As far as Rainey bars go, I really like The Drafting Room at 88 1/2 Rainey. Located on a plot of land right behind The Shore Condos in downtown Austin‘s Rainey Street District, and owned by inveterate downtown-er and Architect Craig Nasso since 1994 (read: WAY before Rainey Street was “cool”), the lot has evolved with the neighborhood and transformed what was an already a lovely home and office into two delightful, separate but intertwined (both are owned by Craig and Holly), pursuits of food and drink.
L’Estelle’s story on it’s website is actually much more eloquently written – check it out here.
If you don’t have time to read it all, here’s my favorite excerpt:
The architect of L’Estelle, then 26 years old, drove down Rainey Street in 1994 and spotted a little piece of “half-lot” that was merely a patch of dirt. The fact that this lot was on a street named Rainey was especially of interest since his mother’s maiden name was Estele Rainey. He bought it, nurtured it, planted every tree and bush and designed a plan for a long life on this little lot. Twenty years ago, he built the back house as a live work office and decided to wait to build a front house when he could design it with a wife if he got married one day.
The architect eventually got married, but during that period, Rainey Street changed from a residential historic neighborhood into a bustling night life district. So the architect changed plans but held sensitively to his dream. He designed and built a front house with his wife which would serve as a kitchen for the people and he converted his office into a quaint beer and wine bar – now the Drafting Room. Together, they open their yard and their hospitality to all who enter, offering a real and authentic connection to the district, its history, and the comfort casual style of gathering under the stars with good drinks, food, and folks. L’Estelle pays respect to their mother, Estele Rainey, the best cook in the family who serves as the advisor and contributor of many homestyle recipes for the preserves and sweets offered in the kitchen.
There’s truly a lot to love when it comes to what Craig and his wife Holly have carefully, tenderly created. Their story is unique and their tie to the neighborhood is genuine; the architecture (and, hence, the vibe) is elegant, modern and comfortable; but, most importantly, the wine is great and the food is TO DIE FOR.
Bottom line: Go there. You won’t regret it. And say hi to Holly and Craig when you visit; they are almost always there making sure things are running right.
p.s. – They are open for Sunday Brunch, too! Starts at 11am…
Want a trip down memory lane? Check out our 2012 Mega Post on Rainey with pics of what the street looked like not but 5 years ago…