101 Places to Get F*cked Up Before You Die: Austin, Texas

By 01.09.14

SEASON: Year-round, baby!

IDEAL CONDITIONS: A spring or fall night when it actually gets below 70 degrees (21 degrees Celsius). Weekend. Bonus if there’s a music festival in town.

DAYTIME ACTIVITY: Explore the Barton Creek Greenbelt.

LODGING RECOMMENDATIONS: Firehouse Hostel puts you in an ideal location for this binge. If you’ve got the scratch or a big group, check vacation rentals.

INGESTIBLES: Copious microbrews plus local vodka, as much street food as you can afford and stomach.

You’re starting at Sixth Street, and no whining or “no shit, sherlocks.” Let me finish. You’re starting at the far eastern end of the street and walking west, drinking at as many places as you can and seeing how far you can make it. Consider it a challenge. A dare. Start early and get to the taproom at Hops and Grain. Thanks to Texas’s legacy liquor laws, breweries aren’t allowed to sell their product on premises . . . so these guys give it away (Friday 2:00 to 6:00 p.m.; Saturday 12:00 to 4:00 p.m.). With your five sample tickets, throw back a Pale Dog and whatever’s in the “Greenhouse”—go nuts for the last three.

Nicely buzzed, start the trek west. If you’ve taken the challenge to heart and don’t want to walk five minutes without a drink, St Roch’s dive bar is just south of Sixth on Pedernales. One more long block gets you to Hi Hat for more micros and a decent wine list.

Once you’re west of Chicon, you’re in it. Grab a pint at The Grackle’s “hipster jail”—their open-air but security-barred patio. This is also your first recommended food stop. The East Side King (ESK) trailer in the parking lot grills righteous East Asian–inspired takeaways. A couple hundred yards farther on, this combo is repeated with the dive bar Liberty and a second ESK with a different, Indian-leaning menu.

At Comal, you’ll be tempted to deviate to White Horse or Yellow Jacket Social Club down the road to your left, but stick to the plan—you are nowhere close to being done. The next block of Sixth has biker-bar Gypsy Lounge, the hipster duo of Hotel Vegas and Volstead, followed by The Brixton. Stumbling yet?

Whatever else happens tonight, you have to stop at Papi Tino’s for the city’s best Michelada (beer mixed with lime, spices, and chili pepper). Sweet place for upscale Mexican if you’ve got the time and cash. If not, keep walking because you’re about to enter the food-truck orgy zone clustered around bar and music venue Cheer Up Charlie’s. Pizza, tacos, barbecue, sandwiches, vegan—the rotation changes, but the choice is always a tough one.

If you want to scrap this quest, see some music, and get shitty on prohibition-era cocktails, post up at East Side Show Room. If not, go for Shangri-La, last hipster outpost of East Sixth (and home to yet another East Side King trailer). Fuel up for the debauchery to come at Pueblo Viejo’s trailer, probably the best tacos you’ll see in Austin.

On the other side of I-35, you’ll hit my last recommendable stop: Easy Tiger, with dozens of taps and Ping-Pong on the creekside patio. They bake, too. Just know that if you pick up some pastries “for breakfast tomorrow,” that shit isn’t going to work out.

West of Red River, you’ll rejoin your fellow tourists and a liberal spewing of local college Greeks. This is “Dirty Sixth.” Follow your incredibly drunk intuition and pass or enter doors at your choosing. That goes for music as well as booze. If the hairy blues- man burning up a Strat at The Stage pulls you in, all good. If you opt for Coyote Ugly, I will judge you.

It’s a very long four blocks back to Firehouse Hostel—talking your crew into a drink at the downstairs lounge cleverly makes for a face-saving “Guys, I think I’m just gonna go upstairs and crash.” If you want to continue the tour, O’ brave soul, O’ alcoholic, I’ll leave you to wander the yuppie bars and farm-to-tables of West Sixth. Congratulations. You’ve no doubt pissed off a lot of locals.


The last time I did this little Sixth Street safari, I got hit up for $9 by a limo driver, overheard someone say they “needed to wash the blood off their hands,” and was accosted by a homeless woman stumbling out of a liquor store.


This is what you get with one street. Austin’s rabbit hole of fuckedupness is deep.

From 101 Places to Get F*cked Up Before You Die: The Ultimate Travel Guide to Partying Around the World by Matador Network and edited by David S. Miller. Copyright © 2013 by Matador Network and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Press.


From 101 Places to Get F*cked Up Before You Die: The Ultimate Travel Guide to Partying Around the World by Matador Network and edited by David S. Miller. Copyright © 2013 by Matador Network and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Press.


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