Guest Blog: Guide to Austin’s Dirty 6th Street

Dirty Sixth Street

Dirty Sixth Street (Credit: Ian Aberle via Flickr CC)

Guest blog post by Ashly Howard

I have only been in Austin for about three years, but my experience in this city wouldn’t be so great without my first love: East “Dirty” 6th Street.  I moved here from Oklahoma City, so this particular downtown lifestyle was a completely different atmosphere for me. East 6th quickly became part of my routine.

It’s hard to believe that after all the hassle it takes to get down there, so many people still go – including myself. Depending on where you live in Austin, it usually takes 20-30 minutes to get to 6th, followed by several minutes of bobbing and weaving through one-way streets, pedicabs and jaywalkers. The amount of time it takes to find a cheap parking spot, close to the club you want, is just ridiculous if you don’t know your way around.

At the end of every night on 6th Street in the Summer, the street itself is cram-packed with people heading to their cars, stragglers trying to find their friends, entertainers and cops lined up and down the streets to scout for future jailbirds. (Word to the wise: Make sure you have a designated driver.)

There is a bar on Dirty 6th for everyone. Over time, I’ve found shortcuts to the part of the street I like to frequent and the bars I can’t stay away from. Hopefully, my experiences can help you navigate and find your favorite spots.

Tour Through Dirty 6th Street

You can park in a $5 parking lot on 7th Street and walk down Trinity to 6th. When you get to 6th, I would start my night by going East, almost to Coyote Ugly, and make my way West, all the way to Spill.

This is what you’ll see on the way:

**Fuel –  Looks like a hole in the wall, but they have a great staff and their music choice is always up to date with what’s popular.

The Jackalope – Full of tattoos, goth and comicon goers. I love it! The bar is huge and everyone is very welcoming.

Pure Ultra Lounge on Sixth Street in Austin

Pure Ultra Lounge – Photo by

**Pure Ultra Lounge – The first club I ever visited on East 6th. It was like nothing I had ever seen. This is a club for the chic. The girls that go here wear sequined backless dresses, and men in business suits frequent the VIP area. The bartenders also do sky high, flame and juggling tricks behind the bar. If you do visit this club, I urge you to make sure you go up to the 3rd floor.

Peckerheads – A younger bunch and a lot of college kids. Great music, loft-like, and they even have a DJ who takes requests.

The Library – Another place for the college crowd, but a little more chic than Peckerheads. Personally, I’m not a fan of this location.

Agave – Another small hole in the wall. Agave sometimes smells like old mop water, but that’s easy to look past because the bartenders do tricks and make sure you aren’t bored.

Mooseknuckles – If you could have a bar for crotch-rocket riders, this would be it. Cute bartenders, but I get bored each time I go.

Thirsty Nickel – An environment for a bit older crowd. I had a run-in with a bartender here, so I’m not really a fan.

Maggie Mae’s – If you’re a patio sitter, this is the bar for you. The best patio bar on 6th Street, if you ask me. The patio comes with two of its own bars, a dance area and a canopy for rainy evenings.

Vice – Three levels of crunk music, youngin’s, and barely any room to move. This is actually one of my favorite places to go because their choice of music and dance space rocks.

Bat Bar – Although this bar is a bit on the smaller side, it has a nice dance space, two floors and typically a good DJ every weekend.

**Spill – A bar I have literally ended my night with. The dance floor is huge, they have a raised dance floor so you can strut your stuff in front of everyone, awesome light/fog effects, a huge screen to play videos for the music, and pretty quick bartenders considering the amount of traffic.  Although this bar is infamous for its petty fights, it’s still where I’ve made most of my memories.

Pedicabs on Sixth Street in Austin

Pedicabs are a huge help at the end of a long night – Photo by atmtx

There are a TON of bars on 6th Street. Believe me, you will never get bored here. But it isn’t just the bars that offer the experience; it’s the street itself.

If you ever visit Austin or live here, the first thing you should do is hit up 6th Street. Even if you don’t like to “bar hop” or “crawl,” just go. The people you meet will astound you, the fights you see will pump you with adrenaline, and the theatrics of the people entertaining down there will be something to take with you for a lifetime – especially on Halloween.

Austin is a great city filled with talented people, but never leave until you visit the famous “6th Street,” eat a Bratwurst from one of the wonderful kiosks, and give a cigarette to a homeless man.

Ashly Howard is a 27 year old stay-at-home mom who loves to tweet and blog at When it comes to getting a point across, her experiences are her best examples.

**Editor’s Note: Fuel, Pure Ultra Lounge and Spill were shut down in March 2012 due to federal charges against the bars’ owner.

  • Jacqueline A Hughes
    • Eric Highland

      Thanks Jacqueline, we’ve added an Editor’s Note at the end of the post to reflect those closures. What do you think will happen with those locations Jacqueline? Have you heard anything?

  • Jonwjones71

    GGreat read. I’ve never been down to 6th St, but now I think will!! Thanks for the article.

  • Jennifer

    Ok so I just realized that Spill is closed which is a HUGE bummer. It’s my go to place for good music and dancing. My sister’s bachelorette party is in September and now I’m at a loss for where we will go. Anyone have a suggestion???

    • Brittany Highland

      Aw, Jennifer! How about Pete’s Dueling Piano Bar?

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  • Abby

    Hi Brittany, I’m a 57 year old female travelling alone. I’ve never been to Austin so I need some good advice. I’ll be walking or cabbing it from my hotel to the bars. I need to sow my wild oats and plan on dancing as much as possible! What kinds of things should I be on the lookout for? Where I come from, you have to dance while holding your drink, thanks to all the date rape drugs that mysteriously get into customer’s drinks.
    Please advice –

    • Brittany Highland

      You will enjoy your visit, @Abby! It is common to hold your drink while dancing. It usually depends on how busy the venue is and whether you can keep close to your drink – drugs or not! Other than that, use your intuition as far as which venue is best for you. You might spend some time at Pete’s Dueling Piano Bar, which is a LOT of fun. I’d encourage you to meet some lady friends who you can party with. Austinites are known to be extremely friendly, so feel free to reach our for direction or help whenever you need it during your Sixth Street Adventure.

  • Fluxaeon

    6Th street is overrated and drinks are overpriced.

  • Didi

    Is the cover free? Going to Austin this weekend. Thanks.

    • Brittany Highland

      Yes, @Didi, you’ll find a ton of cover free bars on 6th Street.

  • Jane

    I have visited 6th St on Saturday nights only, is environment on Fridays same as Saturdays? Does street get closed like Saturdays?