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"Real" Texas Bars?

All,

This April my buddy and I will be making a three day Texas barbecue pilgrimage along the corridor which stretches south from Taylor down into Luling. I call it "Smoke Alley." Austin is roughly in the middle and will be our base. It's just an excuse for a road trip and gorging ourselves on outstanding BBQ, and drinking lots of beer.

With the help of Chowhound and other sites we have pretty much nailed the eating itinerary, but what about watering holes? Can you recommend any genuinely un-self conscious "real" Texas bars along this route? We are NOT looking for hip, artistic, foodie, or trendy. And for God's sake no college bars or sports bars.

I may be looking for something that hasn't existed now for a couple of generations, but imagine that bar in "Hud" where Paul Newman and his cousin get into a fight. We want longhorns on the wall, guys wearing cowboy hats and big belt buckles who aren't being ironic about it. If they just serve Lone Star beer in bottles we can live with that.

You get the drift. Any leads would help.

Thanks.

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  1. The Broken Spoke on S. Lamar would be a start.

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    Broken Spoke
    3201 S Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78704

    3 Replies
    1. re: Veggo

      I just looked up the website and that looks excellent. Thanks, Veggo!

      1. re: Veggo

        Okay...I just want to say, I went to The Broken Spoke over the Christmas holidays with my mother, who was visiting from Virginia. She's been to Austin several times and wanted to go to a place authentically Austin with live music. We went around 7pm on a Wednesday (ladies night). There was nowhere to sit and the median age was 90. The band was playing "Mama Tried". We ended up eating at Artz Rib House and going to The Continental Club where Elana James (violinist) was playing with a western swing band. That part of the evening was great! Did I go to The Continental Club on the wrong night, at the wrong time, or is this just the way it is?

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        Artz Rib House
        2330 S Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78704

        Broken Spoke
        3201 S Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78704

        1. re: Helind

          For the Broken Spoke, check the music schedule. It doesn't usually get crowded with all ages until 9 p.m.

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          Broken Spoke
          3201 S Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78704

      2. Ginny's Little Longhorn in Austin fits the bill.
        Live music (C+W) almost every night. Beer & set ups. No mixed drinks. No Cover. They pass the hat for the band every night. Probably hasn't changed in 20 years or more.
        The only food they serve is pickled eggs and chips.
        They also have Chicken S$%^ Bingo on Sundays, which is interesting, but highly overrated.

        Also historic Gruene Hall, (in Gruene, TX) depending on who is playing there could be fun.

        11 Replies
        1. re: TroyTempest

          Thanks, Troy. They're going on our "look into it further" list. I appreciate the lead. I love old school Country and Western.

          1. re: EarlyBird

            No problem.
            If you can catch Dale Watson, I guarantee some good old time C&W. He used to be a regular once a week. now I don't know. I moved out of the neighborhood, and don't get by there too much lately.

            1. re: TroyTempest

              Ginny's Longhorn and the Gruene Hall (Texas' oldest dance hall) are excellent recommendations. I might also recommend, just west of downtown, The Mean Eyed Cat (a dive bar that is also an homage to Johnny Cash) and, across the street from it, Donn's Depot. Both have live music.

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              Donn's Depot
              1600 W 5th St, Austin, TX 78703

              1. re: heyzeus212

                I'll pny up and say that the Broken Spoke, Ginny's, and Donn's are what the OP are looking for.

                A bit different from those, and different from each other, would be the Poodle Dog and Dallas Night Club. Weirdos at both places, but different kinds of weirdos. Those are all near Ginny's, if you want to do a pub crawl.

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                Broken Spoke
                3201 S Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78704

                1. re: rudeboy

                  Extremely cool. Thanks to everyone. I see lots of brisket, beer and cowboy music in my future!

                  1. re: EarlyBird

                    If you're hangin' your hat in town, don't short-sell the brisket at Iron Works, 1st. at Red River. Good "Q" , long necks, plus the atmo you want.

                  2. re: rudeboy

                    Dude,sorry to disappoint but Dallas has been closed for some time, mainly for serving too many drunks alcohol. For real Texas bar in our city, I don't think anything can compare to Broken Spoke. Now for down and out beer joints, don't forget Poodle Dog Lounge on Burnet Road, there for about 40 years, Lala's Little Nugget right there on Justin who also has been there for about 40 years, and further up Burnet is one whose name escapes me, right across from Waterloo. A plain ol' good ol' boy beer joint. Problem with these places is the beer selection sux. Also out on Lake Austin Blvd is the Deep Eddy Cabaret. Been there so long they used to serve Jesus.

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                    Deep Eddy Cabaret
                    2315 Lake Austin Blvd, Austin, TX

                    Broken Spoke
                    3201 S Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78704

                    1. re: singlemalt

                      Dallas is in fact open. It was closed for a period at some point but has been open again for quite some time. Though I would not recommend going there. Poodle Dog Lounge no longer has live music and Lala's is more of a dive bar than a Texas Bar IMO. The place across from Waterloo is Buddy's. None of these has live music.

                      My recommendations would be Donn's Depot, Ginny's and The Broken Spoke. It would be a shame to come to Austin and not go to bars with live music, when there is so much good music to enjoy.

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                      Broken Spoke
                      3201 S Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78704

                      Donn's Depot
                      1600 W 5th St, Austin, TX 78703

                      1. re: missmitzi

                        Didn't realize about Dallas. Been there twice in 30 years.

                        1. re: singlemalt

                          Yeah - maybe Dallas was a bad recommendation, cause of the douche factor. Somehow though, it seems like a real Texas place, even though it is totally different than the Spoke. I'd say that the two are the bookends of that culture.

                          1. re: rudeboy

                            By that token, then, you can replace Dallas w/ Dance Across Texas, or whatever that place is called now.

          2. I had a couple in mind before I even clicked on your post, but I see others beat me to it. Let me add to the rec. for The Broken Spoke - the bar, the music, and the country fried steak! Also was going to mention Ginny's Little Longhorn - the aforementioned bingo on Sunday, and many Sundays also featuring Dale Watson.
            To add to the BBQ thoughts, Franklin Barbecue, right there in Austin. Currently (at least as of last month) serving out of a trailer in an old gas station parking lot alongside I-35, though I heard they may be moving to a "real" building. Best brisket I've ever had, bar none.

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            Broken Spoke
            3201 S Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78704

            1 Reply
            1. re: Cheez62

              "To add to the BBQ thoughts, Franklin Barbecue, right there in Austin. Currently (at least as of last month) serving out of a trailer in an old gas station parking lot alongside I-35, though I heard they may be moving to a "real" building. Best brisket I've ever had, bar none."

              Now the "facility" itself seems great in and of itself.

            2. I agree with everyone who recommended the Spoke... I'll add, just as an extra thing, that I think Thursday nights are the best.

              Jesse Dayton plays really awesome rockabilly, and the crowd on that particular night is always a nice mix of old school texas dudes (and ladies) and young people like myself. Some people might be tourists, but there's nothing wrong with that - the Spoke has such an unpretentious air that nobody cares if you're a veteran two-stepper or you're just an out of towner trying to find something fun to do. I'm from Mississippi so I had no idea how to two-step when I first went, so it also helps that there are lessons an hour before the show starts if you're into that sort of thing. It's fun. It made my girlfriend happy to do the lessons with her, and I learned something cool, so double bonus.

              Also, if you're a girl, you can pretty much guarantee that a bunch of cool old cowboy dudes are gonna ask you to dance, so get ready :)

              1. Oh and the Horseshoe a little north on S. Lamar is also a good place to check out while you're in the neighborhood... it's not a honky tonk or anything, more of just a dive bar, but it rules on the right night, i.e. when a lot of people are playing shuffleboard. Don't play the nice old guy named Happy, because he will destroy you.

                3 Replies
                1. re: popvulture

                  haha...I remember playing shuffleboard there a couple years back and there was some douche with super fancy pucks and trying way to hard. Happy showed up (in a 'Veterans for Pro Choice" hat no less) and schooled that dude and everyone else.

                  I really like that bar, plus the juke has some solid country, but now that El Meson and BarleySwine are in the same lot, parking is going to suck...so watch out.

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                  El Meson
                  5808 Burleson Rd, Austin, TX 78744

                  1. re: popvulture

                    As a big fan of Mr. "Happy" Jack, I am saddened to report that he passed away on 12/24/10. His memory will live on in all the remembrances of those who were schooled by him or slaughtered by him on the shuffleboard table. R.I.P.

                    1. re: musingegret

                      Aw, that's a bummer! Well, I guess one could only say that he was certainly an old guy and had a nice long life full of whipping ass on the shuffleboard table. R.I.P. indeed!