America’s live-music capital is the king of alternative cool and a magnet for retro diners, hidden bars and some of the best barbecue joints and Mexican cantinas in the South
Trudy’s Texas Star. Trudy’s is a Tex-Mex joint and the menu is consistently good, but we’ll let you in on a little secret: this place could serve nothing but beans and dirt and people would still line up for the margaritas, which might very well be the best in Austin.
Polvos. Fun, festive and just a little divey, Polvos serves central-Mexican food that always packs in a crowd. Try some of the dozen or so salsa varieties with one of the fierce margaritas. Eight different ‘top shelf ritas’ are made from tequila brands including Herradura, Chinaco and Don Julio, and a variety of fruity options are served too, from mango to coconut.
Garage. Austin has dozens of hidden bars, but this one, squirrelled away inside a parking garage in Austin’s warehouse district, is a favourite. The contrast between the mundane exterior and what lies within is stark. Its cosy, dimly lit lounge draws a hip but not overly precious Austin crowd who give high marks to the first-rate cocktails, handsomely designed space and novel location.