Guest article by Dawn Sarnecky
It’s no secret that Austin’s east side is a little grittier than the rest. I’m drawn to this kind of environment for its uniqueness and beauty. Since movin’ on up to the east side (thank you, Jeffersons), I’ve adventured out to discover gems that could give Sunday Funday on Rainey Street a run for its money.
Be prepared for some of the best bars in town to make your Sunday blues disappear and get a head start on the upcoming week with my guide to Sunday Funday in East Austin.
To begin your Sunday Funday adventures, grab your bicycle or your walking shoes and head east on Cesar Chavez. Just passed Chicon Street, you’ll find a funky place called Stay Gold. You can’t miss it with its western-rope themed blinking sign out front, just big enough to catch your eye.
As you enter, you’ll find a dimly lit bar with high back, leather studded stools lining the counter. There are tables and booths covering the outer limits of the bar that face the stage where you can find live music or DJ’s every night of the week.
I suggest sipping on the Freedom ’76 or the Black Bee and then heading outside to the patio area. It has square benches with cushions, enough to fit you and your crew while you get down to the music vibrating through the speakers.
Once you’ve tried a couple cocktails, grab a bit to eat from the Toaster food truck out back. I can testify that the grilled cheese and tomato soup, baked mac and pierogis are all fantastic options! They also serve brunch on Saturday and Sunday from 11 AM to 3 PM. The menu changes weekly, but if you ever catch the peanut butter and jelly French toast with bananas foster on top, you will never forget it.
1910 East Cesar Chavez – Website
To keep the positive vibes flowing, head next door to the newly opened bar, Craftsman. The first thing you’ll notice when you walk up is the fabulous porch area. It makes me think of sitting on my Grandma’s porch when I was young, but with an updated twist.
If your stomach is growling, grab a taco or some chips and queso from The Violet Taco truck out front. Snag a picnic table and chow down with your buds.
Head inside to find a charming little stage for live music and a quaint corner with velvet seated chairs to lounge on. Snag a house cocktail from the bar. My suggestions would be the Pants on the Ground (Campari, Green Flash Soul IPA and prosecco) or the What’s the Circumference of a Circle? (vodka, chili liqueur, raspberry, lemon and prosecco).
If you want to take the party outside, the patio area, though not very big, is the perfect place to chill at one of several picnic tables below shade trees.
2000 East Cesar Chavez – Facebook
After listening to some amazing live music at Craftsman, hop across the street to Drinks Lounge. Sunday is my favorite day to frequent this place for several reasons. The first: build-your-own Bloody Mary bar for $5! Now, I know some places boast about their Bloody Mary bars, but Drinks Lounge proves it’s the king on top. They have several kinds of mixers, from regular ole’ mixers to jalapeño infused. The number of hot sauces alone is unmatched (hint: try the local Yellowbird Sauce!). To top it off, they have garnishes galore, including Bloody Mary soaked pickles and the always popular celery stalk.
Hang out in the nearly ceiling high black booths with famous rock star pictures looking down at you. The booths fit 5-6 friends perfectly. You can also channel your inner Black Widow if pool is your game. Side note: pool is free on Tuesdays if you’re looking to increase your pool shark skills.
Once you’ve worked up an appetite, Drinks Lounge has a secret taco brunch on Sundays (I guess the secrets out, huh?) from 1-4 PM for $5, which includes two tacos on corn or flour tortillas with your choice of two signature sauces.
2001 East Cesar Chavez – Website
After enjoying time on Cesar Chavez, head north on Chicon, make a left onto 6th Street and stop into Whisler’s (8 minute walk from Drinks Lounge). Whisler’s has a great outdoor gravel patio lined with picnic tables and a smaller area where bands play, such as the energetic jazz group Boss Street Brass Band. Whisler’s has a great space and hosts a variety of charity and fundraising events.
If you’re looking for a signature cocktail, these guys are at the top of their game and any local Austinite will tell you the same. The bartenders here are true cocktail connoisseurs. Happy Hour is every day (yes, EVERY DAY) from 4-7 PM, when they boast $6 cocktails such as the Moscow Mule and Sidecar. Their Old Fashioned is one of the best around and my suggestion – if you want to try something different – is Tiger’s Tears. It has Thai chili infused vodka, lemon, strawberry and basil. It might sound kind of strange, but the ingredients mix well together to offer the perfect amount of sweet and spicy.
Pair Tiger’s Tears with a snack from East Side King’s Thai-Kun trailer. The Thai inspired dishes that pair best with this cocktail are the Waterfall Pork or the Khao Man Gai. Click here to check out their menu.
1816 East 6th Street – Website
Zilker Brewing Company
End your Sunday Funday with a cold beverage from newbie bar Zilker Brewing Company. Its rustic exterior with two garage door openings offer mystery appeal. This place is more intimate than others on the east side, but that’s what gives it a personal touch. You get to chat with the bartenders one-on-one and ask questions about the different beers they brew.
My go-to beers when I’m looking for something new are pale ales and IPA’s. Zilker Brewing has a great pale ale which is not too hoppy, but is a bit complex with its fruity taste. Follow it up with the Session IPA on a picnic table out front if the weather is cooperating. The clean, crisp taste of this IPA will create the perfect finish to your Sunday Funday adventures.
1701 East 6th Street – Website
Enjoy Your Sunday Funday
Whether you’re looking to get your groove on or just take a tour of some local digs, East Austin is currently the place to be. The folks are low key and you may surprise yourself with some of the conversations you strike up that you’d never have amidst the hustle and bustle of Rainey Street. So sit back, relax and let the east side vibe take over your Sunday.
@theAustinot wants to know:
What are your favorite spots on Austin’s east side for Sunday Funday?
Hailing from the arctic tundra that is Michigan, Dawn Sarnecky moved to the ATX four years ago and has been in love with it ever since. She is passionate about animals, music and supporting all things local. In her words, “It has been amazing to watch this city grow and I look forward to what the future has in store.”