarita.  And it was happy hour all day, so the $3 price influenced my decision.  The outdoor patio seating also provided a nice atmosphere for watching the world walk by, and up and down, Sixth Street.     

After a couple of margaritas, Aaron recommended we go across the street and add a stop at J. Black’s Feel Good Kitchen & Lounge to our pub crawl.  Where B.D. Riley’s had the Irish pub figured out, J. Black’s seemed to take more inspiration from the British pubs.  The place definitely had a more upscale feel to it, although the patrons inside ranged from white collar to jeans and grubby T-shirts.  It is Sixth Street in Austin, after all, where the motto is, “Keep Austin weird.”   

Apparently, J. Black’s is also known for its signature round bar.  I don’t have an explanation for the flag, though.  Someone enlighten me. 

Our last stop, as we walked back several block to retrieve Aaron's car, was the Library.  The bar, not an actual library. Although, with a name like that, you can probably figure out how they decorated the place. 

The drinks here were no frills, but the service and atmosphere were nice.  Just another good place to sit, enjoy a drink and watch the wonderful weirdness that is Austin go by.  For instance, while we were sitting here watching the street traffic, a topless hippie chick and her long, straggly haired boyfriend with a walking stick moseyed by.  It’s Austin.  This sort of thing happens all the time, even on a Tuesday night.         

So, we got a half dozen stops in on a weeknight.  Not bad, actually.  And Aaron also wisely recommended some great local food to finish off a fun night of bar hopping – burger and fries from P. Terry’s. 

Trust me, this food was just what the doctor ordered after a Sixth Street pub crawl.  

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