“Secret” Spots and Private Rooms in Downtown Austin

“Secret” Spots and Private Rooms in Downtown Austin

I handle downtown location scouting for companies setting up corporate events at SXSW and F1 (non-official), and (up until very recently) planned monthly parties all around downtown for the Downtown Austin Neighborhood Association, most of my friends see me as a “go to” in terms of finding a cool party and private dining spot downtown.

And it’s true, I know a lot of places that are considered a bit “off the beaten path,” in terms of private spaces for meetings or parties that are in downtown Austin.  This week, I thought I’d share some of them with you, our loyal readers!

Depending on your party size and budget, one or more of these options may be a perfect fit for your next event.

Note: I’m not including write-ups on the big guys, the traditional event venues that everyone knows about and come up all the time (Brazos Hall, Fair Market, Trinity Hall, Malverde etc), nor am I including bar and other venues that are widely known to do and be set up for buyouts (Alamo Drafthouse, hotel spaces, etc). Most of the list below is intended for smaller groups / parties. Also, this is a NON-EXHAUSTIVE list – it’s not intended to have every cool or different spot in downtown!  If you think there’s a spot that we all just HAVE to know about – just put it in the comments!

Max’s Wine Dive | The Underground (Convention Center District)

I threw a NYE party a few years back in the Black Door Wine Lounge and it was FABULOUS. The Black Door Wine Lounge is perfect for private events of around 30 people, but The Underground offers larger spaces, as well.

La Condesa | Vault Room / Flour House (2nd Street District)

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It’s gorgeous and it’s well run.  The team at La Condesa will make sure your event is as flawless as this private dining space.

Departure Lounge | The Escape Hatch (Warehouse District)


This travel agency / coffee shop is right next to the Plaza Lofts, and honestly, I think the whole space is perfect for a special private event (and reasonably priced) – but if you need something smaller for a meeting or something like that, the private room that they have fits the bill pretty well. It can accommodate up to 12 people and only requires a $50 food / beverage spend.

No Va Private Dining Room (Rainey Street District)


This Rainey restaurant is one of my favorites.  It’s got a great menu, great look, and it’s very close to our brokerage firm’s office on the ground floor of The Shore Condos – what’s not to love?!

No Va not only has this streamlined private dining area, but also allows other portions of the restaurant to be reserved by buyout. It’s very flexible and convenient.

Palazzio Lavaca (North Downtown)

photograph by Jake Holt photograhy

photograph by Jake Holt photograhy

Stunning.  This place is simply stunning in every way.  The pictures in their gallery are not an exaggeration – the place really looks and feels like that when you are inside.  But it ain’t cheap.  I highly recommend it for high-end corporate gatherings and especially one-of-a-kind weddings. I’ve put a client in there for an F1 product launch event and they loved it.

The Clay Pit (North Downtown)

Definitely off the beaten path and certainly not for all palates, but a compelling and different choice for sure for a private gathering. They have a small private room downstairs and a private banquet space upstairs.

Some other ideas:

Condo Common Areas

Use your building’s common area spaces!  Depending on the event, you may have to get creative, but I’m a big believer in using the common area space in your downtown Austin condo building for private functions. Different buildings have different rules and rates regarding reservations of common areas, but the reality is – you paid for the ability to use of these spaces when you moved to that building – so you should take advantage of it!

Available Commercial Space


This takes a lot of legwork, but if the event is super special – you may scout around for some empty, finished commercial spaces that are currently being marketed for long-term leases.  Reach out to the listing agent and make a proposal.  This is what I did for my wedding and it worked out awesomely.

To that end, if you are interested, here’s the post about Jude and I’s downtown wedding, with a sample menu, pictures, and some other off-beat venues that could work for weddings.


Cuban Restaurant in Downtown Austin – Pleasant Storage Room

Cuban Restaurant in Downtown Austin – Pleasant Storage Room

As far as I know, there aren’t currently any Cuban restaurant concepts in downtown Austin proper.  Well, there WASN’T before this week, anyway.  There’s a new one popping up in the warehouse district, where the now defunct Stack Burger Bar used to be (one of the restaurant concepts owned by the now infamous Yassine Enterprises).

Let me introduce you to Pleasant Storage Room, officially opening TODAY: [Read more…]

New CBD Office Tower Proposed For 5th & Colorado

New CBD Office Tower Proposed For 5th & Colorado

Some of you will remember 2010 when a Starwood backed “1 Hotel” was proposed for the corner of W. 5th & Colorado Streets (201 W 5th Street).  At the time, the low-rise-circa-1980s structure was demolished (<– check out the old pics and hotel rendering), creating the current surface parking lot and food trailer court that exists today.

A site plan application filed by Bury with the City shows a 20 story building surpassing 344ft. The elevation actually starting with 100 ft at grade, thus putting the above ground height, including mechanical, at ~269ft (thanks to Kevin Lehnhardt for the insight!).  Last year, Dallas-based Lincoln properties planned a 16 story tower, so it’s grown a bit since then.

The valuable CBD development site is not encumbered by a Capital View Corridor, and is an entry point to the Warehouse District.  Once they break ground, this will be the second major office tower under construction along Colorado Street.  Combined with the construction-soon-to-commence Gables/Hotel ZaZa at 4th & Guadalupe, the new density bodes well for more daytime retail and restaurant offerings in downtown Austin.

5th & Colorado rendering from last year.

Rendering from last year by HKS.

Ground floor, drawing by Bury

Drawing by Bury, ground floor showing restaurant along W. 5th Street

The Riley – New Development In Downtown Austin’s Warehouse District

The Riley – New Development In Downtown Austin’s Warehouse District

Tom Calhoon, owner of the building at the southeast corner of 4th and Lavaca (Warehouse District), is redeveloping his property into an event-venue space called The Riley.

You might recognize the building, as it used to be home to 219 West, and recently the Red Room.  The latter operator was not there long and notable for accusations of LGBT discrimination.

Details are sparse, but it’s very interesting to see downtown development that’s not a high rise!

Also, this is the second major development on this intersection… caddy corner, Gables and Hotel ZaZa are expected to break ground soon on a 25 story tower.






Colorado Tower scheduled for launch next month

Colorado Tower scheduled for launch next month

Despite some ominous rumbling on the horizon that the project could be delayed indefinitely, I’m excited to share the news this week that Cousin’s magnificent Third & Colorado office tower is breaking ground next month.

Cousin’s issued a press release Thursday announcing that the 29-story, 371,000-square-foot office tower will break ground early next month. The building has been christened “Colorado Tower” and is scheduled for near completion by the end of 2014.

The Colorado Tower project has already signed two law firm tenants — Dubois Bryant & Campbell – which now offices in 700 Lavaca — and Scott Douglass & McConnico, which now offices in 600 Congress.

Earlier this year, Austin Towers picked up on the fact that this project was running behind schedule, after Cousins initially said it would break ground last year, due to among other things, a pending zoning change that council approved earlier this year.

A lot of people are forgetting that for the longest time the lot was supposed to be a hotel: an 18-story, 300-room Westin Hotel to be exact.

Who could have predicted back in 2008 when the hotel was first announced, on the foothills of the recession, that here we’d be in 2013 with almost a 90 percent downtown Austin office occupancy rate, a smorgasbord of hotel development and an urban residential market that is bright red hot (we’re talking lightsaber red).

(Conversely, I remember Will Wynn and Brewster McCracken – former Austin council members — hyping an upcoming urban rail election back then. Who would have also predicted that here we’d be in 2013 practically no closer to real mass transit, and being outdone handsomely Houston, Dallas and San Antonio.)

Enough about that, though. Check out these renderings of Colorado Tower!