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Jan 24, 2008 09:02 AM

Cooper's and Austin-y Bar QS

So, we have decided to forego SL for Cooper's in Llano. What is the atmosphere like there? Is there anything else on the drive there that is fun to stop at, i.e. any bars, or wineries, stores, etc? They serve beer, right?

Trying to narrow down bar far, thinking about: Club De Ville, Lovejoy's, and SideBar and then possibly Deep Eddy/Mean Eyed Cat and Ginny's. We are loking for some great hole in the wall, true Austin spots, honky tonk is great, too...prepfer booze as well as beer (MEC being one exception). what are your thoughts as to these places--anything else we need to add/trade in for?

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  1. and Peacock/Longbrach and the Scoot...

    Obviously, as much as my friends drink like drunken sailors, we cannot hit all of these, but what are the best of the bunch?

    1. Cooper's is by far the best BBQ, but not much to do in LLano, it's more of a stop there for BBQ on your way somewhere else or to the deer lease. Usually just get it to go or eat there. I don't think they sell beer.
      If you want true dive bars with character you have to go to Ginny's Little Longhorn for Chicken Drop Bingo on Sundays. (also a cash only place)
      Broken Spoke is another Austin Honky Tonk with lots of history

      5 Replies
      1. re: amykragan

        what time is chicken drop bingo on sunday (when does it start? have the superbowl sunj, but would love to go first)? how much are the acoompanying schlitz beers? :)

        1. re: ljero

          Ginny's sales beer only but you can bring your own liquor and buy setups (soda and ice). Both the beer and the setups are very cheap. They also have free chili dogs available. I personally don't eat them but they are there. Dale Watson starts playing at 4. How long it takes the chicken to poop is up to nature;-)

          1. re: ljero

            Yout gotta go with LONESTAR beer at Ginny's

            1. re: amykragan

              amyk - SCHLITZ! "Just a kiss of the hops." This is a raging debate at Ginny's.

              Too bad they don't have the pickled eggs and pickled sausage at the bar anymore. I used to pile up crumbled crackers, slice up a couple of eggs and a sausage link, and throw them on top. Truly a culinary masterpiece.

          2. re: amykragan

            Coopers in Llano does sell Beer. They have a big vat of iced down longnecks at the register....
            There's not much going on in Llano. In the summertime it's fun to stop at the river and have a swim, or cruise the dirt backroads and take a dip in Sandy Creek....of course, you're not coming in the right time of year.
            You are coming at the right time of year to see the bald eagles - nine miles east of Llano on HWY 29-- you can stop and see them with a pair of binoculars.
            If you're coming to Coopers with a group get a taste of everything - brisket, pork chops, ribs, cabrito, sausage and share it all family style.

          3. Coopers is great, and is my particular favorite BBQ in Texas, but I am more of a Mesquite person than an Oak. The place is pretty bare bones. you walk up, point at the meat you want, Sauce or no sauce, and then you go inside, choose sides if you want, pay and sit down and eat. Their sauce is not like traditional sweet sticky BBQ sauce. Its more like thinned vinegar based sauce mixed with drippings. You can also opt for no sauce as they have some inside you can get on the side, although I don't know if that one has the drippings or not. You also get all you can eat cowboy beans in there as well as pickles and onions, and loaves of sliced white bread. I believe the do serve beer, but I always get sweet tea.

            My personal favs at Coopers are the pork ribs, and the smoked sirloin. I find the Big Chop (Huge double cut pork chop) to be sometimes too dry, but it is still pretty good. I also like their brisket, chicken, and sausage. Nothing special about the sides IMHO, but The meat and the experience are great.

            As for other things to see out there, This isn't the right season for it, but just the drive out is nice when the wildflowers are in bloom. There is also a small town called Castell with a certain rooster who has an unhealthy obsession for a animatronic fish. Thats a short drive from Llano. I't may not be worth the trip to everyone, but it was an interesting experience. There are a few shops in downtown Llano worth strolling around. Unfortunately, the Dabbs Hotel is no longer what it used to be. The Badu house might be open again, which is a historic hotel that is supposed to have a beautiful bar. Its supposed to be haunted. There is a ghost town called Fairland (Not conpletely sure about the name.) betweeen Marble Falls and Burnet off of 281 on the way back to Austin. Not really much of a ghost town, but there is a old dilapidated schoolhouse/church and graveyard that is pretty neat. Longhorn Caverns is also near there.

            As for bar choices, I would also throw in the Broken Spoke for the experience. Check a Chronicle and see who is playing that night though.

            1. When people talk about Cooper's Barbecue, they usually seem to forget the outfit in Mason. That's a real shame. Cooper's Pit Barbecue in Mason is the original restaurant, founded in the early 1950's by George Cooper. His son, Tommy, opened the much larger and, in my opinion, more sterile Llano version about 10 years later and named it Cooper's Old Time Barbecue. Today, the original Mason outfit is owned by a fellow named Duard who bought the place in the 80's and remains committed to keeping things the same as they were when George was around.

              It's a much smaller place, but the setup is similar to the Llano version. There's 2 pits outside under an awning. They'll open it for you and fetch the cut of meat you want. Bring it inside a tiny room where they slice it and sell it to you with whatever sides you want. Then you carry it all into the next tiny room where there's 3 or 4 long tables to sit and eat. Or you can stand around outside by the pits and chat while you eat. As long as you don't mind a few flies.

              Mason's Cooper's is far more laid back and doesn't do near the business that Llano's does. The inherent problem with this is that it can have off days where the brisket gets a little dry. In my experience, those days are few and far between. But, in my opinion, it's far more flavorful than anything you get in Llano. Plus, I've never had to wait in line and you can't beat it for authenticity. The drive to Mason is just about 30 miles or so past Llano, but it sure is worth it.

              And I second the endorsement for Broken Spoke. It's hard to beat for a real Texas honky-tonk dance hall in the city. It's far more than just a good spot to drink. Wear your dancing boots because you're going to need them. And yes, it's Lone Star beer in Texas. Or, if you're feeling rich, Shiner.

              4 Replies
              1. re: jonesy4000

                I never knew about the Cooper's in Mason. I have been to Mason a couple of times. I'll have to stop by there next time. Thanks for the background info.

                1. re: Homero

                  My pleasure. Always thought it was kind of an injustice that this place was so ignored by Austinites.

                2. re: jonesy4000

                  Went to Cooper's in Mason and was not impressed. Different owner /operators. Llano is much better.

                  1. re: frijole tex

                    Yes, it is a different owner and operator, but that doesn't mean that they're not related. I tried to make the point above that the Mason Cooper's was opened by George Cooper, the father of the owner of the Llano Cooper's. The Llano Cooper's was meant to be a copy of the Mason Cooper's. Since sometime in the 1980's, they've been run by different families, but the Mason Cooper's is still very close to the original. I'm sorry you weren't impressed. I enjoy it every time I go. And I'll take it over Llano nearly every time.

                3. Coopers is my overall favorite. I like the pork chop and jalapeno sausage. Have it dipped in the sauce. Then I like to get a cup of sauce,pour it into the cardboard trough and through in some chopped jalapeno and raw onions. I start cutting up the meat to soak in the sauce while eating. Then take a trip to enchanted rock state park. Walk up to the top, head south towards Fredricksberg. On the way is a sign for the Willow City loop. It's a beautiful paved one lane road that takes you on a tour of some beautiful hill country. Kind of like a mini-grand canyon. It's a 13 mile loop. I'm not crazy about Fredricksburg. Good place to take a date but on your way out(I've still never been to Luchenbach)there's a town called Stonewall with a little pub on the side of the road. Good place to stop and have a couple cold ones. They usually have live music from the locals and just a bunch of good ole folks in there. And then there's always Poodies back on 71. Very representative of the area. Be careful leaving as the police are big on giving tickets. And I think I'm due for the tour myself. Enjoy and send back a report.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: crippstom

                    Don't miss the Saxon Pub on South Lamar.