There is a diminishing number of places in Austin that are truly and wonderfully weird. Carousel Lounge is one of them. Located at 52nd Street and Cameron Road in North Austin, Carousel Lounge is home to one of the most authentic atmospheres in all of the city.
You may have been there before, or your alternative buddy at work may have mentioned it a few times. No matter what day, month, or year you go, it’ll likely be an experience you’ll never forget. Here are a few reasons why Carousel Lounge is one of Austin’s most beloved offbeat bars.
You may ask why there’s a circus-themed bar in Austin. The question you should really be asking is, why not? The more time you spend at Carousel Lounge, the more its odd concept makes sense. The gypsy-vibe is expressed well in the subtle details, such as elephant murals on walls, original jukeboxes, and colorful lighting. The venue has even moved the original murals (once painted on the front of the building) to the inside. It’s magical.
Everyone Is Treated Like Family
An experience at a bar can be made or tanked by the friendliness of the bar staff. In my opinion, Erin and Coral at Carousel Lounge are queens in their own right. They take great care of everyone AND have time to look over and bob their heads to the local tunes generated by passionate musicians. On my very first time at the lounge, I felt like I made good friends. What more could I ask for?
Did I Mention the Music?
The bands at this joint are wildly varied. But at the beginning of Carousel Lounge’s existence, the weekly schedule was not at all like it is now. According to owner Nicki Mebane, “For years, it was basically one musician by the name of Jay Clark. We played the organ with him and incorporated background instruments (old standards like Frank Sinatra, Elvis, etc.). He was still playing seven nights a week when my husband and I took over the bar in 1988. Our club has evolved into having different bands, five nights a week.”
Check the schedule for upcoming live shows.
Carousel Lounge Is BYOL
Like many “old Austin” hangouts used to be, Carousel Lounge is a place where you can bring your own liquor, as they only sell wine and beer. The bar will also provide a setup for a few bucks. Someone might even give you bubbles (like actual bubbles) to blow at your friends’ faces.
Other fun facts about the Carousel Lounge include:
- Lucielle the Elephant is the mascot (ask to meet her)
- Over 150 music videos have been filmed there
- They’ve got a killer happy hour from 2-7 p.m. ($2 beers)
- They celebrated their 50th anniversary in 2013
- This place makes a lot of people happy
Carousel Lounge officially has my old-Austin heart. It should be on every Austinite’s bucket list. Just remember to let your inner-weirdo out while you’re there.
1110 E. 52nd St. – Website
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