Before my summer comes to an end and all the trips and experiences over the past few months become a distant memory, I should really tell you about one more thing I did while in Austin. One more thing I did repeatedly.
When Dan and I travel, we really don’t hit the same restaurant twice in one trip. It’s my job to eat as many different things as I can, so while we’ll mentally bookmark certain places for return visits on our next trip, we won’t have a second meal in the same spot. However, we make an exception for bars. If it’s serving good things on tap and it’s convenient to our hotel, chances are you’ll see us pulling up bar stools once or twice more while we’re in town. Such was the case with Austin’s Easy Tiger.
Just a few blocks east of the hooting, hollering hordes on Sixth Street’s main drag, Easy Tiger stakes out its piece of land along Waller Creek, a slow stream of water rippled only by passing ducks. It’s a place that succeeds at being all things to everybody: a bakery with coffee, breakfast pastries, fresh pretzels, and crusty loaves all day (or until they run out); a dim, subway-tiled subterranean bar (the dank, slightly locker room-ness of which was very appealing to me for some reason); and an outdoor beer garden with ping pong tables and picnic benches.
And it’s a full-on gastropub from lunch onward, serving goodies like the aforementioned pretzels for dipping in homemade beer cheese, sandwiches piled with house-smoked meats and sausage links, snappy and tart German salads—just the stuff to be eating while you’re drinking. (And when there are 30 beers on draft, it’s mighty hard to choose only one.)
With a lineup like that, how could you blame me for finishing out four of the six nights I was in Austin at Easy Tiger? True to its name, it’s just way too easy to feel at home there, no matter what you’re in the mood for: beef jerky and Alaskan Amber? Warm pretzel and Left Hand Milk Stout? Housemade bologna with fried eggs and Austin’s own Real Ale Full Moon Rye? If you just want to sit outside at one of the weathered picnic tables and drink a few Dos Muertos (that’s Hendrick’s gin with rhubarb bitters and muddled strawberries on the rocks, thank you), listening to the thock-thock of ping pong balls echoing in the brick-walled canyon, that’s ok too.
It’s another Dan-and-Casey traveling tradition to try and imagine ourselves taking up residence wherever we’re visiting. (Chicago and Maine don’t count—the answer’s always yes.) I’ve told all my Texas friends that Austin’s the only city in the state I could envision myself living in, and Easy Tiger’s a big part of the reason why. Until something equal to this platonic ideal of a bar opens up down the street from my house in New Jersey, I’ll just have to keep dreaming.
Easy Tiger Bake Shop & Beer Garden, 709 E. 6th St., Austin. 512-614-4972. Open 7 am-2 am daily to meet all your eating and drinking needs.