Editor’s Note: The original Lustre Pearl closed down on March 30, 2014 to make way for a condo building. The house was moved to east Austin, where it is enjoying a second life as Lustre Pearl East. Lustre Pearl Rainey is now open at 94 Rainey Street.
If Rainey St. were a squad of soldiers flanking the downtown area of the Live Music Capitol of the World, Lustre Pearl would be the point man.
Leading the squad into downtown Austin’s bleary nights, Lustre Pearl – planted firmly on the corner of Driskill and Rainey St. – is an excellent showpiece for this revitalized, formerly residential district.
Lustre Pearl takes me back to my childhood. To the homes of my redneck family: cans of beer, bottles of whiskey and all that jazz. I took the train from Howard Ln. to downtown, and walked a couple of blocks down Red River over to Driskill. Lustre Pearl was staring at me.
It’s an old house bedecked with wood floors, high ceilings and a large backyard. Dimly lit rooms and bar area create a relaxed feeling. Due to the recent cold weather, the bar put up a large tent in the backyard where a live music stage is located, along with some ping pong tables, tables, chairs, assorted patrons and their pets. That’s right. Lustre Pearl is pet friendly – big plus for dog lovers.
I figured there should be some base measurement to compare this bar to others and what-not. So I chose my favorite alcoholic drink, Jameson and ginger ale, and my favorite beer, Lone Star (the national beer of Texas) for my ongoing litmus test.
Unfortunately, they don’t sell ginger ale, so I settled for a Maker’s Mark and coke for $7.00 (top shelf means no happy hour price). Later on, I bought a Lone Star which was $3.00 for happy hour and $3.50 regular price. When I needed more whiskey, I bought a “Long Hair, Don’t Care,” which was a Lone Star and a shot of whiskey for $6.00. So I guess it’s safe to say that the prices are comparable to other downtown establishments.
In case you get the munchies, the bar has its very own food trailer too. Depending on the size of the crowd, it may run low on some menu items, so be flexible about ordering.
On top of the good drink prices, you’ll find some very cool bartenders. Natalie and Matt were more than friendly and easy to talk to. I felt at home. And by the way, regarding recent allegations of the douchiness of Lustre Pearl – I didn’t see it. There were all types of patrons. Myself, upwardly mobile types, and the average college types all clinked glasses together and celebrated life and love…and work.
The cool thing about Lustre Pearl is that Rainey St. is a few blocks south of downtown and one block west of I-35. So if you are hesitant to visit the downtown area due to its reputation, Rainey St. may be a good choice as a place to chill out. Getting there is easy. If you are prone to use MetroRail like I did, a short walk will get you there as well.
As for parking, parking is currently free on Rainey St. If there isn’t any available (it’s always packed, even early in the evening), a paid lot is available right across the street from Lustre Pearl.
Lustre Pearl offers no cover charge, despite the fact that they have live music on Thursdays and Fridays. Music generally takes place in the mid-evening hours between 7-9 PM. Check the website for details. The only time they charge an entrance fee is when they are doing some type of charity event. Most recently, they held a small concert and fundraiser for the African Children’s Choir on New Year’s Eve.
I like this place. I wish it had ginger ale, but it’s not a deal breaker. Overall, I rate it 4.5/5.
Lustre Pearl’s website is LustrePearlAustin.com. It will have all the info you need.
David Thomas is a freelance writer living, writing and experiencing life in Austin, Texas. He lives with his girlfriend in their mid-80′s duplex in the Wells Branch neighborhood. Find him on Twitter.
Photos via Flickr CC, courtesy of Alexandra Richmond