You can never quite pinpoint the day a new bar district emerges in Austin. You typically have one bar open up in a new area doing, things a little differently, then a second one opens up nearby with a similar feel and you begin to reach a tipping point. Indian Roller Boutique Roadhouse has become Way South Austin’s tipping point.
The massive success of Moontower Saloon on Manchaca south of Slaughter proved there was a thirsty market south of South Austin. A bar as unique as Indian Roller could not exist so far away from the city center until a place like Moontower showed it was possible.
We’ve written extensively about neighborhood and dive bars here on the Austinot. But what exactly is a “dive bar” nowadays? In a hipster town like Austin, the definition could be drastically different than what you might find in say, Detroit or New York City. A few years ago Playboy magazine described a dive bar as:
“A church for down-and-outers and those who romanticize them, a rare place where high and low rub elbows—bums and poets, thieves and slumming celebrities. It’s a place that wears its history proudly.”
The Indian Roller feels like just that sort of establishment, minus the history part.
Indian Roller is what you get when you shop for bar decor at Goodwill in a small hunting town. Taxidermy dots the wall, with 70’s era lounge chairs and a piano straight out of the 19th century. As you’re greeted by a deer and antelope mounted on the wall, though you may never have known the term existed, you immediately get why this is called a boutique roadhouse.
Keeping It South and Local
An essential ingredient to a good neighborhood bar is cheap drinks. Indian Roller keeps things simple with their pricing. You get a 5-hour happy hour 5 days a week and a special brunch menu on Sundays.
A pint of Texas craft beer from one of 6 taps will only run ya $4 bucks during happy hour, about as good as it gets here in Austin.
Brunch is taken care of by the FRANK food trailer parked out back. Highlights of the menu include the Chicken & Waffle Sammich that comes with an organic, free range, hormone free fried chicken breast between two bacon waffle pieces with honey butter (only $6.50). Or go all in with the S.O.S. Plate: Texas toast with sausage gravy served with two scrambled eggs and home fries. The Frank food trailer is also open for dinner weeknights from 6 PM till close.
Although the tap selection is somewhat limited with only 6 choices, Indian Roller makes up for it with a fantastic selection of craft cocktails. Taking advantage of their property and offering what most downtown bars cannot, Indian Roller has their own garden out back where they grow basil, lemon, rosemary and many other ingredients for their seasonal cocktails.
Live music is featured at least 3 nights a week with a small stage set up inside the bar, with ample room for another band out back.
Way South Austin
So does Indian Roller give you enough of a reason to venture so far south? Maybe, maybe not. Way South Austin isn’t a destination yet for those downtown and further north, but the neighborhood as an entertainment district is beginning to come into its own. Indian Roller goes a long way in establishing a unique feeling that seems to complement Moontower Saloon just right, establishing a funky vibe south of the river.
Suburban sprawl has become a very real issue in Austin. But venues like Indian Roller is a unique local business amidst the sprawl of corporate franchises that infect our suburbs. Here’s to hoping Way South Austin finally becomes a Thing.
Located at 10006 Manchaca Rd.
@Crafty_Ed wants to know:
In your opinion, is Way South Austin becoming a viable entertainment district?
“Suburban sprawl has become a very real issue in Austin.”
A strange assertion. What’s become an issue for Austin is affordability. And a main reason for that is actually the lack of suburban development keeping housing stock low and prices high.
What’s an otherwise good review on a neat new bar in South Austin turns sour with an unfounded and misplaced anti-“suburban sprawl” and anti-“corporate franchise” mini rant. Review bars, food trailers, and the little fun spots; but best to leave development commentary to more experienced folks in the field.
I agree. This article began as a way to highlight a neat local place but turned into rant against an Austin lifestyle that the author does not subscribe to, the residential lifestyle, a simpler quieter one compared to that of downtown. Contrary to what the author, visitors and many new residents believe, not every citizen of Austin identifies as a hipster or classifies Austin as solely a, “hipster town.” Complaining that a neighborhood ten miles from downtown is too suburban is nonsensical and only perpetuates the stereotype that Austinites are all pretentious hipsters.