Food by VICE

The 11 Best Dive Bars in Austin

You'll hit the bullseye every time with this list.

by Munchies Staff
Feb 1 2018, 3:00pm

Austin is a haven for dive bar enthusiasts. From backyards full of dogs and live country music to parking lot karaoke and dark, windowless old-man haunts, there is every dive bar sub-genre imaginable in the Capitol City.

By definition, dive bars are often hidden away and low-profile, but for the MUNCHIES Guide to Austin, we condensed the city's finest watering holes down to just 11 seedy-ish drinkin' spots so that you're sure to hit the bullseye every time.

Whether you want to wail an impassioned rendition of "White Wedding" into a karaoke mic while spilling beer all over your friends or just disappear into a windowless room for some whiskey therapy, Austin's your place.


The Liberty: The Liberty was one of the first bars to open on the east side when the neighborhood started gentrifying, and it has now firmly established itself as a locals bar. Come here if you're with a big group and want to sit out on a picnic table on the back patio. The beers are cold, the crowd is chill, and it's dog-friendly.


Shangri-La: The patio here makes this a popular spot to drink on those sweating-through-your-sleeveless-shirt Texas nights. Usually a first stop for those bar hopping up East 6th Street, Shangri-La has some unbeatable happy hour specials.


Hole in the Wall: The last bar standing on the University of Texas thruway that's become riddled with chain stores over the past couple of years, Hole in the Wall keeps it real with its promise of "Cheap Music, Fast Drinks, Live Women." Its stage has hosted most of Austin's greatest music acts and was a favorite drinking haunt of the Patron Saint of Austin, Doug Sahm. Order a beer-shot combo to pay homage.


The White Horse: A hipster honky-tonk that keeps the Austin dream alive with free two-step lessons and live music every night. Even Willie Nelson has graced the White Horse with his presence—it was used in the video "Used to Be" with Kacey Musgraves.


Ego's: No trip to Austin is complete without a night of drunken (and free) karaoke at Ego's. Located in the middle of a parking garage under an office building, finding this place is half the fun; the rest is in yowling ballads with a crowd of drunk babes, freaky folk, and fun-loving locals.


Barfly's: Going up the staircase to Barfly's might feel like an American Gladiator challenge if you've already had a few drinks. But once you're inside, you'll be cocooned in the windowless dive replete with pool and foosball tables, cold beer, and a jukebox that keeps on giving.


Lala's Little Nugget: It's been Christmas every day at Lala's since 1972, when Frances Lala decided to keep the lights up after the holiday season (and forevermore), thus establishing Austin's most festive bar in town. When Lala sold her Little Nugget last year, Austinites went into a temporary tailspin. Thankfully, the FBR Management group that bought it has preserved everything, including the little elves that dance above the bar when you use the restroom.

To see the rest of our dive bar picks, check out the MUNCHIES Guide to Austin.

This article originally appeared on MUNCHIES in December 2016.