Where to drink now

Where to drink right now: 8 North Austin bars worth the drive

Where to drink right now: 8 North Austin bars worth the drive

Second Bar + Kitchen Domain mocktail
No day of Domain Northside shopping is complete without a Second Bar + Kitchen drink. Second Bar + Kitchen/ Facebook

This may be news for some, but the Capital City doesn’t end at Highway 183. And the clustered entertainment districts near downtown are not the end-all and be-all to local nightlife. From easygoing dives to upscale wine bars, North Austin is full of options for an evening on the town. Why spend big bucks on a rideshare when there’s so much to be enjoyed next door?

4th Tap Brewing Cooperative
No roundup of North Austin drinkeries would be complete without a nod to North Austin’s explosive craft brewing scene. And no nod of that scene would be complete without a mention of the Capital City’s first worker-owned microbrewery. Though its cans are widely stocked throughout town, nothing beats a visit to the taproom. There, guests can enjoy creative seasonals like the dry Brut of All Evil With OJ, a dry IPA made with citrus hops and fresh orange juice. A pie from BackDraft Pizzeria, the resident food truck, makes a zesty pairing.

Baretto Kitchen & Cocktails
This darling wine bar may be one of Austin’s last true hidden gems. The atmosphere is cozy, with European touches like heavy black curtains, exposed brick, and a warm wood plank ceiling. The kitchen served Mediterranean-inspired nibbles like prosciutto-wrapped avocado, Antonelli’s charcuterie and cheese, and a killer Italian wedding soup. And though the wine list might be the biggest draw, the cocktails are no second fiddle. Try the Toki Time Highball or a bracing version of the French 75 made with fresh cucumber.

B.B. Rover’s Cafe & Pub
December 2018 started out as a bummer when this pioneering beer bar announced it may close. Thankfully, it got over the hump and is now heading into its next chapter. Still one of the finest places in town to score a craft pint, the beloved spot is now expanding its food menu to include specialty pizzas, vegan Beyond Burgers, and tempting specials like pork tenderloin stuffed with andouille. The Saturday and Sunday breakfast — essential for weekend warriors — is back in action, too.

The Hideout Pub
This long-running waterhole on Mopac Expressway has a simple motto: “We’re cheap so you don’t have to be.” No wonder it’s so popular. Sure, The Hideout is not a place to experience cutting edge bar craft. But the margaritas, mules, and Manhattans are made with top-shelf liquors, the beer menu covers everything from beloved locals to cult out-of-state brewers, and the amazing Black ’n' Bleu should be in Austin’s burger hall of fame.

Homer’s Neighborhood Bar
This no-frills strip mall drinkery on Wells Branch Parkway is all about fun, from the pool tables and dart boards to the bumping jukebox. The beer selection isn’t all that different from what patrons would find at the local H-E-B, but who cares when there’s a 2-7 pm daily happy hour and karaoke every night?

Mister Tramps Sports Pub & Cafe
Though atmosphere, drinks, and food are important parts of any bar’s equation, the people who go to them is what really makes a place feel like home. From techies to soccer fanatics, this sports bar on Research Boulevard attracts one of the most eclectic crowds in the Capital City. As it happens, it also has a lived-in feel, tasty snacks like pork and black bean stuffed Trampa-Changas, and a draft list that any beer nerd would be eager to try.

Oasthouse Kitchen + Bar
Fans flock to this globally inspired neighborhood favorite, but the beverage program is equally impressive. Serving both classic and original creations, Oasthouse is a godsend for North Austinites who don’t want to brave traffic to get a good drink. As a bonus, the ever-changing signature menu is always geared to the season. The latest edition features refreshers like the Strawberry Fields, a vodka, Prosecco, Lilley Blanc, and strawberry coulis sipper sure to take the edge off the heat.

Second Bar + Kitchen
Drinking at the Domain can be a dicey proposition. While there are plenty of places for a solid craft pint, the cocktails typically range from basic to brutally sweet. For a more balanced mix, head to this airy eatery in the Domain Northside for innovative drinks like the Green River with vodka, grapefruit oil, basil, lime, and green Chartreuse. The well-rounded wine list hits the mark as well, traversing the globe to find both crowd-pleasers and more challenging varietals.