Thirsty Thursday
Top Spots to Catch A Buzz in Austin: Rio Rita

Rio Rita Cafe y Cantina
"Mild mannered coffee shop by day, swanky lounge by night."

1308 E. Sixth Street
Austin 78702


Open Monday-Friday  8am-2am.
Saturday-Sunday 10 am-2am

What a funky place.

An original among a growing number of Austin coffee shops by day, cocktail bars by night, Rio Rita is a laid-back faded rose, experiencing a revival while dressed in her best thrift store chic.

The renaissance of the East Side has encouraged new foot traffic in this area that my parents always warned me away from, but having attained a certain, shall we say, maturity, my inner rebel child ventured into the mean streets, and found a jewel-in-the-rough in Rio Rita.

Boasting the Bloody Mary most-mentioned in the area, the Rita also offers a serviceable menu of caffeinated favorites--coffee and espresso drinks all based on the fair trade beans of Texas Coffee Traders.  Pick up a bag of their signature 'Victory Blend', a custom combination of Ethiopian, Sumatran, Guatemalan, Peruvian and Nicaraguan Certified Organic Fair Trade Coffee  ($10/pound or $5/half pound).

And about that Bloody Mary-- billed as their Breakfast of Champions, a hangover salad in a glass, the pepperheads among us will not be disappointed. Vodka, horseradish, Tapatio, Zing Zang, celery, lime, olives, pickled okra & banana peppers? Well that oughta put a little pep in your morning-after step. $8.50, or $10 with infused vodka.

Rio Rita offers a full bar, with wine, beer, house-infused vodkas, and cocktails which run 5 to 10 bucks a piece. Should you catch a case of the munchies, enjoy $3.50 slices of East Side Pie, house-made hummus with pita, chips and salsa, and my local favorite Rockstar Bagels. Check out their menu, here.

Rita hosts regular weekly events Love and a 45, Irish and Old Time Music Collective, and Arts and Drafts. Find details, here.

As for seating...well choose the spot that best suits your mood. I like the dinette set right by the front door, so I can see what's passing by on E. Sixth. If you need a smoke, or want a breath of (often not all that) fresh air, take advantage of their large patio out back. If opium den is the vibe you're looking for, try the curtained corners and their various second-hand couches--there's a crazy little spot for all of Austin's weirdest finest.

And hey, where else can you go from work to party with nothing more than a change of chair, and attitude.

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