It’s been two years since the Capitol was filled with lawmakers and their staffs for the 84th legislative session, and downtown Austin has changed a lot in that time. Wondering where to get a drink nearby if you’re one of the legislators and staff or the lobbyists, civic-minded citizens and journalists who will be at the Capitol through the end of May for the 85th session? Here’s a guide to downtown bars that have opened within the past two years.
Ah Sing Den, 1100 E. Sixth St. ahsingden.com. Replacing the former East Side Showroom, this Asian-inspired bar opened last summer with flavors in both the food and drinks that draw from Asia, South America and beyond. Ah Sing Den was named after the owner of one of East London’s most infamous opium dens, but the only thing you’ll get addicted to here is the menu.
Eureka, 200 E. Sixth St. eurekarestaurantgroup.com. This burger bar is an import from California, but it’s nonetheless found a home in Austin just west of the popular Sixth Street drinking drag by focusing on two of our favorite things: craft beer and whiskey. The chain pleases local palates with boozy offerings from Texas breweries and distilleries.
Irene’s, 506 West Ave., irenesaustin.com. The ELM Restaurant Group’s easygoing newest concept is whatever you want it to be, whether that’s a restaurant with vintage pieces, a bar with a welcoming back patio or a grab-and-go breakfast spot. Irene’s specializes in comfort food, strong cocktails and an Instagram-friendly outdoor area.
The Roosevelt Room, 307 W. Fifth St. therooseveltroomatx.com. Step into this darkened den for a veritable history lesson with the knowledgeable bartenders as your educators. They can whip you up any one of the 53 classic cocktails on the menu that represent different eras in America’s boozy past — or one of their original drinks, too.
Sellers, 213 W. Fourth St. sellersaustin.com. The owner of Icenhauer’s on Rainey Street wanted something different for his second bar project and found it with this underground basement lounge in the Warehouse District. Sellers is styled with 1970s design touches and features cocktails named after defining films of that decade.
Small Victory, 108 E. Seventh St. smallvictory.bar. This tiny, dimly lit bar located on the second level of a parking garage keeps to the classics when it comes to cocktails, with menu items like the tropical Singapore Sling and an entire flowchart of choices available for you to craft your preferred martini, whether it’s extra dry or sans olives.
The Townsend, 718 Congress Ave. thetownsendaustin.com. Is there anything this classy joint doesn’t do well? With food worthy of making the Statesman’s top 25 dining guide, the Townsend also offers an intimate room with good acoustics for live music shows and cocktails crafted by one of Austin’s best bartenders, Justin Elliott, formerly of Qui.
For an extensive list of dining spots near the Texas Capitol, visit Statesman restaurant critic Matthew Odam’s roundup of these places.