Leave the $15 cocktail scene behind and get ready to find your new favorite dive. Sure, some of these no-frills watering holes have perpetually sticky floors, but they also have cold beer, live music, and easy-going crowds.
Austin dive bars offer an eclectic mix of cowboys and hipsters — no matter which late-night hangout you choose, you’re sure to find your people. So, next time you need some cheap drinks, head to one of these local haunts. Here are the 12 best dive bars in Austin.
The 12 Best Dive Bars in Austin
For a casual night out, you can’t beat this dirty dozen. These are the Austin dive bars that make slumming it look good.
1. LaLa’s Little Nugget
2207 Justin Ln.
If you like your dive bars with a side of Christmas kitsch, head to LaLa’s Little Nugget to get blitzed like Blitzen. You’ll find your favorite carols on the jukebox at this year-round Christmas-themed dive.
Plus, they offer a pool table, weekly game nights, and three Christmas parties per year — one for St. Nick’s birthday in March, one for Christmas in July, and one for Christmas in December.
Lala’s is always here to help you find your Christmas spirit … or should we say spirits. It has a full bar with a selection of festive cocktails, including Reindeer Water, Dark and Blizzardy, Irish Iced Coffee, and Hot Toddies.
Instead of happy hour, LaLa’s has a Jolly Hour from 4-7 Monday to Friday. You can enjoy extra cheap beer with $2 domestic bottles, like Bud, Miller, or Coors, and $3 tall boys, like Lone Stars. Well drinks are also available for $3 — you won’t find those prices at Austin’s craft cocktail bars.
2. Skylark Lounge
2039 Airport Blvd.
This isn’t the first time we’re singing Skylark Lounge‘s praises. This spot is one of the best music venues in Austin. With live music every night, it’s the perfect setting for an intimate date or group gathering.
Cozy up in one of Skylark’s booths or head to the back patio to catch some fresh air between acts. This east side spot hosts local musicians and big-time blues legends. Plus, they have Monday night comedy shows and a songwriter’s open mic night.
3. Dry Creek Cafe
4812 Mt Bonnell Rd.
Rolling up to Dry Creek Cafe feels like arriving at a friend’s rickety old boat house. The place is in the same state of endearing disrepair, and it instantly makes you feel like you can kick your feet up.
Located just minutes from Tarrytown, the balcony (with painted wood railing and all) looks out on tall shade trees, so you’ll feel like you’ve escaped the city. Grab a beer in a bottle or can — complete with a Koozie to keep it ice cold — and pull up a folding chair to enjoy some casual conversation or live music.
Too laidback to host their own website, Dry Creek regularly posts upcoming acts on their facebook page.
4. Little Longhorn Saloon
5434 Burnet Rd.
Little Longhorn Saloon isn’t much to look at from the outside, but on the inside, it’s the best dang honky-tonk in town. They host some of Austin’s biggest country music acts and have live music every night.
But, the most famous performer at Little Longhorn Saloon isn’t a band, it’s a bird. This bar is famous for their Chicken Shit BINGO. Every Sunday from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. people line up to get Bingo tickets.
Then a Little Longhorn’s best hen walks across the BINGO board picking numbers. The band calls out the winning numbers, and the winners take home prizes that include merchandise and gift cards from local shops and restaurants.
Kids can participate, too, even if they can’t enjoy the cheap drinks. (Sorry, kiddos, but if you can’t see over the bar, you can’t order cocktails — thems the rules in Texas.)
The drinks get real cheap at Little Longhorn’s happy hour. Lone Star drafts are only $2.50 from 5-6 p.m. Tuesday to Friday. If that’s not one of the best happy hours in Austin, it’s certainly one of the cheapest.
5. Donn’s Depot
1600 W 5th St.
Set in an old railway depot (get it, Donn’s Depot?), this Austin dive bar offers lots of little nooks and crannies to explore — including a couple of old train cars.
They have two dance floors with live music every night, so it’s the perfect place to practice your Texas two-step.
On any given evening, the crowd could include everyone from your grandparents to your hipster barista to a handful of UT sorority sisters.
6. Deep Eddy Cabaret
2315 Lake Austin Blvd.
Deep Eddy Cabaret recently celebrated its 70th birthday. But this dive is no sleepy senior — it’s a late-night party animal. Open everyday till 2 a.m., Deep Eddy features an old-school jukebox, pool tables, and arcade games in a little barn-house building.
Once you verify that they have your favorite beer on tap, dedicate yourself to becoming a regular. This is the kind of neighborhood bar where you learn the bartenders’ names, and they learn yours.
5420-B Airport Blvd.
Heading home from this upstairs bar might feel a little treacherous after a few libations, but we like to live dangerously. Everything about Barfly‘s lines up with your vision of sports bars from decades past — including the prices.
This fuss-free locale serves ice cold beer from cans and bottles … and that’s all folks. You won’t find craft beer on tap or a pages-long cocktail menu.
But, there are TVs playing the game (whatever “the game” means that day), plus pool and foosball tables inside, and picnic tables outside on the patio.
8. Casino El Camino
517 E 6th St.
We don’t say this about a lot of dive bars, but Casino El Camino actually has good food. In fact, they have some of the best burgers in Austin — not to mention their fries, which you can get smothered in queso and salsa verde. Excuse us while we wipe the drool off our faces.
And, oh yeah, Casino El Camino also serves drinks (kind of a requirement for a dive bar). They have happy hour everyday from 11:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., and they stay open until 2 a.m.
9. The White Horse
500 Comal St.
This East Austin honky-tonk is another hot spot for dive-loving foodies. They have a food truck permanently parked out front, serving up some of the best tacos Austin has to offer.
The White Horse is also a country music haven. They host multiple bands each night, and offer two-step lessons and other dance classes throughout the week. Check their website before you head over — occasional cover charges apply, but the cheap drinks and exceptional entertainment will more than make up for it.
10. Carousel Lounge
1110 E 52nd St.
Just one look at the giant pink elephant on stage will tell you that this dive bar is an absolute circus. There’s a real carousel behind the bar, and circus-themed murals lining the walls.
The lineup of entertainment includes local bands and belly dancers. They serve beer and wine, and you can save even more on drinks by bringing your own liquor. (They’ve got plenty of mixers to make the medicine go down.)
11. Hole in the Wall
2538 Guadalupe St.
This aptly named watering hole in the wall is located in a graffitied green strip mall. They have a patio full of picnic tables and feature live music inside and out. Inside, you’ll find beat-up old vinyl seats and a pool table.
Located on The Drag near the University of Texas, Hole in the Wall is a popular spot for UT students. And since it’s less than a block from an Austin tattoo shop, this dive bar is the perfect place to kick off a night of regret.
501 S Congress Ave.
If you can carry a tune (or think you can after a few cocktails), head to this South Congress staple to get behind the mic. Ego‘s offers karaoke every night from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m.
They host both casual and competitive karaoke events and serve up cheap libations to keep those pipes lubricated. So, get ready to belt out a tune or bust out your best dance moves (preferably while singing your best rendition of “Bust a Move”).
Get Boozy at the Best Dive Bars in Austin
From casual neighborhood hangouts to quirky-themed spots, the best dive bars in Austin are anything but ordinary. Show up for the live music then stay for the lively crowds.
Our favorite dives are unpretentious, easy-going bars with cheap drinks. Pull up a worn-in, old chair and enjoy a laid-back night with friends. Then, when the hangover wears off, try out a few of these other free and cheap things to do in Austin, Texas.