Any bar that attempts to capture the attitude and anarchy of Sixth Street in Austin faces an uphill battle. Naming your bar after the best drinking street outside of Bourbon Street is downright ballsy.
So how does the new 6th Street Uptown at Routh and Cedar Springs stack up?
First it’s important to talk about the actual Sixth Street. Austin’s alcoholic avenue has two distinct areas: West Sixth and East (Dirty) Sixth. On West Sixth you’ll find graduate students, young professionals and those slightly older looking for an invigorating evening out. These higher-end bars/lounges/saloons sell more expensive drinks and have an air of sophistication.
The crowd at 6th Street, by virtue of not being on McKinney Avenue, is older and more relaxed than the college crowds that swarm Idle Rich and Renfield’s.
Dirty Sixth is, well, dirty. The hodge-podge, three-block stretch of bars is rife with (underage) college kids and absurd drink specials — the kind of madness that will leave you with a two-day hangover if you try to keep up with the savage undergrads who drink alcohol with such fervor that it would make Sinatra blush.
Despite the division between the two parts of Sixth, they have one thing in common: wherever you are on Sixth, you are never more than 15 feet from five other bars.
That said, we can now look at 6th Street Uptown, owned by Celia Lopez, who also owns 303 Bar & Grill in Bishop Arts. First of all, this bar is worth your time if you want an upscale sports bar. Located in the old Manhattan space, 6th Street has the exposed-brick-and-ventilation aesthetic that seems to be popular with bars these days. (See neighboring Kung Fu Saloon.)
Throughout its two stories are 30 TVs and three bars. The approach is far more West Sixth in all styles. The crowd, by virtue of not being on McKinney Avenue, is older and more relaxed than the college crowds that swarm Idle Rich and Renfield’s. But that doesn’t dampen the vibe.
The downstairs has garage doors connecting the patio to the inside, which makes for a nice half-and-half feel where you’re never completely inside or outside. It will be interesting to see how this works in the winter, but you could always throw on a layer of Jack Daniels to warm up. Though we didn’t witness it ourselves, a friend informed us of an upstairs dance party. So there’s that.
However, we have one quibble. No Hideous liqueur is borderline unacceptable for a bar attempting to capture the magic of Sixth Street. H-bombs (Hideous and Red Bull) are an Austin staple that, if 6th Street wants to really sell the experience, ought to be on the drink list.
Also, you can’t distill the Sixth Street experience into just one bar; Sixth Street is the sum of its parts — that is, a collection of watering holes. Still, we wouldn’t be surprised to find 6th Street Uptown down on West Sixth.
With those slight grievances aired, we are inclined to say that 6th Street successfully merges the Sixth Street scene with Uptown’s vibe to create something that isn’t quite Austin, but not totally Dallas, either. If they start stocking Hideous, we’ll be there every night.