Remember that Cancun spring break and the wet T-shirt contest? No, oh well, who does remember those tequila-induced hazes of yesteryear? But there are a couple of spots in Austin where the ambience hits a memory nerve.Carlos ’N Charlies is “proud” to be the first north-of-the-border branch of the famous Mexican restaurants created by Carlos Anderson. Located on Lake Austin, 5973 Hiline Road, (512) 266-1683, www.cncaustin.com, this lively party spot boasts a dock so patrons can drop in after a day on the water. There’s music, margaritas, parrots, margaritas, bikini tops, margaritas. You get the picture. The food is Mexican-themed and the drinks menu acknowledges local customs—there is an orange-colored “Bevo” tequila shot, named in honor of the University of Texas mascot. Other drinks include Pusser’s Painkiller and a “Skip and Go Naked” drink. Definitely a hangout.
Closer to downtown Austin, but also on the water, Chuy’s Hula Hut, 3825 Lake Austin Boulevard, (512) 476-4852, www.hulahut.com, touts its “Mexonesian” menu, Polynesian meets Mexico. A typical fusion dish is the shrimp pipeline enchilada. The vibe here is also a mix of South Seas and South of the Border with tiki torches and a palapa-covered bar. Popular for group celebrations, the Hula Hut is a casual bar and restaurant where the menu apologizes for requiring shoes and shirts for “health, sanitation and safety” reasons. It also requests that groups designate a driver, a nod to the reality that this is a party hangout.