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Bars on West Sixth Street

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The Belmont bar and restaurant in downtown Austin

The Belmont bar and restaurant is a popular drinking spot on West Sixth Street.

© Brian Solis

When most people think of downtown Austin, East Sixth Street — with the bars and clubs that make the city the live music capital — gets most of the attention. But for those looking for spots to drink where they can actually hear their companions without a nearly deafening din, the West Sixth Street District on the other side of Congress Avenue offers some spots with festive happy hours and a mellow ambiance.

The Belmont

Location: 305 W. Sixth St.
Hours: Monday-Wednesday 11:30 a.m. to 12 a.m.; Thursday-Saturday 11:30 a.m. to 2 a.m.; Sunday 10 a.m. to 12 a.m.
Description: The Belmont radiates Rat Pack cool with a two-level patio that’s straight out of 1960s Palm Springs. Inside, the restaurant’s tufted leather booths, dim lighting and swanky atmosphere make patrons feel like extras in “Mad Men.” Executive Chef Rich Falbo has filled the traditional American menu with dishes that are chock full of local farm-to-table produce and meats, artisan breads and farmstead cheese. In addition to keeping local beers like Shiner and Fireman’s Four on tap, the bar is known for its creative cocktails. Try the Belmont’s namesake drink the Belmontini (Grey Goose, Champagne and pineapple juice) or the Lady Bird Lemonade (Bacardi Razz, Bacardi Limon and sugar), named after the beloved former first lady Lady Bird Johnson.

Key Bar

Location: 617 W. Sixth St.
Hours: Monday-Sunday 4 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Description: Key Bar, which opened a few years ago in a former locksmith’s shop, draws a younger crowd with its cheap beer ($2 drafts and $7 pitchers) and one of — if not the — longest happy hours (until 9 p.m.) in Austin. (Sunday through Tuesday are actually happy days with the lower prices in effect from open to close.) And since Austinites love their margaritas, the bar offers make-your-own shakers garnished with homemade popsicles. The drink menu even lists what it calls The Perfect Margarita (Patron Silver with Patron Citronge, orange liqueur and fresh lime juice served in a chilled pint glass). Give it a guzzle while sitting out on the covered patio — the perfect place for people watching.

J. Black’s Feel Good Lounge

Location: 710 W. Sixth St.
Hours: Monday-Sunday 4 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Description: After a hard day at work downtown, many young professionals head to J. Black’s Feel Good Lounge to plop down on the comfy couches for a relaxing drink and a few snacks — like lamb lollipops — off the bar’s inventive menu. Thanks to the bar’s later happy hour (which ends at 8 p.m.), many discerning drinkers who started off elsewhere end up at J. Black’s for its 25% wine bottles and cocktails like the açaí sangria, the Mexican martini and the orange mojito. The bartenders are known for their heavy hands with the liquor, so don’t be surprised if you see a sobriety checkpoint nearby on the weekends.

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