The 8 Signs You're in an Austin Dive Bar

By Megan Giller  |  July 7, 2014

Even though Austin has graduated from well drinks and tallboys to craft cocktails and sustainable beer, we built this city on dive bars (and rock 'n' roll). Since more than a fair share of places want to call themselves a hole in the wall, here’s how to distinguish the wannabes from where the Wannabes play.

1. The shuffleboard table has celebrated more birthdays than you. None of that electronic scoreboard nonsense.

2. You have to bring your own liquor. It’s called a “setup” for more than one reason.

3. Someone is selling tamales from a cooler. Or maybe it's free chili from a Crock-Pot next to a few boiled hot dogs and buns. The point is, it's the perfect lunch after a Lone Star.

4. Your aunt spilled red wine on Anne Richards here in the '70s. Need we say more?

5. The bartender thinks “real ale” means any beer that's real. Don't even try for The One They Call Zoe from Hops & Grain, because, as they already told you, they don’t have anyone on staff by that name.

6. Chicken-shit bingo is a way of life. Every Sunday, like clockwork. And no, they’re not wearing those Western shirts ironically.

7. The decorations surpass bizarre. Year-round Christmas trees, circus-themed sculptures, you name it.

8. Gastropubs, wine bars and artisanal ice cream shops surround you. The last bastions of old Austin will not go quietly into that good night, as evidenced by service-industry folks drinking into the wee hours. We’re still gloating about that time we beat the Barley Swine boys at shuffleboard.