RED RIVER ENTERTAINMENT DISTRICT
Do you hear that? That’s the sound of live music coming from some of the hottest stages in town, all spanning a three-block radius in Austin's Red River Cultural District. Nightclub heavy, droves of concert-seekers mill the streets, dipping into watering holes for Lone Star beers while waiting for the lights to dim and shows to begin.
Asian-inspired Koriente is family owned and health-forward, with selections for any dietary need or preference. They’re well known for their colorful plates and wholesome noodle bowls. Find Arlo’s food truck next to Cheer Up Charlies. They’re always slinging the improbably delicious vegan bac’n cheeze burgers, chik’n tacos and tater tots. If you’d prefer a piece of the pie, finish your night off with a Jersey-style pizza from Hoboken Pie: cracker-thin crust, oozing cheese and open until 2:30 a.m. House-made chile hatch queso, a patio tucked beneath a towering oak tree and an agave nectar tequila margarita will put you in your happy place at Pelons Tex-Mex Restaurant.
LIVE MUSIC & NIGHTLIFE
Notoriously nightclub heavy, Red River buzzes with concert-seekers milling the streets and that thick anticipatory energy that comes from waiting for the lights to dim and your favorite band to take the stage. Every January, Red River hosts Free Week, a seven-day affair where every bar, restaurant and parking lot hosts a lineup of local acts. Designed to bring attention to great local music, the event is free for all.
Stubb’s Bar-B-Q is one of Red River’s mainstays, with a huge outdoor amphitheater, more intimate indoor stage and bangin’ barbecue. Across the street, find Mohawk, a spot that lives up to its name with big rock sounds, indie bands and plenty of space to mill about. Plush is one of the original Red River EDM spots—a small venue with DJs, cheap drinks and laser lights for maximum dancing.
Swan Dive channels all the elegance of its name, with a mixologist on staff, karaoke on Tuesdays and a dreamlike decor. Next door, Barbarella is way different and wildly popular. Find the place packed on theme nights like Grits ‘n Gravy (soul music, Wednesdays) and the more famous Tuezgayz, where locals have a weekly dance party.
Empire Control Room & Garage has made a name for itself as a spot with hiphop leanings and a dive bar aura. Barracuda has emerged as a host to indie up-and-comers and punk acts. Make sure to stop into Cheer Up Charlies, a lesbian-owned bar open to all. DJs, local up-and-coming bands, theme nights, goofy contests and a giant pink parachute suspended over the back patio are all part of the weirdness and charm at this local hot spot.