Other Tropical Sights in Austin

We've talked about our thoughts on Sixth Street vs. Mass Street and shared some fun pictures from our evening there, but Sixth Street isn't the only place we went in Austin.

20091120_austin_0042Before the trip, I searched online for tropical bars and restaurants we could visit for ideas about drinks and decor. We've borrowed lots of ideas from other places, like the Shark Attack and the Dirty Banana, and we're always on the lookout for another great idea.

We met up with friends at Kahuna's Tiki Bar & Grill. It was about a 10-15 minute drive from our hotel downtown and easy to find. 

 For a restaurant in a strip mall, this place was tiki-d out! Bamboo poles criss-crossed the ceiling, surfboards and tiki heads were everywhere, and there was a full menu of tropical drinks. The waitress kindly let us "borrow" a drink menu. I was in no mood for alcohol, but Dave ordered the girliest sounding drink on the menu: the Wiki Waki Woo.

Now, that name might sound familiar if you've been in the Sandbar recently. He loved the name so much he wanted to use it- but we didn't love the actual drink so much. He made up his own recipe for our drink machine. 

The food was good, and the decor was outstanding and fun to look at. If you're in Austin and love all things tropical, it's worth checking out. 


More Fun Stuff from Austin

Yesterday I wrote a little bit about our visit to Sixth Street in Austin, Texas. Today, some fun stories and pictures.

First up, Daddy's Grill and Bar. We didn't actually go inside this place, but we had to take a picture of the sign. Ken, long time bartender at The Sandbar who fills in occasionally these days, was nicknamed "Daddy" by the guys. There's a story there, but I won't go into it here.


On to the Thirsty Nickel. We stumbled into this place with some other KU football fans from Lawrence that we ran into at another bar. The place was pretty empty- it was late afternoon, after all- but we enjoyed a few drinks and shots with the bartender.

We were delighted to see this little sign hanging behind the bar:


Of course that sparked a conversation. Their bar is much longer and much wider than ours. The bartender said they don't love for people to dance on their bar, because there's nothing for wobbly dancers to grab onto. Dave described the metal awning that he built over our bar, and explained how it's great for dancers to lean against or grab if they need a helping hand. The ceilings in the Thirsty Nickel were way high, but it could still be done.

We also found this sign in the Thirsty Nickel. Perhaps we'll hang a similar one underneath our bar?!? Of course we posed with it, but the picture's on someone else's camera and I don't have a copy.


Check THIS out! I can't remember the name of this bar, and I can't find it online, but it was something tropical-like. However, when we went inside, this was about the closest thing to tropical about the place. Look familiar?


These were some of our favorite sights on Sixth Street. I've still got a few more things to share about Austin and the bars and restaurants and other interesting things we encountered there. Stay tuned.

Thoughts on Austin’s Sixth Street

Some of the Sandbar crew visited Austin, Texas, right before Thanksgiving. It seems like a million years ago after all the holiday hoopla, but I still wanted to share some of the fun stuff we saw at Austin bars. I'm going to break this up into several posts, because there's a lot to share. So, check back later this week for more.

Everyone always talks about Sixth Street as "the place to go" in Austin. And maybe it is, but not until 11 p.m. -  even on weekends with home football games, apparently.  Several of the bar employees we talked to confirmed that they rarely get busy until late at night.

Dave and I stayed at a hotel in downtown Austin about two blocks from Sixth Street, and on our first day there we spent the afternoon walking around the area. We noticed right away that it's very different than Mass Street in Lawrence. We're used to seeing people in Downtown Lawrence all the time- morning, afternoon, and late into the night- but the Sixth Street area was practically deserted. In fact, most of the other people walking around were sporting KU attire just like us; other tourists there for the football game who had been directed to Sixth Street as the place to be.

20091120_austin_0002We found a somewhat-tropical looking place to grab some food, the Paradise Cafe & Bar. This was a  research trip, after all! It was a cool old building that had been restored, and the staff was super friendly. Probably because there were several of them, and only a couple of us. We asked the bartender to whip up her best tropical concoction (the name escapes me), and it was pretty tasty. The staff even bought us tequila shots. In the middle of the afternoon,ugh.

Most of Sixth Street was populated with bars and restaurants, with a few random businesses or offices sprinkled in. Not like Downtown Lawrence, where you can buy practically anything. We also noticed that a majority of the bars seemed to offer some type of food. Another one we liked was the Jackalope– awesome burgers and a surprisingly delicious spicy Guiness Bloody Mary.

One of the few stores that we saw along Sixth Street that was actually open and busy was Wild About Music. As music fans, we spent quite a bit of time in there. It was a neat gift shop that I would compare to a combination of Hobb's/The Palace/Etc. Shop.

While we had a great time on Sixth Street, we decided that Lawrence is lucky to have a downtown area like we do- an area that is vibrant almost any time of the day, with office workers, shoppers, diners, and bar hoppers all sharing the space. It wouldn't be nearly as great if Mass Street activity shut down at 5 pm, or if it didn't get busy until late at night.

Sandbar Shout-Out in Gruene, Texas

A few weeks ago, some of the Sandbar crew ventured south to Austin, Texas. It was a rag-tag bunch- managing partner Dave and his lovely wife, our art director Justin and his lovely wife, and our Man on the Street Patrick.

It also happened to be the weekend that KU played the Texas Longhorns in a little game called football, so there were lots of folks we knew down there.

But, the game wasn't actually the reason that Dave and I were there.

We planned the trip for two reasons: to check out the bar scene in Austin and steal borrow some ideas, and to catch a concert at the legendary Gruene Hall, the oldest continuously operating dancehall in Texas. 

One of our favorite artists, Roger Creager, played Saturday night. He's played in Lawrence and Kansas City several times, and he's partied with us at the Sandbar after a couple of shows. We weren't about to miss the opportunity to see him at Gruene.

Dave and I had dinner at the restaurant next door to Gruene Hall, the Grist Mill, before the show. All of a sudden, who comes walking past our table but Roger himself. Dave got his attention, he stopped to chat for awhile, and went on his way.

About halfway through the concert later that night,  Roger started talking about road trips, and fans, and how it's great that people come from all over to see shows. Then, he said this:

"I even ran into a buddy of mine who's here all the way from The Sandbar in Lawrence, Kansas!"

Clearly nobody's mind was on football, or else they knew we were losing badly, because we didn't get booed by the crowd. Dave and I cheered, and a kid about ten feet away came running over to us.

I won't lie, I had seen this guy earlier in the night and thought he looked familiar. Sure enough, he introduced himself as Andrew, a grad student at KU who had been in the Sandbar less than a week ago.

It's such a small world. It was very cool that our tiny little bar got a shout-out in front of a crowd of maybe a thousand people in Texas.

Coming soon, a post about some of the things we learned from the bars in Austin. I know, I'm slow.

Sandbar Shirt in Austin, I mean Oklahoma

Our art director/expert picture framer/general mischief maker Justin wore his Sandbar shirt in Austin, Texas somewhere in the land of Oklahoma truck stops recently. It's the first picture we have of a Sandbar shirt in Austin at an Oklahoma truck stop, I think.

20091120_justin austin 

No idea where he actually was….maybe he'll leave a comment and let us know. It's not everyday you can pose with a larger-than-life-size ice cream cone.