Where to Go Out on South Congress

My favorite neighborhood for going out at night is one I never thought I’d say— South Congress. I used to think it was too touristy, but I’ve found a plethora of spots to have any style of evening from a nice cozy tucked away spritz cocktail to my absolute favorite music clubs that are either hidden upstairs or off the beaten path. You can walk the entire street and have the most casual evening or step it up with some of the most exclusive Japanese whiskey selections in the state of Texas. I’m all about a progressive evening and trying to hit as many places as possible, and South Congress allows you to keep making your way down the road and discovering a new experience all in one night.

1. My absolute favorite spot is C-Boys. It’s a music club that most people don’t talk about, but when you enter, you see the real and old-school, Austin scene of all ages smiling ear to ear, high-fiving, and it’s the kind of place I feel like everyone knows the local bands performing. The music is always fantastic, and I love the intimate booths, framed photos on the wall, tight dance floor, and gold streamers on the stage. If you’re looking for live music 7 days a week, this is the place. All of the up-and-coming bands start with residencies here— I’ve seen Sir Woman, TheBrosFresh,  Soul Man Sam, and even the Black Pumas used to play here weekly.

2. If you’re looking for something a little more high end and elevated, grab a cocktail at Watertrade, the intimate Japanese whiskey bar that has a speakeasy feel upstairs at the South Congress Hotel. It’s connected to the special Omakase restaurant Otoko, and they now take reservations– although you can walk in and grab a seat at the bar (just don’t tell everyone.) They have the largest list of sake, Japanese whiskey, shochu, and more. It’s also fun to tell the bartender what kind of flavor profile you are looking for, and they’ll shake their magic. Don’t miss Chef Yoshi’s hamachi grill on the izakaya menu.

3. The Gallery at The Continental Club— While most know Continental Club as the reason that made this street so famous, the best part is heading upstairs above the tattoo shop to hang in The Gallery. It’s a smaller space with couches that feel like someone’s living room, and you can really feel the power of the musicians right in front of you. I like to hang up here after a long night on the town and either sit back and watch people dance or join in. Enjoy jazz, soul, R&B, and singer-songwriter music.

4. The Meteor is a combination of a bike, coffee, wine, pizza, and who knows what else shop. Their back gravel patio with picnic tables is a casual spot to come post evening swim at Barton Springs or when you just want a nice cold glass of natural wine.

5. The courtyard lounge at Hotel San Jose is one of my favorite date spots because it feels like you are on vacation and has soothing elements with all the plant life, lit up pool, and interesting people around. Enjoy wine and cocktails here, plus they have the best frosé in town.

6. For good bites and a killer wine list, head to June’s All Day. I always snag a glass of the bubbly June’s Rosé which is refreshing and pairs well with the Snapper Carpaccio and Salami & Cheese.Also, they serve one of my favorite burgers in town!

7. Hotel Magdalena and Breakaway Records partnered to open Equipment Room in the hotel’s basement this March, and the hi-fi vinyl bar is stocked with 1,200-plus records from all sorts of genres. It’s sleek, located just off of South Congress, and I will be hanging here regularly for the cocktails and sound! They have creative bites like Chili Lime Peanuts (while it doesn’t sound that unique, I couldn’t stop eating them so I had to mention it) and Midnight Munchie Cookies, plus, it’s nice to see cocktails by mixologist Robert Björn Taylor, who’s been in the Austin bartending game for years. The glassware and moody lighting felt similar to Watertrade, and I loved that we were able to enjoy a glamorous night out, but still carry a conversation without screaming at each other over all the noise. The space is top-notch for a private event thanks to a curtain-enclosed back space, so keep it in mind for any parties coming up. A spot with a fun atmosphere where I can dress up will always make it to the top of my list, and it just feels good in here and a step up!

8. Although Soho House is members only, it’s a nice escape from the busy street, and they have the best spicy margarita called the Picante. It’s fun to come here on the weekend for DJ sets, music room sessions, and just to run into friends.

9. If I’m stretching for the neighborhood South Congress, then I must mention SagebrushA honky tonk further south in Austin that draws a completely different crowd. It’s casual, Western, hipster, and stylish all at the same time. Owned by a few of the White Horse partners, they opened this larger space during Covid.  They have fun markets and outdoor parties on the weekends in the large back yard and pool tables and a huge two-stepping dance stage inside.

10. If you want to stretch north instead of south to find something more high end and a little closer to downtown, Gold Room is the not-so-much talked about cocktail bar that is located at the front of the nightclub, Superstition. While Austin has felt mostly like dive bars or music clubs in the past, some of these nicer cocktail bars are popping up and this one is overshadowed by the the big music acts that come in town for Superstition. You can go here while at a show or just walk in and grab a drink at the bar from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. Thursday to Saturday.