Head to Austin for the music, but stay for the food. Or was it the other way around? Here's the best of both.
Austin’s reputation as the live music capitol of the world is well-earned. People travel from all over the country and world to attend renowned festivals such as Austin City Limits and South by Southwest. But a trip to Austin at any time of the year will give you a taste of the amazing music scene — minus the hefty cost of a festival ticket.
Seven days a week, you can easily find a venue with a great band. Or head over to Rainey Street on a weekend and hop from one music club to the next to get a taste of everything from jazz to hip-hop to indie rock. Austin’s music scene is matched only by its food scene — and the city offers some styles of cuisine that aren’t easy to find in Seattle.
The sheer number of music clubs in Austin is overwhelming, so we scoped out the scene and picked the “can’t miss” venues — and the best spots to eat nearby.
A visit to Austin wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the legendary Stubb’s. In the 1970s, the likes of Stevie Ray Vaughan, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Linda Ronstadt and the Fabulous Thunderbirds frequently took the stage. Today, there are concerts at Stubb’s nearly every day of the week. Indie, folk, country and blues bands from all over the country perform at the venue for reasonable cover fees that typically range from $10–$20.
You won’t have to worry about going hungry during the show — the fried green tomatoes appetizer is outstanding, but the barbeque dishes are the real treat. Your BBQ options include beef brisket, spare ribs, jalapeno cheddar sausage and pulled pork. No matter which you choose, you won’t go wrong. If you’re with a group, try ordering a wide variety of dishes so you can sample a little bit of each.
Stubb’s also hosts a family-friendly “Gospel Brunch” every Sunday. If you’re overwhelmed by the many buffet options, start with the fried catfish and barbecue brisket/ And adults will definitely want to hit up the make-your-own bloody Mary bar as they enjoy the live gospel music.
801 Red River St.
Texas is known for its beer, but if that’s not your beverage of choice, don’t despair. Some of the best cocktails in Austin are just five minutes away from Stubb’s at Half Step, a casual lounge that specializes in craft cocktails. Although the menu has no shortage of options, the best approach is to chat with one of the friendly bartenders and tell them your favorite spirits and flavors. They’ll whip up the cocktail of your dreams.
75 1/2 Rainey St.
The Elephant Room
For fans of jazz and blues music, there’s no better venue than the Elephant Room. This underground bar has live music seven days a week, starting at 9:30 p.m. Be sure to arrive about 30 minutes before the band takes the stage, because the space can get crowded. Even happy hour at the Elephant Room includes music. On weekdays, happy hour begins at 4 p.m. and a band plays from 6–8 p.m. Unlike Stubb’s, there’s no food at The Elephant Room, so you’ll want to eat before you head over.
315 Congress Ave.
Tacos and Tequila
Luckily, some of the best Mexican food in town is just 10 minutes away from The Elephant Room at Tacos and Tequila (TNT). The menu includes a unique, delicious variety of taco options such as seared ahi tuna, Korean ribeye and corn-crusted chicken. There’s no need to feel overwhelmed by all the choices — you get to mix and match when you order. Although margaritas dominate the drink menu, specialty drinks like the TNT Paloma and the Mexican Mule will do the trick if you’re in the mood for something different.
507 Pressler St., Suite 400
Open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, Strange Brew is your one-stop shop for music, food and beverage cravings. In addition to live music shows every day, Strange Brew hosts comedy shows, open mic nights and art shows.
Above all, the locale considers itself a “listening room” and kindly requests that guests stay silent during certain performances. If you want to chat with a friend, you can head outside to the patio where you’ll still be able to hear the music thanks to outdoor piping.
5326 Manchaca Road
Cherry Creek Catfish Company
Although the food at Strange Brew is delicious, we recommend taking a break for a sit-down meal at Cherry Creek Catfish Company — you’ll only need to walk a few blocks to get there.
Cherry Creek Catfish Company is the place to indulge in Texas-style seafood and southern specialties. The restaurant lives up to its name and you can’t go wrong with any catfish dish, whether it’s the blackened catfish, a po’ boy or a fillet. The award-winning barbecue-rib dinner is also to die for, especially because you’ll get a taste of the restaurant’s very own barbecue sauce and seasonings.
5712 Manchaca Road