6 Dark Bars in Austin

No one wants their favorite watering hole to be lit like a dentist's office. Just as libations help make other people seem more attractive (the beer goggle effect), dim (or no) lighting changes the vibe to something slinky. Instantly, it becomes nighttime, when more adult events go on, including canoodling and the like. This is one list that does not include the clean, well-lighted places Hemingway went on about--and we'd bet Hemingway would like most of these joints for their low lighting.

Updated: October 13, 2009

Back-to-Black Bars


705 Red River, Austin, TX 78705

This, the gothiest of Austin's clubs, is a haven for the Bauhaus-loving set, and yes, is mostly completely dark inside. Black lights pepper the place, a twinkly disco ball twirls high above the roomy dance floor, and the restrooms and pool table area are appropriately lit, but the rest is a warm dark wave on which night life-loving people can gently ride all night.


5420 Airport Blvd, Ste B, Austin, TX 78751

Getting inside, one must climb a flight of stairs and pass the green neon of Burger Tex. Smokers must climb another set back down to the lovely, fenced-in patio in pack. But inside this joint, the jukebox and bar glow, and the foosball and pool tables are dimly lit--and that's it. Enjoy the darkness and super cheap drinks.

Cloak Room

1300 Colorado Street, Austin, TX 78701

If you ask nicely, staff may raise the lights in here so that you can see the art lining the walls, particularly the hallway leading to the restrooms, which is papered with happy pics of customers enjoying themselves. The glossy wood and sconces are cute, too. But a dark, tiny bar like this is made not for gazing at, but for having a few and focusing more softly on the surroundings.

Casino El Camino

517 E Sixth St, Austin, TX 78701

Coming in off Sixth Street will take a moment or so to allow the eyes to adjust. To first navigate this lovely dark bar, which is equally devoted to serving up exploitation flicks, a nasty, perfect rock and roll (and more) jukebox, which is updated every four months or so, and big fat hamburgers, take a moment and move carefully. The outside patio isn't as dark as the inside bar; all the better to grab a table and stare at the cool water feature.


711 1/2 Red River St, Austin, TX 78701

This space, a perfectly dank concrete tunnel/parking garage of a rock club, is windowless. Even day shows during regularly scheduled anarchic music festivals never manage to completely illuminate the place. At night, it's almost completely dark except for the spotlights on the bands onstage.

Deep Eddy Cabaret

2315 Lake Austin Boulevard, Austin, TX 78703

This former bait shop is steps away from one of Austin's brightest, sunniest spots, the Deep Eddy swimming hole. But inside, it's like a little house with a bar and pool table, rockin' jukebox and low light. Kind of like if grandpa forgot to pay the light bill and everyone came over to drink the remaining beers.