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The Orange Bull

Bars | UT

When I came to UT in '67, it was at the end of the alcohol burning big iron culture, just before the smoke fueled hip scene caught on, and the Drag (and even Speedway just south of the campus) was sprinkled with old dives that sold beer to students. The Orange Bull was one of those, on the Drag about 2600 block, above a dry cleaners.

When I became a Summer Orientation Adviser in '68, the group would meet there every Thursday after the kiddies went back to Dumas or Abilene. The Order of the UT drank too much beer and sang too many Hank Williams songs. Good times and fun people. I'm looking for pictures of the OB, if anybody has any.

All the old ones I was drug around to


When I was a kid growing up in West Austin, my parents seemed to want to take me places I didnt care about darkening the door of, especially at the tender age of 7 years old or so. When my Mom met her future husband of 30 plus years we moved here from Ft. Worth with her to start a new life in 1966. We first met him, (my future step dad) at "The Tavern" at 12th and Lamar. It was still a beer joint then and owned by some of my step dads good friends Ticky and Lee Sulivan. My older brother and I waited in the car on this cool December night, but all the while we were mezmerized by the "Terminix" bug that sat atop of the rotating sign just across the street . We never thought our first visit would end up watching some larger than life sized cock roach spin round and round. We were finally asked to come inside and join the grown ups and this was the first of my many visits to the old swiss chalet looking building. This is where I literally cut not only my eye teeth but my initals were carved into one of the old oak wood tabels. My brother and I got bored rather quickly and one of the owners asked if we wanted to earn some extra money. We jumped at the chance to wash beer mugs in the kitchen. Just behind the kitchen was a quaint little spot that served as a pizza kitchen. That kitchen was a one man shop owned and run by the owner Buzzy Buck. Buzzy Buck's Pizza Kitchen must have been the first pizza delivery shop in Austin. Buzzy would take a phone in order, hand toss the made from scratch dough and pop a large pie in the oven and when it came out he locked the door of his tin shed behind the Tavern, jumped in his little orange Karmenghia VW, and off he went with a great piping hot delivery towards the campus area somewhere. This among other spots is just the tip of the old Austin iceberg that I will continue to share in later visits. Sorry gotta run...let me know if you want more and I will post as time permits....there are some great memories stored in my ol

Beer Joints

Bars | Scenes

I had the need to drive up Burnet Rd. the other day and I was brought back in time to a place that was but is no longer: the Char-Ex Drive Inn. You know the place, it was on the corner of Old Keonig and Burnet (that's "ole KAYnig and BURnet" to you newbies... get it right) Their chili was outstanding, their beer was cold, the people there were old school Austin. Today, the building is still there but it has the look of a flea market instead of a respectable beer joint.

What happened to the beer joint? These days, there are notable hangers-on such as Deep Eddy and Ginny's Little Longhorn but the vast majority of the neighborhood taverns have vanished. Austin's reputation for live music has always depended upon the beer joint venues (you don't hear Austin music here)

The people and places that have always been there to define the true Austin culture are starting to get very rare.

the split rail


How about the split rail on wednesday nights when butch hancock played. this was the mid to late 1970s. bobbie and martin ran the place. there was a lot of diversity among the audience: hippies, conservatives, bikers, radicals, we all danced together and sat together and had a great time.

Mike's Pub

Bars | Restaurants

Some things, thankfully, never change. Mike's Pub has resisted change for about 40 years. Way back when downtown was strictly for day-time inhabitants (well before 6th Street as we know it), Mike's was in that building that looks like a parking garage, up those stairs that seem to lead to nowhere good and serving up cold beer and burgers. None of that has changed. In fact, Mike's still seems like it's known to a small group of Austin cognoscenti... just like in the old days.

You can go in for a beer that's served in the same fishbowl glass as Jake's. You can review the strata of calendars, funny beer company swag, the old-school bar equipment, etc., that only come with years of accumulation in an Austin bar.

Most importantly, you can squint your eyes and see the way things used to be.

Rita's Cantina

Bars | Restaurants

The food was forgettable, but not the red wine served in greasy plastic tumblers, nor certainly Rita herself, in her Carmen Miranda fruit-topped hat and muu muu. The chain-link fence looking out onto 6th only added to the mystique.

Club Foot


My memories of this legendary bar are hazy...not surprising...but for this ingenue, Club Foot was the white girl's unforgettable introduction to reggae--Austin style.

Country Dinner Theatre Playhouse

Bars | Restaurants

The Country Dinner Playhouse was out past Balcones Research Centre (I live in NZ, and looking on Google Maps makes me think it has a newer name???) on Hwy 1325. Down a hill and cross the railroad tracks, then up the hill - and the theatre was on your right.

In 1972 or so I lived on a 40 acre property just past there, same side of the road. There had been a geodesic dome making construction company there, and they left the skeletons of several domes that made it stand out a bit...

And I worked at the Country Dinner Theatre as a cleaner/dishwasher. At one time there were 4 or 5 of us, then they cut it back to two. We'd get there about 10pm, as the show finished, and bus, wash, setup and drink wine until near dawn. For me, it was just a walk across the field to get home then.

KOKE was just starting to have some great programming back then, and we'd get to listen to Ramblin' Jack Elliot's song about New Orleans just about every night ("Did you ever stand and shiver, just because you were lookin' at a river?")

Joe's Bar on East 1st

Bars | Restaurants

Before 1st Street was Caesar Chavez, there was plain old east first. There were several eastside spots that were already "famous"... that is, known to exist by folks on the west side of town. Places like El Azteca, Hernandez, Cisco's. My favorite was Joe's Bar on east 1st. Joe's was a beer bar with a trailer out back serving food. Cheap, cold beer and fresh tacos are a great combination. My favorite tacos were picadillo: a large tortilla filled with extremely spicy beef and topped with a handfull of french fries right out of the fryer.

Joe's tacos were legendary for their "hotness" due to chiles and spice. So much so, it was sport for the regulars to watch for and ridicule the white boys' melt-down after an order of three. I held my own but a few Lone Star's were needed... I felt that the regular crowd approved of that technique.

The Posse West


Well, strictly I guess it wasn't a bar in the traditional sense...

Posse West was a barely converted gas station at Rio Grande at 24th St that was pretty much a drive through beer store back in the early 70s.

I never had much to do with the beer side of things, but spent a lot of time with Papa Max Bachofen who used to live in one of the car repair bays, sort of a security guard for nights, I guess.

Max was a great old fellow, and my beekeeping mentor of the day. He used to also haul trailer loads of organges up from the Rio Grande Valley to sell - "Real navel oranges, not those painted harlots they sell everywhere else!"