Here in Austin, Texans take their sports seriously, and March Madness is no exception.
Story by Hannah Shih
Whether your hometown favorite makes the bracket or not, any game day is prime time to grab a group of your closest friends and hit the town for cheap brews, bar food, and the kind of passion only a great game and a little hometown pride can inspire. With no end to affordable sports bars near campus, it's time to think past which game to watch and focus on where to kick off your game plan for the afternoon.
Game Plan No. 1: Lavaca Street Bar & Grill
Location: Downtown — 405 Lavaca St, Austin, TX 78701
Price Range: $10-$20
Bust out the jerseys and hit downtown Austin for Lavaca Street Bar & Grill, a small restaurant that covers all the bases of a college sports bar. The unofficial home of the Houston Texans fan club, Lavaca Street Bar partners with Turf n’ Surf Po-Boy to provide unique bar grub, from fried catfish tacos to buffalo chicken nachos and ribeye po-boy served on fresh baked bread. Whether you are rooting for the Texans or not, Lavaca Street Bar shows all the best games on televisions stationed around the bar, and has a closed off, dark room for more devoted sports fans visiting this spot. If fried food and televisions aren’t enough, check out the $15 domestic buckets of Bud Light, Miller Lite, Coors Light and Budweiser and play a game or two of pool or skeeball.
Game Plan No. 2: The Tavern
Location: Downtown — 922 W 12th St, Austin, TX 78703
Price Range: $10-$20
Built in 1916 as a grocery store, the Tavern is rich with Austin history. This famous German-style bar has operated as a steakhouse, speakeasy, and even a brothel throughout the last century. This historical bar has been serving up cold beer and juicy burgers for over 80 years and features numerous drink specials every day of the week. Renowned for the best appetizer in town, the “Amazing White Wings” — bacon wrapped chicken with jalapenos, deep-fried and tossed in hot wing sauce — are the star of The Tavern’s extensive menu. In this two-story sports bar, there are no frills — just a casual atmosphere, an unparalleled rotating beer menu and 50 high-definition televisions streaming all of your favorite games.
Game Plan No. 3: Haymaker
Location: Nearby Campus — 2310 Manor Rd, Austin, TX 78722
Sports are religion at Haymaker, but finger-licking good food nabs are a close second at this popular Austin bar. The Haymaker offers specialty brats and sausages, but beyond those bar staples, the chefs rustle up some highly-rated poutine, a deep-fried beer-battered pimiento cheese sandwich, vegan Italian sausages, and the Haymaker — an open-faced sandwich of roast beef, slaw, tomatoes, fries and a fried egg topped off with a healthy ladle of gruyere sauce. An intimidating sandwich that could faze a starving college student, the Haymaker is only the first play in this bar’s playbook. With more than thirty beers on tap and a dedicated Texas drafts section, the game is only one reason to visit this town gem.
Game Plan No. 4: Midway Field House
Location: East Austin — 2015 E Riverside Dr, Austin, TX 78741
Price Range: Under $10
Some games are just meant to be enjoyed on the big screen, and large-scale seems to be the name of the game at Midway Field House. Situated in the old Beauty Ballroom, Midway Field House is expansive and large, in a way that feels spacious and refreshing for typically crowded, stuffy sport bars. A newcomer to the Austin sports scene, the bar alternates drink specials every game and serves the regional fare of the states playing that day. The main game screens on a ceiling to floor projector on the first floor, and the second floor offers a classic arcade filled with bumper pool, air hockey and pool. Whether you choose to situate yourself in an armchair with a bowl of complimentary popcorn before one of Midway’s many screens or create your own drink at the make-your-own-bloody-mary bar, this bar has proved itself a contender among other older Austin institutions.
Game Plan No. 5: Cover 3
Location: North Austin/Downtown — 1717 W 6th St, Austin, TX 78703
Price Range: $20-$30
If you are looking for an upscale bar to impress a date and still catch your favorite team, look no further than Cover 3’s two Austin locations. With handcrafted cocktails and a gourmet menu that includes specials from Hong Kong Salmon to Brick Chicken Mac & Cheese, this classy take on a sports bar features 18 screens and three jumbo video screens. Cover 3 also has an innovative service called Audio Air that allows you to broadcast the audio from the nearby television from your own personal smartphone via wifi. You won’t miss out on a second of the game, and you won’t want to miss out on Cover 3’s weekend brunch either. Head to the dog-friendly, communal seating outdoor patio, and enjoy a game brought to life at Cover 3.