There is an up and coming area, the Rainey District, that’s giving SOCO and Sixth Street a run for the money! If you’re looking for an area with lots of bars with loud music and cheap jello shots, this ain’t it! Nor is it for those who are looking to shop till you drop. But if you’re looking for a place with a variety of places to go to have drinks, eat and have some fun…this is the place!
Tucked in the southeast corner of Downtown, just west of Interstate 35, the Rainey area has recently morphed into a real hot spot. Funky, historic bungalows have been converted into hip little bars and restaurants. I have spent a little time during the last few months to “research” the area. Every time I’ve gone there, it has been a totally happening place, not unlike a rock concert or local music event. That is a slight exaggeration, but not by much! There are no sidewalks to speak of, so people are walking in the street weaving in and out of the cars that have been circling like a shark to find a parking spot. Most of the bars and restaurants have converted the driveway and backyard into outdoor seating and entertainment areas, so most of the crowd is hanging outside. The air is filled with sounds of people laughing, music playing and a slight hint of food. The last time I went there, a guy sat down on the porch and started playing his guitar. I’m talking regular person like you or me, except he could sing and play. This is Austin, so having someone whip out a guitar and play isn’t that unusual, but this was something special. Before long there were about 20 people gathered around singing along. The only thing missing was a camp fire! This was all happening while everyone was waiting in line to get in! It isn’t that there is a high concentration of establishments to choose from, each with their own unique ambiance, or numerous drink specials and tasty treats to try, it’s the whole “scene” that makes it feel festive and a fun place to hang.
Below is a list of the eight nightlife establishments in the Rainey District to-date. I have a few favorites, but I’m not writing this to “sell” a certain place. I want to encourage you to go explore the area and see for yourself what all the buzz is about.
- Lustre Pearl – 97 Rainey St. (512) 469-0400
- Clive Bar – 609 Davis St. (512) 494-4120
- G’Rag Mahal – 91 Red River St. (512) 480-2255
- Icenhauer’s – 83 Rainey St (512) 473-0005
- Bar 96 – 96 Rainey St. (512) 433-6604
- Javelina – 69 Rainey St (512) 382-6917
- The Black Heart Bar – 86 Rainey St (512) 391-1566
- Bungalow – 92 Rainey St
Word to the Wise
Keep in mind the rock concert and circling shark reference. If you plan on going on the weekend, I strongly encourage you to park closer to Downtown and walk to the Rainey area.