Lst weekend I went to Austin...in the new Xterra...for my friend's birthday. The weekend was really nice. We all hung out Friday night, just chillin' watching Sex and The City DVDs and relaxing, gearing up for Saturday night. Saturday during the day, we watched (part of) the Big 12 Championship...which we stopped watching in the 3rd quarter because we were up 63-3...Final score, 70-3...in a CHAMPIONSHIP game...geez... GO HORNS!
Saturday night though, we went to Ztejas
...great restaurant. It's very Austin-y. It's a sophisticated restaurant but the entrees all feel slighty earthy, and healthy--Although with everything on the menu listing creamy as an adjective, it was no where near healthy...After dinner, our "chauffer," Jon, one of the birthday girl's best friends (who for some reason was kind enough to be DD...the real kind where you actually don't drink anything at all--I think his willingness might have had something to do with being seen with 8 hot women...), drove us all downtown to hit up the bars. I went to school in Austin. I know the bar scene. Or at least I used to...Or at least I knew the college bar scene. Holy Toledo! There are a million new bars and they are as sophisticated as they get. Some serious money is being poured into that city.
Our first stop was the bar Six which is on 4th street...It's a nice bar, well designed but nothing super special other than Lance Armstrong had a hand in it. The roof is nice (if it had been less crowded) since it is in the middle of downtown and the view is enjoyable. The drinks are stiff, but that's about where it ends. I wouldn't be opposed to going there again, but I wasn't in awe of it.
After Six, we walked across the street and a parking lot and went to Light Bar
. Light Bar is at the edge of an alley and you feel as though you are going into a Speakeasy. Inside is a classy but general bar, and then a long hallway with a faux roof made of peaked fabric and walls of brown slate. On the other side of the hallway is a long narrow bar, bathed (that night) in blue light. One wall is made of water. It is literally a 20 foot water wall
, and it is lit with colored light. Apparently, it can also be bathed in red or purple, but this night, the entire bar was glowing blue. Beneath the counter of the bar was more blue light. It was a surreal, crisp look. Very sexy.
Our next stop was at Foundation on 5th and Lavaca. From the outside, Foundation is a wall of windows. Once inside, there is a long hallway, that is flanked on either side by what one reviewer calls, banquettes. they are smaller sitting areas accented with large concrete columns. Very dark, very sexy. The wide hallway opens directly into the very large circular bar. Above the bar and dozens of bartenders is a hanging circle that houses the bar's lighting, and adds to the feeling that you are in round room. The walls in the main bar are curved to mimic the shape of the bar, and they are painted with wide vertical stripes of color. Above the main bar, is a large balcony lounge with a smaller bar. The chandeliers in the balconey are large modern plastic spiked balls that reminded me of Ikea. The entire bar looks like somewhere that would be featured on CSI: Miami or CSI: Las Vegas. But on those shows, the balconey would have given way and well, we would have all died...This was by far my favorite bar of the night. It was too crowded for my taste and the 10th time I was bumped into, I was ready to go, but I loved the look of it. It is very chic and very hip. And very unlike what we had when I was in school in Austin. This was the type of bar you felt you needed a mixed drink in. Preferably a Martini, or at least a Cosmopolitian.
Our last stop was the Red Fez
. This bar is tiny. Another long narrow bar. It is know for the good dance music, and that was why we went. To dance. The bar is decorated in, suprise suprise, a morracan theme, and until 10:30pm is a Hookah bar. Morracan lamps hung over booths, arched cutouts reminiscent of the Taj Mahal were everywhere, and one wall looked like a honeycomb with red votive holders and candles inside many of the cells. The wall behind the bar was also a honeycomb but backlit in gold light and sporting a complete range of liquors. The music was good, but the dance space was, umm...NOT. After Foundation, I was tired of being bumped and brushed, and this bar was no where near large enough to minimize that. Trying to dance was like bumper cars--on acid. It was so close in there that I actually started feeling clausterphobic which doesn't happen very often to me. Luckily, the bar closed and we had to go home, but had we stayed much longer, I probably would have been a very unhappy camper.
But overall, I was pleasantly suprised with the direction Austin bars are headed. They are sophisticated enough to rival those in large cities, and the new wave of sleek design is quite pleasing. It's a nice change from the college bars on 6th Street. I think think the crowds that night might have been partially due to elation over winning the Big 12 Championship. Football has always seemed to directly correlate with the crowds downtown. So given a more subdued night, I would love to try most of those bars again. Give the Warehouse District a shot the next time you are in Austin...