Game Day Guide
Where to watch: A non-tailgaters guide to game day
September is fast approaching, and with it comes the onslaught of burnt orange Saturdays in our fair city.
The Longhorns kick off the 2011-2012 football season at Darrel K Royal Texas Memorial Stadium on September 3rd, and while plenty will fill the stands that day, not all of us who bleed burnt orange are keen on trekking to the stadium for all-day tailgates. Some of us, myself included, prefer a refuge where you can enjoy a clear view of the game and maybe a beer or two. Let’s not call it an escape from football, per se, just a different way to experience game day, Longhorn fanaticism still in tact.
Should game day take you close to campus, you have several options, the first, and arguably most notable, being Posse East. One would be mistaken not to include this little north campus oasis as a prime game day spot; after all, the Posse East has built its 40-year legacy on game day patronage. Located within walking distance of the stadium, it's a natural choice for pre-game watering hole and post-game haunt. Watching the game here means you’re close enough to the action to hear residual cheers and cannon blasts from DKR. It also means you’re close enough to get inundated with a crowd once the game ends or if there's a blowout.
If Posse East holds game day court on one end of DKR, Scholz Garten reigns on the other. Established in 1866, Scholz is renowned for German-style fare, an incomparable biergarten and a tradition of game day celebrations. Scholz’s football connection dates back to 1893 when UT’s football team had its first undefeated season and celebrated post-game at the biergarten. Well over a century later, he biergarten is still packed on fall Saturdays, filled with generations of Longhorns ready to watch the game. Given its history and proximity to campus, which is just two blocks away, this is one UT tradition we don’t see going anywhere.
Let’s not call it an escape from football, per se, just a different way to experience game day, Longhorn fanaticism still in tact.
A more modern game day tradition, Cain & Abel’s sits among the multitude of dorms and apartment complexes that make up West Campus. Yes, it can get pretty fratty here, but it’s been a signature hangout for students and fans since 1991, so there’s a good chance some young alums will be in the crowd, too. If you’re loyal to Cain & Abel’s, but looking for something with less of a campus contingent, have no fear. At Abel’s on the Lake, located next to Hula Hut, you can watch football in a less rowdy setting and catch some unparalleled views of the lake.
Head down Lamar on any Saturday this fall and chances are you’ll see swarms of burnt orange at The Tavern, because as they say, you’re “never too far from 12th and Lamar.” The Tavern is a local legend, one that has served up food and drinks since 1933. Its 50 TVs, air-conditioned interior and prime location have made it a game day signature that withstands the test of time. Not too far from The Tavern sits a little saloon with a big legacy. Shoal Creek Saloon is known in town as the place to watch the New Orleans Saints, but it fits the bill for Longhorn game days, too. Shoal Creek Saloon takes advantage of its location with a peaceful patio that backs up to its namesake, and offers patrons the basics: Cajun food, football and cocktails.
South of the river, there are two haunts that embody the game day experience, no trip to campus required. A relative newcomer to the Austin bar and game day scene, Black Sheep Lodge became an instant South Austin neighborhood classic and filled the void for an alternative for game day without heading downtown. Inside, TVs and bar games abound, and the newly-covered patio offers a usable outdoor space where you can see the game and still escape the heat. Closer to the Capitol on the South Congress strip, Doc’s Motorworks is poised for game day parties. Its patio seating is expansive, but given the location you may have to scramble for a seat. If South Congress is too crowded, Doc’s has another solution in South Austin: Doc’s Backyard in Sunset Valley.
Just because you prefer a little leisure in your game day over a trek to the stadium doesn't make you a fair weather fan: it's a guarantee you'll find fanatic Longhorns posted up at all of these locales. But wherever your game day takes you, be sure to come early, be loud, stay late and wear orange. Hook 'em!