Into Austin’s Red River Cultural District

Red River is unlike any other part of Austin. It’s gritty, it’s raucous. It’s punk and goth and metal all mashed up into one glorious soundtrack.


Brat on Pretzel Bun on Tray at Easy Tiger.
Easy Tiger Bake Shop & Beer Garden. Photo credit: Easy Tiger Bake Shop and Beer Garden.

Red River isn’t long on eateries, but what you will find here is delicious. “Eat the rainbow” could have been inspired by Koriente’s Asian creations. Each plate is bursting with color from an array of fresh vegetables and organic proteins. They also offer an entire gluten-free menu. Pelón’s Tex-Mex Restaurant is a multilevel, multi-concept Mexican spot. Come here for sizzling fajitas and a huge tequila selection. You’ll want to park it on their patio before or after a show with a signature house margarita or a smoky mezcal concoction from the adjacent Bar 508 Mezcalerita. The huge backyard and ping-pong table are only part of the draw at Easy Tiger Bake Shop & Beer Garden. Take away a freshly baked baguette, sit down for a hot-off-the-grill sausage or have drinks during their killer happy hour. There’s pizza on every corner in Austin, it seems, but nothing like Hoboken Pie. Their cracker-thin, Jersey-style crust is infinitely foldable. It’s just a bonus that they stay open way later than any other spot on the street.


Empire Garage Show Area.
Empire Garage Show Area. Courtesy of Empire Control Room & Garage.

Austin’s music scene is anchored, and diversified, by the clubs on Red River. While other parts of the city showcase singer-songwriter and pop acts, Red River embraces the completely awesome underbelly of Austin’s music landscape. Mohawk is a whole scene. With two stages, bearded bartenders and an extraordinary amount of taxidermy, Mohawk is one of the most important music venues in the city. Mainstream acts come through Stubb’s Bar-B-Q practically every week. It’s easy to do a gospel brunch one day and a big-name concert the next here. The outdoor amphitheater and indoor stage at Stubb’s have hosted massive talent. Empire Control Room & Garage refuses to be pigeonholed, with dual stages that support everything from dark wave legends to Beyoncé-themed dance parties. There are few bars as chic as Swan Dive, where you’ll feel like you’re stepping into another world as you catch a live band or join in a round of karaoke. On the other end of the spectrum, Beerland (though recently renovated) is a classic hole-in-the-wall, with an eclectic mix of bands and karaoke on the regular. Next door, Elysium Nightclub is the self-proclaimed home of alternative nightlife in Austin, with an ‘80s night that is something to behold.

INSIDER TIP Every January, venues on Red River join in Free Week, a showcase of mostly local music that has every bar packed and every stage jammin’.


Cheer Up Charlies.
Cheer Up Charlies. Photo credit: Nick Simonite.

Dance until you drop during Barbarella’s wild Tuezgayz. And don’t miss the fabulous theme nights at Cheer Up Charlies. Just be sure to try an Arlo’s vegan bac’n cheezeburger before you head home.


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