With Sixth Street and Congress right nearby, Fourth Street is a hidden gem that can be easily overlooked. You'll know you've made it when you spot the colorful crosswalks along Bettie Naylor Street.
Known in particular for its bustling drag and gay nightlife scene, Fourth Street is where you’re most likely to catch a drag queen in her natural habitat. However, the strip is also a hub for fine dining, rooftop views and themed bars off the beaten path.
Home to many gay clubs and bars, Fourth Street is dubbed Austin’s Gay District—but everyone is welcome to enjoy themselves on this strip. In October 2021, rainbow crosswalks were installed at LGBTQ+ advocate Naylor’s intersection, commemorating that everyone deserves to feel at home in Austin.
Here’s what you can find in this bustling district.
☕️ WHERE TO GET A COFFEE
Halcyon | 218 W. 4th St.
This java house by day, bar and lounge by night is meant to give you the feeling of ‘halcyon’: calm, peaceful and happy. Halcyon has a fully-stocked kitchen with breakfast, lunch, pastries, drinks, cigars and sweet treats, including tableside s'mores. People-watch from the outdoor patio, drop in for some live jazz on Monday nights, live music every Wednesday and Thursday and drag brunch on Saturdays.
Houndstooth Coffee | 401 Congress Ave.
Nestled inside the Frost Bank building, Houndstooth Coffee is a hipster hangout with locations here and in Dallas. Using roasts from Tweed Coffee in Dallas, Houndstooth prides itself on being locally-owned and operated. Though you won’t find much to eat at Houndstooth other than a PB&J sandwich or popcorn, Houndstooth offers a full range of gourmet cocktails to go.
Juan Pelota | 400 Nueces St.
Located in a shared building with Mellow Johnny’s Bike Shop, Juan Pelota’s sporty indoors is a welcoming environment for a morning espresso whether or not you’re cycling. Marking the furthest point on the west end of 4th Street, Juan Pelota has been dealing local coffee, pastries and brewskies since 2008. Though it is only open until 5 p.m., or 2 p.m. on Mondays, the cafe starts its daily happy hour at 3 p.m. for $2 off beers and $1 off wines.
🍽 WHERE TO EAT
Group Therapy | 400 Lavaca St.
On the seventh floor of Hotel ZaZa, Group Therapy isn’t what it sounds like but you will leave fuller than you did before. A plush, velvet-lined interior will draw you in for either a classy evening meal or weekend brunch. Catch live music on the weekends, grab a drink at the attached Cabana Bar or watch the sunset over some whipped feta.
RA Sushi Bar | 117 W. 4th St.
Lively music, intricate cocktails and Instagram-worthy sushi rolls await at RA Sushi Bar. Dine-in either the vibrant interior, at the sushi bar or on the rooftop patio with a furry friend. Catch the afternoon and evening happy hour Monday through Saturday!
Péché | 208 W. 4th St.
Named after the French word for “sin,” Péché is Austin’s first absinthe bar, meaning it showcases a cocktail menu full of pre-Prohibition-style drinks and European fare. Bar manager Derek Weiss and executive chef John Lichtenberger aim for visits to be an educational experience, so come with questions in mind. You’ll know you’re there when you see the serpent on its sign tempting you with “sinful cocktails and cuisine.”
🏳️🌈 WHERE TO FIND DRAG
A drag queen is someone, usually male but not always, who uses clothing and makeup to construct an exaggerated female identity for entertainment.
During a show, a queen will typically hold a dramatic performance by lip-synching, singing, dancing, interacting with the audience and doing comedy. Attendees are encouraged to tip the queen during the show.
Coconut Club and Neon Grotto | 310-318 Colorado St.
These two adjoining nightclubs have both joined in on celebrating queer artists and culture but maintain a classic nightclub atmosphere. Both relatively new to the strip, the tropically-themed Coconut Club opened in 2019 from the people behind Cheer Up Charlies, whereas Neon Grotto turned its rainbow lights on in 2021. Check out Coconut Club’s rooftop bar and Gatorade-based drinks, Neon Grotto’s live DJs and lively drag shows at both.
Oilcan Harry's | 211 W. 4th St.
Claiming to be the oldest LGBTQ+ bar in Austin, Oilcan Harry’s opened its doors in 1990 as a safe haven for people of all walks of life. The bar has a little something for everyone: OCH is famous for its drag shows but also has a sports bar, hosts live DJs, and an outdoor patio to lounge on. OCH holds a drag show or two every single night, frequently alongside karaoke or competitions, on top of special appearances and RuPaul’s Drag Race watch parties. The bar is open to those 18 and older on Thursdays, so everyone gets to partake in the fun.
Rain | 217 W. 4th St.
Right next door to OCH, Rain will give you your fill of drag shows while offering some sexier content compared to its neighbor. Catch go-go boy dancers from every Thursday through Saturday, Thursday night amateur strip contests, Sunday happy hour from 5-7 p.m. and plenty of no-cover local drag queen performances on the weekends.
🍹 WHERE TO GET A COCKTAIL
DuMont’s Down Low | 214 W. 4th St.
Self-proclaimed “most unique new venue” in Austin, DuMont’s Down Low is located in a cozy basement lined with whiskey barrels from local distillers. Exposed brick and large furniture gives the bar a warm and inviting feeling. Try the seasonal clarified punch or the flowery Lavender Bee cocktail.
Driftwood Downtown | 319 Colorado St.
From real estate developer Discovery Land Company, Driftwood Downtown is a private club with three floors for lounging, coworking, meeting and entertaining. The club includes a taproom with a golf simulator, a mezzanine perfect for enjoying a drink and private rooftop overlooking downtown ensure you’ll never be bored at the club. Driftwood Downtown is open daily for members but can accommodate reservations for private events.
Hen House Basement | 117 W. 4th St.
You may have to do some searching to find this hidden bar, which is also known as the Lost Lei, but you’ll find a tropical paradise when you do. Tucked in an underground basement, Hen House is full of tropical decorations and fruity, festive cocktails. This is a great place for photo opportunities as drinks come in tiki glasses.
🥱 WHERE TO STAY
Hotel ZaZa | 400 Lavaca St.
Overlooking Republic Square, Hotel ZaZa puts you right in the center of downtown and surrounds guests with luxury amenities. With 159 guestrooms, Concept Suites and Magnificent Seven Suites, ZaZa has a range of opulent options. Hotel guests have access to the ZaSpa, seventh floor Cabana Bar and pool, and two different restaurants: Group Therapy and its “relaxed little sister” Perfect Strangers, which offers breakfast and lunch on the Fourth Street patio.
Prices fluctuate based on time of year, room and length of stay, but expect to pay at least $250 per night at this upscale hotel.
Onyx Hotel | 301 E. 4th St.
Inside the Grand Austin Hotel suite. (Onyx Hotel)
Marking the Eastern end of 4th Street, Onyx Hotel offers the Austin experience through themed suites for parties of all sizes. Ranging from $149-$399 per night, many of the suites feature multiple bedrooms. Check out the spiral staircases inside the Rock Royalty suite, complete with decor inspired by the many musicians that have passed through Austin, or the desert-esque Marfa suite. All suites come with a kitchen and gated parking.
🚗 WHERE TO PARK
Like Most places downtown, parking is going to be a challenge. Your cheapest options are likely going to be street parking or off 4th Street.
LAZ Parking | 400 Congress Ave.
Open 24/7, this parking lot is very central but charges upwards of $25 per hour.
SPACES Parking | 301 Congress Garage
Right across from the Frost Bank Tower, this garage will run you at least $15 per hour.
405 Colorado Street
One of the cheaper options, you can park in this garage from about $12 for two hours.
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Legacy grocery store and deli Avenue B Grocery & Market, 4403 Avenue B, re-opened its hundred-year-old doors this week, serving up sandwiches after two years of a pandemic-induced closure.
Mason, the 10th owner of the location, has been running the shop largely by himself since his family bought the location to save it from closing in the early ‘90s. Mason greeted customers with a smile and a homemade sandwich on Friday while telling them a little bit about the history behind the building.
Mason, who would not let us photograph his face, starts removing the paper that has covered the menus for two years. (Laura Figi/Austonia)
“I'm still testing the water, gauging how things are gonna go and slowly bringing things back online,” Mason told Austonia. “I haven't personally been telling people I’m open yet because I wasn’t ready. Only today, as you saw, did I uncover the menu.”
Aside from the groceries and famous sandwiches, the store sells Maine Root sodas, candy, dinnerware, records and miscellaneous knick-knacks. If you ask, Mason will pull down some antiques from the shelves behind the till.
Try Ave. B's R.L.T. (Ross a.k.a avocado, mushrooms, green olives, lettuce and tomato), Mason's take on the classic sandwich. (Laura Figi/Austonia)
The store unofficially opened when passerbys saw lights inside on Wednesday but Mason said he never told anyone he was opening, it just sorta happened. Mason didn’t uncover his sandwich menus until Friday.
“It's my social life, you know, that's how I meet people and people come to visit me,” Mason said. “People have been very understanding. I wanted to be more relaxed and social–it used to be so busy.”
First-time Ave. B visitor Rose Bowditch recently moved to the Hyde Park neighborhood from California and told Austonia she had been waiting for the store to open up so she could see what was inside. Mason offered her roast beef samples while he helped her dig for jars.
Rose bought some mason jars and a teacup on her first visit. (Laura Figi/Austonia)
Meanwhile, Brianne Bowland and John Lyman began eating Mason’s sandwiches when Lyman started working nearby. The two said they’ve become big fans since and had been waiting for the reopening.
Bowland and Lyman took in all the sights upon their first time back in the building. (Laura Figi/Austonia)
“(Ave. B) is like a go-to for everyone in my company to come for lunch,” Lyman said. “I even have a T-shirt. I've always just loved that it's a really eclectic selection of things on the shelf–and then the sandwiches are really pretty special.”
Mason accepts call-in orders at all times except the busy rush hour at noon, during which he asks for your patience as he’s a one-man band. But patrons are free to stop by from 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Thursday-Monday for a great sandwich, conversation and a beer now that the store is back open.
The largest ticketed motorcycle rally in the U.S. said it will limit its attendance to 2,500 per Bastrop County rules as it forges ahead with plans for its event at Mere's Reserve on the Colorado from June 9-12.
In an April hearing, Bastrop County Judge Paul Pape denied the event permit for 3,000 attendees for the annual Republic of Texas (or ROT) Biker Rally.
The event has brought in as many as 35,000 paid customers in the past, with over 200,000 estimated to attend the yearly Friday night street party in downtown Austin, and has hosted iconic artists including Willie Nelson, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Joan Jett and more since it began in 1995. This year, the event will move to Bastrop County for the first time from Travis County and include dozens of artists—including Ray Wylie Hubbard—food trucks, vendors and more motorcycle-themed entertainment.
In the hearing, Pape said he denied the request for 3,000 attendees due to limited space and lack of infrastructure at the new venue. Mere's Reserve is located on Farm-to-Market Road 969, a well-used, two-shoulder road off State Highway 71.
Bastrop County Sheriff Maurice Cook also expressed concerns about the event. According to KXAN, Cook said it's in the organization's "best interest" to monitor attendance, and he's added plans to beef up security ahead of the rally.
“As good as they can so that next year, whenever the judge evaluates their request, if it’s over 2,500, of course, then he will have a baseline to just say, ‘Well, y’all did use what you’re supposed to'... and at that point, they could more likely get a permit over 2,500," Cook told KXAN.
Organizers said they will keep count on site and limit ticket sales to under 2,500. While Cook denied their liquor license request, the decision will ultimately be with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, which has not issued a license yet.
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