The Rainey Street Historic District always has a lot going on, and a true highlight of the area is Banger’s Sausage House and Beer Garden. I had the privilege of going on a full tour with the Owner’s Representative, Allison Draper. It was a treat to see the inner and outer workings of this business, and they have SO much to offer.
Out front you’ll find one of Rainey Street’s historic bungalow homes, background now to a classic flashing arrow marquee boasting, “20 HOUSE-MADE SAUSAGES, 202 BEERS ON TAP.'' That’s right folks, they have 202 total beer taps split between two huge bars, both indoor and outdoor, with 101 taps on each. They utilize a Direct-Draw (or Short-Draw) system that is maintained in-house by the skilled staff. Here you can enjoy any style of brew you could ever want, fresh and perfectly poured. Speak with the bartenders to narrow down the options and find your ideal sip.
When you arrive through the front gate, you’ll be greeted by friendly staff at the host stand. Banger’s doesn’t waste any time making it known that everyone is welcome, the host stand proudly stating: “COME ONE, COME Y’ALL, ALL LOVE & RESPECT, ALL CULTURES… ALL LGBTQ… ALL RELIGIONS… ALL RACES… ALL GENDERS, MOST DOGS, ABSOLUTELY NO JERKS.” This is the first taste of the warm and abundant atmosphere. We love a business that stands up for our community, especially in an area that wasn’t always heavily populated by commercial businesses; not that long ago, these were people's homes.
Banger’s has found a lovely balance between preserving the past and embracing growth. This bar and restaurant feels like classic, “old Austin,” and is a great place for anyone to experience a true (and delicious) taste of this city. Walk inside and you’re in a traditional beer hall, complete with banners and long, shared tables. Outside they have a massive patio with additional picnic tables, shade umbrellas, and heaters. The back of the historic bungalow now opens up into a performance space for local bands. If you’re looking to enjoy good food, great beer, and live music, this is the spot. Open day and night with tons of space for your family, large groups, dancing, and dogs! With reservable event spaces for work or social celebrations, Banger’s is also an ideal venue to book the next party!
When you order a beverage at Banger’s you’ll be assisted by the talented bartenders, many of whom are trained Cicerones (the Sommelier of beer, I learned). Brews that make the tap wall are curated by the Banger’s Beer Committee, which meets each week to discuss and choose what’s going on the wall next. This means that every beer or cider you taste is the best of the best, served by the best. Don’t show up to Banger’s asking for basic belly-wash! Instead, take full advantage of the vast knowledge held by their bartenders to find a new quality quench.
I have fallen in love with #90 currently on the wall in the beer hall, the Colombiana from Martin House Brewing - a rich and coconutty 12.5% ABV Rum Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout (that I definitely tried more than once).
On my tour I was able to see inside “Sausage Land,” including the walk-in cooler filled with every meat you could imagine. There could be one caveat to the previously mentioned all-welcoming sentiment… perhaps, “Vegetarians and vegans be warned,” but Banger’s actually offers multiple vegetarian sausage options! Walking into the cooler, Allison says, “Watch your head on the bacon!” and I’ll never forget looking up to see 15 giant slabs of raw bacon hanging from the ceiling. Behind that, racks on racks of sausage and meats waiting to be sent to the chefs in the Smokehouse.
The Smokehouse is a sizzling sight for omnivorous eyes! Their open-air smokehouse has a massive smoker, multiple direct heat grills, and a long wooden chopping block and prep space. You can feel the warmth radiating out as you walk by and hear the sizzle and crack of the fresh wood coals. I returned to Banger’s a few days after my initial tour of Sausage Land and saw the hanging bacon in its “After” stage. As Chef Albert Gonzalez opened the smoker, I felt my mouth start watering. This place will bring out your more savage instincts.
Picture CW: raw and smoked pork slabs
Show up on Fridays and Saturdays if you’d like to watch what goes on in the Smokehouse. It’s a thrill to watch the burst of sparks rise up as they stoke the big coal-generating fires. Relax on the patio and watch as they fire up all kinds of sausages and meats, and even make their own Smokehouse bread!
If you enjoy a good Brat, you’ll get lost in this menu. They have all the classics, plus some unique creations, everything absolutely delicious. And definitely don’t miss out on trying their house made sauerkraut and pickles!
For lunch on my tour, I opted to try something new. I went with what Allison recommended, the Duck Bacon Fig Sausage on a Bun, and was blown away. You also can’t go wrong with the classic Bratwurst or, of course, Bangers & Mash! They even have a housemade sausage option for your pup to munch alongside you!
To satisfy your sweet tooth, try the Snickers Bar in a Jar. I regularly crave that little mason jar filled with joy. It’s a taste that you won’t forget, and only $5.
The Banger’s staff is dedicated to making your visit truly satisfying and fun. They go out of their way to curate and craft every detail of their menu and atmosphere. Sounds like they aren’t done growing either and there’s more to come at Banger’s in the future!