To find those little nuggets of Austin charm, one has to increasingly look outside the glitz of downtown. In South Austin, there's the recently opened Sagebrush, a sprawling music venue and bar where there are picnic tables instead of Swedish furniture and ice-cold beers instead of handmade cocktails (though you can get those, too). Meanwhile in North Austin, the city's top restaurants are increasingly popping up in North Shoal Creek, North Burnet, and the 'burbs. And East Austin still has its little dive bars and taquerias untouched by bachelor parties on pedal-powered pub crawls.
The latest spot to join this club is Armadillo Den, a new two-story bar and outdoor venue now open at 10106 Menchaca Rd. The three-acre plot is part neighborhood bar, part dog park, part music venue, with food trucks and an eventual kid-friendly portion, too.
"The three acres of land Armadillo Den occupies incorporates essential elements this city cherishes — live music, cold beer, local food trucks, a forthcoming off-leash dog area, options for spacious indoor and outdoor relaxing, and large oak trees to lounge under," notes a press release.
A two-story bar clocks in at over 8,000 square feet, where patrons can order from more than 18 draft beers, sip from a full bar selection, or enjoy four rotating draft mocktails. Indoor/outdoor space is divided by glass walls, allowing customers to keep cool during steamy summer days or keep the breeze flowing when it's more temperate.
Upstairs, an eventual wrap-around deck will be decked out with 14 TVs for game days or prime seating during concerts.
Outside, picnic tables dot the massive lawn, and customers can order dishes from two of the onsite food trucks: Pueblo Viejo, an east side favorite dishing out Tex-Mex and tacos, or Ranch Hand, whose healthy, locally focused ethos is summed up perfectly in its "Order like there is a tomorrow" tagline.
Eventually, the space will include an off-leash dog park, outdoor games, and satellite bars. Beginning next spring, following the completion of the outdoor stage, the outdoor space will also be kid-friendly. And another perk? Parking is available onsite, but Armadillo Den will knock 10 percent off orders for those who show proof of using a ride-hailing service instead.
The newly opened concept is more than four years in the making, a labor of love for longtime Austin bar veterans Rick McMinn, Josh Hazzard, and Brett Berry, who are now operating together under Manchaca Entertainment Group.
"Our shared goal was to make this project a great space for staff and patrons alike. With a focus on speed and hospitality, we have built this two-story building from the ground up and gave local craftsmen a lot of freedom to have fun with the space,” said Armadillo Den partner Berry in a release.
“You'll notice something new every time you visit. From our artistic entrance made from longleaf pine scraps to our bowling alley tables atop wielded T-posts, to our massive pecan tree live edge bar downstairs, there really is a lot of thought and professional work done on this space, and we can’t wait to share it with Austin.”
Armadillo Den's thoughtful nod to Austin's musical past can be found in the old concert posters hanging on the walls, and even the screen doors that line the upstairs bar that were pulled from Stevie Ray Vaughan's childhood home. Once open and running, the partners hope to host live music seven nights a week.
"Musicians of various genres will be able to take to the second-story stage and entertain interested boot scooters on the beautiful wood floors with limited capacity for the time being, with plans to host bigger shows and performers at the outdoor stage opening in spring of 2021," notes a release.
In this pandemic age, the bar is opening with limited capacity, and has installed heaters and fire pits to keep people comfortable while sitting outdoors. Masks are required when not at your table, and Armadillo Den asks patrons to be mindful of washing hands and keeping distance while at the space.
Armadillo Den is now open Monday through Thursday from 4 pm to 2 am and from noon to 2 am Friday through Sunday. For now, it's 21-plus until that outdoor stage is completed in spring 2021.