If your idea of nightlife includes hitting a bar for drinks and socializing, then our Austin guide is just what you want. Capitalizing on first-hand experience and extensive research, we've located the best bars in Austin for hanging out and kicking back in. From long-lived mainstays like The Library Bar to busy places like Málaga Tapas & Bar that get lots of 10Best reader approval, we present the top bars in town and offer details about them all. What's the energy like? How do the bartenders pour? Are most bars located in the 6th Street area? No fear - we share all the facts!

The epitome of dive bars in Austin, Barfly's has achieved the perfect recipe for a successful dive: unbelievably cheap drinks that pack a punch. All right, it's more than that; it's also a stellar jukebox, pool tables, foosball, arcade games, a covered outdoor smoking patio and friendly barkeeps. Join the eclectic and welcoming crowd any night of the week for music, conversation and tasty drinks like the Happy Meal, Barfly's special Lonestar and Jaeger combo. (512-452-6455)

The Jackalope
A local favorite in Austin, TX, this bar's atmosphere is a bit like its namesake -- odd but strangely lovable. In addition to the killer jukebox, outdoor area and excellent happy hour specials, one of The Jackalope's biggest draws is the scrumptious bar fare served until 1:30am. Order the mouthwatering black and blue cheeseburger paired with the perfect drink, selected from 42 bottled beers, 14 drafts, magnificent frozen margs and the famous Guinness Bloody Mary. (512-469-5801)

With a watering hole type feel and a quirky atmosphere, Shangri-La definitely caters to the college crowd and is naturally a favorite among the young locals. It has a large outdoor patio, lots of pool tables, old school video game arcade cabinets, and plenty of other fun oddities to keep you coming back. On the weekends, the joint opens up a second full bar and has a longer happy hour periods for the influx of students off of school and work. ((512) 524-4291)

Sholz Garten
Texas's oldest tavern is still thriving, even after nearly 150 years in business, and its fascinating history is rooted in the German biergarten tradition. Over the years, the place has welcomed innumerable politicians, writers, artists, and musicians; O. Henry and his wife (both active in local singing groups) even performed here a few times. Today, the place continues to be a favored watering hole, and it offers a good selection of beers and traditional German and Texan foods like bratwurst and barbecue. A great hangout. (512-474-1958)

Light Bar
Super-trendy Light Bar sports chic industrial decor, water walls, massaging chairs, and a rooftop patio with terrific views. At roughly 4000 square feet, the club is big enough to accommodate plenty of partiers without feeling overly crowded. Inventive specialty cocktails are on the menu, along with fun themed parties several nights a week. (512-473-8544)

The Library Bar
When Austinites want to hang out with friends and party, they tell everyone they're going to The Library (wink, wink). It's not exactly deception, but it definitely means beers before books! Frequented by a collegiate crowd, the casual place offers drink specials, a lively atmosphere, tons of like-minded folks, and pool tables to keep things active. If you're looking to socialize, The Library's got that in spades, too. (512-236-0662)

Carousel Lounge
This circus-themed bar gets props just for being quirky. They only serve beer, but they do provide set-ups, so you can bring your own liquor. Local bands take the stage (backed by a large pink elephant) on Tuesdays and from Thursdays through Saturdays. True to its independent nature, Carousel closes at midnight, so it's better to start your evening here than try to end it. (512-452-6790, 512-407-9647)

Dog & Duck Pub
British transplants and visitors love the Dog & Duck, which has been winning local "best-of" awards since it opened in 1990. You'll find darts, a pool table, a diverse jukebox, and even occasional live music on the entertainment agenda. Otherwise, the covered deck is a great place to kill some time while nursing a Bass Ale. The food menu includes traditional British favorites like bangers and mash and shepherd's pie, along with several daily specials. A bit of trivia: A scene from "Miss Congeniality" was filmed here. (512-479-0598)

Rainbow Cattle Co
Austin's gay country-western bar does draw a mainly male clientele, but all people are welcome. The elevated dance floor is ideal for showing off the moves you learned at lessons offered earlier in the week — line dancing, the waltz, the two-step, and the West Coast swing are the top contenders. (512-472-5288)

Málaga Tapas & Bar
This sophisticated wine and tapas bar offers terrific atmosphere and lots of scrumptious nibbles. It's a great place for meeting up with friends or colleagues and sharing a few savory dishes from the delicious menu. Try garlic-sauteed shrimp, grilled sea scallops, crawfish cakes, fried chicken ravioli, and salmon marinated in adobo sauce. A variety of wines is available by the bottle or glass, along with a handful of specialty drinks. Live Flamenco shows are the first and third Wednesdays of the month. (512-236-8020)

Maps and Directions

The Jackalope 10Best List Arrow
Type: Bar
Neighborhood: 6TH STREET
Shangri-La 10Best List Arrow
Type: Bar
Neighborhood: 6th Street
Sholz Garten 10Best List Arrow
Type: Bar
Light Bar 10Best List Arrow
Type: Bar, Lounge
The Library Bar 10Best List Arrow
Type: Bar
Neighborhood: 6TH STREET
Dog & Duck Pub 10Best List Arrow
Type: Pub
Rainbow Cattle Co 10Best List Arrow
Type: Dance Club, Gay and Lesbian
Málaga Tapas & Bar 10Best List Arrow
Type: Bar
Neighborhood: Downtown
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