The Best Bars and Restaurants On Rainey Street (According To An Austin Local)

You’ve probably heard of Rainey Street. Even if you know nothing else about Austin, if you’re planning a trip to ATX and looking for fun things to do, someone is going to tell you to “make sure you go to Rainey Street for the best nightlife in Austin!” Rainey and Sixth Street are the two places that the general public is aware of, even if they’ve done no research about the city of Austin. But since most people just wander onto the street and end up shelling out hundreds of dollars at tourist traps, I’m going to share the best bars and restaurants on Rainey Street so you can have a uniquely Austin experience on Rainey! 

best bars on Rainey Street

>>> Scroll to the bottom for an interactive map! You can even save it to your phone and use your own location to find the coolest bars on Rainey Street near you. <<

Here’s Why You Can Trust Me

I’m an Austin local and the author of the bestselling Austin travel book Austin Food Crawls, and I’ve been food blogging in Austin for more than a decade. I spend pretty much all of my free time and money exploring Austin, and I’ve had a front-row seat in watching it evolve over the last ten years. 

where to eat and drink on Rainey Street

I remember going to Rainey Street right when it was still a sleepy residential neighborhood street with just a few little bungalow bars - no high rises in sight. I actually met my husband at a Rainey Street bar more than a decade ago! (RIP Craft Pride, a bar that only served craft beer from Texas.)  Needless to say, Rainey has a very special place in my heart. 

I’m very excited to show you some of the best places to eat and drink on Rainey! 

A Very (Very!!) Brief Background On Rainey Street

Rainey Street was actually just a regular ol’ neighborhood street on the edge of downtown Austin! Up until the early 2000s, it was lined with tiny houses (mostly one-story bungalow homes). The street became an official Historic District in 1985 - most of the little homes on it were built in the 1930s.

best bars on Rainey Street

In 2009, a genius woman named Bridget Dunlap decided to turn one of the little bungalow houses into a bar called Lustre Pearl. It was seriously such a good idea - these houses are small, so they’re perfect for a little indoor bar + some cozy places to sit. And the wraparound porches make for great spots to enjoy the nice Austin weather while you’re drinking a beer. And the big yards made for good spots for outdoor music and yard games like ping-pong and cornhole. 

More bars quickly followed. I’d say that 2014-2016 was when Rainey Street reached its peak. There were so many cool places to drink, everything felt very “Austin” and even though it would get very crowded during SXSW and ACL Fest, Rainey was the type of place where locals wanted to go out on the weekends for a fun night with friends. 

best bars on Rainey Street

You could stop by on any night of the week for outdoor entertainment. 

And then the street got VERY popular, and investors started realizing they could make a lot more money by tearing down these bungalows and building high-rises in their place. So a lot of the original bungalow bars are gone now, and there are lots of big buildings on Rainey Street with restaurants or bars on the ground floor and residential space above. 

Why Do Austin Locals Hate Rainey St So Much?

Ok, let’s just address the elephant in the room real fast.. If you mention Rainey Street to pretty much any Austin local, they’re going to roll their eyes and/or give the most over-the-top dramatic sigh you’ve ever heard. 

Do all Austinites hate Rainey Street? 

Uh, yeah. Pretty much. In case you hadn’t heard, everyone and every major tech company has moved to ATX recently…

Ok, not every tech company, but it feels like that sometimes. So most Austinites, whether they’ve lived here since the 1970s or they’ve only been in the city for a decade, feel a bit of nostalgia and sadness about the way that Rainey used to be. The locals who absolutely love Rainey Street are most likely the ones who moved here kind of recently. 

best bars on Rainey Street

And I’ll tell you the truth: I’m somewhere in the middle. I miss the quieter, walkable street of bungalow bars. I miss a few of the really cool places that have been torn down to make way for high-rise developments. And I definitely don’t love how Rainey keeps getting louder and louder and more and more expensive for crappy mixed drinks. 

BUT….I actually still think that Rainey is a pretty fun spot if you want a crazy night out on the town. There are a handful of excellent places to eat on Rainey, and there are actually some decent cocktail spots if you know where to look.

best bars on Rainey Street

I mean, you’ll have to deal with some annoying things like a bunch of bars that aren't locally owned anymore, and soooo many high-rise condos and hotels so the street is now packed with traffic.

But once you get past all of that, it’s actually pretty cool that there are still some historic bungalow houses that have been renovated into bars. And Rainey STILL is one of the best places to easily bar-hop in Austin. There are a ton of bars on Rainey Street, and many of them are actually really good. 

Where To Eat And Drink On Rainey Street

Enough with the history lessons! Let’s get to it. Here are the best places to eat and drink on Rainey Street, according to an Austin local.

best restaurants on Rainey Street

Best Bars On Rainey Street

1. Half Step

Half Step Bar

One of the best bars in America according to Esquire, Half Step is still one of the best places to get a craft cocktail in Austin. They literally make their own ice here, carving it from a centrally “grown” block of super-cold and purified ice cube, so your drinks won’t get diluted because the ice is very, well, icey. 

This is also a fun spot for live music indoors, outdoor porch hangs, and great food. Spicy Boys food truck is parked outside, which is one of the very best food trucks in Austin for fried chicken sandwiches, roti flat bread, and curry. 

I feel the need to remind you, though, that Rainey Street is still a party street. So “best craft cocktails on Rainey” doesn’t represent the best that Austin has to offer, as a city. If you’re a cocktail snob and you want to find some high-level bars in ATX, check out this guide to the best cocktail bars in Austin

WEBSITE | 75 1/2 Rainey St, Austin, TX 78701

2. Lustre Pearl

Lustre Pearl

Ahh, Lustre Pearl. You’ve had quite a journey, haven’t you? This darling bar started as the original bar on Rainey Street. It was eventually closed down to make room for a high-rise development, and the old bungalow bar was transported to another location in the city. 

BUT!! Lustre Pearl lives again! There’s now a NEW Lustre Pearl on Rainey Street, across the street from the original location! It’s in a different 1930s bungalow, complete with an indoor bar, a big backyard, and an awesome food truck. (Seriously - get some late night pies at Via 313 Detroit-Style Pizza an you won’t be sorry!)

Lustre Pearl is all the old Rainey Street vibes. There’s still some of the original decor in here that was used in that 2009 bar that started this whole party street. The drinks are pretty basic (and overpriced, because, well, this is Rainey Street after all) but this cute bar is always a fun time. 

WEBSITE | 94 Rainey St, Austin, TX 78701

3. Clive Bar

Clive Bar

One of the oldest bars on Rainey Street, Clive Bar was one of those 2009 projects from Bridget Dunlap. This bar had a HUGE renovation during the pandemic, and now it’s a little bit of old Austin mixed with a little bit of new Austin. The original bungalow is still there, but there’s a second story added on top with a roof-top deck. Clive Bar is a great spot for live music! 

WEBSITE | 609 Davis St, Austin, TX 78701

4. Lucille Patio Lounge

Named after a 1920s flapper named Lucille, this house was originally used by her as a place to entertain and host. She mysteriously disappeared one night, and some say her ghost lives on in this little bungalow bar. 

Lucille Patio Lounge is a cozy spot for a cocktail, and slow down, and a conversation. This Rainey Street bar has one of my favorite covered backyard areas. There’s a separate bar out there, so if the line is getting too long indoors, you have a second option when you’re ready to get a fresh drink. 

WEBSITE | 77 Rainey St, Austin, TX 78701

5. The Stay Put

The Stay Put Brewery

There’s only one brewery on Rainey Street, and it’s inside one of those renovated bungalows. The Stay Put isn’t locally owned, but it is an actual brewery where the beer is brewed on-site. You can sit at the bar or one of the indoor tables, or find a spot on the outdoor porch or backyard to enjoy a pint. 

If you’re looking for the best sports bar on Rainey Street, The Stay Put has plenty of TVs where you can watch the game under the shade of a heritage pecan tree. 

Not into beer? The Stay Put also offers mixed drinks of all kinds, as well as wine and cider. There’s a food truck on site too, so you could really stop by for the afternoon and then just hang out all day! 

WEBSITE | 73 Rainey St, Austin, TX 78701

6. Tipsy Alchemist

The tipsy alchemist

The Tipsy Alchemist is the most “un-Austin-y” bar on this list, but it’s still pretty fun if you’re in the mood for a sexy and memorable cocktail bar experience. 

It’s an open-air bar on the second floor of a high-rise, and they have “science-forward” drinks…aka cocktails served in beakers, drinks that bubble and float, and even a cocktail that is served via a clear glass pipe that wraps through the ceiling over the bar. They also offer bottle service. 

Tipsy Alchemist is also known for their massive shareable drinks, so if you’re on Rainey with a bachelorette party or a bigger group, definitely stop by here and get one of their shareable cocktails. 

WEBSITE | 70 Rainey St #200, Austin, TX 78701

Best Restaurants On Rainey Street

Best restaurants on Rainey Street

1. Bacalar

Bacalar

This Yucatan-inspired restaurant on Rainey St is on the very southern end of the street, so you could actually dine here without ever stepping foot on Rainey. 

It’s a modern Mexican restaurant from the winner of Top Chef Season 18, Gabe Erales. Start with a specialty cocktail, like a coconut milk washed-tequila stirred with coconut and pineapple, and share a few botanas with the table. (Their sikil pak with guacamole is so creamy!) 

Bacalar

Both maiz and grilled seafood and meat are showstoppers here. Opt for anything that comes with a basket of their homemade corn tortillas, like their cochinita pibil or masa dumplings. 

Bacalar has a daily happy hour, too. Stop by for discounts on drinks and appetizers in the early evening hours.

WEBSITE | 44 East Ave #100, Austin, TX 78701

2. Emmer & Rye

Emmer & Rye

Chef Kevin Fink’s award-winning restaurant has been wowing the Austin community since its inception in 2015. Named after heirloom grains, Emmer & Rye is a restaurant that revolves around seasonality and farmers, showcasing only what is most fresh and available. 

This means that after you’re seated in their bright, Scandinavian-designed interior and chatted with your server about your beverage options, you’ll have a completely unique dinne experience that might not be the same on any other evening.

The one thing that never changes? The blue beard drum cacio e pepe, which is quite honestly one of the most delicious things you’ll ever taste. Perfectly chewy and dense and covered in a rich, salty, peppery sauce. Order it. 

WEBSITE | SkyHouse, 51 Rainey St UNIT 110, Austin, TX 78701

3. Asador

Asador Tacos

When you’re looking for the best tacos on Rainey Street, immediately go to the walk-up window at Asador. Chef Joe created these tacos from scratch in his kitchen, and they became so popular that there are now multiple Austin locations! 

Asador tacos

The flavors are so POW that you’ll probably want to try every taco on the menu. But keep in mind that these are pretty big tacos (especially that decaden brisket taco topped with guacamole), so one or two tacos per person is usually good. 

Psst: be sure to get that trio of guac/queso/salsa when you order!

WEBSITE |  88 1/2 Rainey St, Austin, TX 78701

4. Banger’s Sausage House & Beer Garden

Bangers Rainey Street

The OG, the crowd favorite, the king ...Banger's has been on Rainey Street forever and it just keeps getting better! They even purchased the lot next door to expand and open another tap wall, which means Banger’s has the largest tap wall in the whole city of Austin. If you want to find hundreds of beer options, 20+ homemade sausages, delicious shareable sides, live music, and the best outdoor dining on Rainey, go to Banger’s. 

Banger's rainey street

Their weekend brunch is an absolute must. Try their bacon flight, the famous Banger’s Bennie, or a whole host of other smoked and meat-forward dishes every Sunday morning. 

One of the best parts about Banger’s is their outdoor area, which is lined with rows and rows of picnic tables. It gives off an Oktoberfest feel, and it’s a really fun place to go with a big group of friends. 

Bangers on Rainey Street

WEBSITE | 79 Rainey St, Austin, TX 78701

5. Geraldine’s

Gerladine's

Located on the 4th floor of the contemporary Hotel Van Zandt, Geraldines’ is a New American restaurant with live music 7 days a week. The weekend jazz brunch is a relaxing and elevated way to kick off your morning. Enjoy pastries, benedicts, steak and eggs, and chilaquiles while you enjoy the background ambiance of a live jazz trio. 

Geraldine's

Since this is the official restaurant inside the hotel, food is served daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. So you could easily stop by to eat at any time of day. And while the food is good (they have an exceptional chef here), the best and most memorable two meals are the weekend brunch that I just mentioned and their dinner service. I love their raw bar, the fancy salads, and the Texas-inspired entrees. 

WEBSITE | 605 Davis St, Austin, TX 78701

6. Anthem

Anthem Rainey Street

Similar to Tipsy Alchemist (mentioned under the Best Bars on Rainey Street), Anthem is absolutely a party cry and it’s great for a bachelorette party or a big birthday party group! It’s located on the ground floor of a residential tower, and it’s great cocktails and some yummy bites before you go out bar-hopping on Rainey. 

The interior is really cute and playful and fun, and the menu is massive. It’s a Tex-Asian - inspired menu with a full cocktail bar, brunch, happy hour, and dinner. The menu is quite robust (there’s a little bit of something for everyone) so this is a great spot if you’re dining with a group of friends who all have different preferences on cuisine. 

WEBSITE | 91 Rainey St Ste 120, Austin, TX 78701

Best Food Trucks on Rainey Street

best food trucks on Rainey Street

1. Via 313 - Parked at Lustre Pearl

via 313

Via 313 is a pizza chain that was started in Austin by two brothers who wanted to bring Detroit-style pizza to Austin. This pizza is SO dang good, they’ve actually expanded all over the country now! 

What’s Detroit-style pizza? It’s a rectangular-shaped pie that’s cooked inside a pan, so the edges get a yummy crispy texture and the deep-dish interior is soft and fluffy. The pizzas are topped with cheese and then sauce, so the cheese is really extra melty. My favorite is the double pepperoni pizza, but they have a lot of fun and unique toppings to try out. 

WEBSITE | 96 Rainey St, Austin, TX 78701

2. Spicy Boys - Parked at Half Step Bar

Spicy Boys rainey street

Spicy Boys is a pan Asian-inspired fried chicken truck. What does that mean? Instead of regular fried chicken sandwiches, you get the option to try yours with sweet chili honey, or massaman mayonnaise,or  tongue-tingling szechuan peppercorns.

No matter if you get a fried chicken thigh sandwich or some bone-in fried chicken, be sure to get some tater tots on the side. They’re amazing, especially after a few hours of bar-hopping on Rainey Street.

WEBSITE | 75 1/2 Rainey St, Austin, TX 78701

3. Four Brothers Arepas - Parked at 77 Rainey Food Truck Park

I know it’s not the most common craving in Austin to say, “I really want some Venezuelan food right now,” but trust me on this one: you really want some Venezuelan food right now! Four Brothers has these absolutely delicious arepas filled with pulled pork, black beans, cheese, and all sorts of other yummy fillings inside two corn cakes. Scrumptious. They also have plenty of other Latin cuisine and pretty much everything on their menu is consistently good. 

WEBSITE | 75 Rainey St, Austin, TX 78701

4. Little Lucy’s - Parked in front of Half Step Bar

Little Lucy’s Mini Donuts is an OG food truck on Rainey. These are, to me, the “last call” on Rainey…the thing you need to order when you’re done for the night and you’re about to call a rideshare to pick you up and you just need one little snack to finish things off. 

They’re hot, they’re fried, they’re fresh, and you can choose from about 15 different donut sugar/topping flavors and 8 dipping sauces. Someone who’s feeling math-y can tell me how many options there are. 

WEBSITE | 75 1/2 Rainey St, Austin, TX 78701

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And there you have it! Be sure to use the map above to find your way around Rainey Street. You can share it with a friend, too!

Where to eat and drink on Rainey Street

Rainey Street is a really fun experience in Austin. If you're visiting, I'd even call it one of the top things to do in Austin! 

Of course, locals are a bit sad by the closure of some of our old favorite Rainey bars (RIP Container Bar and all of your cool shipping container bars, Little Brother Bar and Bummer Burrito, Craft Pride, and Bar 96. 

Best restaurants on Rainey Street

However...Rainey Street still has LOTS of great bars. Use this guide as a launching point to pick one or two bars and a really good restaurant, and then enjoy walking around and exploring Rainey to your heart's content. Cheers to a fun night ahead.

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