A Collection of Day Trips: Texas Hill Country
Ask anyone who knows me where my favorite place on earth is, and they will tell you it’s the Texas Hill Country. There’s nothing like it. Sure, people migrate to Houston for the opportunity, the culture, and the aggressive melting pot that is this diverse city; but they go to the hill country to get away from everything that makes Houston Houston.
A “day trip” to Austin is difficult — it’s easily three hours away from central Houston and traffic is never good going in or out of our fair city or Austin, so just getting there can be a struggle. Generally, I would take I10 to Highway 71, but on this trip we decided to take 290. Additionally, this post serves less as an appeal for you to visit Austin the city (because truly there are thousands of articles that do this very thing), as it does to implore you to go to Moontower Saloon while you’re there.
Moontower Saloon was so unique that we spent several hours on the way home trying to figure out if we’ve ever been to a bar anything like it in Houston. First of all, they’ve completely changed the game by checking your ID BEFORE you even pull into the parking lot. That’s right; they have you pull it out when you are coming in. This is genius — four to five guys’ sole job is to ensure everyone in a car is 21, instead of the bartender or one single bouncer having this responsibility so the flow isn’t interrupted at any point. There isn’t a huge line of people getting their ID checked by a single, apathetic bouncer and it removes the burden from an already busy bartender. I love it.
Once you park you start to realize how utterly immense this bar is, but it isn’t until you’re inside that it actually hits you. Moontower Saloon is humongous. As you walk up, there are people sort of milling about enjoying drinks. A bar inside has the familiar feel. People are playing pool or sitting at tables enjoying pitchers of beer. They’ve got a wide range of domestic, imports and craft beers — I was happy to see several Houston beers on tap! We ordered a pitcher, and started looking for a table to sit at. There were no available tables inside, despite it being enormous, so we ventured to the immense outdoor patio. The patio area is what sets Moontower Saloon apart. There was a folksy band playing acoustic covers of familiar songs. Several large fire pits were occupied by young people chatting. At a large open space with no tables, a group of about 25 people were having a conversation in sign language. “The people watching here is glorious” I thought as we walked around looking for a place to sit. Two food trucks offered tacos or burgers and, shockingly the lines weren’t too long. We ordered burgers, fried pickle spears, and loaded chili/cheese fries and posted up shop at the one remaining picnic table. Despite how busy it was, the vibe at Moontower was still relaxed. No need to shout to hear people, and we could still hear the soft humming of the music.
We stayed at the bar for about three hours and spent probably $40 on pitchers of beer and food together. The cost wasn’t too high that you wouldn’t go back, perfectly on par with what you’d expect for a casual night out. I recommend this bar to anyone visiting Austin!