The CHOW Guide to Eating and Drinking in Austin, SXSW edition

POWER BARS

$ = Under $10, $$ = $10-$25, $$$ = Over $25

The Brown Bar
201 W. Eighth St., 512-480-8330
Mon.–Tues., 4 p.m.–midnight; Wed.–Fri., 4 p.m.–2 a.m.; Sat., 5:30 p.m.–2 a.m.
$$–$$$

An Austin bar striving for big-city impact, the Brown Bar serves specialty martinis ($8 and up) and the best mojitos in town in swanky shades-of-brown decor to beautiful people and those who aspire to be. (Downtown)

Driskill Bar
604 Brazos St., 512-391-7162
Tues.–Sat., 5:30–10:30 (bar until midnight, Fri.–Sat. 2 a.m.)
$$$

A favorite of the record label folks, the bar of this gorgeous historic Texas hotel is quite a scene on the nights of SXSW. The smell of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies put out by the hotel staff mingles with herbal aromas wafting from closed doors, and rich, artsy types with expensive haircuts get drunk in the amber lighting on buttery leather seats. An all-encompassing wine list and great food (see Splurge) make it even better. (Downtown)

Four Seasons Hotel: The Lobby Lounge
98 San Jacinto Blvd., 512-478-4500
Mon.–Thurs., 1 p.m.–1 a.m.; Fri.–Sat., 11 a.m.–2 a.m.; Sun., 10 a.m.–midnight
$$–$$$

Hobnob with the high-flyers over lychee martinis (yeah, they’re still serving them in Texas), truffled popcorn, and tuna sashimi on the patio overlooking the lake. That’s Town Lake, the verdant public water hole made from the damming of the Colorado. Stake out your table early! (Downtown)

Roaring Fork Saloon
701 Congress Ave., 512-583-0000
Daily, 11:30 a.m.–11 p.m.
$$

A Western-themed watering hole on the street level of the beautiful old InterContinental Stephen F. Austin Hotel, the Roaring Fork does one better than your typical hotel bar with its drinks and food. It’s a popular gathering spot for the after-work crowd from the capital and downtown districts, so expect to see some Dockers. Try the huckleberry margarita or the Big-Ass Burger: 12 ounces of juicy, aged, wood-grilled beef loaded with cheddar and toppings. (Happy hour is 4:30 to 7 p.m. daily for half-price apps and drink specials.) (Downtown)