Austin Grill

$$$$ ($14 and under)

Editorial Review

Live At Austin Grill
By Fritz Hahn
Washington Post Weekend Section
Friday, April 23, 2004

A recent addition to the area's live music scene is the Silver Spring branch of Austin Grill, which serves up free roots rock and blues performances along with enchiladas, tacos and frozen margaritas. "With the restaurant's vibe, and the Austin theme, we try to do bluegrass and that sort of music," says General Manager Meghan Gustafson.

Actually, the lineup is fairly diverse: a mixture of rockabilly (including the excellent J.P. McDermott and Western Bop Saturday night), bluegrass, singer-songwriters and the like Thursday through Saturday; open mike night on Monday with local musician Mike Holden; and Tuesday's singer-songwriter showcase, with three or four different acts featured each week. Check or one of the chalkboards in the restaurant for the latest schedule.

Open since December, the restaurant has a relaxed, comfortable feel. Old posters advertising concerts by Willie Nelson, B.B. King, Los Lobos and Lucinda Williams hang alongside vintage acoustic guitars on the creamy orange walls. A copper-fronted bar sits on a raised platform in the center of the room, surrounded by a rainbow of mismatched chairs and barstools. And the "stage" seems more like an unoccupied seating area, with low walls separating the musicians from the bar.

Here's the clincher: Austin Grill boasts one of the longest happy hours around: From 2 to 7 and then 10 to close, the bar offers $2.50 beers -- including Texas favorite Shiner Bock -- and $3.50 margaritas, as well as a happy hour menu that's served until 1:30 on weekends and 12:30 during the week. A night of live music, food and drink for under $10, and a patio when the weather's nice. Sounds like a winner to me.