Austin’s a city of rich and divergent cultural interests. Some of the most colorful expressions of true River City character can be found on the seedy end of the spectrum – not too seedy, mind you, just enough to make things interesting.
The Horseshoe Lounge
Born in 1965 at a decommissioned American Legion Post, the Horseshoe Lounge is a model of classic Americana with a Lone Star flavor. Maybe it’s the horseshoe shaped bar or the shuffleboard tournaments with $1.75 beer specials. Maybe it’s the natural white Austin limestone walls or the profusion of neon beer signs, but “the shoe” has reached “beloved institution” status.
The Horseshoe Lounge is so famous around these parts, it has its own CD, “The Oral History of the Horseshoe Lounge, 1965-2012,” which has been accepted for exhibition by the Institute of Texas Culture. It was also the scene of Anthony Bourdain’s interview with Barley Swine chef Bryce Gillmore for his Travel Channel show “No Reservations!”
The Shoe’s a cash-only establishment, so hit the ATM on your way over.
Ginny’s Little Longhorn Saloon
The simple white A-frame house where Ginny’s Little Longhorn Saloon dwells, sets the tone for the true honky tonk experience you’re about to have. At Ginny’s it’s all about the music – country and western with a smattering of blues. Recent performers included: Jeff Gallagher, Alvin Crow, Teri Joyce & the Tag-Alongs, The Hot Texas Swing Band and Alan Haynes.
Ginny’s has great long happy hours from 5-9 pm with $1 Lone Star draft beer. But if you really want a taste of something you won’t find anywhere else, drop by on Sundays for Chicken Shit Bingo. Bring your lawn chairs, because they’ll be poppin’ those bingo balls in the yard. And don’t forget Benjamins, because they only take cash.
In case you haven’t seen a jackalope before, just check out the giant horned bunny in the entryway of this namesake bar on East 6th Street. There’s a bit of an Alice in Wonderland feel to this establishment with its checkerboard floor and velvet paintings. They have some great weekly specials, including $2 domestic tallboys and wells, and $4 frozen margaritas during happy hour from 2-7 pm every day and all day on Mondays.
This dive bar serves fun, quality pub food including a selection of burgers and franks with intriguing names like: the Frito Pie Burger, the Yucatan Dog, the Tijuana (a hot dog wrapped in bacon, deep-fried and topped with spicy chipotle-mayo, jack cheese and jalapenos) and the Double Wide.
Just to prove that Austin has a little bit of everything, you’ve got to check out the Carousel Lounge, a circus themed bar that lets patrons bring their own liquor. Yes, there’s a real carousel behind the bar and murals of lion tamers, as well as, a giant paper mache elephant.
It even has a vintage telephone booth that was named “Most Nostalgic Phone Booth” in Austin in 2000 by The Austin Chronicle. The lounge is famous for the diversity of entertainment it hosts. Recent acts have included: belly dancers, Strangedayz (a Doors tribute band), Electric Shout, Mark Mercado Blues Project and the Mad Cowboys.
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