If you live in Austin, you likely have a hankering for the outdoors, whether that means hiking the Greenbelt, taking the dog or the kids for a walk, riding your bike, or swimming at one of our outstanding swimming holes. After all that brisk exercise, it’s time to head for a patio and enjoy a cold drink. Patio culture is Austin culture. Here are a few of my favorite patios for happy hour on the east side.
1/ Lustre Pearl East
Being at Lustre Pearl East almost feels like hanging out in your own back yard, only cooler. When you drive up, you instantly notice the murals on the walls, painted by local artists and curated by SprATX. When you walk in, you’re greeted by the “Welcome Home” wall, recreated from the original Lustre Pearl on Rainey Street. The old, rehabbed house was also moved over from Rainey Street and has, in founder/owner Bridget Dunlap’s own words, “good bones.”
The entire bar has been built around the house, the centerpiece and heart of the property. Additions include wrap-around concrete walls, a second bar with roll up garage doors, and a kitchen serving bar-friendly fare like tacos and tater tots.
Lustre Pearl East offers hula hoops and cornhole, weekly trivia Tuesdays, and occasional live music and pop-up markets. Happy hour specials from Monday to Friday include $1 off specialty cocktails, drafts, and well drinks. There are also daily specials from Monday through Thursday, such as Wing Wednesday or buy one, get one burgers.
114 Linden St. – Website
2/ Kitty Cohen’s
Since opening in 2016, Kitty Cohen’s has been the darling of Instagram, with its irresistible decor. This adorable patio bar walks a thin line between sultry and campy, but in all the best ways. The patio has a pool that, while not large enough to actually swim in, is a draw for its visual appeal. A few people have been know to dip their toes in the water to cool off. Check out the ladies room wallpaper while you’re there—trust me on this one.
Like Lustre Pearl, Kitty Cohen’s has her own origin story. The bar is “the illegitimate love child of 1886 Management and Burt Reynolds,” and definitely emits that 70’s vibe. I can definitely see Bianca Jagger and Andy Warhol hanging out here.
The bar has frequent specials. They’re tied to an event like the Kentucky Derby or held on a whim, such as all-day rosé happy hour or a themed dinner night (example: Cambodian Soul Food pop-up). Kitty Cohen’s is simply an all-around, feel good bar.
2211 Webberville Road – Website
Like most classic dive bars, Shangri-La is the tiniest bit seedy and vastly welcoming. The bar itself is dark and cool, but the patio is the place to be. Once you get your drink, go out back and up the slightly wonky stairs. Up top, find a spot at a picnic table, preferably one in the shade, and start making friends. Something about Shangri-La causes people to open up and feel chatty. I have made more than one new friend here!
Happy hour specials at Shangri-La are generous, as they run from 4-9 p.m. every day. They always have a few daily specials, so be sure to check the chalkboard when you go in. If you’re hungry, you can nosh on food truck fare out back. Honestly, this East Austin dive bar has some kind of magic. Go see for yourself.
1016 E. 6th St. – Website
4/ Tillery Kitchen & Bar
The first time someone walks onto Tillery Kitchen & Bar’s expansive patio, they may be overheard muttering “ooohs” and “ahhhs.” The two-level wooden deck overlooks a picturesque stretch of the Colorado River and includes couches, fire pits, and café tables. It’s difficult to hold on to the stresses of your daily grind in such an elegant but cozy setting. So let go and let the beauty of the place wash over you. I highly recommend watching the sun set over the river on this East Austin patio!
Tillery offers an early happy hour from 3-6 p.m. The happy hour menu includes some drink specials and a limited food menu at discounted prices (though the full dinner menu is also available during happy hour). My go-to combo at Tillery is lamb fritters with a sage margarita. The seasonal dip with housemade bread is usually pretty interesting, too. I personally prefer their happy hour to their dinner, as they are still fine tuning the full dining experience.
3201 E. Cesar Chavez St. – Website
To be honest, when Launderette opened, I was a little skeptical of all of the rave reviews. Could it really be that good? I will say I am now a believer! While the dinner menu is an entity unto itself, unlocking the secrets of the patio was a real discovery for me.
The inviting couches and sweet blue and white striped umbrellas offer a fantastic backdrop for enjoying the evening. The happy hour is a blink-if-you-miss it affair, from 5-6 p.m. on Monday through Friday. Monday through Thursday, you will need to go to the bar to order your drinks before walking them over to the first come, first served tables to the side of the restaurant.
On Friday and Saturday evenings, Launderette offers table service in this area, and you can order a couple of select light snacks. I recommend the pimento cheese with housemade potato chips.
2115 Holly St. – Website
See the video version on KXAN’s Studio512 show:
@theAustinot wants to know:
What is your favorite East Austin patio for happy hour?
Disclosure: I am good friends with the owners of Lustre Pearl East, and have met a few of the other owners and chefs on this list. All opinions are my own.