If there’s one thing that’s certain in Austin, it’s the ever-changing scenery. Condos, hotels, and establishments keep popping up in and around our beloved neighborhoods, and too many Austinites don’t know where to seek refuge anymore. Fear not, locals! Nickel City is the spot where you can walk in, pull up a chair, and drink to your heart’s content.
Texas Roots, Rust Belt Chic
Texas roots with Rust Belt chic form the concept behind this unassuming bar off East 11th. Down the street from famed Franklin BBQ, you’ll step foot into what I predict will become a quintessential neighborhood bar. Housed in the former Longbranch Inn (RIP), Nickel City isn’t the least bit pretentious.
The stars aligned when current partners (Brandon and Zane Hunt, Travis Tober, Craig Primozic) originally crossed paths and Longbranch Inn’s lease expired. Tober hails from Buffalo, New York, and the bar pays homage to the bars he knew growing up–with a Texas twist. “Nickel City” is one of Buffalo’s nicknames.
Austin’s Nickel City opened its doors in summer 2017 and has quickly become a spot “where everybody knows your name.” The decor isn’t as dingy as the predecessor and has since been updated to give off a more welcoming feel. A bright, yellow banquette has been installed, along a trophy case full of accolades and trinkets from bartender friends across the country. It’s just the right amount of approachable and divey to make you feel at home.
Perfect Pairing of Drinks and Food
You won’t see the word “cocktail” anywhere on the menu or marquee sign. Instead, the latter is lovingly adorned with tongue-in-cheek phrases that’ll make you chuckle. No drink on the menu is over $10. Prices are kept affordable on a menu that’s diverse, yet approachable.
The drink menu is easy to navigate with three main categories: Well Known, Lesser Known, and Unknown. A final category is Limited Time Offer, a monthly menu showcasing drinks contributed by bartender friends from all over the country. Don’t skip the frozen drinks behind the bar: New Orleans-style cocktails like The Hurricane and the best frozen Irish coffee.
When you get hungry, Brandon and Zane Hunt’s latest food truck, Delray Cafe, is right outside. The Hunts will forever be known for gracing Austin with Detroit-style pizza through Via 313. But their down-home cooking at Delray shouldn’t be missed, either. The food truck offers comfort foods from sliders to mozzarella sticks. The chicken wings are a steal, pairing well with any concoction your bartender makes for you.
Giving Back to the Neighborhood
Not only does Nickel City feel like home, but the business also gives back with a “Cash Only” bar. It’s set up towards the back of the bar, right before you step out to the patio. Through pop-ups with bartender friends and local small businesses, Nickel City gives proceeds to a local charity. Most recently, the bar hosted an event to benefit Emancipet.
Tober stresses the love he and his fellow partners have for their neighbors up and down East 11th, along with regulars and first-time visitors who drop by the bar. “Everybody should have a good time here,” he shared, while going over the many events Nickel City plans to host over the next few weeks. No matter your poison, Nickel City will be happy to provide it to you with a friendly smile.
1133 E. 11th St. – Website
@theAustinot wants to know:
What is your favorite drink and food combination at Nickel City?
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