There’s almost too much to do in Austin this time of year due to the sunny-but-not-scorching weather; so pack comfortable shoes, as most of the film venues are within walking distance to live music, bars, and nightlife. That being said, I believe the best way to break down your options, is by location.
If you are seeing a film downtown – whether it be at the Paramount, Alamo Ritz, or the Hideout – your best bet for people watching and bar hopping is East 6th Street. And let me just preface by saying this: The later in the evening you go, the more entertained you’ll become. This town didn’t earn the motto, “Keep Austin Weird” by accident, so be ready for freaky street performer stunts and colorful personalities. Seriously, last time I was near the Visitor Center, I saw a rat riding a cat riding a dog. And you probably will, too, if you wind up on East 6th Street. My first recommendation for food and cocktails in this area is Iron Cactus(606 Trinity Street). Fantastic Mexican Martinis and drool-worthy Tex-Mex dishes; but the best part of Iron Cactus is the rooftop location. If it’s too packed for your liking, stroll across the street to Maggie Mae’s (323 E 6th Street) – cheap drinks, great open atmosphere.
If you see a film at the Rollins Theatre, which happens to be in the Long Center for Performing Arts, hop over to Threadgills (301 West Riverside Drive), an Austin tradition since 1933. This place is always buzzing with live music in the Beergarden, and comfort food inside the restaurant. I’m talking about the best county fried steak I’ve ever sunk my teeth into, and homemade strawberry rhubarb pie that would make your grandmother ashamed to serve hers ever again. If a swankier vibe is up your alley, try Paggi House(200 Lee Barton Drive). Your refined palette will thank you, but I’d recommend going during happy hour, as Paggi House is tres pricey. The area isn’t too far (quick taxi ride) from The Highball(1142 South Lamar Boulevard), which is a mix-venue club with a bowling alley, skee ball, dance floor, karaoke rooms, bar, and restaurant. It gets pretty crowded, so just get their early and don’t stay too long.
If you see a film at the Alamo Lake Creek, which is in the north side of town, your options are pretty limited compared to downtown. Shenanigan’s Nightclub (13233 Pond Springs Road) might be worth stopping into for darts, pool, shuffleboard, and possibly a bar fight; other than that, I’d recommend staying close to either downtown or the South Congress strip (SoCo for short). There aren’t many good Austin original restaurants up north, either – mostly chains.
Bottom line: It’s going to be pretty much impossible to not have a fantastic time between films at the Austin Film Festival. And let me reiterate: Bring comfortable walking shoes. Oh, a camera and an open mind wouldn’t hurt, either.
*Note: This was written by an Associated Content contributor. Sign up here to start publishing your own movie articles.