So I packed up all of my things and decided to move to Austin because, you know, nobody else is doing that nowadays. On my way down here, I had that restless feeling that I was forgetting something. We’ve all experienced this. It didn’t hit me until I had arrived, but there were actually two things I had forgotten to bring with me: a belt and friends.
While a belt is an easy item to replace, attempting to build an entire social network from scratch can be a tad arduous. Luckily, Austin is a remarkably welcoming city filled with tons of events and activities designed to bring people together.
In just two months of exploring what Austin has to offer, I’m here to tell you that making new friends in Austin is a lot easier than you think. Here are some of the best places to meet people.
Rainey Street in general is pretty happening, but in my opinion there’s no better place to make new pals than at Javelina. First of all, the bartenders are all friendly and most of them have astonishingly well-groomed beards. Not to mention that there’s a shuffleboard table located right in the thick of things, so you’re bound to meet people just by starting a couple of games. And if you don’t think shuffleboard is a great bar game, then you’re doing it wrong.
Here’s a tip: Order their Mariachi. It’s not on the menu anymore, but it’s a delicious drink and also serves as a conversation starter. The bartenders will give you props for knowing what it is, and people around you will become curious enough to ask you about it.
69 Rainey Street – Website
The Franklin BBQ Saturday Morning Line
Imagine getting up at 8 AM on a Saturday morning to wait in line for three hours for food you might not even get. Sound like fun? Well, surprisingly, it is. And it’s a great way to meet new people.
Think of waiting in line at Franklin BBQ like a moving tailgating party, rather than a line. Bring some lawn chairs, beer (with cups, of course) and a deck of cards. You’ll be welcomed by your fellow hungover line companions, as you all slowly shuffle your way towards truly incredible barbecue.
The food may all be gone by the time you reach the front. But hey, at least you made some friends along the way. Make sure to follow @FranklinBBQLine on Twitter for updates on the line status.
900 E 11th St – Website
The Mezcal Bar at Clive
This one’s tricky. It’s literally a bar inside a bar. Make your way over to Clive Bar on Davis off Rainey Street. As it is, Clive Bar is a great location with a pleasantly spacious outdoor patio. What you want to do, however, is find the little stone shack in the back and walk inside. It’ll feel like you just stepped inside a time machine and wound up in Mexico during the 1920’s…but you’re still inside your time machine because this place is about that size.
What this little gem lacks in size, it makes up for in cozy atmosphere and rare tequila. There will always be a few friendly patrons there to greet you, and you will have no choice but to talk to them due to the aforementioned size of this joint. Additionally, the music is a conversation starter all in itself. You’ll see what I mean when you get there.
609 Davis St (inside Clive Bar) – Website
Spanning 351 acres, gorgeous Zilker Park offers so much to see and do. Featuring a spring-fed, 68 degree natural pool, volleyball court, 9 hole disc golf course, theatre, hiking/biking trails and more, this place is always packed with fun and active people.
When the sun is shining, people always seem to be in good spirits. Spending a nice afternoon outdoors at Zilker Park will create plenty of opportunities to socialize and make new friends. Just prepare to be active and potentially wet if you hit the pool. Bonus points if you have a dog.
2100 Barton Springs Rd – Website
Barfly’s has a number of things going for it when it comes to bringing random people together. For one – their jukebox is marvelously diverse. It’s one of those old, flippy ones with the album covers and rewarding arrow buttons. When I say diverse, I mean you can line up Frank Sinatra and Slayer back to back. Don’t do this. I’m merely making the point that it’s possible.
It’s this, along with friendly bartenders, plenty of games and a cozy outdoor patio that make Barfly’s a convivial dive bar. This is off the beaten path of Austin’s busiest nightlife areas, so the people who come here are looking for a more laidback type of evening. Just knowing Barfly’s exists puts you in good company with the good company, if that makes any sense.
5420 Airport Blvd – Website
Remember, this is a guide about where to make friends in Austin. With that, it’s also about getting out there, being bold and exploring what this city has to offer. Coming from a perhaps more bitter culture in Boston, I can tell you without question that the people here are always welcoming and open to good conversation with good people.
I may have forgotten to bring some old friends with me when I moved, but my transition into a new, developing social circle has been a surprisingly easy one. I suggest trying the places I mentioned above, but there’s certainly no shortage of social activities here in Austin.
@theAustinot wants to know:
Where else is good for meeting new people? Sound off in the comments below.
Andrew Chase is a marketing professional and aspiring writer who recently relocated from Boston. He enjoys sports, film and travel. Follow him on Instagram @andychuckchase.